What Makes You So Qualified?
We're qualified because we have the relationship with the client, you don't.
We do this all day long, day in and day out. As long as you've worked at whatever it is you do, we have worked in search. Endless visits with Boards, CEOs, VPs of this and VPs of that, whatever industries, or problems, or situations you can't imagine, we deal with it every day.
Our experience gives us a feel for businesses, clients, situations and candidates. Call it fine-tuned instincts, experience, or even sometimes common sense, we're experts at matching companies with candidates. Of course, we have a high level of experience in running real businesses, but that alone does not make a top-notch search consultant. We know our clients intimately, which is a major reason why we are good at what we do. Whatever you read in our brochure, or anybody else's, remember the first sentence above, and act accordingly.
How Do You Evaluate Me?
First thing a headhunter looks at is, of course, your resume, then your age, and finally your income. Yes it's true, and no it's not illegal for consultants to figure out how old you are. We're not a government employment office. The reason for all this is a simple process of elimination. The higher the income, the lower the age, the more successful you're supposed to be... at least according to the people who pay you.
Then we look at the title, relative to the size of the company you work for. President of a 50MM company is great. VP of a two billion company? What does the title really mean? In a company of 500 employees, with three hundred VP's and you're one...? Titles also need to be dealt with because companies have them, use them, assign them and pay people with them. How much can you write a check for now, on your own, without supervisory approval? That helps define a title. How big is your responsibility is what we want to know. Titles are meaningless unless you look at what's behind them.
Then we look at stability, tenure on the job. A job change every seven years is OK. A job change every year? Who made the mistake, you or the company that hired you?
Of course, jumping around like that is not healthy. We look at a person settling into a job long enough so we can see the results of their actions. If you get promoted incrementally into a different assignment, even within your company, it can be a negative to us. "I got promoted fifteen times in the last five years." Great, stay there, you'll be President in another two years.
It takes time for the fruits of your labor to become evident. If you build a whole new department or division, then get moved out in eight months, what good is that? What are the results, year two and three, and what's the turnover of the people you hired? Rotating a person quickly to give them on-the-job exposure is different, but don't sell that to us as being a seasoned manager.
Then we look at education. Undergraduate or MBA, or Ph.D; specialized school of course.
Leadership in early life, academically, in sports, etc. Diversification in early life. Captain of the football team, choreographer for the University ballet, started a software company on the side while getting the University to change the guest speaker for the graduation address. All of these might be of interest.
We're looking for creativity, no matter what your job or title, now or then.
After school, we're looking for potty training. "What?" you say? Yes, we want you to go to the finest company, that has the finest training program, with the finest reputation. I dare mention Procter & Gamble because they set the standard in not only training, but in recruitment and development of young people. It's simple, you have to be good to get a job there. P&G stays current, P&G keeps pace, P&G is the finest place we know of to punch your ticket.
Where did you get your first job and where did you get your training? It sets the tone and management style for years to come, often for the rest of your life.
DECISIONS YOU'VE MADE
Another way we evaluate you are the decisions you've made in the past and why. Ponder that one for a while. This is really the only way a consultant can evaluate you. Why did you do that? Money? You had foresight? You wanted good training? You were greedy? You wanted to take a risk before you got too comfortable? You switched industries? I wanted to work for this person? You moved overseas? Smart at managing your career? Why? Why? Why?
That's what headhunters want to know and that's how they think when they talk to you.
How Do You Evaluate Me As A Senior Manager?
Good or bad, by the time you're a VP of something, with real visibility, your life becomes a public record. The press, the Journal, trade information can be assembled with the click of a mouse. Your batting average becomes public knowledge and many of the same questions apply, they are just more easily answered because now they're public. If you ran three companies into the ground, the world knows.
Here we get into the size and ratio evaluation process. Just because you got fired as CEO of General Motors, as an example, doesn't mean you're a bad manager for a smaller company. You may well be the greatest CEO for a smaller division that does $200 million, privately held. Be candid, help us succeed. If you were in over your head, tell us. It helps you and us for your next assignment.
Another way we evaluate you, and this is probably the most important, is by your reputation in the community. The search consultant travels in circles that form a fine tuned network. Having the ability to get the absolute truth on a person's performance is the envy of anybody that's ever hired anybody. Research up front is what it's all about. We haven't called a candidate in the last ten years that we have not researched up front. By the time we call you, we know more about you than your mother does.
There are no games, there are no shortcuts, there are no tricks in this business. A good search firm has good clients. Good clients have good people, who have good judgment, who will know about other good people. Then we as a network pretty well know who's the latest and brightest in the industries we operate in. We know who's doing what in the sports & entertainment industry, the beverage business, or multimedia, or telephony, or advertising, or consumer products. That's why many search firms have industry specialists that operate only in a niche, like packaged goods, or banking, or real estate.
Do a good job, focus on your work. We'll find you, or others like us will.
I Just Got Fired, Now What?
First thing you should do is, look in the mirror. YOU are still the same person today that you were yesterday before you got fired, OK? One more time, you are still the same person that you were before you got fired.
Please think about that... the only thing in the world that has changed is you're going to have a new business card. When it's all said and done, you'll be back at it doing what you do. You will be happy to know that this happens to 90% of the people we encounter, and they wind up with a better job, better title, and yes, better income. The other 10% retire for good or were fired for cause.
Your story is not unique. You are a professional on the market, selling your time, services and talents to a company. The public generally owns the stock, the shareholders appoint the board, they appoint a CEO, and somewhere in that chain of command they hire you. Don't take it personally, the shareholders don't know you, they know the money you've made for them.
Getting fired isn't part of your daily life, it's merely a temporary inconvenience. Everybody you're about to meet in your search for new employment has been fired, or chances are, they will be. If they haven't been, chances are you have more experience than the person interviewing you, so that makes you more seasoned; take it to heart.
You must get fired, you should get fired, we prefer you get fired. Our clients want executives with experience. Getting fired gives you experience. Experience has value, experience is why we look for you. Within a short period you'll have a new job, new people to manage, new problems to solve, you'll have forgotten you were fired. What you now have is knowledge and seasoning. Seasoning lets you go into a meeting with more confidence, and confidence helps you do better and grow. Remember getting fired is a temporary inconvenience and not the end of the world.
Final Words of Advice:
It may have been a long time since you had to look for a job, and you may be wondering how best to position yourself at this advanced stage of your career, or simply need to get your confidence back on track. Many companies will provide outplacement services, but they rarely offer much more than résumé writing and a desk to work from where you are surrounded by other out-of work executives - not very stimulating or helpful. For a senior executive, we recommend an executive coach - preferably one who understands transition management. Ask your company if they will pay for it in lieu of outplacement. We have found they often will. The best one we have worked with is Cindy Steiner of Steiner International Communications specializing in Executive Coaching and Transition Management:
Next, get a network going, manage your search like a business and make it a daily task to find a job. There are zillions of books out there that can help you. We don't think we should write one. The best reference on search firms is Jim Kennedy's book on executive recruiters out of New York:
The Directory of Executive Recruiters
Also, look in your local bookstore on how to find a job in this town, this industry, etc. There are lots of good books out there.
One final word of advice, a search firm's least favorite phone call is, "Hi, I'm Joe Blow, and I'm calling to see if you've received my resume." If you want to really make sure it's received, send your favorite headhunter another one, just don't call him.