Monday, December 15, 2014

11 Recruiter Myths

I was speaking with a member of my staff the other day regarding a search assignment project we were working on, and as we were speaking I had told them that we (our firm) continue to battle the various stereotypes that surround our profession. The fact is that every profession has stereotypes; some not so flattering. But the professional recruiting profession seems to have more than our fair share. I find it frustrating that there are recruiters out there who still practice with limited knowledge of those they serve, and practice the “resume dumping” technique. Then you have the job posting chasers. And the ones who operate under the practice of throwing the job out on a job board and just referring on to the client company anyone who responds verse actually “recruiting.”  Although that kind of stuff really does happen, there are certainly very reputable and knowledgeable recruiters. So this goes out to all the great professional recruiters that share the love and passion for helping out individuals reach their career goals, helping families get closer together, and helping individuals better their financial position. And also to those professional recruiters who enjoy an excellent partnership with their clients because they are knowledgeable and truly care about sourcing and securing the best talent for their clients.

Here is a list of common recruiting myths from a candidate perspective as well as hiring manager/employer perspective, and the truth about those myths! 


MYTH: You should only work with one recruiter at a time.
You can work with multiple recruiters (2-3) at a time. Recruiters often have a relationship with many companies but certainly not all companies in an industry. So working with a few recruiters simultaneously can help you be exposed to multiple opportunities. However be certain you tell your recruiters who else you are working with and what companies they are submitting you to.

MYTH: A recruiter will find me a job.
Working with a recruiter is just one piece to a job search. Just one tool in the job search tool box. (along with networking, direct contact with employers, and other methods).

MYTH: Recruiters can help me make a career change.
Recruiters are often working from very specific search assignments where the employing company’s criteria is well-defined. Therefore, they are looking to find candidates with those specific qualifications, not someone with an interest in the field. The better your credentials meet the search assignment specifications, the more likely you will be considered as a candidate, and the more likely you will be successfully placed in the role. If you want to make a career change, working with a recruiter isn’t likely to be an effective strategy.

MYTH: It doesn't matter which recruiter I contact, they all do basically the same thing.
Some recruiters are generalists, but most are specialized. Specialization may be by industry, role, professional area of focus, region or location, experience level, or other factors. It’s important to understand what a recruiter specializes in, and whether that’s a good fit for you and what you’re looking for. One of the largest factors is whether they work with the clients or types of clients you’re interested in.

MYTH: If I’m interested in a company I should apply online or give my resume to a friend first. If that doesn't work, then I’ll try a recruiter.
If your resume has already been submitted to a company, then the process has likely already moved beyond the point where a recruiter can get involved on your behalf. If you’re working with a recruiter that has that company as a client, contact them first. Or figure out what recruiters that company uses and get in touch with them. The recruiter can help you evaluate whether the position is indeed a good fit for you, and present you to the client to get primary consideration. If that position is not a good fit, they might know of other roles the client is looking to fill that would be better suited to your needs and experience.

MYTH: The recruiter doesn't need to know what I've applied for, or all the details of my background and career.
A recruiter can be a strong advocate in helping you gain consideration for a position you’re interested in, but they are only as good as the information you share with them. If a recruiter contacts you about a position that you’ve already applied for, let them know right away. Details of the situation matter…how long has it been? What job did you apply for? Did you have an interview? Nobody likes surprises--if the recruiter knows what’s important to you. If you keep them in the dark, you’re not helping them help you.

MYTH: You make less money when you are placed by a recruiter.
Not true. Companies who seek the assistance of a professional agency pay the agency based on a pre-negotiated contract. Those fees are completely aside from the candidate compensation. No fees will be taken out of your base pay or annual compensation to pay the agency. If a company were to reduce your salary to cover part of the recruiter fee, that is not a good company to work for anyway.


MYTH: I can recruit myself.
You certainly can recruit candidates yourself, but have you ever wondered why even companies with large HR departments still work with recruiting agencies? It takes a lot of time and effort to recruit effectively. Improve your efforts and get more quality candidates quicker. Recruiting takes two things companies don’t have in excess: A lot of time and specialized skills to dedicate toward just one vacancy. Even if you have an amazing recruitment team and/or HR department, they can’t dedicate the equivalency of a full-time job to filling each vacancy that comes up. A recruitment agency, on the other hand, can.

