A Headhunter Takes Aim

Thoughts and recommendations from a technology headhunter

ObamaCare and Recruiting

I had a conversation with a candidate yesterday that may indicate the beginning of a change in how candidates view compensation.

We were discussing his desired compensation versus the range my client was willing to pay. He stated his willingness to accept a lower base salary than he desired would be based upon the total compensation package. This is a standard response I hear often. In the past, total package would mean the base salary, bonus potential, perks and insurance coverage. Previously, candidates were mainly concerned with base salary and bonus potential and nothing further was discussed until the offer package was presented.

Healthcare Matters

In the past employer provided healthcare coverage was a given, rarely did I have a candidate spend much time on it or was it a determining factor in if a candidate would accept an offer from a company. All that has changed. With Health Insurance costs skyrocketing,  what portion of the cost of insurance the candidate is expected to pay and what their out of pocket expenses will be if a health problem occurs can mean major dollars and therefore is now more closely coupled to the base salary, Health insurance is no longer a give-me .

I believe that going forward candidates will want to know more about health insurance earlier in the process. Matching a candidate’s salary range desires with a company’s desired pay range will no longer suffice. The new challenge will be matching a candidate’s salary range plus health insurance costs/coverage with a company’s pay scale and insurance offering.

Healthcare Should Matter

For a lot of people, especially those just starting out in their careers, health insurance does not matter much. When I first started I could care less about health insurance. I went over 20 years without seeing a doctor. There was nothing an over-the-counter cough medicine could not cure. The importance of good health insurance is not realized until it is needed.

Three years ago I had a major medical problem. I went from not knowing how to put on a hospital gown to having close to $1M in medical expenses in 2011. With good health insurance I was able to get the very best medical care possible. Only the very best would have been capable of saving my life.

To me, good medical coverage is not a benefit that is wasted, but, a benefit that has a great importance to me. I had no idea what it would mean to me until I needed it. Do not take it lightly.

Buying Health Insurance

I have just completed the process of buying new health insurance. I hope that it will be sufficient. Evaluating various health insurance offerings is not easy.

Some of the basics when looking at insurance coverage are;

What is the deductible?

Is there a limit on out of pocket expenses?

Can I see what doctor I want or do I need to select from a list?

What is the copay/coinsurance?

Prescription drug coverage?

Hospital stay coverage?

 

Bottom Line

 

For a candidate, take health insurance seriously. You need to realize the costs/benefits when considering an offer.

 

For employers health insurance is now a recruiting factor. It may determine your ability to attract and retain talent. Be prepared to discuss it much earlier in the recruiting cycle.

 

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

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What The Fastest Growing Inc. 500 Can Teach Us About Recruiting

What The Fastest Growing  Inc. 500 Can Teach Us About Recruiting

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I recently read the Inc. Magazine September issue profiling the 500 fastest growing companies in America. Along with the usual statistics such as industry, growth, revenue and such, there was some interesting input from the company entrepreneurs regarding what they learned and what they would do differently. It should be no shock that recruiting and retaining talent was near the top of their lists. If recruiting talent is so important to company’s success why do some companies shortchange the process?

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As you can see from the answer to the question above ‘which factors contribute to you company’s ability to innovate?’, 72% of the respondents answered ‘recruiting great talent’.  If this is true, what do company’s use to attract great talent? Or of more interest to me, what tools do companies use to recruit great talent?

I think the answer to this question most often rests with how big or well known the company is. A company like Google must be flooded with the best and brightest looking for a job opportunity with them. If a person does not have a resume into them already, it is very likely the even a passive candidate will listen when Google calls with an opportunity.

Unfortunately, not every company has the recognition or drawing power of a Google; smaller companies, start-ups and companies that may not be as “sexy” to work for as a Google must use additional tools to attract candidates to their open positions.

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Methods Companies use to attract talent

University Job Fairs – Companies attract rising stars by establishing relationships with them early through university relationships.  In order to attract the future graduates, companies often conduct job fairs at their local universities or universities that have strong research or reputation in the companie’s field of interest.  Also companies form collaborations with universities to do joint research or sponsored research.

