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Tips For Building Out Your Professional Network | S2:E2

  • Episode 2
  • 'Inside Executive Search' Podcast

    Attracting, selecting, and retaining top talent is a challenge for many businesses. Join long-time executive search professional Scott Peterson, alongside Steve Yakesh, President of Direct Hire & Executive Leadership Search at one of the leading executive search firms, to discuss insights and techniques to assist companies to achieve their best results. If you’re an executive leader looking for advice on hiring the best talent for your company, you’ll want to hear this advice from these industry experts.

    Steve Yakesh | President, Direct Hire & Executive Leadership Search

    As President of Direct Hire & Executive Search, Steve Yakesh leads Versique’s award-winning permanent placement division with more than 20 years of experience. Additionally, he guides strategy for Versique’s twelve practice areas, including IT, HR, Finance & Accounting, Engineering & Operations, Sales, CPG, Digital Marketing, Executive Retained Search, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Family Owned and Demand Generation.

    Scott Peterson | Vice President, Executive Leadership Search

    Scott Peterson leads the Retained Executive Search division at Versique as the Senior Practice Director. In his role, Scott fills critically-important senior level positions such as CEO, CFO, CIO, COO. Scott has over 20 years of experience in executive recruiting. Additionally, Scott has also served on the Board of Directors the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, Medina Golf and Country Club, as well as several youth sports organizations.