MYTH: Recruiters don’t specialize in my industry.
Actually, you probably can find a recruiting agency in your industry. A niche recruitment agency is always your best choice. So be certain you partner with an agency that understands your business and industry.

MYTH: Recruiters take a huge commission.
Obviously recruiters get paid for what they do, and if you want the best recruiting agency on your side, that’s going to cost you. Break down the cost-benefit analysis, and ask yourself what the best workers are really worth. In the long run, those commissions aren't as costly as you think. Time taken out for background checks and interviews all add up quickly. In the grand scheme of things, it can cost several thousand dollars to hire a new employee, so the fee paid to a professional recruiter is actually pretty comparable.

MYTH: Recruiters don’t work.
A recruiter isn't a magician, and if you don’t treat the relationship as a partnership then even the best agency in the world isn't going to be able to fill your opening. There is no pixie dust. There is no magic wand.

Scot Dickerson, CPC
President Capstone Search

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Job Search Phenomenon

An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. This means that there is a natural tendency of objects to just keep on doing what they're doing. All objects resist changes in their state of motion. Okay this is a non-human way to describe the phenomenon we see with some professionals when it comes to not making a job change that could benefit them. The benefit I refer to could be: 

Provide career growth
Provide an opportunity to learn new things
Provide a better work/personal life balance
All of the above 

Professionals may remain stuck in the wrong positions, not living up to their potential and sacrificing professional fulfillment. The problem lies in basic human motives: we fear change, lack readiness, are unwilling to make sacrifices, sabotage ourselves.

Perhaps you've been with the company for a number of years so you have the emotional attachment; the guilt of what will they think about you, or leaving them in a bad situation should you leave.

Perhaps your social network is centered within your co-workers. If you leave the company, you are leaving your friends.

Maybe you feel a strong loyalty to your employer. After all, they were the company that gave you your first break into the industry.

Or maybe the job opportunity involves a relocation. Upsetting the household with a move is unsettling to you.

At the end of the day, only one person is responsible for your career: you. Just as it’s unwise to impulsively leave a job for the wrong reasons, don’t allow fear of the unfamiliar to hold you back from accepting a new one. As for the move, look at it as a temporary inconvenience. One that after six months will likely be ancient history. Moving your household is never easy, but if it is the right opportunity for you and your family, this should not prevent you from following through on a good opportunity.

The bottom line is that changing jobs always carries some degree of risk. But, if you've thoroughly analyzed the situation and your gut is telling you to make a move, trust your intuition. At some point you need to stop second-guessing yourself and embrace the new opportunity. 

Scot Dickerson, CPC
President Capstone Search

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Keep Your Foot on the Job Search Gas Pedal During the Holiday Season

Frequently I hear from job seekers as we enter November, “I don’t expect much will happen during the next couple months because of the holidays.” Quite the contrary, November and December can be very active months. So I caution you, do not take the foot off the gas pedal during the holiday season.

There exists a notion that many employers do hire over the holidays; personal lives may get more hectic this time of year, but oftentimes within companies the hiring managers actually get a little breathing space to think about staffing and even conduct interviews. Many companies are working on staffing decisions for 2015 and putting the pieces in place for 2015 projects and want to bring new people on board before then.

In fact, in some ways, the holidays are a great time to find a job.

Here are several reasons why you should ramp up your job search during the holiday season:

1.     Others that could potentially be your competition could be easing up on their job search. Many other people are taking a break from their job search this time of year, which makes it a great time to position yourself against the competition.
2.     The holidays are an excellent networking time. You’ll probably attend more parties, open houses, happy hours, and fellowship events. All of these events are opportunities to expand your network. And a huge network is what every job seeker needs.
3.     The holidays are a perfect time to reconnect with others. This is the time of the year when it’s natural to get back in touch with neighbors, former neighbors, former bosses and co-workers, people you met at industry conferences. A greeting from you puts you back at the top of their radar.
4.     It shows you're serious about finding the right position. Continuing to job hunt over the holidays shows a potential employer that you're diligent and serious about locating your next opportunity.
5.     Companies may have money in this year’s budget that they need to use. Some employers are looking for ways to utilize the rest of their hiring budgets for the year.
6.     Maintaining your job search helps you keep your momentum. Stopping a job search and then trying to pick it back up later only means you’ve lost the wheels in motion. Everything takes time. Networking is about keeping the message moving. It just takes that much more effort to try and make up for lost time and lost momentum.

