Was getting an avalanche of requests for career advice, so I put this together for my active candidate list, roughly 100 executives. Hope it helps!
This is NOT the End of the World – First and foremost: You WILL get another job. I was fired once. L.A. Gear fired me in the 80s for being a whistle blower. I carpooled that day, so I sat on the curb with a cardboard box of my belongings thinking, “OMG, I’ll never find a job.” But I did. And so will you. For now, if you are gainfully employed, keep your head down and make the best of it. If you are on the street, keep working your network. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
Hiring Update – Of my 22 executive searches, 20 were placed on HOLD or CANCELLED. Nearly 100% of companies have instituted a HIRING FREEZE. We don’t know how or when this ends. So in the meantime, I have assembled a few recommendations for you, based on my 15 years as an Executive Recruiter that lived through 9/11, the bank crash of 2008, October 1…and now this. You don’t have to agree with me. That’s what I love about America, we can agree to disagree and still be friends.
Depression 3.0 – We have seen this movie before. In August 2008 I had about 30 active executive searches. A week later I had zero. So from my side of the table I know how to navigate this. My clients are grumpy, and for good reason. I’m not going to pressure them for work. For me, that is poor form. I was on the other side of the desk for 20 years and feel their pain. When we come out the other side, and we will, hiring will pick up. Best guess? There is absolutely no way to know. We don’t know how bad or long this takes until we emerge on the other side. I do not have any confidence that we will reopen on April 16 in Las Vegas. Someone far smarter to me said Memorial Day May 25. I pray that he is right.
What Companies are Looking For – When we get to the other side, companies will be looking for the same things they have for the last 20 years, so maybe now is the right time to rethink your career strategy. First, education. Although I have an MBA from Texas A&M, I’m not here to debate the value of an education. If the clients wants a four year college degree, I can only submit candidates with a four year degree. Period. Never too late to go back to school. Second, stable work history. Again, this is not a Mark Wayman decision. If the hiring company requires three to five years in your current role, I can only submit candidates that meet the requirement. If you have moved around, find a home…and stay there!
Stay Connected – Even in these hard times, there are many people that don’t get back to me. I totally don’t get it. Then years later they send me a resume and want me to drop everything to help. Stay connected! Double check your LinkedIn profile and make your PERSONAL email is on there. Update your LinkedIn profile. Review your LinkedIn connections. You might trip over someone that can help you.
Be a Giver – At the end of the day, no one likes a taker. You know those people. You see their name come up your cell phone and you just know they are calling for a favor. Don’t be that person! When someone asks how I became so successful my answer is always the same, “They call me Godfather because I helped a thousand people get jobs and probably did another 10,000 favors knowing full well those people would never be able to pay me back.” Kindness costs zero.
85% of Career Opportunities Come from Your Network – Most of your career opportunities will come from people you know. For instance, if you are a CFO, who do think is getting the Executive Recruiter calls for CFO jobs? That is correct – your peers. First thing you want to do if you get RIFd is check with all your peers for opportunities. Work your network! Mostly online job postings are for companies that can’t hire quality executives. And you will be one of 200 people applying for that job today. If you are $60,000, applying online makes great sense. Once you reach $100,000, you have a better shot at winning the lottery. Every day of my life I get good candidates that have applied to a spreadsheet of companies and five Recruiters. It handcuffs me and I can’t add value for them.
10% of Career Opportunities Come from Executive Recruiters – Most of the BIG jobs go to Executive Recruiters. Why? Because top performing companies don’t want to spend hours and hours shuffling resumes and trying to qualify people. My clients hire me for two reasons. First, I have access to 6,000 executives. No cold calling; no trying to figure it out. Second, I know where all the skeletons are buried. People that were terminated for drugs, alcohol and sexual harassment. For most of my candidates, I can quote scripture and verse, tell you their strengths and weaknesses, and whether they are a fit for the company culture. THAT…is why companies use Executive Recruiters. Source the best people; eliminate the bad actors.
The Two Rules of Executive Recruiting – First, the wrong time to meet a Recruiter is when you are unemployed. For me, when we hit the hard times like 2008, I had 50 personal friends out of work. They all get a line pass. Why? Because I’m the most loyal person you ever met. Because I know them all personally and can vouch for them. Because they have supported my business and charity work for 25 years. I don’t apologize for that. Second rule: Recruiters get people for jobs, not jobs for people. If we don’t place executives…we don’t eat. Personally, I would love to help every single person that approaches me. That would be millions of dollars! But I’m realistic, and I would rather be stellar on a handful of searches than mediocre on a high number of searches.
Relationships Trump Transactions – During hard times, or when you lose your job, you get to find out who your five real friends are. I can’t count the number of people I got a job and never heard from again…until they were unemployed. Not a thank you; not a cup of coffee. That is a transaction. And yes, I’m Executive Recruiter and got paid to place all those people so I’m not complaining. But I will tell you this after 15 years and 1,000 placements: Relationships trump transactions; relationships trump talent.
Establish a Rainy Day Fund – There is a story that goes, “The monkeys all got together during a rainstorm and decided they absolutely MUST build a roof once the sun came out. Getting poured on every time is rains was dreadful. But when the sun came out, the monkeys all went back to playing and forgot about the roof.” Fact: 40% of Americans can’t afford an out of the ordinary $400 expense. When I got clobbered after 9/11 I set aside three months’ pay. Then when the banks failed in 2008 I set aside 12 months’ pay. Unfortunately, America has become a nation of consumerism. Our media says you must have all this “stuff” to be happy. Don’t buy the hype! If you are healthy, have family and friends, you are already rich. And if you did not put away money for a rainy day, once we get through this…do it.