As we study the marketplace and continually position ourselves as thought leaders in the industry, we are inspired to share our ideas and viewpoints. Below are a few editorials and commentaries written by Bell Oaks consultants based on our collective experience in executive search.
How to Ask for What You Want in the Business World
How do we appropriately ask for what we want from others in the business world? Is there a right way and a wrong way? I am approached somewhat frequently by job seekers and business development professionals seeking new clients. These requests for help are from both professionals in my network as well as people I don’t know. Some requests evoke an immediate favorable response from me. Some make me hesitate and carefully consider if I will help and still others make me cringe because of the way I am approached. Why the broad spectrum of reactions?
The Conversation Continues: Work/Life Balance and Employees
If you have access to news of any kind, you are likely well aware of the recent appointment of
the new Yahoo! CEO, Marissa Mayer and her subsequent pregnancy announcement. There has
been no shortage of conversation generated over the story, and right in the center of it all is the
debate over the importance of work/life balance.
Turning Age into an Asset
It is a common tale these days. A 60-something senior leader in career transition has a series of job interviews since departing his last role, but nothing to show for it. Another leader with a long track record of success in her 30-year career struggles to even get interviews. They wonder what they are doing wrong. They may also wonder if they are a casualty of age bias.
Practical LinkedIn 3.0
I wrote the last version of this article well over two years ago. Much has changed in the world of social networking with the explosive growth of Twitter and Facebook and it is clear that how we build personal and business connections is ever evolving.
A Road Map for Effectively Serving on Non-Profit Boards
This article seeks to cull this information into an easy-to-follow road map that will hopefully enrich your board service experience and help add value to the organizations you serve.
He Had a Great Career
A familiar tale, perhaps? This is a story of tragedy, missed opportunities, redemption and forgiveness that will stop you in your tracks and make you think.
Embracing the Real You
Why is it difficult to have the same persona at work, home, church and with friends? I have observed this problem for years, but lately become more aware of the challenges people have with consistently being "real." In a few recent discussions with friends, I got blank stares and the feeling of discomfort when I advocated for being the same person no matter where we were and transparent about our lives with others. Why is authenticity so uncomfortable?
Team Building by Way of Community Service
I had the pleasure of organizing a company service project recently where our team visited the Atlanta Furniture Bank to build tables and assist the organization’s families with picking out and loading furniture onto trucks set for their new homes. The Furniture Bank is a wonderful non-profit that provides essential household furniture to people moving out of homeless shelters and into their own residences.
Pop Culture References & Job Search
Recently, I was watching the movie, “Swingers.” It was the scene where Jon Favreu's character, Mike, calls a woman 11 times in a row. He gets her answering machine and leaves a message every time (warning: foul language at 2:19 mark). It is painful to watch, but there is a nugget of wisdom in that scene. I immediately thought this would be a great example of how candidates should not follow up with prospective employers.
Finding Common Ground - A Call to Action for Leading Gen Y in the Workplace
Like many of my fellow business leaders, I do my best to stay current. I embrace social media, read the latest leadership books and stay abreast of trends in the marketplace. And from a workplace perspective, there is one particular conversation topic in full discourse across the country—Generation Y in Corporate America.
The Dilemma of the Would-be Job Seeker
Have you recently received a call from a recruiter about a new opportunity that got you thinking? Perhaps you’re feeling underappreciated by your boss. Are there few opportunities for professional growth at your company? Is it experiencing financial challenges that have impacted your income and benefits? Have the leaders failed to inspire you because of a lack of vision? Maybe you’re just bored. All seemingly acceptable reasons to start polishing that resume … or are they?
Job Seekers Should Expect More From Us
I had an epiphany this morning related to people in career transition. I have been counseling people in transition for many years and have written several articles on job search strategy. My epiphany (or firm grasp of the obvious?), is that I rarely read or hear anything about how to effectively help people looking for a new job. The interview coaching, resume writing, networking, social media, psychology of job search articles abound, but there is very little helpful information or guidance on what you and I can do to help job seekers.
What If We Are the Athlete?
Have you ever been angry at a superstar athlete because they are disloyal (LeBron James), they take for granted their gifts (Ricky Williams), or they do something incredibly juvenile and risk their entire career (Tiger Woods)? It is almost like they forget that 99% of us “regulars” would give anything to play sports for a living and get paid handsomely to boot!
