Sunday, July 02, 2006

Executive Search, Goodfellas-Style

I've spent the past few years in the world of executive search.

..........equal amounts of time with job hunters AND corporate/agency hiring managers.

What I see and hear from both sides reminds me of the classic Mafia line- "This is the business we have chosen."

Everyone seems a little resigned to the reality, but accepts the situation as something that must get done.

No job hunter likes being involved in the process and they fear the risk that each interview could feel like Michael's spaghetti house meeting [Thank God, they never really end that way!].

Hiring managers often approach candidates with the same mindset that Don Corleone takes going into a "sitdown".....a "what's in it for me?" selfishness and a healthy dose of "what's your angle, you piece of baccala?" skepticism. eg- Me first, no trust.

Add in the "consiglieri factor" called an executive recruiter and everyone starts to envision the horsehead scene from Godfather 1.

Candidates wonder if they are the horse. Hiring managers wonder if they are the film producer being coerced. Pressure and suspicion abound.

How to avoid it all?

Candidates- "Keep your friends, close and your enemies closer." Keep your head up all the time. Tell the truth, but never let others in on the "family business", just stick to the hiring facts. Trust no one. Trust yourself.

Hiring Managers- Pick your team, as if you are picking your "crew"- look for core values, loyalty, commitment. Treat everyone with respect. You learn more about the candidate being nice and letting them talk vs intimidating them into the answers you want to hear.

...and please use your imagination.

Don't be so literal with the job spec and your needs. Bugsy never would have dreamed up Vegas if all he was thinking about was bootlegging and loansharking.

Executive Recruiters- Be a good soldier, do your job well, be loyal to your "Godfather" [client] needs. But.....respectfully stand up for your point of view. They hired you as an expert, not some "resume bagboy".

...and be nice. Don't be too arrogant on behalf of your client. Don't project a "know it all" attitude. Listen for signals. That's why Tony is still around and Johnny "Sack" is in jail.

Do these things, my friend. Otherwise, you will all eventually end up like every Pesci character in every Scorcese mob movie......

Pissing the wrong guy off, making enemies, and everyone wishing that you inherit a hole in the ground all your own.

"Leave the gun, take the cannolis."