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    What is the most important factor in engaging a search firm?

    August 14th, 2009

    We have been conducting searches in the direct marketing arena for over 35 years.  Some clients have heard about us from colleagues, and that is “good enough” reason to use us.  They engage us to conduct a search without question.  Other potential clients put us through a rigorous selection process.  What is the most important factor in your decision to engage a search firm?

    How do you avoid a Paper Tiger?

    August 13th, 2009

    Anyone who has had experience in hiring management personnel knows the problem.  An executive may appear to have all the desirable experience, strengths and substance you require – and still be a mistake.   On paper, they are a tiger.  In reality, they don’t deliver.

    The cost of such an error is exhorbitant.  The expense of relocation, the loss of productivity and opportunities, the salary, benefits and perhaps severance you had to pay, are only the financial costs.  The most serious problem may be the lowering of morale among your employees when an executive comes on board and leaves soon afterward.

    And, of course there is that constant nagging thought:

    Can you do better the next time?  The answer is yes, with a methodical…and harsh…system of selection.

    The hiring process must be viewed as a thorough analysis of both the weaknesses, and the strengths, of even the most desirable candidate, because strengths will always be more obvious.  Most hiring mistakes result from failure to detect those weaknesses during the selection process.

    There are 5 steps, and as many pitfalls, to effective hiring:

    1.  Define the job in the way you want it done and not necessarily the way it has been done.

    2.  Attract a sufficient pool of quality candidates, even when the talent is sparse.

    3.  Insist that candidates present a resume thoroughly outlining their employment history.

    4.  Interview carefully, and listen carefully for what isn’t said.

    5.  Check references as if your company’s fate depended on it.

    So how do you avoid hiring a “Paper Tiger?”  Conducting a rigorous hiring process be a tedious endeavor.  However, it is one that is well worth it in the long run, resulting in a hire that will reap rewards for years to come.

    Money…continued from yesterday

    August 12th, 2009

    Counteroffers are tempting…

    Until you consider that you will be sitting at the same desk, reporting to the same person, in the same organization.  Was money the only reason you accepted a new position?  And if your current employer was able to come up with an immediate “raise” for you, how come they didn’t do that before you had a foot out the door?

    When your boss makes a counteroffer and retains you, they are trying to save face, and avoid the inconvenience of having to replace you.  When someone quits, it is a rejection of their current situation, including their boss.  So you are offered more money until the boss has an opportunity to deal with your situation on their own terms.  Think about it; they know you went through the interview process with another company once.  They know you will do it again.  Now your loyalty is in question.  Even if you stay, things will not be as they were.

    Moreover, your reasons for wanting to leave your current employer still exist.  The quick raise is flattering at first, but masks other issues that caused you to explore your career options in the first place.  Those reasons usually emerge again in a short time.

    Ultimately, when making your decision about whether to stay or go, look at your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed.  Think about which career opportunity offers more challenge, opportunity, and long term potential.  But please, don’t stay where you are just for the money.

    Why Money isn't Everything

    August 11th, 2009

    As the economy rebounds, job seekers are beginning to put a toe in the water again and explore their career options.  Many were reluctant to make a move over the past year or so, concerned about jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

    As their employers  cut back on staff and even compensation, many talented professionals found that they were no longer enjoying their jobs as much as they used to.  But many chose to remain in their comfort zone.

    Now that the job market is opening up again, top performers have new options.  Many are being approached by companies for positions of growth, career enhancement, and salary advancement.  They interview, weigh the pros and cons of the new opportunity, agonize over the decision to leave their current position, and decide to accept the new employer’s offer.

    When they approach their current boss to resign, they are asked to stay.   Enticements can include a pay increase, a promotion and/or promises of future consideration.  This is what’s known as a counteroffer.  Counteroffers are generally made with some form of flattery or guilt attached.  It sounds tempting…

                                                                   …. to be continued tomorrow

    Inspirational thought

    August 10th, 2009

    “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it.  But that it is too low – and we reach it.”

    – Michelangelo

    Who is really using Twitter?

    August 7th, 2009

    Although many of our candidates indicate that they are currently engaged in Social Media marketing, we are not seeing them on Twitter.  I find this to be curious, and want to better understand who actually benefits from Twitter (besides celebrities!)  Can money be made using Twitter?  What is the point of Twitter?

    The job market is improving

    August 6th, 2009

    Well, it happened again today.

    Our client authorized us to extend an offer of employment, and our candidate turned it down.  The economy must be picking up.

    Last month, it happened to me twice.  I had a client who extended an offer to one of my candidates, and the candidate had multiple offers from which to choose.  He ultimately accepted another offer  – identical in compensation – because he thought he would be happier in a “client side” environment.  I presented additional candidates, and my client extended an offer to another one of my candidates.  She had been unemployed for only a short while, and she was concerned about the cultural fit with this client.  Without another offer of employment in hand, she turned down my client’s offer.  That’s confidence that the job market is improving.  (I’m not sure I would have done the same thing in her shoes.)