Successful Professionals Caught in Unsuccessful Industries
As an executive recruiter and active career ministry volunteer, I meet with all kinds of exceptional professionals engaged in an active job search. These individuals are out of work, frustrated with their current job, or know intuitively they need to start their search process. Many of them are (or were) top performers at their companies, but have fallen victim to working in an industry severely impacted by the economy. Real estate, construction, manufacturing, banking, professional consulting and the auto industry are the most prevalent industries forcing employees to seek greener pastures.
The Unconnected Leader - As They Ascend the Corporate Ladder, Many Leaders Do A Curious Thing ... They Stop Networking.
As they ascend the corporate ladder, many leaders do a curious thing…they stop networking. There isn’t much else that can have more of a long term negative impact on a career. I have observed this phenomenon over much of my professional life, most recently in conversations with countless senior executives during this painful recession who have unexpectedly found themselves in career transition.
Generational Differences, Worried Parents and Jobs with Drive-Thru Windows
It is not a great time to be a recent college graduate in today’s job market. As tough as it has been for more experienced workers, these young adults have had a much more difficult time finding full-time employment related to their education. I have spoken to several 2009 graduates recently who have been looking for almost a year and found nothing better than part-time retail or restaurant industry jobs. A common joke these days is that “you can always become a Barista at Starbucks,” which, unfortunately, is not that far off from reality.
Be in the Top One Percent of a Job Search
With the exception of The Great Depression, we are living in unprecedented times as far as economic conditions and job search are concerned. There are basic fundamentals for every job search regardless of the economy but today, given the number of professionals out of work, economic globalization and an aging workforce population, it is even more critical to differentiate yourself from all the others in transition. This paper is meant to provide information on the different tiers of job search and how to be in that top one percent or “Tier One” career seekers.
The Gathering Storm - Caution for Leaders in 2010…and beyond
We are living in a new world, a new paradigm if you will. As we enter into 2010 it is unclear what the implications of this new world will hold for each of us, but we do know the impact of this particular recession has been far reaching and painful, affecting nearly every corner of the marketplace. Across the country, uncertainty reigns as the tepid recovery we seem to be experiencing is tenuous at best and unfortunately, job creation will likely lag behind as leaders are continually asked to deliver more with less.
Job Search Land Mines
I am an observer. People fascinate me and I enjoy listening to their stories, challenges and triumphs. As managing partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search, I have interviewed and spoken with thousands of individuals in career transition over the last 10 years. These interactions, along with my other experiences in executive search, have helped me develop a firm opinion about the obstacles that often deter people from landing a new job. Let’s call these obstacles land mines.
The image in your minds right now is probably of someone stepping on a hidden explosive device buried in the ground. In a job search, there are an endless series of land mines, often of our own making, which prevent well-intended candidates from reaching their goal of a new career opportunity.
Professional Service Firms: The Honey Bees of Commerce - How Organizations Can Access & Benefit from PSF's Extensive Influence in Today's Economy
An “all hands on deck” call has been made. It is clear that the survival of many companies, and industries for that matter, is going to require collaboration with innovative, deeply influential partners. The corporate C-suite needs to understand what resources they have and may need in the short and long term to avoid knee-jerk reactions that may cause more harm than good. Nowhere has this call been heard loudest than perhaps among professional service firms.
As respective partners with two different professional service firms, our client experiences have been similar in many ways with regards to this new economy. We hope this piece will inspire further discussion on how organizations of any size can—and should—take advantage of the influence and cross-pollination offered by this sector of business.
The Upside to a Job Search in a Down Economy
When faced with an opportunity to fundamentally change your life, will you take it? Many of us want to answer this question with a resounding “yes,” but may think that reality is not attainable. Not necessarily so. Consider the possibility that the current recession may be providing the catalyst for meaningful lessons and positive life changes to people all around you.
In my profession I meet dozens of business people every month, many of whom are professionals in transition.My interviews often take the form of an informal dialogue where I invite the job candidate to share not only work experiences, but also how they are feeling and coping with being out of work. The feedback has been illuminating. There are striking similarities in the challenges this group faces after they leave their jobs which fall into three distinct categories: relevancy, validation and balance.
Uncovering the benefits of these three areas now can benefit your work and entire life for the long term. Life challenges have a way of forcing much needed self discovery and what you learn can change your life. Now is the time to do it … we won’t be in a recession forever, and your focus will be shifted elsewhere again. Here are some ways to do that.
Job Search 101: A Tool Kit for Job Seekers
Based on interviews with literally thousands of job candidates, author Randy Hain shares the collective wisdom and experience of the partners and consultants at Bell Oaks on how to effectively manage a job search through four phases: Losing Your Job & Starting Your Search; Building A Network; Interviewing; and Negotiating an Offer & Landing a Job.
