Think Like a Recruiter

I had lunch with Doug Franklin, a local recruiter, last week. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love getting into the minds of recruiters … how do they think, what makes them tick, and more importantly, how do the operate. Doug is a class act and was a wealth of information as he generously allowed me to pick his brain. Here’s some of what we discussed.

Since I work with CFOs, many of whom have been reticent to adopt social media … particularly anything outside of Linked In, I asked specifically about his recruiting methods and those of his colleagues.  Doug’s primary direct sourcing strategy is Linked In. His colleagues use Linked In AND other social media websites as their primary strategies to direct source candidates. (Notice the absence of job boards?)

That led to our discussion around passive versus unemployed candidates. Doug has been unemployed in the past and has a compassionate side for those who find themselves in that situation. However, here’s what he said …

Clients don’t pay us to present candidates they themselves can find in job board databases.

WOW! If there was ever a compelling reason for executives to create and execute a career survival plan that includes fully embracing the power of building a visible online presence, that statement is it. Doug went on to say that he will sometimes include unemployed candidates as part of his slate of candidates, but never more than 25% because … that is not who clients are paying him to find.

Candidates have the most power when they are inside looking out. While nothing changes about a candidate’s skill set, experience, or record of contributions once he’s on the outside looking in with a big severance package in his pocket; the reality is, his marketability still takes a huge hit.

With the slow down of hiring, and according to Doug excruciatingly slow hiring decisions  as companies are willing to wait for the “right” candidate not just “a” candidate, executing a career survival plan on an ongoing basis and long before you need it, is critical to securing positioning as that “valuable” passive candidate that companies want and are willing to pay recruiters big bucks to get.

In my next post, I'll be providing my thoughts on why CFOs should embrace a social media strategy beyond Linked In … and including Facebook.

CFO Turnover is Down … That’s Good, Right?’s recent interview with Tom Kolder, president of executive search firm, Crist/Kolder Associates, resulted in the article, “No Place Like Home." In it, Kolder talks about what he sees happening within top finance positions.

The title of the article speaks volumes. Quite succinctly, risk-averse finance execs are hunkering down. I’ve blogged about this phenomenon numerous times (see Social Media and Career Management and CFOs are Worried). 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with staying where you are … unless you are blindsided by a move that is forced on you. Here’s the piece of the story you can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore:

And there is still plenty of movement that is totally driven by the other end of the equation, where, rather than the CFO deciding to leave for a better opportunity, the company says, "We're not satisfied, we're making a change, this person's gone."

CFO searches are often confidential. If you believe there is corporate loyalty, the Board and CEO love you, and your job is safe, then perhaps you are not hunkering down … maybe you have your head stuck firmly in the sand. Believing it won't make it true.

You are the only one who is vested in your career. Your career is the thing that provides for your family and funds every other thing in your life. At the risk of repeating myself and boring you to death, you have the most power and are the most valuable while you are gainfully employed. So certainly, stay at home if it makes sense to do so, but be prepared to move! If you do the hard work of crystallizing your value proposition now while you’re still occupying that corner office, you won’t have to play catch-up from the curb.

Great read in Today in Finance at

Two things stuck out to me in reading the article, “What You Don’t Know about Headhunters: 10 Tips" in Today in Finance at

First, recruiters are too busy to return every prospect’s phone call, but they expect prospects they call to return theirs. And sadly, that is just the way it is. If working with recruiters is one of your search strategies, and it should be, then you have to play by the rules the recruiters have written. Failing to do so could kill a crucial relationship.

Second is the comment made by Chuck Eldridge, Managing Director of the financial-officers practice at Korn/Ferry International

And, yes, do not wait until you are in trouble or transition to start calling recruiters. "It is extremely unfortunate that so many people don’t network or do it too late," says Eldridge.

Networking – with all of your contacts – is a long–term career management strategy and is most effective when you help others before you need help.

