Seeking New Adventures in Your Career

Top Recruiters Provide Their Insight into Today’s Market : Summary from Roundtable

What is Happening in the Job Market?

Top industry experts from Korn Ferry, Spencer Stuart, Strategic Transitions Inc. and cFour Partners shared some of their incites on career management with the club during a recent program event. There was a lot of ground covered. Below is a brief summery of our panelist’s thoughts and some pearls of wisdom on trends in the market place, career management and getting your foot in the door with the right company.

What Are Hiring Trends?

Our recruiters panel gave the group a dose of reality in describing today’s market. It’s back to basic. Companies are looking for people who have specific industry or functional expertise. Last year, employers were willing to take a shot on someone “with potential” or who “could grow into a position.” Today, they want to see that you have done exactly what they are looking for and that you have a proven track record of success. That having been said, our panel urged the group to do a reality check. Over the past two years, or so, many executives are guilty of thinking they accomplished more than they really did. It’s important that we understand and can defend what we really accomplished in the last few years because employers are much more skeptical. As for time in the job market searchers can expect today, “A” players are taking 6-9 months to find work. It’s not pretty.

Summary on Career Management: Keeping the Focus

One of our panelists said it best when he stated “your aunt Susie isn’t going to manage your career for you. You need to own it!” Part of “owning it” is first understanding where your passions lie. Sure, you may be in an opportunity which allows you to make the big bucks and have the power and glory, but the group felt that in the long run trying to fit into a round hole if you are a square peg always leads to failure. Once you know where you want to head, part of managing your career is getting real and continuous feed back on how you are doing. The group recommended not being shy about soliciting this feedback. Be pro-active, form your own “advisory board”, get a mentor and/or a coach. This feedback will help you navigate your career through tough times. There is often the impulse to “day trade with your job” when situations get rocky. The panel’s advice was to stick in there and work at your career rather than going off and looking for greener pastures. It’s easy in good times to flip to the next opportunity, but you loose out on the experience you gain that can help you in times like this. When it is time to make a move, references will be important. Our panel’s advise is to have your reference list established well before you decide to make a move. These must be people who know you and what you do very well and will be strong advocates. Our panelists shared with us a few horror stories around bad references. Don’t let this happen to you!

Summary on Getting Your Foot in the Door: Recruiters

How do we get our foot in the door with recruiters or companies without suffering bodily injury from that door slamming shut? For starters, the panel recommended being focused in terms of organizations and positions you are pursuing. It’s a buyer’s market and if you don’t know what you are selling you are doomed. That having been said, one clear message from the group was network, network, network. Given that 80% of senior level positions are found through networking, we cannot afford not to do this. Don’t be one of the people who decide to begin networking once they need a job. It could take a good year to build a relationship within one of your target organizations. Start today. We all have networks we do not exercise. Start putting them to work. “Cold call” into these network. You will be surprised at the results.

In pursing a relationship with a recruiter be aware that the average recruiter only works on 10-15 searches a year. You’ll get their attention if you are a potential candidate for a specific search they are currently conducting or a source of candidates for that search or source of business, otherwise the advise of the group was not to spend a lot of time pursuing recruiters. One final note, which is timely given all of the scandals we see in corporate America today… be honest. If a recruiter calls, you should assume they will know a good deal about you, your organization and your accomplishments. Exaggerating in any of these areas will be fatal.

Panel Participants Included:

  • Stephanie Davis: Director in Spencer Stuart’s Technology, Communications & Media Practice and the co-leader of the firm’s Software Specialty Practice.
  • Richard Spitz: Managing Director at Korn Ferry International and leader of the firm’s North American Advanced Technology Practice.
  • Neil Lenarsky: Chairman of Strategic Transition Inc. He has been described by Business 2.0 as the “Agent to the Corporate Stars”, and acts as strategic manager, agent, counselor and advocate to corporate executives in the search process.
  • Robert W. Bellano: Managing Director of cFour Partners, Los Angeles, an international retained executive search firm focused exclusively on the high-technology and digital media industries.
  • Bill Simon: Managing Director at Korn Ferry International and the leader of the firm’s Entertainment and Media Practice.
  • Moderator: Stephen Semprevivo, Chief Administrative Officer of Korn Ferry International.