Monday, March 28, 2011

What has Your Recruiter Done for You Lately? Part 2

More importantly, what have you done for a recruiter lately?

In my last “Four Degrees” blog we examined the role of recruiters; the difference between retained and contingent recruiters and why job seekers often find working with recruiters to be an "unproductive" experience at best. So what are the most effective ways to leverage recruiters as a resource in your career management and or job search? 

1. Keep in mind that recruiters really don't work for you.
First and foremost, as discussed in my previous post, it is imperative to understand and remember that recruiters don't work for you ( the job seeker). They are paid by and primarily responsible to the employer who has engaged their services.

2. Consider recruiters to be a small (5 percent or less) part of your overall strategy.
Translation: Spend no more than 5 percent of your valuable time and effort working with recruiters. Make them part of the 10 percent of your overall time and effort I suggest that you spend responding or "reacting" to advertised jobs or opportunities that may come your way, from a recruiter as an example. Spend 90 percent of your time proactively establishing relationships with actual hiring managers at organizations in which you want to work for by following my “Four Degrees Method.”

3. Follow a WIFT / proactive strategy with recruiters.
By "proactive" I don't mean calling recruiters you happen to know repeatedly to tell them you are looking and asking what opportunities the recruiter may have for you. Instead employ the “Four Degrees Method” to first, identify all the recruiters who specialize in your target industry. 

Next use a "What's in it for them" (WIFT) Strategy. Contact them with something of value to THEM, not you. As an example introduce yourself, tell them a little about your experience and knowledge of the industry and ask them what searches they are working on and offer to refer candidates you may know that may be a fit or may be a referral to someone else.

Consider asking the recruiter about who would be an ideal client (by "client" I mean paying "employer client" as opposed to a non-paying "candidate client"). Offer to make introductions or referrals for them to key decision makers who may engage their services. Be seen as an asset, not just another candidate looking for a job.

I have more than 5,000 "candidates" in my database and I can count on one, maybe two, hands those who have proactively approached me with a WIFT Strategy. In doing so these innovative candidates set themselves far apart from the "pack." As a result, I as the recruiter am much more inclined to see what I can do for them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What has Your Recruiter Done for You Lately? Part 1

More importantly, what do you "expect" her or him to do for you?

Following is an excerpt of an email I recently received from a reader of my book, Four Degrees to Your Dream Job.

“Hi Dennis:

By coincidence, my son brought a copy of your (Four Degrees) book home for Christmas break from college, and I started reading it. I found your perspectives very accurate, and your advice very practical. Last year, I resigned my position as president and chief executive officer of a $3 billion retail grocery company chain based in Northern California. After taking a much needed sabbatical, and then doing some consulting work, I am now beginning to explore opportunities to assume another CEO or senior executive level position in a company."

“This is my first experience interacting with executive recruiters as a ‘candidate’ and I have found the process highly unproductive! After reading your (Four Degrees) book, I now understand why that is! Thanks for opening my eyes to the reality of the situation. I plan to alter my approach, based on the advice in your book.”

Bill C.

I often hear complaints from job seekers echoing Bill’s comment of how "unproductive" the process of working with a recruiter can be. The reason job seekers find the "recruiter experience" unsatisfactory is, I believe, simply a matter of ignorance or complete misunderstanding of what a recruiter actually does for a living and false expectation of what a recruiter can or will do on behalf of a job-seeking candidate.

For those of you who have not worked with recruiters, a little education may prove valuable. First of all, let’s distinguish between a hiring manager and a recruiter. The hiring manager is, as the term implies, the person at the company to whom the position reports.The recruiter’s job, on the other hand, is to search for, identify and present candidates that would be good matches for an available opening. Recruiters also generally serve as preliminary screeners for the hiring manager. Ideally, the recruiter makes it possible for the manager and other relevant administrators to interview a small pool of highly qualified candidates and to ultimately hire the best one.

There are two types of recruiters: corporate or in-house recruiters and (the less common) outside recruiter. The corporate recruiter is usually employed directly by the hiring company, generally as their employee. Sometimes, corporate recruiters are retained by the hiring company on an exclusive contract basis and work on-site. Outside recruiters (or as we are more commonly known, “headhunters”) generally fall into two camps: retained and contingent. ‘Retained’ means that a company has retained or paid in advance for the recruiter’s time. ‘Contingent’ means that the recruiter is paid contingent upon his or her ability to successfully find a candidate that the company subsequently hires.

