Utilizing Executive Search Services Most Effectively

Strategies for success for both employers and candidates. Marie J. Maher Ph.D.

As a top global Executive Recruiter, I deal with companies all over the world finding them outstanding talent. We fill jobs for employers globally. Sometimes, they share with me that they have not had success in the past using executive search services. In the same way, executive candidates often tell me they have been disappointed previously with representation by an executive recruiter. In this column I’d like to share how you can make the maximum use of an Executive Search professional and have a successful and rewarding result – if you are an employer or a candidate.

Employer Pointers

Starting with employers I’ll share some pointers here about how to most effectively utilize your Executive Search partner. These are the things that will help me move swiftly to find you fantastic talent: A “real” job description, (not the one created 10 years ago and outdated), a realistic salary range and clear disclosure to me about your expected hiring figure, explaining to me about your benefits, perks, bonuses, telling me why you have a great place to work, giving me some tools to help me “sell” your company and location to fine executive and management candidates, acknowledge my candidate submissions. Please return my phone calls and emails, and give me feedback. I cannot find you the perfect hire if I cannot communicate with you.

But most importantly for employers, is your hiring arc. The MOST effective hiring arc looks like this:

• One week to get me what I need from you and confirm our relationship. Only a day or two for repeat business.

• Two weeks for me to find you great candidates.

• Two weeks for you to do telephone interviews and decide who to bring on site.

• Two weeks for you to hire.

Ideally, from the time you contact me to making an offer and hire should not exceed 7 weeks. If it takes you longer than this, the candidates will either lose interest, take another position, or believe your company is slow to make key decisions. I cannot control your hiring arc, only you can do that.

Remember, candidates are interviewing you also. They look for efficiency, honesty, and the clear ability to make decisions. I value my employers. I work internationally and have hundreds of different types of employer companies to work with. I always have repeat business because I am good at this and care about your needs and the candidates. But I cannot control your internal impediments. My own background as a business leader gives me a compassionate perspective on your concerns. If you have an internal challenge, tell me in confidence so I can provide a work around for you.

Executive Transitions

If you are an executive looking for a career transition, please read my insights that follow. I’m sure you have heard the saying that the best time to look for a job is when you have one, and that’s the truth. No matter how disappointed you may be in your current job, I encourage you to remain as long as you effectively can. This will give you time and income to advance your career, rather than just finding a job because you have to.

It’s always better to move forward from a platform of security. Use your planning time to plan what the future might look like. Address the issue of your career trajectory; where do you wish to end up? Are you on the correct path? Communicate with your professional references, to be sure you have their current contact information. Address your resume, update it and have a professional friend read it also for content and presentation. Research your field and read career advancement literature. Be prepared to move forward.

I help qualified executives make career transitions across industries every day; specializing most often in gaming, hospitality, and Tribal leadership. My network of companies and executives is deep and dynamic. But, I do NOT find jobs for people. I find people for jobs.

While I may open doors for you, you will get hired from your own efforts and presentation. How will you present yourself to the employer, secure the offer, and present yourself in the new workplace? Interviewing is absolutely key to a successful career transition.

The Zen Interview

In the sense of finding your true self in daily business life, these are aspects of what I call “the Zen interview”. I see Zen interviews happening more than you might think. And they do NOT happen by luck or accident. They happen from an awareness and desire to produce the best possible outcomes in the interview session. They happen because of excellence. They happen because of emotional intelligence. And, you can maximize the chances of making them happen for your workplace or your own candidacy.

There are FOUR absolutely necessary steps to creating a possible Zen interview. The first is simply PREPARATION. As an employer, before that candidate is sitting in front of you, review the questions you plan to ask and memorize them, so that you can speak to the interviewee rather than reading from a paper. This may seem obvious, but the biggest complaint I hear when debriefing candidates is, “They read questions from their paper and they didn’t even seem to be talking to me.” In fact, one candidate told me recently, and I later was able to verify, that he was asked the same question three times in a group interview. Everyone reading from their papers just kept asking it again. This diminished the candidate, but in his eyes it also diminished the executives interviewing him and ultimately the company itself. When I asked the interviewing team later how this could have happened, their answers were about not being prepared before the interview and not noticing their error; in other words they weren’t listening.

As a candidate, you too must be well practiced before entering into the interview. Not in a robotic sense of having rote answers, but in a sense of revisiting your goals, considering how you wish to be seen, and reviewing your own resume for anything you plan to emphasize or explain. Consider a few conversational sentences you could offer that are professional and courteous. Help the interviewers to interview you successfully. And keep your answers on track. The biggest complaint I get from interviewers is that the candidate wandered, went off-point, rambled, and just lost their perspective.

The second absolutely necessary step it to ENGAGE. Showing up is NOT engaging. Engaging means fully experiencing this interview. Listen to learn and understand, not to reply. Use encouraging body language; lean forward a bit, smile often, focus upon the speaker, use monosyllabic agreement sounds when appropriate. Do not interrupt; that is not engaging, that is rudeness.

For the interviewer, it is not necessary to show the power balance by sitting across the desk, having crossed arms, a distant, aloof and unapproachable demeanour, and a non-responsive bearing. Remember that interviews cut both ways. The candidate is drawing conclusions also. In a very real sense, the candidate is interviewing you as well.

Candidates, there is nothing wrong with enthusiasm. This is your career moment. Shine for it! Show up. Smile. Use your communication skills. Be there.

The third step is to work through the interview process from a place of GRATITUDE. I’m not suggesting you need be grateful for the job interview itself, but please consider being grateful for the opportunity. This is a chance to meet new business connections who may become threaded throughout your career. Perhaps this is a chance to potentially raise your compensation level. It is a chance to engage in career related growth dialogue. For interviewers, this is an opportunity to view new talent and enjoy their fresh perspective. Everything about the interview process can be a window and opportunity to function within gratitude.

Remember, coming from gratitude is not weakness. In fact, it may be the ultimate expression of strength.

The final step is to bring your JOY. What? Is she crazy? Yes, that is correct; “Bring your joy.” Chill and enjoy. At the end of the day, this is another interview of a vast number in your career life.

Whether you are being interviewed or interviewing another, make this special. You can do that by awakening your joyful spirit and bringing harmony to the experience. See it as an opportunity to explore another place and situation. Unblock your nervousness and appreciate the tense feeling as excitement about potential.

For those of you who interview others, think what a great opportunity you have to help someone appreciate themselves and what they have to offer, to show your compassion and knowledge, to be a mentor and role model.

For those being interviewed, relax and feel the fun of exploring something new. Make this a joyful and exciting time to invigorate your life and career! If you are prepared, fully engaged, and you bring your joy, ANY interview can be a Zen interview! You will change jobs many times in your career, hence many job interviews. Overcome the drama or tedium and cherish this opportunity to connect. Not every job is meant for you, but most interview meetings are growth opportunities which you will understand and see more clearly over time. You will grasp these take-aways when you have clearer perspective on the experience.

Wishing you continued productivity and success!

Marie J. Maher Ph.D. is the owner of Recruiting by Marie Maher www.recruitingbymariemaher.com placing management talent internationally within Casino Gaming and Hospitality industries to include Dining, Lodging and all Entertainment venues. Contact her: marie@mariejmaher.com