“Understanding what makes recruiters tick is a vital but often overlooked component of the job hunt.” It is also important to remember that recruiters work for a company, not for a candidate. The subtle difference is that they do not find candidates jobs; rather, they fill open positions.

Which brings me to a question. If there really is a recession looming, are you prepared for a possible job loss? Just like networking is most effective when you don’t need it, having a strategic career plan and working your plan is most effective before you lose a job. 

Search Firms See Executive Hiring on the Rise

The results from Execunet’s most recent Executive Employee Report indicate that executive hiring is trending upward.

“According to the report, the Recruiter Confidence Index (RCI) increased in October for the second consecutive month, once again bucking August’s report in which the RCI fell as a result of the mortgage industry’s sub-prime lending crisis. An overwhelming majority (81 percent) of executive recruiters are expecting an increase in assigments over the next three months.”

If you haven’t seen it, the full article appears in Manage Smarter.

While on the surface this looks like great news for executive job seekers, if you read my article following the Kennedy Recruiting Conference from last week then you know that this is much better news for passive, top–talent than it is for unemployed executives.

If you are unemployed and looking, you must understand your marketability and clearly articulate your value … and get out of the job boards … in order to compete with the coveted passive candidates.

For senior–level executives, resume saturation in the public job boards can be career suicide.

Passively Social

I just returned from the Kennedy Recruiting Conference in Orlando. This was a hotel full of “internal” recruiters … those folks who are employed in–house to source potential candidates for their companies. And the four words and two themes we heard over and over were …

–Passive Candidates
–Social Networks

What internal recruiters want is the coveted A–player who is currently employed. Where they go to find them are social networking and job aggregator sites like Linked In, Ziggs, ZoomInfo, and Naymz.

If you want to play the game, you need to get in the game. If you aren’t where recruiters are looking, you won’t be found by them.

Email me with “Passively Social” in the subject line for a copy of my full article on this topic.

5 Headhunter Secrets

Are you aware that …

–85% of recruiters use online resources to uncover “information” about candidates

–35% of recruiters eliminate candidates based on what they find (Business Week June 2006)

— Blogs are becoming an executive accessory (Debbie Weil)

–6 degrees of separation is now 5 degrees (Columbia University)

–70% of recruiters said their opinion of candidates improves when the find evidence of community service, leadership, awards, and published articles. Opinions decrease when the find candidates own their own business, misstatements and inconsistencies, ethics issues, or are invisible

–76% of executives expect to be Googled; 8% said they found information they wished wasn’t available, 4% posted controversial (up 150% in last year)

–20% of executives have a web presence

If you would like to learn where recruiters are looking for top talent and how to be found by those recruiters, please join Recruiter Bill Vick in the CFO–Career–Forum on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.

To get the inside scoop, sign up TODAY!

If you are a member of the CFO–Career–Forum, log in and register today for our conversation on October 23 at 4:00 Eastern. If you are not a member of the CFO–Career–Forum but want to join the call … register here!

Who Knows About You … and What Do They Know?

"According to The Conference Board, “trends indicate there is a greater supply of employees than there is organizational demand; but The Conference Board analysis paints an incomplete picture, as positions with total annual compensation above $200,000 are rarely found on the open web. According to ExecuNet’s 15th annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report, 75 percent of executive search firm recruiters and 88 percent of corporate human resource professionals revealed that they don’t routinely post those high-earning executive-level positions on public job boards or their own company websites, often relying on networking to source out the top talent." Source: Executive Insider

These statistics reinforce the importance of creating visibility – among your network and online. Networking today is as much about who knows you as it is about who you know. Maybe even more important.

With recruiters levering social networking and job aggregator sites to find passive candidates, visibility online has become a critical component of positioning by savvy executives.

Smart career management begins with Googling yourself on a regular basis to ensure you know what others are reading about you … and … spending five minutes a day on networking.

Is your career worth the investment of 10 minutes a day?