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Staffing Advisors Blog

Bob Corlett

Recent Posts

How Did We Find You?

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 28, 2020

Because business practices vary widely between executive search firms, candidates often have a few questions for us. For example, when we contact people to discuss a new career opportunity, they often ask, “How did you find me?” (Most candidates want to know what they did right to ensure that new opportunities keep flowing their way.)

The answer could be flattering if a colleague recommended you. The answer might be instructive if you were found because of something you did; perhaps you wrote something or spoke at a conference, or perhaps your work appeared in the media or a public database. It’s also likely that your website bio or LinkedIn profile yielded relevant information. Perhaps we came across you during a previous search and wanted to keep you in mind for future opportunities.

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How to Justify Paying Executive Search Firm Fees

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 27, 2020

During an economic downturn, it’s wise to make a strong business case for major expenditures. And if you are considering paying a fee to an executive search firm, it’s not hard to envision your CFO looking into their video camera incredulously and asking, “In the middle of a pandemic, with the national unemployment rate at 20 or 30%, why do we need a search firm?” Your CFO might have a point. Why not just post an ad somewhere, let candidates line up around the block (6 feet apart), and then hire the best person who applied? The truth is, for some jobs, that might work out just fine. Particularly if great people with the skills you need have been laid off in large numbers.

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How Modern Recruiters Find Candidates

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 27, 2020

Most people think recruiters spend their days calling their contacts to ask for candidate referrals (because that’s one of the most visible activities of a modern recruiter). Yes, recruiters do often ask, “Who do you know who might want this job?” But relying on this question invariably excludes some very well-qualified candidates. By itself, the recruiting approach leads to very narrow thinking and tiny little homogenous candidate pools, because we all tend to know people who are demographically similar to us. I consider this to be recruiting malpractice.

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A Modern Approach to Diversity Recruiting

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 20, 2020

Most of our clients effectively made the transition to remote work, but that transition revealed a few skill gaps on their teams that were not obvious before. Our clients always shared our deep commitment to diversity recruiting, but that commitment is deeper now. Everyone is learning that turbulent times require wiser and more creative solutions, and that kind of creativity emerges from teams of smart people with a diversity of lived experiences. Research shows that teams get smarter when they include members from outside of your traditional networks. The new challenges you face may be unfamiliar to you, but less daunting to someone from a different background and divergent way of thinking.

Unsurprisingly, when you want your organization to think differently, you need to recruit differently. Old approaches fail in new environments, so a more modern approach to diversity recruiting is necessary, one that adapts to the current environment.

We never relied on the most common (and most superficial) approaches to diversity recruiting, such as posting ads on diversity job boards. We know from experience that those ads are rarely seen by candidates and do little to expand the candidate pool. Similarly, we don’t rely on asking candidates “Who do you know who would like this job?” Both of those approaches can be far too insular and invariably exclude some very well-qualified candidates.

We recommend a data-driven recruiting process designed to adapt to current job market conditions and recruit a diverse slate of candidates from a wide range of backgrounds. Times like these demand an agile methodology, or a “Moneyball” approach to recruiting. We believe that modern recruiting should follow the same principles of an integrated marketing campaign. There is the message, a careful consideration of the audience for your message, a variety of message delivery mechanisms, and a feedback loop to determine if the right people saw the message and acted on it. (We outline our own agile methodology here.)

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How to Consistently Recruit Top Performers

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 20, 2020


Staffing_Advisors_Consistent_HiringClients often ask us about the state of the job market. But what they really want to know is whether they can attract someone to deliver the business impact they need. Salary budgets are precious things. In uncertain times, nobody wants to risk hiring someone who might fail in the current environment. At the conclusion of any search:
  • Would you rather have the confidence that you hired a top performer?
  • Or the lingering feeling that you could have found someone better?

Here's the good news. Consistent hiring of top performers is absolutely possible, even with the inherent unpredictability of both people and job markets. Because the problems of hiring are found in the hiring process itself, not with candidates or the job market.

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How to Decide Whether to Take a Job

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 14, 2020

Job interviews are funny things. Two parties are involved, but all the time is spent gathering information to support the hiring manager’s decision framework. Jumping through their hoops. But the best conversations happen when candidates demonstrate their own decision framework. in an interview, total strangers are trying to figure out your motivations, so when you share what you are looking for, it makes them more comfortable. It's safer when both parties are thinking hard about the hiring decision.

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Washington DC Association/Nonprofit Job Market Update (Mid May 2020)

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 13, 2020

This is the third of our periodic observations on the local Washington DC association and nonprofit job market. (We handle more senior staff searches than most executive search firms, so after completing 800 searches we know how the job market typically looks.)

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Avoiding the Pitfalls in Virtual Interviewing

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 12, 2020

Chris Rock said, “When you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their representative.” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that, "Hell is other people." Both men point to the same truth. Most of us are so afraid of being judged negatively by others that we adjust ourselves when someone else is present.

Getting past the other party's facade has always been a challenge for interviewers, but video interviews scramble the hiring decision in new ways, introducing even more factors unrelated to predicting job performance.

Both parties have long sought a competitive advantage in interviews. People obsess over what they wear, and choose their words carefully in answering questions and crafting resumes and job descriptions. Video interviews are just the latest front in the perpetual arms race between employers and candidates. And executive search consultants like me are the arms dealers to both sides. Recruiters have an obligation to advise both parties, creating the right environment and expectations for a productive conversation. Every candidate wants to interview well, and every employer wants to cut through that carefully curated facade to see the "real person" behind the interview answers.

So what determines who will gain the advantage in this video arms race? Will it be better interview preparation on the part of the candidates, or will it be employers adapting their hiring practices to this new medium?

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The Era of the Modern Executive Search Firm Has Begun

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 11, 2020

Many of our clients are associations and nonprofits—organizations that exist to help other people thrive. And while they're all busy reinventing how they deliver their vital services, we’ve been equally busy adapting our services to support their new needs. Because the minute all those office doors slammed shut, the era of the modern executive search firm was ushered in. The old ways just won't rise to this occasion.

This is not how the future normally arrives. I've long appreciated William Gibson's 2003 observation, “The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." But in this case, the future was evenly distributed immediately upon arrival. And now every executive search firm is called upon to reconsider who we serve, what services we offer, and how we deliver those services.

So what services should a modern executive search firm offer? I'll know for sure in a couple of years, but for now, I'll share what we've done in the past two months. Clearly this is a work in progress for internal recruiting teams as well as third party search consultants: 

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The Enduring Advantage of Remote Work

Posted by Bob Corlett on May 5, 2020

I recently discussed remote work strategies with our IT partner, Heinan Landa of Optimal Networks.

Lots of people have shared work from home productivity tips, but I invite you to think beyond "surviving" remote work, and instead use this time to gain a more enduring productivity advantage. We know from experience that productivity soars when you unshackle it from the synchronized everyone-in-one-place-at-one-time working formula. (But admittedly, your mileage may vary depending on who else is home with you.)

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