I originally published this article middle of 1st Quarter a few years back and made reference to the laundry list of New Year’s resolutions we make each year. Toward the top of most lists you will find a topic relating to Career Advancement or Career Change. There are many reasons why one’s Career is always a major resolution area including Improved Quality of Life, A Better Commute, Promotional Opportunity, and most commonly MORE MONEY! With the insane amount of change to company culture and Work From Home capability during the Global Pandemic, many will have new criteria for their Careers and how they fit into the total life style. Approaching this common resolution can be more daunting for some than others, as the fear of change is one of the most common human emotions that we encounter. Some have a distinct dislike for their job duties, their colleagues or boss, their financial package, company benefits, the office location, work from home arrangements OR the financial health of their company which makes this change easier. This change becomes more complicated for those who like the people they work with and are OK with their comp package and company. When your major career wound is that you know you have become complacent and it is time to stretch your legs and reach for the next step in your career, it is human nature to find excuses to avoid taking on this added life pressure of a career change. If you have taken a deep look at your life and your career and recognize that you are ready for the next level or for a better scenario there are ways to make this process much more comfortable and successful. The important first step is to Choose the Right Recruiter!
In any major life transaction, most of us consult a professional or industry expert. If we buy a house we use a real estate agent OR If we make a large investment in the stock market we use a financial planner or investment adviser. If you are going to change careers you should consult with a recruiter who specializes in your industry. With the internet we all theoretically have access to these transactions without these agents or consultants, but why would you want to go into such a huge change alone? In the case of the job market, there are countless sites that offer job listings which everyone has access to. For the instant gratification of starting the job search process quickly (or after a bad day in the office) it is common that candidates will shoot resumes out to see if something happens. Candidates realize quickly that these advertisements are often a black hole and never receive any acknowledgement. Most ads you find on job websites are out of date and often already hired, however, for those that are active you have no idea who is on the receiving end of the resume. It is almost like blind dating. For such a sensitive and confidential transaction this sure seems like a dangerous way to operate. Your career is arguably much more important than buying a house or making a large stock market investment given that you can’t do either without a successful career, yet there are still candidates who make critical career changes without leveraging the perspective of a Recruiter.
If you are open to making a job change, I strongly encourage you to Make Choosing The Right Recruiter THE First Step Toward Your New Position. You should do this NOW even if you do not plan to interview for a few months or even in the next year or two. You cannot start your relationship with your recruiter too soon. Rather than blindly shooting a resume into a company job advertisement, you should contact your recruiter for a review of your resume or even help with resume samples to be sure you are representing yourself properly. I have worked with many candidates who start their search process on their own and I review resumes with typos, poor grammar or dated formats. These candidates now have clouded reputations within the companies they have applied to. In addition, once your resume is submitted to a company these organizations will not allow a recruiter to represent you. Recruiters generally work with line hiring managers who they have often placed in these roles and have long standing relationships with…you will have a greater advantage by submitting your reviewed/revised resume via the recruiter directly to the hiring manager instead of coming in off the street via an ad response. The recruiter is incented to be sure your resume is in tip-top shape as their reputation rides on your resume as well. Since we have now established that it is critical to make Choosing The Right Recruiter THE First Step Toward Your New Position, I would like to discuss a few criteria that you should consider when deciding which recruiter to choose.
Every career specialty has a wide quality spectrum. For example, In a Public Accounting Firm Senior class, the best Senior Auditor has significantly better performance evaluations and client satisfaction than the lowest achieving Auditor. The same quality spectrum exists in the Recruiting industry, however, with the drastic impact that changing jobs can have on a candidate and on a family these differences can be magnified. Quite frankly there are a few really bad recruiters who sometimes give the entire industry a bad name….don’t worry these bad recruiters wash out quickly. Generally I think most recruiters mean well but there are certainly a select few out there in each region who are able to exhibit the highest rates of success for both their candidates and clients on a consistent basis year after year. You want to identify and choose these recruiters!
I am an expert in the Accounting & Finance market, and like many other career disciplines, this market is heavily leaning toward the candidate side these days so candidates are actively recruited and receive unsolicited calls and e-mails about opportunities on a regular basis. It is important for the candidate to remember they still get to CHOOSE the recruiter they work with. Before quickly responding or blindly sending your resume to the recruiter on the other end of the call or e-mail, you should do a little research. If nothing else, a simple check of their Linked In profile to confirm tenure in the industry OR stability within the firm(s) they have worked. You might feel comfortable by seeing some common connections on their LinkedIn Profile. Recruiters provide a free service but just because it’s free, you should be careful to concentrate your relationships to 1 maybe 2 of the highest quality recruiters in your market. Below is a quick outline of some criteria and suggestions you should consider when Choosing your Go-To Recruiter:
The natural tendency when choosing a consultant/adviser on a major transaction is to evaluate the number of years they have been in the business. This is perhaps the most surface way to evaluate a Recruiter. In general the more time a recruiter has been in business, the larger the network they have, which SHOULD translate to the most job opportunities. The number of years is not, however, the end all in recruiting. There are less experienced recruiters who perhaps spent time working in the industry as an Accountant, lets say, and they have significant relationships with former colleagues and clients that help them to quickly expand networks. There are recruiters who are big on social media and well networked in local communities and networking groups who may develop great networks quickly as well. While Experience/Tenure is not the end all, it is a good way to begin your evaluation.