Dad, Is The Recession Over Yet?
My children are a constant source of wisdom and clarity for me. Our sons are eight and 11 and keenly interested in what’s going on in the world. We share openly and candidly the current state of politics, the economy and world news in a way they will understand. This past Saturday, my wife and I were discussing the family finances and how to cut our budget in these lean times when our younger son, Ryan, came up to me and asked if we could throw the football outside. I let him know what we were doing, discussed the recession as we had before and explained that we were trying to spend less money as a family. He looked at me for a minute, said okay, and walked away to do something else. He came back 30 minutes later with a question that was wonderfully simple and clarifying: “Dad, is the recession over yet?”
Ready or Not, Here They Come: Motivating and Retaining the Millennial Generation
Television, magazines, newspapers and book shelves are filled with people — some experts, some not — analyzing the most productive way to manage and get the most out of the Millennial generation workforce. Popular headlines have stated:
• The “Millennials” are Coming
• Whassup? A Glimpse Into the Attitudes and Beliefs of the Millennial Generation
• The Millennial Invasion: are you ready?
What’s surprising is the disapproving and critical tone many of these pieces take. Is this really necessary? Jack and Suzy Welch don’t think so.
Bringing All of You to Work
Have you ever known someone who had a meteoric rise up the corporate ladder, but seemed to lose himself along the way? Sadly, there are many who fit that bill. Quite possibly, you may even see yourself this way. How did it happen? Was the career success worth the price? Is it a necessary step in becoming successful? Fortunately, the answer is no. But first, what do we mean by losing one’s self? We define this as leaving behind or masking who you really are in order to further your career. Losing the courage to stand up for what is right. Forgetting where you came from or what–or who—got you there. Denying your internal moral compass, shutting off your emotions and not sharing your candid thoughts are examples of the critical pieces leaders often lose or hide in an effort to get ahead. Bringing all of who you are to work is the focus of this article, because it’s where so many leaders get off track.
Time to Think
As busy professionals with compounding responsibilities, isn’t it becoming more and more difficult to find time just to … think? Commiserating with colleagues and friends, we share how our work days are filled with an almost obsessed focus on getting as much work done as possible, countless meetings and squeezing every bit of air out of our schedules. In our other (and most important) roles as fathers/mothers and husbands/wives, we’re faced with another harried stretch of time each evening filled with family dinner, kid’s activities and the myriad other things that families require. Weekends are more of the same.
In today’s professional landscape, the term “thought leadership” can be interpreted any number of ways. You see the phrase included in a company’s laundry list of expertise areas, or voiced throughout the course of a strategy meeting. Some business executives embrace the concept more than others, and many bring it to life in a way that benefits the bottom line. Based on my understanding of the subject, I have come to define it this way: Thought leadership is the creation and advocation of an original idea that stimulates change for the benefit of an organization.
Connecting … The Forgotten Art of Social Interaction
First and foremost, this is not another article on networking. Most business people have been inundated by countless tips on how to meet people and exchange business cards. This is also not an article on building relationships. I’m talking about the often-overlooked, elemental skill you need before you can form a true relationship or become adept at productive and meaningful networking … the forgotten art of connecting.
Diversity of Thought : The Next Frontier
The term “diversity” is taking on new meaning among companies that are focused on building dedicated and strategic workforces. Most sizable companies today utilize some form of diversity initiative in an effort to provide appropriate jobs and career opportunities for minorities and women. They should be commended for their efforts and congratulated when successful. These initiatives typically address race and gender, but how often do companies’ hiring policies target candidates who think differently and don’t fit the traditional culture standard that has been in place since the company was founded? Diversity of thought—often the last form of diversity to seep into a company’s culture—is becoming an important recruiting strategy for today’s leading organizations.
Headhunter to Trusted Adviser: The Future of Executive Search
If you are a hiring manager for your organization, you have probably worked with a recruiting firm to help you fill your open positions. It is likely that you experienced frustration with the process of sorting through the large stack of resumes submitted for review and how few of those resumes were a fit for your opening. It also may have seemed curious that the recruiting firm never actually met you or interviewed the candidates in person before recommending them. Did you ask yourself if their consultants really knew you and your company at all?
Knowing How to Work with a Professional Search Firm Will Get You the Best Results
You’re a professional considering a job change and would like to explore the benefits of working with an executive search firm to maximize your opportunities and earning potential. How should you go about selecting a firm and how does a mutually-beneficial partnership between you—the potential candidate—and the search firm work?