Trade Organizations and Trade Shows – Companies often can attract talent by participation in trade organizations or trade shows. Often when I walk around exhibitor booths at trade shows I see help wanted signs displayed at company’s booths. What better way to attract talent or gain recognition as a company that is hiring.

Help Wanted Ads – One of the biggest complaints I get from candidates is that they submit their resume to a company via their career portal and never hear anything back. There may be many reasons for that;

The position may have been filled but has not been taken off the portal yet.

Someone with-in the company decided that you did not qualify or were less qualified than other applicants and is passing on your application.

The position really does not exist right now but is a position they recruit for often. Sometimes companies leave open position posts that they currently do not have an opening for so that when the actual position opens they have a database full of interested applicants in their database.

Direct Contact by In-House Recruiters or Human Resources – Companies may contact potential candidates directly. Methods of finding you may be you are in their career portal database, you were recommended by a co-worker or friend or they found you on social media.

Use Agency Recruiters – Often (lucky for me), companies will use agency recruiters to find them hard to get candidates. The agency recruiters are paid by the company and most often only get paid if an actual hire is made.

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Agency Recruiters are Expensive (But Worth It)

By now you are asking yourself what all this has to do with the Inc. 500, Fastest Growing companies. If recruiting and retaining talent is so important to successful companies why do they limit the candidate pool? Or how I like to phrase it, why don’t more companies use agency recruiters, focused on their particular sector, to help them find the best talent?

Companies that do not use agency recruiters subject themselves to only attracting active candidates or passive candidates as their in-house recruiting staff’s time and network allows.

An agency recruiter’s job is to continuously search for the best candidates the client’s company can attract. A good recruiter will not give up until a candidate is found. A recruiter working under a contingency agreement only gets paid if a candidate is placed. They have nothing to lose. If they find a candidate themselves the agency gets nothing. It is a risk the agency recruiter willing takes. However, the risk is minimized due to the recruiter’s network, database of candidates and knowledge of the sector.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for companies wanting to attract the best talent they can is for them to consider using an agency recruiter focused on their particular sector.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. www.techcareersearch.com Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

I recently graduated, now what?

I recently graduated, now what?

My clients do not use me for recruiting entry level positions. Generally, clients will engage my services to find them candidates with specific skills or knowledge. Candidates need to have at least 3-5 years’ experience in the real world before they would be considered. There is a much larger pool of recent grads with a basic knowledge in their course of study then there are people with specific talents, therefore, an agency recruiter, such as I, is not needed very often when it comes to recent grads.

Show me the money, later, not now

Your first job out of college may be the most important. It sets the foundation for all other future jobs. Too often I find that recent grads, if given the opportunity, will chose the job offer that promises the most amount of salary. After studying and sacrificing for four or more years they feel now is the time to cash in. I understand the initial impulse, but, it may end up being very short sighted. Remember you are building a long term career; the fruits of your labor may come later in a much higher form.

The real questions you should ask are;

What is my learning potential?

You need to take a long term view of your career. With each career move you need to ask yourself what this move will mean to me five years from now. Whether you are a recent grad or an experienced professional you need to ask yourself what will this position teach me? How will I grow? What new skills will I gain that will have value in the future? If I start in one spot within the company will I be stuck there or can I go to other spots to broaden my skills and experience?

Five years from now, the more you know the greater the value you will be to a future employer or even your current employer. If you know a lot about a very narrow skill you may be of value to another employer who needs that specific skill but will have less value to an employer looking for another skill set or broader knowledge. If you have knowledge on a verity of skill sets your experience will give you more options since your resume will address more open positions with more employers.

Often, smaller companies give new hires a greater ability to learn a verity of skills where in larger companies you will be pigeonholed into a very narrow skillset. The downside is that many times smaller companies have trouble competing on salary and benefits.

Am I excited about the industry/sector/technology this position addresses?

I got lucky in my first job out of college. Cellular Communications was in its’ infancy. Only a few of the major cities in the country had any form of service. The pundits felt there would never be a big consumer need for wireless communications. In fact, the company I worked for thought Cellular was a fad much like Citizens Band Radio (CB) and would end in a few years. As we know today, the pundits were wrong. Being part of the Wireless Industry gave me an incredible ride for over 25 years. I got to experience a industry that changed the world in almost every aspect. Professionally, I received an ever increasing amount of responsibility and job satisfaction and with it an ever increasing compensation.

