Saturday, June 26, 2010

The 21 Best Reasons to Work With a Headhunter (Part 3)

8: We know “market values”. Headhunters who specialize in a particular industry or functional discipline know what jobs are worth. We know what candidates are worth. My experience is that most employers are not willing to pay for the talent they need or want, but hire those who are willing to take the job at the prescribed pay level which fits into “the range". Those ranges are seldom designed to attract (or retain)top performers.

Conversely, candidates tend to over-estimate their value and will dig around until they find someone who is willing to pay them what they think they are worth. This usually turns out badly. The employer eventually realizes that he’s overpaid and regrets hiring the person. Or, the candidate discovers that he’s now in a terrible job with an awful company that can only get people by overpaying.

9: We know “market conditions”. Headhunters understand how markets shift between geographies and functions and economic cycles. For example, several years ago we saw a lot of value being placed on people who could manage driver recruiting departments. Then things changed and the focus was on business development people. Now we’re seeing a shift back toward driver recruiting or capacity development. And values can shift between segments within an industry, i.e. geographic region or service sector.

10: We know companies. Experienced headhunters learn companies. We learn about their cultures, their values, how they motivate employees, how they treat vendors and how they serve customers.

11: We know why an employer needs to fill the position. (Something any rational candidate should want to know before considering the opportunity).

12. We know why a candidate is interested in finding a new position. (Something any rational employer should want to know before considering someone for employment.)

We know a lot more stuff and I'll cover that next week in Part 4....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The 21 Best Reasons to Work With a Headhunter (Part 2)

If you are the Hiring Authority….

4: Client Confidentiality. There are a lot of good reasons not to broadcast that you are trying to fill a key position. The obvious one is that you have someone in the position who you need to replace, but you do not want this person to know about it. But there are other less obvious situations. For example, you are promoting or transferring someone. They know about it and are excited about the advancement opportunity. But you do not want to stir up your organization (or the competition) by going to the market with a publicized search. Another example is the organization in “transition”. I’m being polite. What I could say is that your organization has had a hard time “getting it right” and you’ve gone through a lot of management changes. There is a point at which candidates just won’t even consider responding to an ad from “that company” because they are always looking for people. If you don’t want to become “that company” consider keeping some of your searches confidential.

5: Targeted search. If you know exactly what you want there are a lot of advantages to using a search firm. Your personal network will always be option number one. But if that does not yield the right candidate, using a search firm to drill into specific competitors for specific talent is the next best option.

6: Expertise. A well-connected search firm that specializes in an industry or functional discipline will deliver more highly qualified candidates than you will get from running ads or networking.
The operative words being “highly qualified”. You can find a lot of candidates and fill jobs without using a search firm. No question, most jobs do get filled without using a search firm. And most of the time it doesn’t matter that much so why pay a bunch of money to a search firm? (Bet you never expected to hear that from a headhunter). But when it does matter and you need to see the best in order to hire the best (even if the best one ultimately does not come from the search firm), then you owe to yourself to use a search firm.

7: Bottom Line Impact. What’s the difference between an “8” and a “10”? Well, it depends on the position. How much does it matter? If it is a moderately high impact position it is easily in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. If it is a significantly high impact position, then it’s in the millions. Think about your business and the impact your best people have on the bottom line. Why would you not make every effort to hire the best people?

Next Week: Part 3

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The 21 Best Reasons to Work With a Headhunter (Part 1)

1: Headhunters develop relationships with company hiring authorities. As an individual you may have a good professional network. If you don’t, then you need to start working on it. But, no matter how hard you work at “networking” you will never be as plugged into career opportunities as a well-connected headhunter who specializes in your industry or profession.

2: Headhunters develop relationships with talented candidates. No matter how good your resume looks or how many social networks you join, you are dancing in the dark when it comes to finding the best opportunities. You may find a job or a job may find you, but you have no way of knowing the jobs you are missing by not having a strong relationship with a headhunter who has strong relationships with hiring authorities.

3: Candidate Confidentiality. You may think there is an upside to your current employer finding your resume posted on a job board or noting on your Linked In profile that you are interested in “career opportunities”. In fact, there may be some upside here. You might have a boss who will reach out to you. You might get a hug, a promotion and a big raise. But I wouldn’t count on it. Most likely, nothing will happen. At least as far you know. But you may get put on the unofficial “watch list”. Back in the day (before the internet), the watch list consisted of people who were always reading the “help wanted” ads in the newspaper, or in Transport Topics or in the Journal of Commerce. Combine reading the “want ads” with comments about how much more money people got paid over at Brand X, and you really started to let the air out of your career tires. The same dynamic is in play today, it’s just gone digital.

Stay below the radar. Develop a relationship with a headhunter whom you can trust and whose clients are likely to offer the desired career opportunities. I would even say it’s ok to develop relationships with two or three headhunters where it makes sense.

Next week Part 2 of the 21 Best Reasons….

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Risky Business

I have always been fascinated by the way we humans make decisions. As I look at the BP disaster in the Gulf, I see a familiar model of decision making. I call it the “Big Reward-What are the Odds” model. It works like this. When people believe there is an achievable, large reward in the near term, they tend to underestimate the downside risks. And the lower the probability of a specific downside risk, the more they tend to underestimate the consequences of even the most disastrous potential outcomes.

So what does this have to do with you and your career? A lot if you tend to be a big risk taker. Now there’s nothing wrong with taking risks. This nation was founded by folks who put it all on the line. Business involves risks. All great endeavors start out with someone who is willing to take risks. But when you accept risk, you must be honest about the potential outcomes. Our founding fathers had no illusions about the consequences of failure. Benjamin Franklin assessed their situation correctly when he said, “We must hang together gentleman, or we will most assuredly hang separately”.

Now back to your career choices. Let’s say you are a salaried sales person working for a well-established company. Your base salary is $ 85,000, you get a car (nothing fancy) and if you do well and the company does well you might get a $10,000 bonus. You are reasonably satisfied, but see no long-term future with this company and would like to make more money. You get a call from a headhunter and he tells you about this great opportunity with a growing, progressive company. The base salary is about the same as what you’re making now, they offer a large car allowance and here’s the kicker…their incentive plan pays you for your performance. Realistically, you should make $50,000-100,000 just on the incentive and if you’re a super star it could be double that.

You start doing the math and get excited. You can see yourself making over $200,000 a year. You decide to go for it and end up getting the job. “Big Reward-What are the Odds”. Once you are on board you discover that the new company does not support its product (or service) very well in your market. This is going to be tougher than you thought and it’s going to take some time. Then your boss tells you that if you are not generating a certain level of revenue within 90 days, they will have to cut your salary. I could go on with the downward spiral, but you know the story. Ultimately you get canned.

What went wrong? You got hooked on the “Big Reward” and failed to answer the “What are the Odds?” question. To go one step further you did not seriously consider the consequences of failure.

Recommendation: When that so-called great opportunity comes your way, think first about the likelihood and consequences of failure and work from there. Do the same with your current situation. If I stay, what’s the worst that could happen and how likely is that? And don’t get caught in the “either or” trap. Your current situation may not be a good one, but don’t jump to a worse one just for the sake of change. Look for something better and be patient. Know what you’ve got, know what you want and know what it will look like when it comes along.