"As a candidate, Satterfield Renzenbrink Associates supported me with one of the best candidate knowledge position...both the required hard information, as well as the cultural nuances of the perspective employer. I latter used them to build out my sales leadership ranks at both Evenflo and Zeno Corporation."
-Scott Almquist
CEO, Zeno Corporation

Our Top Candidate Search Principles: Some Advice

Following is some common wisdom we strongly believe in. If you plan to actively, or even, passively look at new opportunities:

  1. Read "Rites of Passage at $100,000 to $1 Million+", John Lucht (Holt) and "Kennedy Guide to Working with Executive Recruiters", (Kennedy Information)
    • Regarding Lucht's book - THE primer on looking for a job - if you read it years ago, re-read it.
    • Regarding the Kennedy Guide, even the most experienced job searcher will be given a few good thoughts to ponder.
  2. Get the newest Directory of Executive Recruiters, (Kennedy Information), published every October-November - get the most recent edition - 20% turnover in firms annually.
    • Cross reference geography, industry and function - that should identify 200-400 target recruiters to get your paperwork to ... this is a start ... more is better if you've decided your situation mandates an aggressive search.
    • If you are making $150K+, it's not worth your effort to contact contingency recruiters - your job probably rests with a boutique firm (although you need your paperwork at all major recruiters as well).
  3. File your paperwork with recruiters electronically if possible.
  4. Take the time to do an outstanding resume - tight (two to three pages is generally best), focused and accomplishments filled. Companies don't want to know your responsibilities, they want to know your accomplishments.
    • Never resume "inflate" - tell it like it is.
    • Show all positions at all companies - not just your position at leaving - internal promotions are important validation.
    • Include dates for your college degree(s) - absence of dates begs the questions of "what are you hiding?"
  5. Looking for work is like advertising - both reach and frequency are important. In particular, appropriate frequency is a key to success. Being in a database is great, but there's nothing like being top-of-mind with a recruiter when the right retainer is landed.
  6. Never take an in-person interview if you know the position has a critical flaw up-front (e.g. geography, stated compensation, title, etc) - it's waste of your time, the recruiter's time and the company's time. There is no such thing as a "good practice interview".
  7. Do your homework if you agree to go on an interview - know, or at least be familiar with:
    • The company's recent performance
    • Public press issues
    • As best possible, how you could best fit and add value ... now and in the future
    • Their competitive set (if it's a retailer, visit their stores and their competitors ... if it's a product company, look at the shelves they are stock in several classes of trade ... if it's a service, talk to a few former or current customers) - this is where the insights of how you fit and could add value can be found - experience the company and analogies should abound to your former work.
  8. Don't play hard to get. To even our surprise, in general, company's (like candidates) love to be loved (... more than we ever thought before getting in this business). Let them "feel" your interest from the first meeting (your preparation will show that). Keep "selling" to close (getting an offer) - then, the advantage shifts to you. Like most things, this is about balance - confidently sell, but don't oversell.
  9. When you get an offer, let the recruiter remain an intermediary. Direct client/candidate negotiations rarely get to win-win as fast as a good recruiter could get them there.
    • Don't entertain counter-offers from your current employer. If it took a job offer from someone else for them to tell or show you your value, it's time to leave. Even if your boss wants you to stay, their boss or others in your current organization will not be supporters of the counter-offer. There are examples of where a counter-offer worked to the employee's advantage ... but those are few and very far between.
  10. The process doesn't end with an "acceptance", it starts with one. Look for an opportunity to communicate with your new boss between the time you accept and start. First few months in a new job are critical. Use the few weeks between acceptance and start to reinforce the company made a good decision by hiring you. Get involved in the business. Read trade articles. Ask for background reading to do before you start. Leave them breathlessly waiting for you.
    • Similarly, work harder than ever to close-out old responsibilities well. Do a close-out file memo. Have the old employer wishing you were still there ... not glad you were gone. It's a small world ... burn no bridges.

... and, if you are unemployed and looking for work ...

  • Also, look for consulting work:
    • Far easier to find than a job.
    • Boosts your self-esteem.
    • Provides funds to extend your search for the "right" opportunity ... not just any opportunity.
    • No better way to sell yourself than to be able to show someone what you can do.
  • Resist the urge to "settle".
    • Jobs that you view as "an interim move" at the start become self-fulfilling prophecies and just leave you with a blemished resume.
  • Manage your emotions - an even temperament rules the day. Don't dial back your search efforts just because one or two things are looking good. That's all the more reason to re-double your efforts - there's nothing like landing two offers and having a bidding war for your services.
  • Do an honest inventory of why you are looking for work. Make the task of looking for a new job a "blessing in disguise". If you really understand what you do well, and what you enjoy doing, focusing your search should be easy.
    • If you were fired, really come to grips with what led to it. Don't rationalize and don't repeat mistakes.

After you get an offer:

  • Negotiate in good faith.
    • Identify the two, maybe three areas, you'd like to improve in the offer. If you find yourself trying to negotiate too many terms, the professional thing may be to just turn it down. This is not the time to get greedy - there is a win-win range of compensation - stay in it.
    • Hesitate before trying to negotiate salary. Find out the minimum, midpoint and maximum for the grade you've been offered. Negotiating a salary that is over the 75th percentile of the range (50% above the midpoint) will probably only result in small and infrequent future increases.
      • Rather, focus on an appropriate signing bonus, enhanced bonus structure or more options at starting - those all are items that can be changed to both you and your new employer's advantage.
    • Do negotiate - few offers are good enough to be accepted on face value. Once the company has made an offer, advantage shifts to the candidate. You have a small window of time to negotiate ... and that's not after you've said "yes".
    • Get an expert opinion - when you have an offer you are serious about, share it with two or three recruiters you trust for an opinion. Good recruiters will see hundred's of offers in a year - in a matter of minutes they should be able to tell you how your offer benchmarks versus the current market and give you a few suggestions of areas to improve/negotiate.