Michael Stuck: Top Echelon’s Recruiter of the Year

The number of recruiters who have billed $1 million in Top Echelon Network during a calendar year is a very short list.

Until recently, it consisted of just one person: Trey Cameron of the Cameron Craig Group.

However, Trey now has some company. That’s because Michael Stuck of Gables Search Group billed $1,014,100 in the Network during 2021. As a result, Top Echelon is pleased to announce that he is the Network’s Recruiter of the Year!

Michael Stuck of Gables Search Group

Michael Stuck

According to Michael, though, he did not set a goal of billing $1 million through the Network in 2021.

“It was never a goal,” he said. “I do make it a goal each year to make as many splits as possible through Top Echelon, but I never set any monetary goals in 2021 for splits.”

Michael, who recruits in a number of different industries, is also quick to thank his split recruiting partners for the success that he’s enjoyed in Top Echelon Network.

“I am very grateful for all of the relationships that I’ve made over the years as a member of TE and for the new ones I make each year,” he said. “Once COVID hit in 2020, I began to really focus on my TE partners’ jobs and how I could assist them and find new sources to identify candidates for their hottest positions. I also put in a heck of a lot more hours than normal in 2020 and 2021. What was there to do with my time, anyhow, being trapped often inside with the pandemic?”

The Four Pillars of Top Echelon Network are Quality, Communication, Trust, and Active Participation. According to Michael, those certainly played a large role in his success over the past year.

“The key to all of the relationships I have made has been Communication and Trust,” he said. “I try to touch base with many of my split trading partners a few times a month. Some will call me almost daily, others a weekly email or two, and some just when they need something. One big key is to be able to adapt to the recruiting styles of each of the partners and do things the way they want, not how I feel things should go.”

Overall, Michael made 154 Network placements in 2021. That brought his career placement total in Top Echelon to 297. In addition, he has now billed over $1.7 million through the Network. As these numbers illustrate, Michael is not new to Top Echelon Network. In fact, he and the Gables Search Group joined in 2005. While he certainly enjoyed a measure of success during his first 14 years in the Network, he changed the way that he viewed his membership two years ago. That change proved to be very impactful.

“For the first 14 years of my membership in TE, I had been primarily an importer,” said Michael. “I honestly thought I could contribute more on the exporter side of things, so I made a radical shift to focus more on TE members’ open jobs in 2019. Once I made this shift, I reached out to a lot of TE members to find out which jobs were their top two or three jobs to focus on rather than all of their jobs. I still do this today, sending out emails a couple of times a month asking for the best jobs to focus on, and it helps, especially with some partners having over 25 jobs or more at one time.”

According to Stuck, the key to his success in Top Echelon Network, both this past year and during his entire TE tenure, is creating strong relationships with other recruiters. This is why he has been a frequent attender of past recruiter networking events like the National Convention and the Fall Conference. In fact, Michael plans to attend the upcoming convention in Las Vegas, the first one that Top Echelon has held in three years due to the pandemic.

Michael also believes that to develop close relationships in the Network, you must pick up the phone and reach out to new members or members that you don’t know all that well. In essence, building relationships is (and should be) a never-ending process.

“I am still building new relationships today with members who have been around as long as I have, but we really never chatted before,” he said. “During these calls, we don’t always talk about recruiting on the phone. We often talk about each other’s families, where they like to travel, what they do for fun, and current events. Email is good, too, but to really get to know a trading partner, you should learn more about them as a person and [attending a] conference or [picking up the] phone works best.

“Outside of building relationships, the other key to success is to always follow up with your TE partners. Be sure to follow up on candidates, jobs, etc. and get answers to any questions you have. Never assume anything. If you have questions about a candidate or a job, just ask and never ignore a trading partner’s calls, emails, or texts.”

With as much experience and success as Michael has enjoyed as a Network member, he has plenty of tips and advice for recruiters who have just joined Top Echelon. The first key is to be resilient and persevere during the first few months or even the first year of membership.

“So many new members leave before they really give it a chance,” said Michael. “You don’t always become successful right away in the Network. It could take months or even a year to really get things going. Just as you are about to leave, stick around for another six months and work the Network even harder. It takes time, but once the splits happen, they can come in multitudes.”

In addition to attending Top Echelon’s networking events for recruiters, Michael also recommends that new members make the Network an integral part of their recruiting desk and even consider it as part of their business model.

“I talk about Top Echelon to all of my clients when I am selling the client on using my firm for recruiting and how I have access to over a thousand recruiters,” he said. “It’s the same with candidates. I speak about the thousands of jobs we have because of Top Echelon. I also treat every Top Echelon trading partner like my own clients, and to make the Network a big part of my recruiting desk, I put every single job order I receive from a client on the Network. Also, I make it a habit every single day to recruit for TE members’ jobs in addition to my own. So the Network is a huge part of my recruiting desk.”

Now that 2021 is “in the books” and 2022 stretches out before us, Michael plans to be just as much a force in Top Echelon Network this year as he was last year. In fact, his goals might be a bit more aggressive than that.

“You asked if my goal was to hit the one million dollar mark in billing in Top Echelon last year, and while that wasn’t my goal then, my goal for 2022 now is to hit the two million dollar mark,” said Michael. “Okay, I’m kidding a little bit about that! But I wouldn’t be a good recruiter if I didn’t set lofty goals, would I? So let’s just say that I would love more than anything to top my Network production from last year.”

Although if Michael does hit the $2 million mark in Top Echelon Network within a single calendar year, his name will be on a list even shorter than the one he’s on now.

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