Guess what? My first position out of college was not the highest paying offer I had but it sounded the most exciting to me. Also, the position sounded like something I could excel in.

Does the culture of the company reflect my own?

Do not accept a position based upon liking your immediate supervisor. He/she may be promoted or leave the company in a few months and you will now have a new boss. Remember, you will be spending at least eight hours a day with the people you meet during the interviewing process. One of your future co-workers may be your future supervisor soon. How would you feel about that?

There are many different types of workplaces and management styles. While management styles may vary from person to person, often a company’s culture and the way they relate to their employees determines the way managers manage. The culture of a large company can be very different from a small or Start-up Company, but also, the expectations and the amount of time you will spend in the office or lab may also vary. In a start-up there is incredible pressure to get the product to market. What is your manager’s style? Does he like to micro-manage? Is (s)he hands off and will expect you to know what to do and how to do it or are they a team member who will be working right alongside of you and act as a mentor. Which would you prefer?

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for when looking at a career opportunity is to have a long range view in mind. More than starting salary needs to be considered.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. www.techcareersearch.com Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

Hitting The Three Month Wall

Hitting The Three Month Wall

I believe there is a phenomenon that I will call the Hunter’s Phenomenon, whereby, after someone being on the job for about three months hits a wall. Most people hit the wall, dust themselves off and then get back to work. Others, start looking for a new job. I notice that it is more likely that recent grads react to the wall by putting their resume back on job boards. I have seen several recent grads that keep hitting the wall and have gone through several employers during their first year of professional work.

What is the Hunter’s Phenomenon?

The Hunter’s Phenomenon occurs when the employee realizes that their new job isn’t what they expected. It occurs approximately three months after they begin working for a new employer. In some cases I have seen it take as long as 6 months to hit the wall. It is when the employee asks themselves “what did I get myself into”. It may also coincide with the employer realizing that the employee isn’t what they thought they were getting.

Causes for the Hunter’s Phenomenon (Employee’s perspective)

What they are doing is not what was written in the job description.

Their immediate supervisor is not the saint they thought they were.

They are feeling the pressure of meeting their employer’s expectations.

The employee’s spouse is having trouble adapting to their new living situation if relocation was involved.

They feel their work is below their competence or experience level.

Causes for the Hunter’s Phenomenon (Employer’s perspective)

The employee does not have the knowledge they had hoped for.

The employee does not have the work ethic they had hoped for.

The employee is not learning fast enough.

It is only a snapshot

The employee and employer only get a snapshot of each other during the interviewing process. They spend 1-2 hours together on the phone during the phone interview followed by somewhere between a ½ to a full day together during the live interview. During the live interview the candidate goes from department to department where each department asks the candidate the identical standard interviewing questions.

That is it. A career decision is made based upon interfacing with each other for 5-10 hours. At this point they really know very little about each other. Employers can ask for references but most often they reveal little. Candidates can ask their friends and contacts what they know about the employer. Perhaps do some due diligence. But in the end, both parties are taking a big risk when an offer is made and accepted.

The honeymoon is over

When a person starts with a new company their honeymoon begins. Both the employee and employer want to begin on the right note. They both have the highest expectations of each other although they know very little about each other. For the employer, they got the candidate they desperately needed. For the Employee, they got the position they dreamed of.

Over time the euphoria begins to erode. The employee begins do to the actual job, not what was written in the job description. Their manager and co-workers are no longer on their best behavior. Also, the employee’s shortcomings are exposed. After about 3 months, the honeymoon is over. It is no longer a snapshot but a full length movie. Neither party is what they appeared to be.

I think I hit a wall in record time. I was hired by a company, strong in defense work, to get them further into the commercial wireless world.  I was ready to accept a position with another company when they went after me so everything happened very quickly. It seemed like an exciting opportunity so I went for it. I had the title of Vice President, Wireless Communication or something like that. Imagine my surprise when on my second day of employment I was introduced to a co-worker with the same exact job title I had. This was followed by my manager telling me that we had to review and determine my job responsibilities. I thought all that was known when they hired me.  I hit the wall. How could this happen? It turns out that the co-worker with my same job title was supposed to be fired prior to my starting the company. It did not happen so I had to adapt.