    Podcast Transcription

    Intro: 00:01 Get ready for your weekly dose of talent strategies and tactics from industry leaders to help you attract, select and retain your top talent. You’re listening to Inside Executive Search with Steve Yakesh and Scott Peterson.
    Speaker_1: 00:30 Hello and welcome to the Insight Executive Search podcast. My name’s Steve Yakesh and this shows for business owners, board members and executives exploring strategies and tactics to attract, select and retain the very best. If you’re not feeling 100% confident that you have a plan to recruit the very best, keep listening, this podcast will help you get there. That said, I’d like to welcome in Mr. Scott Peterson from Versique Search. How are you?
    Speaker_2: 00:55 I’m doing well. Great to be here again. Episode two, season two. I’m happy to be launching into our next season here.
    Speaker_1: 01:04 Yeah. As a quick recap, started season two last week and did a review of some 2019 trends and if they were coming true or if anything has changed and then we also brought it down into the local market on how national trends are playing out here in the local Twin Cities market.
    Speaker_2: 01:23 Yup. It was a nice transition episode for us to kind of launch into something new today.
    Speaker_1: 01:29 Yeah and that being said, we’re going take a pause. We’ve done that a few times, but we’ve been getting some good feedback from the listeners and the question that was posed to us, all the podcasts were around helping organizations find and attract and select and retain their employees, what if I’m a candidate, right? Any advice do you have for me if I’m in a candidate? So we thought we’d take a pause and have a candidate driven podcast and give you some thoughts on that. All right, so a couple of things. Importance of building out your network and or relationship with a recruiter when you’re still working.
    Speaker_2: 02:17 Yes, what I have found, Steve over my career is when people are in need of a new job, a new career opportunity, that’s when they start networking. Although that’s still good, it really needs to start and be sustainable while you’re in a position, be proactive. And that’s networking with people like an executive recruiter like myself or you. But it also goes beyond that. You should be networking with people in your peer group, if you are apart of a peer group, if I am apart of an alumni association or your university. You never know when you’re going to need to tap into that network. Your company could be bought by a company outside of your local market and now you’re looking for a position and the reality is two months ago you thought this was going to go on for the next five, 10 years. So, really actively working your network really is critical because if you wait until you need a job, then it becomes a full-time job of networking and that really become quite a hill to climb.
    Speaker_1: 03:20 Yeah. And it takes a while to build that if you did get surprised and now you need to suddenly re-energize what was maybe a network or a network that didn’t exist. And you’re four to six weeks to get everybody knowing that you’re looking for a new opportunity and most people will have the time and luxury to take that four to six weeks. But if you just do it every now and then every couple of weeks, schedule a networking meeting, now you’re that far ahead.
    Speaker_2: 03:47 Yeah. Every single person that I’ve spoken to that didn’t maintain their network while they were employed has told me they wished they would have. And so always be purposeful about that. I’d recommend one to two coffees and lunches per week that are just pure networking even while you’re in a job, because I think it not only helps you personally, because if you’ve got questions about what’s going on at your own company, those conversations can lead a lot of different places.
    Speaker_1: 04:17 Absolutely. So let’s do it in a couple of different ways. We’ll approach it as I am employed. I’m happy, but I’m taking Scott’s advice and I’m wanting to figure out and build a relationship with a recruiter, what are some questions that I should be asking? And then the second piece is, what if a recruiter reaches out? How do you validate Is this a recruiter I should reach back out to? So let’s start with the first one. You’re currently employed, happy, but…
    Speaker_2: 04:50 Yeah, reaching out to me via LinkedIn, whether it’s sending me a resume that, Hey Scott, I’m a current CFO. Everything is good here, but I just want to proactively keep my network building. I’m happy to take those meetings because it benefits me on in two ways. One, it can help you stay connected. But two, it helps me build my database of future candidates for positions that might come across my desk. So, I always look at from the perspective of the candidate, if the recruiters willing to meet with me to learn about what my likes are, what my desires are, what my career aspirations are, that’s a recruiter that I want to work with.
    Speaker_1: 05:28 Perfect. So let’s say you do find that recruiter that does want to get to know you as a person and aspirations versus a couple bullet points on your resume, what are some questions that you would give candidates advice on to ask to figure out if they’re the right recruiter? Because not all recruiters are one size fits all.
    Speaker_2: 05:51 No, and what you’re asking is how do you validate how good they are? What kind of recruiter they are? What kind of person they are, do they look out for your best interest or their best interests? As you’re networking with other people in your peer group, they’re going to have recruiters or retained recruiters that they refer you to. So, use your network for that, but also you can do research on them. I mean Google is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? You start doing research on their company they work for and themselves. Look at their background, look at the searches they’ve done before there. Are they a credible recruiter that you should want a relationship with?
    Speaker_1: 06:31 I’ve never met a recruiter that doesn’t have a profile on LinkedIn. So that’s probably a good mechanism to do some research. So, you meet with them. Some recruiters specialize in a tight niche skillset. Others are functional based; some are just more of a generalist at that executive level. What questions would you provide or what questions would you give advice to ask to see? How do you vet that out? What is their specialty?
    Speaker_2: 07:03 Yeah, easiest way is to ask them a couple of questions. Steve, if you’re the recruiter and I’m the candidate, Steve, where have you done CFO searches with my kind of background in the past? If I’m making X dollars, how many searches have you done in the last couple of years in that space? Manufacturing, financial services could be industry, you’re just trying to figure out, is this a recruiter that can help me over the long term? And so, you just dive into those questions about the experience that that recruiter has, what companies they work with. Maybe they can’t give you the exact companies all the time, but they can give you industries and size, geographic location, that kind of stuff.
    Speaker_1: 07:47 How about the question of explain your process when you are working on behalf of a client.
