Why the Small Things Matter

07/30/2015 11.03 EST

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Our firm has just completed the process of filling two new positions with recent college graduates.  It took us a few months, and, at the end of the day, we were very happy with the outcome.  Along the way, we were surprised by a few things and frustrated by others.  I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of our observations in the spirit of helping all of those new job seekers still out there pounding the street.   We don’t do a lot of off-campus hiring, so the first step we took was to list the positions with the career centers of some local colleges and universities. To our surprise, we got little or no response. I know everyone complains about the quality of the assistance they get from their career centers, but this response made me wonder if students are even paying attention to the listings of open jobs available to them.   We were surprised by how people composed cover letters responding to the posting (one started with, “Hey Jennifer”) and even how they spoke on the phone. Small things – like answering the phone for a scheduled telephone appointment by saying, “Hello Jennifer, this is Pete,” impressed us much more than the person who just picked up and said, “Hello.”   Some people applied for specific jobs despite not having the required background or experience. That may not be a non-starter if their resume included a cover letter acknowledging the lack of...

Parents’ Guide to Helping Their Child Find a Job

05/27/2015 10.42 EST

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Salveson Stetson Group hosts an annual College Seminar for our clients to support their family members who will be graduating from college.  At this seminar, we focus on providing advice to students on how to effectively look for a job.  In addition, we spend time with parents and discuss how they can best support their children.   It has been a very successful and well attended event each year.  As you can imagine, many parents have greatly encouraged their children to attend with the hopes that our advice will land their child that elusive first job.   We have to navigate through a sensitive path with parents at the College Seminar.  First and foremost, they are our clients.  We want to help them, but also ease their anxieties about their children.  Some are frustrated, as they don’t believe their child has been active enough in the job market.  Others are concerned that their child seems aimless with little direction regarding what they intend to do with their life.  Some parents are ready to have their children “off the payroll” and actively participating in the world of work and want to ensure they are able to find the best job for themselves.  Bottom line – we see it all.   One interesting aspect of the College Seminar program is allowing parents to vent their concerns, hopes and dreams for their child, along with their frustrations.  Naturally, it becomes a supportive environment where parents learn from one another.  Here...

Vacation, anyone?

07/22/2014 09.49 EST

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This time of year, a good conversation starter is to ask a group of friends or colleagues about their vacation plans and whether they are able to disconnect during their time off.  I am surprised at just how many people remain connected to the office during vacation and are generally unhappy about it.  While I am certainly guilty of this from time to time and there are periods when it is not possible to avoid it, I really try hard to change my behavior during summer vacation.   Why is it important to take vacation, besides the need for a break?  The reason is both mental and physical.  Through the Framingham Heart Study, researchers learned that men who take regular vacations are 32 percent less likely to die from heart attacks and 21 percent less likely to die early.  Women who go on vacation have a 50 percent lower risk of a heart attack.   Yet despite the growing evidence that vacations are good for the body and mind, many Americans only use a portion of their eligible paid time off.  Glassdoor recently found that 61 percent of workers stay connected or even complete work assignments while on vacation.   So as you prepare to take vacation, consider some alternative ways to approach your time off:   Plan and prepare.  Tie up loose ends.  Update colleagues on projects that may require their attention before you return.  Provide updates to your clients, too.  Do everything in your power...

5 Considerations When Leaving Corporate for Non-Profit

04/16/2014 03.50 EST

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This article originally ran on Non-Profit Information.  To view it, click here.   It’s an increasingly common trend: After making their mark in the corporate world, senior-level executives want to give back by taking on a leadership role within a non-profit. The good news is that 73 percent of non-profits surveyed said they value for-profit experience in candidates, and 53 percent have significant for-profit management experience represented on their senior leadership teams.   But the transition from corporate to non-profit comes with some particular challenges. Here are the five most common that executives mulling a transition should anticipate:   1) Understand that there may be many more stakeholders involved in a non-profit – and the opinions of each matter. The biggest adjustment for corporate professionals entering the non-profit world is often the number of stakeholders involved in a non-profit – each of whom has input to share. While corporate professionals’ primary focus is almost entirely on three groups (shareholders, customers and employees), non-profit leaders must consider a significantly larger audience that could include funders, employees, elected officials, patients or clients, families of patients and clients, alumni, etc.  Successfully navigating the various relationships of the non-profit world requires a careful understanding and concern for all parties involved.   2) Be prepared for a different culture at a non-profit. The culture of a non-profit generally has a far more collaborative leadership style than for-profit organizations.  Unlike the corporate world where decision-making typically rests with one individual or a small group of executives or directors,...

8 Ways to Advance Your Career to the Next Level

03/13/2014 09.46 EST

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It is always refreshing to speak to students, young professionals and mid-career executives.  I find it broadens my thinking, and the group shares great ideas throughout the collaborative process.   At a recent Drexel University Alumni event, I spoke to fellow attendees about how to advance their careers to the executive level.   Here are eight suggestions we shared on advancing careers:    Know your career objective and pursue it with vigor:  If you are fortunate enough to have found your interests and passions in the workplace, do your best to understand and become an expert in the field.  Determine how you can continue to advance your skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. Competence alone won’t advance you in your career:  Speak up.  Ensure you ask for what you need and don’t be shy about “tooting your own horn.”  You need to be noticed for a job well done; don’t assume your boss or other key leaders know what you have accomplished. Take some career development risks:  It is important that you take charge of your career.  Be proactive.  Have discussions with your boss about what you’d like to do next.  Partner with him or her and develop recommendations on your next steps.  Make it easy for your supervisor to say “yes” and help you move to the next level. Network, network, network:  You should network even if you are not looking for a new job.  Networking can expand your thinking – learn what others are...