7.     Finally, January is often one of the biggest hiring months of the year. The interviews for January hires take place in November and December. 

Scot Dickerson, CPC
Capstone Search

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Desirable locations based on: well-being, work, and community, environment & recreational activities

Working a national insurance recruiting practice for near 20 years provides a person an opportunity to be exposed to countless individual stories as to why a person wants to be in a specific region, state, or city. For the majority it seems to be about being closer to family. For some it is about being in an area that affords them the opportunity to be near a major insurance hub in case something were to happen to their job. Let’s call that job risk management. For others it may be about being close to things they enjoy. Or being in an area that supports their interests and/or hobbies.

It is always however about an individual’s priorities. What they and their family members feel is most important to them at that stage in their lives or family situation.

While all this is true, I found the following story interesting. My own state of Iowa makes the following list, yet I have found Iowa to be a tough sell when speaking with candidates. The article is suggesting that the largest metropolitan areas may be losing some of their appeal. Perhaps, or maybe people are shifting their priorities? Interesting read regardless.

Scot Dickerson, CPC
President  Capstone Search

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The NEW and Improved Website 
by:  Roger Lear

Very excited to roll out the new website this week.  The National Insurance Recruiting Association (NIRA) has been around since 1980.  It is made up of over 70 recognized executive search firms through out North America.

Insurance Recruiter Roger Lear
Website Chair
Our competitive advantage over ALL job sites:  No insurance companies have access to this site.  It is strictly for the top insurance recruiters at privately held executive search firms.  Adding your resume to our database is safe with no worries about your employer accessing this information.  

Today, we announce the next version of  It is designed to better serve our the insurance job seekers and job curious.

Some of the new features:

- We are now mobile.  No app required.  Search jobs at lunchtime from your cell phone.
- You can now set up job alerts.  Looking for a claims manager job in Florida.  Set this up on the site      and when a claims manager job in Florida gets posted, you get alerted via email or your cell phone.
- More robust keyword searches.
- Faster than light (well, maybe no that fast but certainly quick)
- Better directories of recruiters so you can start a search quickly.
- More career information.

We are very excited to roll this new site out.  Please, set up a profile.  If you were a member of the old site, your login credentials will be the same.  For any feedback, please email

We hope you enjoy the only insurance job site run only by North America's top insurance recruiting firms.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

You said what?

We all have experienced those moments where we wish we could take back something we said.  Or perhaps someone else says something so outrageous that you wish the "rewind" button on your TiVo would work in real life.  Maybe you have even cringed lately while watching any of the news surrounding the NFL crises or something in Hollywood and you wonder if these people regret anything that is taken out of context from an interview.  Bottom line is that it happens.  So how do you react?

In my job I hear stories from all angles of something that was said in an interview situation or general conversation with a candidate or client about an opening.  Sometimes it is comical and a tipping point in a good way.  Other times it is so bad that it completely kills the conversation.  And even occasionally it borders on illegal or unethical.

One of the classic ways to head down a bad path of saying something you regret is when discussing former employers.  Recently I had a candidate find out that the hiring manager who was interviewing him shared a common former employer.  Taking the opportunity to "dish some dirt" he began a rant about the people he didn't like, the bad working conditions, a terrible boss, and much more.  What he didn't realize at the time was that there was a personal connection to this former employer and she did not necessarily leave on bad terms.  Needless to say it left a bad taste in her mouth.

Another common mistake is talking too much about current events in the media or world around us.  Like George Carlin's "Seven words you cannot say on TV", we all know the 3-4 topics to avoid in an interview or work situation.  But I would argue there are many more than that.  Instead of focusing on whether or not everyone in the room agrees on the fall TV line-up or the recent news from Washington, focus on whether or not the candidate can do the job and if the culture is right for the candidate.