As with any resume, evaluate the stability of your prospective recruiter. As recruiters are generally bound by non-compete agreements it is not very easy to move from firm to firm. If a recruiter has been with a different firm every year or two this should tell you that they have likely been terminated for some reason OR their prior firm didn’t think enough of them to prohibit their competition. You want to build a long-term relationship with your recruiter so you should be cautious of someone who cannot commit for any length of time.
Prior Industry Experience:
Some candidates take comfort in the fact that their recruiter has worked in the same industry and been in their shoes before. Working in Accounting or Finance doesn’t automatically make someone a good recruiter by any means, however, a good recruiter who adds this layer of life experience can provide valuable perspective in helping you make career choices.
Sense of Urgency:
When you initially reach out to a recruiter their initial reaction time can tell you a lot. If you are a premium candidate in your field and you do not hear back from the recruiter you choose for an initial introduction very quickly you likely have an issue. Perhaps you aren’t the greatest fit for what this recruiter specializes in. Perhaps this is an example of the urgency you will receive in an interview process. Top recruiters, even if they are super busy, will get back to your initial introduction within 48 hours to at least set up a better time to talk. This is a trait that can not be taught and service providers in ANY industry who exhibit the highest Sense of Urgency are often the best in their respective businesses.
A Busy Schedule is a Good Thing:
When you are initially getting to know your recruiter you certainly want to take a good 45-60 minutes on the phone or in person to have a comprehensive conversation about everything you are interested in, have done, and of course any peripheral things that might add to your attractiveness as a candidate. To maintain a good relationship, you will want to catch up periodically to see how things are going OR to update the recruiter with anything new that might be helpful. You should be worried, however, if a recruiter has time to call you for a 30 minute call once a week and they are not bringing you new opportunities on these calls. From the candidate perspective, I want a busy recruiter. I would want someone who is stretching their schedule to know as much about the market as they can (both job opportunities and candidates). I would rather be the beneficiary of the less frequent but thorough job opportunity update calls than regular lengthy discussions about where I am going on summer vacation or how my current situation is progressing. The goal is for your recruiter to be out hunting for you and they are certainly incented to call you the second they have a great fit. With this said…all recruiters are human and we do appreciate the check in e-mails and calls to ensure your place on our radar!
Ask Colleagues / Friends Who Have Made Job Changes:
This seems like common sense but over the years I have noticed that candidates are often shocked that my firm placed their former colleague in a new position. It’s almost as though it is taboo to talk about this. If you have an interest in making a change and you have a friend or former colleague who has done it successfully over the past few years, ask them confidentially who they worked with. There is a good chance you will have a similar experience with this recruiter.
Have a Phone Conversation:
Before sending a resume to any recruiter, have a brief phone call. You can tell a lot about a recruiter by their approach and enthusiasm over the phone. You can often establish initial chemistry and your comfort level. There will generally be a proverbial “click” with this person or there will not. You should feel compelled to send your resume to the recruiter after the call…not required. You should feel comfortable discussing and learning about the recruiter’s background as well. Choosing the best recruiter for yourself is not an exact science and may take some trial and error. The key thing to remember is that you have a choice and you should not just settle. Changing jobs is one of life’s biggest transactions and most people will only do it a handful of times so it is critical to align yourself with the best recruiter in your market. There is no reason to go into a job search alone!
Contact the author & Founder of Legacy Search Advisors, Brian Piotrowski, BPiotrowski@TheLegacySearch.com to begin your career search OR to make your team’s next strategic hire!
Written by Brian Piotrowski, Founder & Head of Recruiting, Legacy Search Advisors BPiotrowski@TheLegacySearch.com
Article Re-Released with Updates April 2021
Brian Piotrowski is a 15+ Year Recruiting Expert whose firm, Legacy Search Advisors, provides Concierge Level Placement Services to Accounting, Finance, Banking, Legal, Human Resources and Administrative Professionals Across the US with Special Focus on Family Offices, Venture Capital, Private Equity & Their Portfolio Companies, and Closely Held Family Owned Businesses.
Prior to his recruiting career, Brian spent time with a Top-10 International CPA Firm & worked for an entrepreneurial company as an Assistant Controller which built his strong foundation and credibility to successfully place more than 1,000 Accounting & Finance Professionals SO FAR in his career. He is excited to bring his network and experiences to a greater variety of career disciplines throughout the US with his new firm!