Why Would You Want to Work for a PE-Backed Firm?

10/24/2013 11.35 EST

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This article originally ran on CFO.com.  To view it, click here.   For CFOs who may be of a mind to hook up with a private equity-backed company, open your eyes wide and tread very carefully.   When speaking with senior financial executives about their career aspirations, the conversation often turns to a desire to work for a private equity-backed company. I am talking about a large majority of respondents here – at least 70 percent. When I ask why, the answer invariably focuses on the opportunity to participate in a transaction and the potential financial rewards to be reaped by doing so.   That is a pretty naïve answer. For every success story out there in private equity-backed firms, there are many more failures. Working in private equity is difficult, particularly for a CFO. Any financial officer contemplating making this type of move for the first time in his or her career must to go into it with eyes wide open. At a bare minimum, consider the following:   1. Not all private equity sponsors are created equal. The industry is not monolithic. In addition to industry specialization, private equity differentiates by what type of asset each firm considers. Is the firm buying the asset to clean up the balance sheet and quickly turn it over? Is the investment for long-term growth? Does the private equity firm have a habit of breaking up the companies in which it invests? CFOs contemplating such a move should investigate how the private equity...

Aspire to be a CHRO?

09/17/2013 02.20 EST

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We have a robust Human Resources Practice and, as a result, have had the opportunity to interact with many HR executives. The most common questions that come from executives who aspire to move into their first Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) role involve what it takes to be offered that top job. What do they have to do to be considered a strong and viable candidate?   As you can imagine, every company has different perspectives and needs based on their business. But there are some critical competencies you must possess to be seriously considered for the top HR role at any organization:   Emotional Intelligence: First and foremost, you need to have outstanding interpersonal and communication skills. However, that is not all. You must also be a great listener, be trustworthy and authentic in your interactions with others.  Effective Leader: Do you attract, retain and develop a team effectively? Do other colleagues want to work with and for you? Are you seen as a mentor to others? In addition, are you viewed as an effective leader across the company with your peers? Do other members in the C-Suite seek you out for advice and counsel? Driver of Change: The head of HR typically is sought after to drive change across an organization; therefore, do you effectively communicate with others about the rationale for change and help influence others to “get on the change bus”? If you encounter resistance, do you know how to regroup and try...

To Those of You Who Are Shirtless on LinkedIn

05/06/2013 10.45 EST

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College students learned years ago that they should be careful when choosing which photos they include on their Facebook pages.  Drunk at a frat party?  Probably not.  Helping poor kids learn how to read in an inner-city church?  Bingo.   So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that a mid-career grown-up might exercise a bit of judgment when selecting the photo to use for their LinkedIn profile.  After all, the site’s tagline is “The World’s Largest Professional Network.”   Our firm holds an annual seminar for soon-to-be college graduates to help them figure out how to conduct an effective job search.  We do it as a nice gesture to our clients who wring their hands at this time of year, wondering how they are going to get junior off the payroll.   Every year, we place more emphasis on the power of LinkedIn, advising these new grads to have a substantial profile on the site.  With the National Association of Colleges and Employers recently reporting that employers expect their level of new-grad hires to remain flat, those entering the workforce can better market themselves with a fully optimized, professional-looking profile.   In order to give these new grads examples of profile photo do’s and don’ts, we logged into our own accounts to survey our connections’ pictures in hopes of finding some questionable choices.  It turned out to be easier – and more surprising – than we’d anticipated.   First of all, we stopped counting the number of...

Lessons I Learned in Kindergarten that Apply to Business

09/06/2012 10.35 EST

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Many life lessons were learned when we were in kindergarten. It was a very impressionable time for us, and to this day, I bet you still remember your teacher! Mine taught me many lessons, but the ones that rise to the top for me are:   – How to share – Learning to be kind to others – Cleaning up your own mess – Don’t run with scissors.   I can relate to all these issues having started my career as a kindergarten teacher. Hopefully, many of my students still remember my name! As my career progressed and I transitioned into human resources, consulting and then starting my own business, I have continued to use many of the same lessons along the way.   Share – Sharing is one of those key elements that ensures your team meets with success. Do you pass on your knowledge and expertise to others? Do you share the credit with other team members when a job is well done? Are you open to collaborating? By involving others, people develop a deeper understanding and commitment regarding the issues and goals in front of us.   Be Kind To Others – Have you ever worked with a colleague or boss who was rude or mean-spirited? That kind of person sucks the life out of you and the team. Taking the time to be kind sounds trite but we naturally gravitate toward nice people. We want to work with and support them and at...

How’s the Job Market?

08/08/2012 03.51 EST

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Being an executive search consultant brings with it a variety of occupational hazards.  When people discover my profession, they immediately work the word “headhunter” into the conversation and then apologize to me in case I’m insulted by it (I’m not, but I don’t embrace it).  Or they send me copies of resumes from friends and family members who are out of work so I can find them jobs (not what we do).  Or they tell me they have been thinking about “making a move” and ask if I will meet with them to help.   But the biggest occupational hazard in my profession is having a snappy, relevant, current answer to a question I get many times each week:   “How’s the job market?”   People ask this question with the expectation that there is one discrete answer.  It turns out there is one answer, but it isn’t the answer people want to hear.  Because the real answer is this – “It depends.”   First of all, it depends on where you want to live and how much money you want to make.  Secondly, it depends on your skills and the demand for those skills.  It also depends on how up-to-date those skills are.  Could you write an article for a business publication about where your profession is going in the next five years – or would you be more likely to write about how your profession has lost its way and will never be as good...