    Today another recruiter in this office reached an impasse on a search he had been conducting.  The offer was extended…it was somewhat short of our expectations, and our candidate’s expectations.  The client still feels that it’s a “buyer’s market”.  But the candidate, who is employed, declined the offer.  Our job seekers have a renewed confidence in their career options.

    Frustrating for us as recruiters…but I believe these stories bode well for the job market.  Our candidates have options again.   (And for the record, most of the offers of employment we extend are accepted!)

    Marketing Recruiter Advice: Addresses on resumes

    August 5th, 2009

    In my direct and ecommerce marketing recruiting firm, we are noticing a trend towards leaving home addresses off of resumes.  Some feel that an email address will suffice for contact information.  However, we often contact people based on their current location.  For example, if we have a client in Chicago that has asked us to identify local area talent, we need to know whether you live in the Chicagoland area.  We used to be able to determine this by area code, but in this era of mobile phones, area codes are not a reliable indicator of address.

    Another benefit to providing us with your home address is that although it is that although snail mail is not our preferred method of contact, it is an additional way to find you if you move.  (You may not believe this, but many people forget to inform their executive recruiter when they move from one home to another. )  At Crandall Associates, we pay for address correction so that we do not “lose” our registered candidates.

    Even if you have a privacy concern about divulging your home address, we require a zip code at the very least.  And be assured, your resume never leaves our office without your permission.

    Please do put a home address on your resume!

    The Boss – a column idea that none of the direct marketing trade press were interested in.

    August 4th, 2009

    While reading the New York Times each Sunday, I always enjoy a column called “The Boss” in the business section.  It features some thoughts from a leader of industry; generally their formative influences and some insight as to their philosophy.

    I thought direct marketers would be interested in learning about leaders in our industry, and presented this column on spec to a variety of our trade papers.  I enjoyed interviewing business leaders, and creating this initial piece.  Not one trade paper expressed an interest in my column.  Your thoughts?

    The Boss:  Ray McCready, President of The Orvis Company

                      “You’re only as fast as your slowest dog”

     Have you ever wondered how to rise to prominence in direct marketing?  I spoke with industry leader, Ray McCready, President of The Orvis Company, to find out about his rise to prominence in our industry, and what he learned along the way.  Orvis is the oldest mail order company in the United States, and features products of every kind that have their roots in the great outdoors.

    Ray began his career in direct marketing as an assistant Buyer at Eddie Bauer.  He was actually drawn to the brand, and landed in direct marketing quite by chance.  His tenure there spanned over 20 years, and when he parted ways with Eddie Bauer in 2000, he had risen to the position of Vice President of the International Division.  In hindsight, Ray recognizes that there was a conscious decision by those in management positions to expose him to a variety of areas within the company.  One of his mentors, Ken Wherry, helped Ray craft his management style, which is not simply to be interested in the work product, but to measure oneself against the success of those that work for you. 

    Ray was also inspired by  Dee Dee Jonrowe, Iditarod sled dog racer, who said, “You’re only as fast as your slowest dog”.  Ray recognized the parallel in terms of managing a staff at work, and did not interpret that to mean that the slowest dog should be eliminated from the team.  Rather, he has challenged himself to help everyone on his team to optimize their own performance.

    In terms of advice for up and comers, Ray feels its most important to identify the function of direct marketing that most appeals to you, because that is where you will be willing to put in the effort required to shine brightest.  Ray attributes some of his success in rising to top management to what he calls “Data based intuition”; using data and creative thinking in harmony to make decisions.

    Regarding ambition, Ray said, “I’ve never gotten a job I didn’t ask for and I certainly didn’t get every job I asked for.”

    Ray feels fortunate to have worked for 2 companies that he has held in high regard.  “Having high respect for your employer and its mission, and having pride in your brand, is a strong motivating feature.”

    On a more personal note, Ray recognizes the importance of getting away from work from time to time, and he enjoys golf, spending time with family and friends, and travel to locations such as Hawaii, the Caribbean, and New York.

    A LinkedIn Profile is not a substitute for a resume

    August 3rd, 2009

    I am a big fan of social networking.  You will find me on Facebook and LinkedIn, and to a lesser degree, Twitter.

    However, I am encountering more and more candidates that are directing me to their LinkedIn Profile when I ask for a resume.

    Although social networking can serve as an excellent source of potential leads and contacts, when exploring new career opportunities, a fully developed formal resume is still a necessity.

    Developing a resume is an overt action that shows a potential employer that you are seriously interested in a new position, not just curious to hear what is out there.

    A potential employer wants to see your entire career history accompanied by your precise dates of employment in each position, your accomplishments at each company and your educational history.

    Telling a potential employer to “take a look at my LinkedIn profile” in lieu of a resume is not sufficient.   It is important to have a current resume, despite the popularity and easy access of social networking sites.