Friday, December 02, 2005

No Monkey Business When It Comes To You, Inc.

I got a chance the other day to read a piece on CEO turnover that came via Challenger, Gray & Christmas and via CNN/Money. Isn't the Internet great?

In any event, the article said in part "So far this year, 1,110 CEOs have left their jobs, surpassing even the dotcom exodus of 2000. October saw 96 departures, 113 percent higher than during October 2004, including 15 health-care CEOs and a dozen chief executives from the technology sector." This was not a huge surprise since we all have seen the stats that talk about the average tenure of a CEO these days is something less than three (3) years.

What got me thinking was that when it comes to managing one's career in this new world of "Me, Inc.," you had better not only be proactive in your thinking, but you had better be “up” on the tools and techniques that will help put you in the position to compete and not just be part of the pack. While it is obviously encouraging to all of us that the economy still seems to be moving forward in spite of high energy prices, hurricanes, and the understatement of "foreign entanglements," it doesn't change the fact that moving on to the next challenge is anything but easy. Indeed, with this being the case, and in this environment, it still amazes me on a daily basis that so many senior-level executives continue to approach the job market and managing their careers in ways that don't seem to recognize that the world as moved so far beyond "Dear Sir, I saw your ad in the Wall Street Journal" that it doesn't even show in your rear view mirror.

This is just one of the reasons that I was so taken with David Perry's new book called Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters. After I had read a draft, I not only thought the book was going to help an awful lot of people, but I specifically wanted to see if we could get him to put a special live webinar together to help our members become familiar with some of what the book had to offer and also would give them a chance to talk with him. Fortunately, we were able to "score" on both fronts.

When executives are out of work, one of the first things one often hears them say is that they plan to "work with a recruiter.” Even after all these years it still amazes me that somehow they have the notion that a recruiter is the "answer" when almost nothing could be further from reality. In the environment that will continue for at least as far as most of us can see, anyone looking for a senior-level executive job had better hone in on and become an advocate of “do-it-yourself career management.” The tools that Perry has put together in the book make it the best DIY kit that I have come across in a long time.

1 comment:

David Perry said...

With regards to Execs deciding to work with recruiters after they've lost their job allow me to throw a little light

There are two major types of recruiters for executives and each is leveraged for a different outcome. By understanding the differences, you’re readers will know which ones can help which ones won’t bother to return their calls.

Executive Search Firms
“Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” pretty much summarizes the philosophy of most executive search firms, and with good reason.

Companies hire executive search professionals (ESPs) on a retainer to find candidates to fit a specific role the company has identified – it’s nothing personal – you either fit exactly or you don’t. They generally are paid 35-50% of a candidate’s first year compensation in 3 installments of 1/3 each one month apart regardless of whether they search is successful or not.

Now and again you’ll find an ESP who has real influence with their client because they really understand the firm – its goals and challenges – but those ESP are 1 in a 1,000,000.

Usually, a candidate must meet rigid requirements to receive consideration. They are not interested in job-seekers, other than to fatten their databases. They will be working from a target list of potential candidates identified by a researcher. The job of the ESP is to convince the targeted candidates to look at the opportunity and then assess the fit. There is little to be gained by approaching these people directly.

You’re better off to wait for them to discover you, and if you excel at your job, they will—without prompting from you. You can accelerate the process by increasing your visibility in the community through board memberships and civic organizations AND that’s what Guerrillas do.

Headhunters (also referred to as recruiters by the uninformed) come in two basic flavors - retained and contingency:

Retained: Here the firm has a financial relationship with the client company much like that of an executive search firm. Retained recruiters are paid an up-front fee and a further success fee for completing the assignment. Completing an assignment requires the recruiter to match a candidate to the job specification. Retained recruiters usually have an exclusive relationship with the employer and may even be their unofficial talent scout.

Contingency: The recruiter can present a candidate but only gets paid if the company likes and hires that candidate. Often many contingency recruiters compete to fill the same position. Time is of the essence, so if you want to be considered, you have to be available for interviews on a moment’s notice. Sometimes a headhunter is also a good “promoter” and will play both sides of the employer/job-hunter equation. Try to find a recruiter who specializes in your industry or the one you want to enter. If possible, find a recruiter at least six months before you need the service because it will take the recruiter a while to hunt through the market for possible opportunities. Do not work with more than one recruiter at a time in the same city.

Do not try to circumvent recruiters who already have a relationship with a firm because they will never talk to you again. Money is at stake—they don’t get paid if you approach the company without them. The real deal here is that while you may be trying to save the employer a few dollars, circumventing the recruiter shows neither the recruiter nor the employer can trust you. The employer understands that using the newspaper or job boards will not necessarily deliver the results they want. The recruiter’s fees are part of the hiring cost, which has been budgeted for already. It is not coming out of your paycheck. I have heard about several candidates who tried this, only to have the recruiter blow up the bridge to ensure that the candidate did not get the job.

Headhunters have a “one-strike and you’re-out” mentality. They don’t work for you; they work for themselves. You are just the product. They assume all the risk and costs in marketing you. Make sure you know what you are looking for before you contact them. Make sure they understand what you are looking for and keep them informed about your progress on the interviews they arrange for you.

If you are looking for a good recruiter because your job search is stalled, ask your friends to refer one – but do it 6-12 months before you need them or you won’t experience the full effect of a thorough search. The simplest way to find a great recruiter is to ask for a referral through ExecuNet.

- David Perry