Vulgar language is yet another common problem in interview situations.  I have seen all spectrums from employers that curse in an interview just to see how candidates react to situations that become obscenity-laden in short order.  This becomes awkward if there are more than a couple of people in the room.  I was recently in a meeting myself with a client and there were four people in the room.  One of the hiring managers let go a couple of F-bombs and the air went right out of the room.  It took about five minutes for everyone to take a breath and recover.  It's not like we hadn't heard that word before, but it was in poor taste and bad overall context.

Lastly, be careful what you say when mentioning someone by name.  It is a small world out there after all and you can never afford to be caught saying something bad about someone else.  It could be a vendor partner, a competitor, a former colleague, an old boss, or anyone else you have been associated with professionally.  In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor, and many other sites, it is incredibly easy to go down this path.  But you will eventually get caught in your words and it seldom ends up well.  Just like your grandmother always used to say, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

So what is the best course of action if you say something inappropriate or witness it in an interview situation?  If you are the one to say something, be sure you own it.  Maybe even apologize right there in the moment.  It can happen to the best of us, but ignoring it will not make it go away.  And if it happens to you, try to extend grace but don't feel like you have to make excuses for someone else.  Talking that way could be a pattern, and just like I encourage you to own it, they should as well.  If they do not, then it may be best to move on.

Scot Dickerson, CPC
President Capstone Search

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to avoid dumping cold water on your search

We have all seen pictures or videos about the Ice Bucket Challenge. Our group conducted our own office challenge a couple weeks back.  The boys raised more money than the girls and had the privilege of dumping giant Rubbermaid containers filled to the brim with ice cold water on them.  Talk about team building.......

I have countless stories of candidates and employers who have dumped the proverbial bucket of ice water on themselves to completely kill the momentum in an interview process or general job search.  Follow these simple tips to avoid doing it in your own search:

1)  Talking poorly about a former colleague or employer.  Most people think this isn't a big deal, especially if the hiring manager brings something up first.  But it is never, ever a good idea to jump on that train and go for a ride.  Sometimes it can even be a trap.  If an astute interviewer knows something about a former employer they may ask a leading question to see what comes up.  Or throw out a jab themselves.  It is far better to take the high road 100 times out of 100.

2)  Sharing inappropriate stories from the past.  If the hiring manager begins talking about last year's tailgate parties for your football team, it is best to just listen and not over-share on your end.  It is fine to root for common teams and that can actually prove to be a good tipping point in some conversations.  But it crosses the line when you start mentioning things that could be deemed inappropriate for the workplace.  Especially if you are in a group interview setting.  It is quite possible others in the group don't want to hear about your pre-game shenanigans.  It could very likely reflect poorly on you.

3)  Talking too much.  I just had this happen last week with an interview.  On paper the candidate was perfect for the job.  It was the final stage in the process and the candidate had already impressed several people on the team.  The sales leader was the final say in the hire, and the candidate simply said too much.  Never asked a single question about the sales leader's background, the company, their process, or anything related to the job.  Simply spoke and spoke and spoke and spoke about them self.  Game over.

4)  Being unprepared.  Unfortunately I had a candidate show up to an interview (that we had prepped them for) only to say she had no idea what job she was interviewing for.  As you can imagine that did not get the conversation off on the right foot.  And we heard about it from the employer.  The interview lasted about fifteen minutes and the candidate couldn't believe that she wasn't invited back for another conversation.

Have you ever dumped cold water on an interview?  Or seen it happen from the other side of the table as an employer/hiring manager?  I would love to hear your stories!

Scot Dickerson, CPC
Capstone Search

Monday, September 8, 2014

Managing Virtual Teams

Yahoo and Best Buy recently put an end to their remote work programs; however, these moves are the exception. The trend toward virtual, or remote, “employees” continues to grow. Various surveys suggest that about 30 to 46 percent of all companies have at least some contractors, freelancers, or remote workers who rarely, if ever, come into the office.

This places a greater need for human resources departments to handle the challenge of managing a remote workforce. Automation and a different set of expectations will be part of the solution. This will include producing more results-driven performance analysis.