What can be done?

The Hunter’s Phenomenon is so common that I think it is just accepted as a normal circumstance.

I have given some thought to a remedy;

Make the live interview longer than half or full day.

 I would recommend making it a two day affair. The first day could be a normal live interview cycle. The second day would be spending more time simulating what working there would be like. The job candidate would spend more time with their future manager. More time in the lab or doing simulations to demonstrate their competence. Maybe sitting in on a few meetings so the employee gets a feeling for what is really happening in the company and the company culture. How many times does the hiring manager get dragged away in meetings or a crisis during interview day? More time together is needed.

I think another benefit to a longer live interview is that everyone may become more comfortable and on the second day act like their true selves rather than interviewing robots trained to answer the typical interview questions in their gray suits and newly polished shoes. Perhaps the formal can become informal and a truer sense of each other gained.  I have never heard of an employer trying this approach. If you think of the expense in time, recruitment fees, travel, training and expectations it may well be worth the extra day given upfront.

From an employee’s perspective, they need to realize that that there is rarely, if ever, a perfect job or employer.  Even if you work for yourself you end up doing things you rather not do and maybe even end up working for a jerk.

The best thing is to give it time. You will learn to adjust once you learn what is expected and the interpersonal relationships evolve.

Although the wall may seem a permanent obstacle, with a little patience and effort you will find that it can be burrowed under or climbed over. Of course, if you find that your employer is unethical, harassing or unbearable then by all means get out. Just remember that the grass may not be greener at your next career move. Also, you need to be aware that appearing to be a job hopper to future employers is never a good thing and should be avoided if at all possible.

The Bottom Line

It is a natural phenomenon to hit a 3 month wall.

Don’t worry, with time it should get better.

 Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

Funny Application Letter

Got to give him credit for his determination!

Slaying The Monster

Slaying the Monster

There are three types of people out there; those whom love their jobs and have no desire to leave their current company or position; those who may consider a new position if it met with their career goals, sounds interesting, etc. (we call these people passive candidates) and those whom are currently looking for a new career opportunity (we call these people active candidates).

It is common, maybe even recommended for active candidates, to post your resume on Job Boards. Last I checked Monster was the largest and most commonly used job board. I use Monster to find active candidates. I consider them low hanging fruit. It is also a way for me to gain market intelligence into the technology sectors that I recruit heavily in. It may be an indication of companies laying-off people or having problems retaining their employees. Like a shark, if I see a little blood in the water, I attack.

I should point out that the vast majority of candidates I submit to my clients are passive candidates. If recruiting was as easy as looking for candidates on Monster anyone could be successful as a recruiter. It is just one of the many tools that I use.

That said, I think you can learn a lot by me telling you how I use Monster to find your resume and determine if I want to contact you regarding an opportunity.

Step 1: Key Words

I think Google has taught us that our lives may be defined by a collection of key words. I use key words in the Monster search to find you. I may use products, technologies, software packages names or company names as key words or phrases.

Step 2: Decide how far back I want to look.

Monster allows me to set the time frame for how far back I want to look at resumes entered or updated.  Monster does not differentiate between newly entered resumes and newly revised resumes or profiles. It treats them both as new to Monster. This is the most important lesson you will learn by reading this particular blog. I usually start a brand new search by looking back three months. After that search I will go back every day and just look at resumes that were entered or updated in the last day.

What does that mean to you?

If your resume is older than 3 months old and you never touched it in the last 3 months I will never see it.

I recommend that you make some sort of change to your Monster submission every 3-7 days. It can be as simple as adding a period or comma. Just do something. I would not recommend that you change it daily. You don’t want to be that memorable. There was a candidate on Monster who changes his submission every day. Because I saw his name so often, it was easy for me to see that it took him 6 months to get a job. After 3 months he was back on Monster updating daily. I also assumed that if I saw him on Monster every day my competitors did also, therefore, he had no value to me.

