The Suck Less JOB SEARCH BLOG
Well, this isn't exactly a new idea...this practice has been percolating for years. When I left my corporate staffing gig (involuntarily) I was devastated. I was a staffing executive and I should have known how to penetrate companies. But, like you, I was employing the worst strategies. How do I know that you are employing yuck strategy for your search? Well, you're here and we are going to become fast friends.
I HAD A VALUE DELIVERY PROBLEM.
After I figured out my value I had to figure out a value/brand delivery system. So, the guy that knows everything about corporate the staffing...the guy that made a name for himself in Corporate America by refusing to pay headhunters and employment agencies ended up reaching out to Korn Ferry (the big boy on the block of Headhunters).
How dumb?! I rejected the value of headhunters and now I was relying on them. Pathetic. Here's the problem, there was no money to be made off me. The headhunters couldn't do anything with me because during the dotcom bust nobody was paying search fees. No employer was going to pay $50,000 to hire me...or $40,000...or $30,000. I actually think some companies paid headhunters to leave them alone (probably in Sees Candies or Post-It Notes). The high-flying days of search firms has never returned. Thank you, LinkedIn. Read The Suck Less Job Search for more of my take on the death of traditional headhunter.
Korn Ferry resulted in nothing of value for me. I understood, times were tough. So, how could I be my own headhunter? First thing, no more waiting. I needed to take action. I realized that Waiting Was Not a Job Search Strategy but I was using the waiting game as my main strategy. Also dumb. Today, I know the strategies that you need to employ to be your own agent/headhunter. Back then, I didn't know as much until I tested and remembered what advice I offered job seekers when they wanted to work for me or my employer.
A SIREN LEADS ME.
It happened by accident, I showed up to an early version of what is known as LAVA (the LA Venture Association). There was a lady I desperately wanted to take to Paris or Perris...or just anywhere. She was amazing! I knew she was attending a VC event so I went. Did I mention she was stunning...to look at her felt like you were stealing. Anyway, I followed her around like a puppy. She was a connector, a genius connector. She introduced me to a small VC Managing Director. Let's call him Tom.
Tom admired my jacket. He knew the brand, Giorgio Armani. I worked for them and I explained to him that I can't buy retail because I worked in the fashion business, blah blah blah. He asked me if I knew anyone that could style him because his wife thought he dressed like a "shlub". Sure, I invited him to join me for lunch at the Emporio Armani store in Beverly Hills and we met.
ADAM REITER IS A CAREER COACH?
He said, "Is Adam Reiter a Career Coach?" I thought that was an odd question. I explained that I was a Corporate Staffing Leader but I know a thing about landing the right job. Remember, I was unemployed at the time, hehe. He asked me to come into his office because they were about to let go an Associate in their firm and they wanted to give him guidance. They had contracted a group called Lee Hecht Harrison, a large and traditional outplacement firm but they wanted to make sure the guy got hired. Sure, I can help. They asked me what I charged. I knew of executive career coaching firms that charge $3000-$15,000 so I asked for $5000? He said, ok, we'll give you $2000 and I agreed. I would have done it for free. I was PUMPED! I got the Associate a lateral job in ten days. He told his bosses how "amazing" I was and Tom brought be back in.
HEY, AM I BEING SET UP...UM, WHAT KIND OF SET UP?
This time was different. I thought I was there to do more career coaching work. When I arrived, Tom and his partners put me in a car and we drove to Pasadena to an incubator called Idealab. It wasn't just a business incubator or accelerator...it was the hot one. I met a couple of tech titans. I thought, ok, these guys are throwing me a bone. Let me hobnob with some energized and smart people; I got it. Tom had done some research on me and even called a former boss. I was there to be set up I just didn't know it. Tom's firm had invested in a start up that was struggling. They had a revolving door. They needed a People Officer to implement a sticky culture and launch succession planning for mid-level talent, the future of their business as they saw it. Unbeknownst to me I was getting an amazing job opportunity. I took the gig as a consulting assignment which bugged them at first. They wanted me all in but I was hooked on the engagement with the Associate and I wanted to see if I could develop strategies to get people hired.
I SEE, YOU GUYS ARE THE NEW HEADHUNTERS.
Over the years, Tom and his firm, referred me to over a dozen jobs and directly offered me seven jobs where they believed I was the only guy for the role. I replicated this type of relationship with a group of VC's and a PE. It became clear to me that these investment groups were the New Headhunters. When they put their funds into a company they want stewards for that cash. I became a resource for them and got some of the most interesting offers of my career.
If you are sick of waiting and you are going after an elevated role you must engage these New Headhunters. They are the key to great leadership offers. There are nearly a dozen strategies to penetrate these firms. It's easier than you think. A simple way to start dialogue with these guys and gals is to go to Venture meetings. Check out Angel.co to start plugging in. Also, think about listening in and participating in online VC forums and VC/PE Linkedin Groups. Here are two I am a member of: Finance Plus and PE, M&A and VC Investments
PS I ended up dating the connector and it became clear I was far out of my league but what she did for me shaped the second chapter of my career and has been one of the springboards I use to help job seekers like you.
I am just a guy standing in front of a job seeker asking them to let me help them get hired.