Managing remote isn’t a skill you can pick up on as you go. The trend toward remote workers is a growing challenge to managers who are not effective in managing people at a distance.

Companies need to develop their current managers as well as look to hire managers that know how to effectively manage remote employees. Knowing what criteria to use in selecting a manager for a virtual team is critical. In your selection process you should consider whether the candidate has a proven track record and demonstrates the following:

1.       Good communication skills — using digital services and the phone — are a must.
2.       A strong teamwork ethos.
3.       Reliability. When the manager says they will do something, they do. This builds trust based on performance reliability, and trust has been described as the single-most-important component of virtual team management
4.       Motivation and reward is even more important for virtual managers to ensure workers don’t feel overlooked or marginalized.
5.       Previous remote work experience. If they’ve ever been a remote worker themselves they’ll have an appreciation of the advantages as well as the downside to telework. That perspective can help them connect with their virtual team.

Here is an interesting article that speaks to this in more detail: 6 Specifics to Look for When Hiring Managers for Virtual TeamsI highly suggest looking it over, good information.

Scot Dickerson, CPC

Capstone Search

To Include or Not To Include, The Burning Question

Recently I was involved in a discussion with my peers regarding the Education section on a resume. The question posed lead to some interesting points presented by those involved. However the discussion never lead to a firm conclusion or if there was even a firm conclusion to be made. Curious to see if there was some sort of rule of thumb or general consensus to be had I wanted to explore this further. I didn't however expect that there was necessarily a wrong or right to the question. I felt that researching this further could provide some useful advice and/or direction to candidates as they look at their own Education section of their resume. Of course this certainly does not apply to everyone but I’m certain pretty much everyone knows someone who is does apply to and you never know when you might even be asked this question as a friend or co-worker seeks your advice.

So I contacted 20 accomplished Human Resources professionals that I know and asked them the question:

“If a person attended one or two colleges before attending at the one from which they obtained their undergraduate degree, do they include those colleges on their resume? Or do they only include the one in which they actually obtained their undergraduate degree from?”

The responses first confirmed that indeed there is no wrong or right. In addition there seems to be no real rule of thumb or general consensus. The responses varied and really seem to be a matter of opinion over anything else. Overall there looks to be a slight edge to only listing the final school in which the person obtained their undergraduate degree. However it can also depend and here are some interesting thoughts that should be considered when an individual creates this section of their resume.

Sometimes listing all colleges attended can catch the eye of a fellow alumni of a particular school and create interest. (Within my company we actually see this quite frequently. There seems to be a stronger bias in certain areas of the country such as the deep south. Hiring managers specifically look for alumni from their alma mater.)

If it could benefit you by listing the other college(s) then by all means list it.

If the candidate took courses at one college that are directly related to the position they are applying for then they should include it.

Another reason for listing all the colleges is that one college may be more prestige and the candidate would like a future employer to know that they attended that college for a period of time.

It was pointed out by all however that all colleges attended must be included on the application. Background checks typically only include graduation date, major and degree obtained.

In summary, look at your resume as a strategic marketing tool. With that in mind, if it will benefit you to include all schools attended, then include them. If it does not benefit and could perhaps even place you in an unfavorable light by creating questions, then do not include.

Some other pieces of advice that came out of my research regarding the Education section of your resume….

Typically put Advanced Degrees first:
Usually, you should lay down your educational background by listing the most recent or advanced degree first, working in reverse chronological order. But there are exceptions. If you earned a degree in agriculture, but are now working in the field of  marketing. If you more recently completed coursework specific to social media or digital marketing, list that first to catch the reviewer’s attention.

Attended but did not complete Degree? Mention it anyway:
It is completely acceptable to list completed coursework  List it something like this:
Master of Business Administration degree candidate
Anticipated completion June 2015
Drake University, Des Moines, IA


20 credits earned at Drake University towards undergraduate degree

List Honors, Not GPA:
If you graduated from college with high honors, make note of it. While you don’t need to list your GPA (especially if it’s under 3.0 or if you’ve been out of school for more than three years), show the summa cum laude status or the fact that you were in the honors college at your university.

