Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Restless about lessons learned...

Greetings readers!  It's been awhile - my apologies for the extended absence.  I was out of the country for several weeks, then away again for spring break retreat with my son (his last before graduating high school), and am finally returning to some measure of normalcy.  I hope I was missed - even if but just a little...

It occurs to me that I've shared very little in this blog regarding my professional career as a recruiter.  I spend the majority of my time focusing on personal matters and opinions here which is the intended purpose.  However, given a number of recent conversations and discussions with people in and out of the office, I'm inspired to step out of the mold just slightly and offer some perspectives from my work side.

For the better part of eighteen years I've dedicated my professional efforts and energies to corporate recruiting in a professional services environment.  I've likely had contact with several million candidates over the course of my career; been involved with hiring several thousand individuals; trained thousands more on how to attract, interview and evaluate talent; and helped establish and define processes and methods that I hope have allowed the organizations and teams I've served to operate more effectively and efficiently.  My career has literally taken me around the world - I've worked on projects in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, North and South America, and the Caribbean.  Everything from entry-level recruiting at colleges/universities to executive-level recruitment negotiating multi-million dollar compensation packages - I like to think I've been around the proverbial block a few times and know a bit about my chosen craft.

I'd like to share a few of the things I've learned over the course of my career.  I don't profess to have all the answers and there are certainly persons more qualified and educated than I to offer pearls of professional or inspirational wisdom.  Still, as this topic comes up often in my meetings and conversations these days, I thought it might be time to organize a few thoughts.

Do what you love

Without question, the most valued professional advice I can offer anyone is this: find your passion and make it your profession.  I was blessed to stumble accidentally into my career and I've loved recruiting from day one.  For me, little else could offer the same social interaction, stimulation, and fulfillment than what I do every day.  And because I love it, it feels less like work and more like fun - and isn't that the point?  Consider a 40-50 hour week, multiplied by the number of weeks in the year and the probable number of years served in a career and that's the time investment we're talking about.  I can imagine nothing worse than spending that time doing something tedious or uninspired - so don't!
Wonka never worked a day in his life...
Cultivate relationships

We often hear about the power of networks in business.  How they are so critical in sales, marketing, recruitment.  I'd like to make this a bit more personal.  It's not about names in a Rolodex, it's about personal relationships with the people you interact with - colleagues, contacts, candidates, everyone.  Forming lasting relationships is one of the aspects of my job that I enjoy most.  I've known a good number of my current colleagues at Ernst & Young for close to two decades.  I've dined in their homes, we've vacationed together, they've watched my son grow up - they are family.  And family is what you want if and when possible.

Social media is great and professional networking has its place but nothing will substitute for the interpersonal relations you develop with managers, coworkers, division heads, interns, and younger talent.  Be a mentor, become a friend, make a personal positive impact with these individuals and the return will last a lifetime.  And keep these relationships active and fluid - reaching out regularly, not just when there's a need.
Make a difference

In my opinion the best part of a candidate resume is the 1-2 bullet points dedicated to what they did in  a particular role that was different than anyone else.  Not all candidates understand the importance of taking this approach and instead simply recite the basic job functions of whatever position they've previously held.  I think of job positions much like technology - they should be constantly evolving to keep pace with the demands of those that seek benefit from them.  Look at the phone, the television, the computer.  Consider how many evolutions have occurred in their design, shape, functionality, components, etc.  No matter your job title, think about what you can do to make it "job title 2.0", then "job title 3.0" and so forth.  Reexamine processes, methodology, key contacts, tools and systems, interpersonal skills - literally everything - and discover ways to make it better, smarter, more efficient.  If you love what you do, this will be a much easier exercise as passionate people tend to be better change managers in this type of endeavor.
Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines personified this concept!
Work hard and play hard - but at the same time

I've often heard the expression "work-life balance" and have to confess, I don't get it.  It makes it sound like the two concepts are exclusive of one another.  Why?  It doesn't have to be.  Irrespective of what you do, there are ways to make work fun, your interactions with others more stimulating, and your professional footprint more impactful.  Create a company softball team, sign up for a charity walk/run event in your area with people you work with, get involved with your corporate social responsibility initiative.  All are easy ways to blur the lines that divide work from life, labor from leisure.

And don't let what you do for a living completely define who you are.  It's an occupation and as such should occupy a considerable portion of your time and life - but it should be accompanied by hobbies, interests, and other involvements.  I've interviewed CEOs who've confessed that their biggest failures were ignoring their children and spouses during the years that mattered most; to recognizing too late that it was time they would never get back.  These are amazing men and women - names that at times appear on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal.  In short, they are people who know a thing or two about this concept and have learned too late the consequences of imbalance.  Don't fall victim to their same mistakes.

Pay it forward

No matter what you do, find opportunities to help others who are still attempting to find their professional path.  Maybe it's a more junior professional in your department, perhaps it's someone who's simply exploring career paths and is looking to better understand what it means to be in a certain profession.  Whatever the circumstance, make time to share what you've learned, what you've accomplished, and where you've fallen short.  While it might seem insignificant to you, it's invaluable to others and could help make or change a career decision, improve individual performance, impact someone else's life for the better.  I've helped to hire people who've approached me years later full of gratitude as that particular career move years earlier started them on a path to happiness and fulfillment. Take it from me - there's nothing more rewarding than those messages/conversations.

Know your craft and stay current

Let me illustrate this point with an example that's near to home.  Many people think recruiting is simply, well...recruiting.  It's been done in much the same way for years.  But is that really true?  Think about the tools and the technology used to link recruiters with talent pools.  It used to be newspaper and magazines, then agencies and headhunters, then job boards, and now social media, mobile technology, and big data are again changing the recruitment landscape.  And tracking candidates used to be managed with resume file folders, then spreadsheets, then basic databases, and now complex Applicant Tracking Systems and Candidate Relationship Management tools that feed directly into company HRIS.  I imagine the same can be said for many other professions.  How has your profession evolved?  How have the tools changed?

Become and remain educated in your chosen career path.  Study the company you work with, familiarize yourself with the overall business model, the individual service lines, your competition, the regulatory and governing bodies that oversee your particular industry, the tools that you have internally and that are available in the external market.  There's a mountain of things to learn and the mountain is constantly changing and evolving.  Be an expert, both broad and deep, and it will continue to open doors for advancement and greater opportunities to make an impact.
I'm simply a huge Branson fan...
So those are just a few thoughts from your Restless Recruiter.  I hope they inspire you, or cause you to reflect - even possibly make a change or set a goal.  They are some of the more important learnings thus far from a career spent attracting, interviewing, and hiring some amazing talent and thought leaders in the professional services arena.

Until next time...


1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts! I am going to keep this one bookmarked. This year is one of chsnge, goals and morphing. I am going to reference this often. Thanks!