Whether retained or contingent, outside recruiters are always paid by the client company, not the candidate

This is an important point. Candidates sometimes make the mistake of thinking that outside recruiters will work for them and market them even though the candidate is not paying them! An outside recruiter will market a candidate only if the candidate is well-suited for a position that the recruiter is seeking to fill. Simply put, recruiters like me are usually hired to find a particular round peg for a particular round hole. Square pegs need not apply.The problem that most people encounter in dealing with recruiters is that they are not the particular round peg that the recruiter is seeking for the particular position she or he needs to fill. The recruiter is looking for someone who is best-qualified to fill a particular niche. If you happen to be that person, then you are in luck.

Most people, however, do not qualify for consideration because the specific requirements of that position severely restrict the number of qualified candidates. Recruiters, when used properly, can be a useful tool to find or create your dream job. They are, however, generally of limited value to the job seeker.

So with this understanding, what are the best strategies for engaging with recruiters? I will answer that question in my next blog post. In the meantime, keep in mind that unless you’re the “square peg” a recruiter is looking for at the moment or you are paying for his or her services; it is unrealistic to expect recruiters to work for you. That said, in the interest of helping all of us (recruiters and jobseekers) work effectively together, please know that I am interested in hearing about any experience (positive or negative) you have had as a candidate in working with recruiters. I welcome your comments.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

I recently heard from a young woman who had come to me previously for help in identifying and landing a new position.

Carol is an inside sales rep for a software company with a strong background in account management and lead generation. She had left her previous job in less than a year because of an ethical conflict she had with the values of company management.Carol is to be commended for having the courage of her convictions, but at the same time she was facing the daunting prospect of  finding a new and hopefully better job in a very difficult job market.

After several months of sending resumes into the  digital "black hole" and competing with literally dozens of others for a select few advertised positions she asked if I would help her with her search. Carol was extremely frustrated and wondering if she should have compromised her integrity and stayed in her last position even though she knew leaving was ultimately the right thing to do.

The first thing I suggested Carol do was to stop applying for advertised jobs. I then asked her to take a few days and think about her long term career goals and what would be the ideal next two or three steps in her career path. Carol followed the coaching and outlined a very clear path. She focused on a career in Sales / Sales Management and determined that her next ideal steps would be: An inside sales position for the next one to three years, providing  her experience to be considered for an outside sales role leading eventually to sales management.

Next, she identified the industry niche best suited for her experience. She listed the companies that would most likely see her skill set as a solution to their problems. She compiled a list of approximately 25 target companies.Then she began identifying the decision makers at those companies using my "Four Degrees Method."

Finally, she began meeting with three to five decision makers per week regardless of whether they had a job advertised or not. During the process she uncovered several unadvertised "hidden jobs" that she was considered for. She also kept a eye on the job boards to see if there were any advertised jobs posted by her target companies or other companies in her predefined target niche. She spent no more than 10% of her time on advertised (competitive) positions  and 90% on proactive relationship building via deliberate, focused networking.  By following the "Four Degrees Method" Carol was separating herself from her competition.

She only considered advertised opportunities if they were in her target niche.When she did find an advertised job she would do two things; 1.) Identify the decision maker's boss and contact him or her directly to arrange a project interview. 2.) Apply on line via normal channels.

She eventually was asked to interview for an advertised position by one of the decision makers she met with for a project  interview. Since it was a advertised job with significant competition, I also advised Carol to follow the "Take Charge of Your Next Interview" strategy, which she did with great success.

All good news except now, four months later, she is having doubts about whether she made the right choice. She has concerns about her new job and company. Team members are not supportive as the environment is set up to be competitive vs. cooperative. Her boss is "okay" but overworked and unavailable most of the time. The salary is good but commissions are almost always "messed up."

I listened as Carol listed the reasons she was considering leaving. Then I asked he what she liked about the job. She had several very positive comments. I then asked Carol if she had a better offer lined up. "Well, no but there was one person she had met who kept calling to see how she was doing." I asked if he had a job for her. She said he would like to hire her but the timing wasn't right.

Then I asked Carol if she was ready to be unemployed again and go through the process of finding yet another job.  "Oh my gosh no!" She just wished things could be better in some areas at her current job.

My advice to Carol, (and you, if you're in a similar situation) is stop focusing on the negatives especially after only a few months. Put your energy into doing the best job you can and stay on your career plan.

More importantly I advise that you spend  95% of your time focusing on your current position and spend 5 % proactively creating your next opportunity. Follow the Four Degrees Method." That is, identify  your next career step, build a list of target companies, identify the decision makers who can hire you then set up two to three project interviews per month.

I am happy to report that once again Carol followed the coaching and after 10 months is one of the top producers in the company and has established relationship with key decision makers with her current company as well as others within her chosen industry. She has already been told by several that they "have their eye" on her and are looking forward to helping her move into outside sales in the future.