Position it strategically:

Most people list educational background at the end of the resume, which is perfectly fine. However, if you have a degree from a prestigious university or one that may serve as an advantage for the types of positions you’re pursuing, consider listing your education at the beginning of your resume instead.

Scot Dickerson, CPC Capstone Search

Friday, August 29, 2014

Title: How to achieve an "A for effort" in an interview

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "You get an A for effort"?  I know I usually think of something that was a good attempt but did not yield the desired result.  Which probably makes you wonder why I would blog about that as something to try for in an interview situation.

This one is pretty simple, however, if you really break it down.  It is the principle of the matter.  Why in the world would you go and interview for a job if you were only going to give a 50-60% effort?  Or as an employer why would you interview a candidate and only be slightly engaged?  Yet I see it all the time.  When de-briefing with candidates and companies alike I hear story after story of an interview that just didn't really seem to go anywhere.  To make it worse we even hear about people who give up on an interview mid-way through.  It is evident to all parties and just leaves a bad taste in the mouth of everyone involved.

Here are three additional reasons why it is a good idea to always give the best effort possible:

1)  Anyone in the room could be your boss some day.  While this could seem like stretch, it really isn't.  Just imagine with me for a second that you don't like the company culture, but you really like the hiring authority.  You don't get that particular job, but six months later that hiring authority changes employers and goes to work for a company you have always wanted to work for.  I guarantee you that hiring authority held onto your information if you left a good impression.  Or even crazier, think if someone in the room that you thought would simply be a prospective colleague gets a promotion three months after you accept a job with that company.  Again, if you gave the best effort during the interviews this person may now be an immediate advocate to your career progression.

2)  You may get another job that wasn't even available at the initial interview.  In other words you come in to interview for a particular job, it gets filled internally, but you nailed the interview.  Another position pops up down the road, and you are the first person they think of because they loved you the first time but timing simply didn't work out.  This actually happened to a friend of mine right after both of us got out of college.  I went to work for a company in a role that my buddy interviewed for and didn't take.  On my second day of work something occurred where another opening was created.  They called my friend after not talking to him for six months, offered him a job on the spot, and he literally started the next day.

3)  You may be meeting with someone that has great influence on the process.  This one is a little more complicated, so stick with me as I unpack the idea.  You get an agenda to meet with five different people at a prospective employer - one hiring manager, one HR person, and three people on the team.  Conventional wisdom may tell you to focus on the person with the most influence.  Commonly thought to be the hiring manager.  But what if one of the team members is the daughter-in-law of the president of the company and her opinion matters a lot when it comes to final hiring decisions?  Even if this seems a bit far-fetched, why not go into the interview with the concept of impressing everyone equally because you just never know.

There is no reason why you shouldn't go into an interview with the sole purpose of being memorable.  You may not always get the job.  You may not always impress the interview panel.  The employer may not always knock the socks off of the candidate considering employment with the organization.  But if the absolute worst case scenario is everyone can agree you gave maximum effort, that seems like a very solid target to shoot for every single time.

Chris Winterboer 
Capstone Search

Friday, July 18, 2014

Posting your resume online?

Recently a job seeker reached out to us seeking advice on their search. It was the first time they had proactively searched for a job, and they were baffled by what they had experienced thus far. This person posted their resume on line and was immediately bombarded with calls and emails about 100% commission sales jobs. He had no experience in sales nor did he have any interest in sales.

My first piece of advice: if you post your resume online, expect to get these types of calls regarding sales roles. Firms looking for sales people typically have individuals on their staffs that peruse the resume databases looking for job seekers and reach out to anyone and everyone in hopes of getting a bite.

1.   One way to manage this is to create a separate email account for your job search. At least your email inbox won’t be flooded with this kind of contact.
2.   Don’t include your phone number on your online resume/profile unless you are prepared for these types of calls.
3.   Specifically and clearly state in the profile that you create that you are not interested in commission based sales opportunities. It won’t stop all of these inquires, but if they are respectful it will at least cut them in half.