    Speaker_2: 07:55 So you want the candidate to understand what our processes, right? You should be able to get from that recruiter a very detailed, here’s what we do with our clients from step one to final candidate presentation. If a recruiter is not able to do that, are they thoughtful in their process? Are they really the type of person that you want to be with if they’re more of a shotgun approach to recruiting in helping their clients? So again, ask them their process. If they can walk through that process without looking at notes, without looking at a printout, it’s a pretty good indication that they’ve got a robust process that they’re helping their clients through.
    Speaker_1: 08:35 Perfect and that means the quality of search and or the search process, it’s going to tell a candidate, Hey, these guys get it. They’ve been there, they’ve done it. Ask them recent searches or typical searches that you do, like you said. That will all start to resonate with, hey, if I’m a candidate, this guy or gal has a thorough process. I like that they do X, Y and Z. They’ve done searches that would be of interest to me in the past. Yep, probably want to invest some time with them.
    Speaker_2: 08:56 And the one thing you can do is ask them questions about if it’s a specific service that are doing right, if they are armed with the answers to your questions, that obviously mean they spent a lot of time at that client understanding the company culture, the specs of the position, what kind of person be successful there. All of those things. The more that they can answer those questions for you, the more you should have comfort that their process is very thorough. If you get called on a CFO search and they don’t know anything about the company, they just know there’s a CFO search. I’d be reticent to accept that as you have that position. Again, the thoroughness of the recruiter really tells you the strength of their relationship with that client.
    Speaker_1: 09:46 Yeah and I think just even asking, tell me about the personality of the board. Tell me about the personality of the CEO. If we’re stay on your CFO example, tell me about his or her background, what’s their personality, what’s their leadership style. If that recruiter can’t then you just know what you’re getting yourself into. Then just know what you’re getting yourself into and it might still be a good opportunity that they might explore if it’s a specific opportunity, but just know that you’re going to need to find that out a lot more on your own. And a good recruiter will have all of that, like you said.
    Speaker_2: 10:35 And we might be getting to this as another question that might be in your head, but I’ll just jump into it, ask them what their relationship with the client is? Is this a retained engagement? Which means that’s exclusive to that recruiter. So that means that company has agreed to pay, said recruiter to start the search, which means they’ve been vetted, they’ve been thoroughly put through their process and that we have an exclusive relationship. So, you shouldn’t hear about this opportunity from anybody else. Again, it should give you a comfort that it remains confidential if that needs to happen. All those sorts of things. So that’s a very important key to this that, understand their relationship with the client. Do they have this exclusive or are there three firms working on this.
    Speaker_1: 11:54 Yup. So, I’m going off script a little bit. So, let’s say I don’t have a relationship with a recruiter, but they reach out to me whether it’s old fashioned, they called me, or they sent me a note via LinkedIn or some form. What would you give advice in that note or in that message to a candidate says, yeah, I should probably return this phone call? Is there anything in the message that would give a potential candidate confidence to return that phone call? Because let’s face it, people are getting calls all the time. I mean, it’s a talent shortage market.
    Speaker_2: 11:59 I think it depends on the level of position that they’re calling you about. If it’s an executive C level, I almost think no matter what the messages is or how good it’s crafted, return that call, returned that in-mail because they could be a great networking source for you for an opportunity. If you’re a senior staff account and you’re getting called by 40 recruiters because everybody needs a senior staff accountant, that’s going to be hard to decipher between the good and the bad and the ugly of the recruiters that are out there. So again, getting back to doing some research on them, how long they’ve been with the company, what is the company’s reputation, those sorts of things and then make your judgement call on who to call back. There’s only so much I can say in an email or a voicemail to somebody about an opportunity, but I try to make it compelling. Such as, I’ve got a compelling opportunity. It fits with your background. I read through your LinkedIn profile. I like what I see.
    Speaker_1: 13:13 Yup and I think too, and I know we’re all busy, but I would always would return that phone call just solely based on even if I’m happy as can be, I might have somebody in my network or a friend or a former colleague that I could really help out and make an intro because they may really like this particular role even though it might not be a good fit for me.
    Speaker_2: 13:35 Right. I think recruiters, it’s a hard job right now in this marketplace with the candidates. You don’t know when the economy is going to change and need a recruiter someday, so building that relationship even in the best of times I think makes a ton of sense.
    Speaker_1: 13:57 Perfect. Well good. We covered a lot, but I think in summary, and correct me if I’m wrong, build a relationship, be proactive, even if you’re gainfully employed heads down, a) you can just build a great peer network for non-recruiting type of activities and, or that day that you may or may not be surprised. So be proactive, start building that with a recruiter but also just your network in general.
    Speaker_2: 14:27 And then work that network and continue to be accepting to be in someone else’s network and reach out to your network as well. So, I think it pays off and in the most interesting ways, over time, their stories and stories upon, I’m now working with somebody and five years later they find a job because of some advice that you gave them. In fact, I just had had dinner with, with a friend of mine. I gave him some advice and we didn’t help him directly, another recruiter did, but the advice was spot on. I think that only came from networking.
    Speaker_1: 14:52 Yup, absolutely and if you are trying to build a relationship with the recruiter, just vet them out, understand their process, is it thorough, what type of searches are they typically doing and are those a type career moves that would be attractive to you? Some of them are very industry specific, some are more general geography base, etc. So, ask those questions, and let’s face it, most people are smart, can read the person across the, the chair from the table and you’ll understand if they’re credible or not. And if they are, invest some time. Put them on your calendar, reach out to them every six months, whatever it might be. Just build that relationship.
    Speaker_2: 15:40 I love that word investment because it is an investment in time but it’s totally worth it.
    Speaker_1: 16:39 Perfect. Well that’s a wrap for this show We will have episode number three next week. We will hold the agenda or topic a little close because we have a little surprise next week as we continue to kick off season 2. If you want to get a hold of Scott, you can always look them up on LinkedIn or at and please keep the emails coming. They’re great to get everybody’s feedback and if you like what you hear and you haven’t subscribed to our channel, you can find it out on all the major podcast outlets. We will talk to everyone next week.

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