Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Feedback from the Real World

One of the advantages of being the first and oldest at something (ExecuNet was founded in 1988) is that when you start collecting data and war stories you can truthfully say "trust me when I tell you....because I can prove it."

So "trust me when I tell you" ever since day one when we spoke to each and every person considering joining this network as well as the wealth of survey information that we have gathered since, that by far and away one of the most profound points of frustration for anyone in a search and senior level executives in particular is the deafening silence that most get when they respond to an ad, be it online or off.

There is a great deal that has been and could be said on this subject and many of us have done so over the years, but I am always looking for more resources to help in setting the right expectation level when it comes to the something like this very sore subject.

Unfortunately, a lot of what has been written on this topic while directionally correct is so filled with platitudes and excuses that in terms of resonating with the reader it simply falls pretty flat. So, when I find something that doesn't and more importantly meets our standard of pragmatism or as we like to say around the office truly is "feedback from the real world" I want to do all I can to make our members as well as others aware of it because there isn't enough of it out there.

Okay, so write this down How to Work with Headhunters by Nick Corcodilos. Many readers of this blog I am sure will recognize Nick's name if for no other reason than he too has been around for a good long while and has a well-deserved following (including myself) of his blog called Ask the Headhunter.

So why am I flogging How to Work with Headhunters? Easy. It speaks my language and if you go to the site Nick has set up to buy the book, I think you will quickly see what I mean.

Words of one syllable, really worthwhile advice from someone from the recruiting world who is willing to be transparent in an effort to try and help people really not just understand the whats and whys, but more importantly the HOWs in dealing with a whole host of issues that few job hunters really understand but which frustrate them by the thousands.

The book contains the answers to 62 "in-your-face" questions, and "in-your-face" is the right phrase. Nick's writing style sort of suggests to me an image of Howard Cosel with a sense of humor. Said differently, you may or may not like what he has to say sometimes, but it is very real, actionable, and as such should help a lot of people deal with "the system" in "real world" terms, and that we like and happily recommend.

Friday, July 17, 2009

People Will Always Pay a Premium for Quality

If you are familiar with ,ExecuNet then it will come as no surprise for you to know that we collect trend information in the executive career management arena.

One of these collection channels we call the Recruiter's Confidence Index. The RCI is a monthly survey of the recruiting community and includes both retained and contingency firms.

The core of the index is focused on their feeling about the market over the next 3-6 months. If you are interested in the latest you can click here.

In doing the survey however, we often will ask some other questions based on trends that we have either read or hear about on a day to day basis.

Recently, we wanted to check and see what the executive recruiting community folks were feeling were their "top business challenges" at this point in time vs. several months ago when the answer was a resounding "what business!"

Among other things, I was struck by the fact that doom and gloom on the nightly newscasts and the front pages notwithstanding, the #1 issue came back as: finding qualified candidates.

To explain: I was struck that this was the top concern not because this is a new issue. Finding top tier talent (what's the buzz word these days - "A" players?) has always been a major challenge, and remains so. [Hence the title of this post] No, what got my attention was not what was on top of the list, but what wasn't even in the top three - specifically the hunt for new business.

This isn't to say that firms that specialize in the sectors that have really been hard hit (Financial Services, Credit, Construction,and Housing) aren't still feeling it big time, for many are, but as a whole, at least based on what people were telling us in the last couple of months, the sky may still be very cloudy and producing occasional severe storms; nonetheless, they are starting to see some light on the far horizon.

And in case you were wondering, #2 was covered by the phrase "client and business issues" (whatever that may mean) and #3 was "relocation." Certainly one can tie the latter to the housing market, and it would also make selling a candidate tougher for sure, but the fact that recruiters' phones were starting to ring (if not off the hook but still ringing) was a good sign.

What are you hearing?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Invent, Invent, Invent

Okay, I admit it, I am a Tom Friedman groupie and if you fall into that category then you will instantly recognize the title of this post as being the title of the Op Ed piece that Friedman wrote for the Sunday NY Times at the end of June.

If you haven't seen this piece then as both as a business leader not to mention a concerned citizen I very much suggest you check it out.

If you don't have the time, the gist of the article is about what Friedman (and others) feel is needed to overcome our current economic woes.

Essentially, the point he makes is that the benchmark UVP that the U.S. has is its creatvity, especially in the creation of breakthrough technology. Not that this by itself is "the answer" as we all know, but it is certainly an essential element.

To help underscore his point, there is what I thought was a great quote at the beginning of the piece in which Friedman quotes Craig Barrett, the former chairman of Intel, who when Tom asked him what he thought the "way out" was said: "Any American kid who wants his driver's license has to finish high school. No diploma - no license. Hey, why would we want to put a kid who can barely add, read or write behind the wheel of a car?"

A tad of an over-simplification for sure, but an attention grabber that helps us to foucs on what I think is the real elephant in the room - the state of education in our country.

If you buy the argument that the world is well into a knowledge driven economy then you would certainly get the point that Barrett was making and one with which I am sure Friedman agrees.

A sample for those who like stats:

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development places the United States 18th among the 36 nations examined, USA Today reported ...

Headed to the top of the heap is South Korea where 93 percent of high school students graduate on time compared with the United States where 75 percent receive their diplomas.
And these are just percentages and say nothing about the "quality" of each. I often wonder if in many high schools they don't give away as many diplomas as are really earned.

I also often wonder why it is that the American business community and most especially those with global footprints don't do far more to lobby and $upport an education system that is desperately deficient.

To say that it is in their self-interest is the understatement of week!