Step 3: Decide if I want to click on you.

Since my time limited that I want to devote to Monster searches, I need to be selective and not look at every resume that comes up in searches. Here is a sample of some of the results from a Monster search I did for a RF Technician.

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Candidate 1 (Top)

I would click on Candidate1 for many reasons.

I really like that he added some relevant key words next to his name (I blocked his name). If these are relevant key words to me he gets clicked immediately.

Although you can’t see it, the company he works for is also relevant to me. He would get clicked since I know the company is applicable.

The only negative is he did not give a salary range.  I recommend that you give a realistic salary range. If it is a position I recruit for regularly, I know the salary range that you should be making, so I won’t be shocked by what you put down unless it is way higher or lower than what I expect. Ranges only potentially get you in trouble if you are too high or too low. For this position I would expect the range to be $50,000 – $85,000. If your range is $25,000 – $35,000 I may assume you are under qualified. Some people understate their ranges because they feel that you have a better chance of getting a position or you are willing to work for cheap. Don’t do it. Don’t undersell your value. That is ground you may never make up. If you had a $50-$85K range and my client was willing to go $48K with great benefits there is a strong chance I will contact you anyway.

If you overstate a range I assume that your current employer is the most generous company or you are extremely unrealistic what your next job should pay. Another possibility is that you were a technician 10 years ago and now have moved up the ranks thus qualify for a higher salary. I would check to see if you recently graduated with a new degree or training to see if it was the latter.

Candidate 1 states that he will not relocate. Only put that if you absolutely would never relocate. If you are willing to relocate to only one place it still means that you are willing to relocate. I am always shocked when I call people who state they will not relocate only to tell me when asked that they will for “the right opportunity”. I get that response 50% of the time. I would not expect you to be interested in a job next door if you didn’t feel it was “the right opportunity”. You can specify to the recruiter where you would be willing to relocate or not relocate. I’ll talk more about relocation in a later blog.

Candidate 2 (Center)

Candidate 2 indicates that he is a HVAC Technician. I would immediately go to Candidate 3 since it is not applicable to being a RF Technician.

Candidate 3 (Bottom)

There is a chance I would click on Candidate 3 depending on my mood that day.

What should be learned from Candidate 3 is how he stated his Desired Salary Range from 0 – $40,000. Will he really work for free? My guess is no. As I pointed out on Candidate 1, put in a realistic range.

Step 4: I’ve clicked on you

Once I’ve clicked on the search result containing your resume the resume you have submitted to Monster is in view. You now have 6 seconds to get my interest. I will cover the 6 second rule in a later blog.

The Bottom Line

The important lessons learned here are;

Make some sort of change to your Monster submission every 3-7 days.

Only put that you will not relocate if you absolutely would never relocate. IF you will for the “right opportunity” or to certain locations it means you are willing to relocate.

 Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

Hello world!

Intro

You can call me Hunter, I have been a technology headhunter for the past 5 years. Before that I was on the other side of the fence for 20 years. I was the one receiving calls from headhunters, helping them when I could and hearing them out regarding career opportunities. I know how the game is played from both sides.

The reason for me writing this blog is that I believe the art of headhunting is terribly misunderstood. While there are many articles, videos and self-help books about getting a job, wring resumes, how to interview, etc., I think a lot of it is either fluff or the actual purpose is to get you to buy a product or service. When people are vulnerable, as they are when they need a job, the vultures will circle.

I hope to share with you how I do my job, what my clients are looking for, how to position yourself, my thoughts on resume writing, interviewing, marketing yourself and most importantly answering your questions. Keep in mind that what I share with you is my opinion based upon my experiences. It will not guarantee you a job.

If you have a question or comment regarding finding a job, using a recruiter please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

About me:

I bring a unique perspective to executive recruitment having spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. I have held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning. I also participated in many industry associations and standards bodies.

My areas of expertise are Power Electronics, Antennas, Passive  Components, Amplifiers, Base Station Infrastructure, Distributed Antenna Systems, Software Defined Radios, Quality Management, System Engineering, Product Management, Sales, Business Development and emerging technologies and system architectures.

I hold a BS in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University and a Masters in Business Administration from Rider University.