Saturday, March 18, 2017

Conversation With The Business Executives Networking Group

Tuesday, I presented to the monthly meeting of the Business Executives Networking Group (BENG).  The topic was “working with executive recruiters.”  My presentation style is to facilitate a discussion, not a lecture, so I used the following PowerPoint Presentation to frame the conversation.

  • —Be competitive; assume that the recruiter has plenty of viable candidates.
  • —Present a resume that includes your complete work history; it is relevant and important.
  • —When you are scheduled to talk with the recruiter, be prepared.
  • —Make it easy for me to find you and don't make me chase you down when I need you.
  • —Check in from time to time to reaffirm your interest and receive updates.

To help jump-start the dialogue, I asked each of the folks to offer an issue, pet peeve, question, or comment regarding executive recruiters.  I worked this task into the personal introduction period when each participant is given thirty seconds to deliver their elevator speech.  It is also a useful tactic to focus my delivery, and help increase audience participation.  The issues were largely anticipated, as I’ve heard most of them before. They included:
  • —Why don’t executive recruiters call you back?
  • —Why is it so difficult getting through to a recruiter?
  • —After all these years, why are educational credentials still an issue?
  • —How much information should I include in my LinkedIn profile?
  • —How does one find an executive recruiter that specializes in my professional niche?
These questions were quickly answered; however, based on overall discussion time, their most pressing issue was overcoming age discrimination. 

Regarding age discrimination, my recommendation is to take a perceived negative (which really isn’t a negative) and make it a positive. In other words, job seekers should understand that most Fortune 500 companies have a recruiting and selection model that favors young professionals. These companies prefer to hire people they can train, develop, and indoctrinate into their culture for a long-term career. This orientation works against baby boomers at the end of their careers.  I recommend that Baby Boomers internalize this fact and look for employment where their skills and experience is valued.  They should look for mid-caps, emerging brands, and Private Equity portfolio companies which offer the most opportunities.  Our experience is our strength, we should lead with this.

My second point is to present yourself as a specialist as employers are looking for people to solve particular problems during their tenure. Even if you have what appears a generalist background, you will find that you have specialized skills that have shaped your career.
Presenting yourself as a specialist aligns well for the Digital Age. Job tenures are decreasing as people are hired to work on specific projects and then transition out of the company. This is particularly true of private equity groups.

We also discussed the value of resumes presenting only the last ten or twelve years of employment. Whereas that might be a useful strategy when talking to an in-house recruiter, it is just irritating to executive recruiters. We are interested in your total package. We want to know where you came from, the foundation for your career. It is important to understand where someone received their initial training and development.  It is a predictor of your habits supporting continued success. Eventually, I will get your entire work history, so why not save us both some time?

As most of the folks in the room were Baby Boomers with established careers, one would expect they had developed relationships with a few recruiters. I have my doubts, however, as they seem not to understand the differences between recruiters and how they work. That might be an interesting topic for another blog post.

My presentation was well received and generated a lot of discussions. I am grateful for the help I received from Kerri, another recruiter, Beverly, an employment professional, and Julie who hosted the meeting.  I could write a book about working with executive recruiters based on our dialogue. Next month I will make the same presentation to the Financial Executives Networking Group, (FENG).

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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search
Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal

Current Assignments
1. COO- Atlanta-based Casual Dining Restaurant Company - New
2. Director of Business Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company: Complete
3. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company:  Complete
4. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. In Process
5. Controller - Atlanta-based Restaurant Company:  New

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