Some other tips:

1.     Create an internet friendly resume written with keywords that directly pertain to your background and experience because it will be read by a company ATS (applicant tracking system).
2.     Utilize the online job boards’ job email alerts and RSS feeds. 
3.     Write a cover letter speaking to the job you are applying for. 
4.     Keep your job search organized. Most online job boards allow you to save your searches in your account, so be sure to take advantage of this. Also, keep a log of the positions and organizations to which you’ve applied.
5.     Only apply to openings you are qualified for. Applying to numerous jobs that you are not qualified for is never a good idea. Another position may become available later that you are perfect for, but because you applied to a job earlier that you weren’t qualified for your credibility with the organization will be ruined.
6.     Keep your information up to date. Your resume must have current dates and contact information. Your employment and salary history must be exact.
7.     Double, triple, quadruple check your resume and online profile information for misspelled words and proper grammar.
8.     Your resume title/subject line/objective statement in your online profile is important. Be certain it is accurate and professional. 

Scot Dickerson, Capstone Search

Monday, June 16, 2014

Choosing your Professional References

While recently working with candidate in preparing their client presentation, I asked for professional references. Standard procedure. This experience reminded me however as to the importance of carefully selecting whom you provide as your references. There are numerous writings on the internet regarding this topic, and I don’t want to reproduce what is already readily available, but instead just take a moment to stress the importance of this part of your job search. This candidate provided high profile co-workers from a previous employer; not only peers but supervisory types of references. The candidate provided references that were in a position to be able to accurately speak to their work product and provide a positive reflection upon the person’s abilities and work they had done at this past employer. Well, they could have anyway. The problem with these references was that the company had a policy against providing opinion, aka: references, regarding former employees. So all these references were basically under a gag order by their employer. So bottom line, none could help. All positioned well to be excellent references if only they could have spoken to me. Instead I only got title and employment dates. That was not so useful.

So I asked the candidate to consider other individuals they worked with at this employer that have since left. That is one possible solution anyway. So we are still working through that but it certainly reminds me of the importance of considering whom you use as references. And in this case, know the company’s policy of providing references. Be certain to talk to each reference to see if they are in a position to be able to provide useful information.

In the spirit of this topic I have included a link to an article on that adds some additional useful information regarding references. It’s a quick read. Straight and to the point.

Scot Dickerson, CPC
Capstone Search

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Company Recruiting and Staffing Plans for Remainder of 2014

I just returned from an industry conference that I attended last week. I always get a little anxious about being away from my business while attending these events but once I’m there, I’m always reminded of the value in being part of the conference. There are so many things the attendees take away from these conferences, and similar events, such as this one; the renewed connections with people that you can gain value from. Very much like the value of the job seeker networking that I've talked about in past blogs. 

Simply reconnecting with people adds great value. It also re-energizes me about how I go about my business and always creates a desire for me to re-exam how I approach what I do. In the spirit of this reawakening about taking a look at my own business, I thought it lends to a great segue into my clients taking a look at their recruiting and staffing game plan for the remainder of 2014.

Staffing is about more than just filling open positions. A company must look at current and future staff with future business goals. If a company is expanding into new states, seeing an increase in net written premium, and/or developing new products, they will need a larger and more diverse workforce. So a proactive approach is required.

1.     Create a Plan
·         Do changes require more staff?
·         Is remote an option to fill upcoming needs?
·         Create a plan for your future staffing requirements.
2.     Develop a Recruitment Strategy
With your staffing plan in place, you have a defined picture of the types of employees you need to recruit. The next step is finding them. If you need more entry level employees, develop relationships with local colleges to funnel recent graduates into your business. If you need more senior employees, work with a staffing firm to help you identify the right candidates.

3.     Give proper attention to Retention
Keeping your productive employees is just as important as recruiting new ones. If an employee leaves, it can create a huge hole in your workforce. Make employee retention a priority, and find meaningful ways to incentivize employee loyalty.

4.     Rely on Contract Employees as Necessary
A staffing plan is not exclusively about adding full-time employees. In order to meet the demands of specific projects or especially busy periods, it may be more cost-effective to bring in contract employees for temporary fill-in.

Scot Dickerson, CPC
Capstone Search

Monday, March 3, 2014

Job Interviews - Details Do Count

I've blogged about proper attire to wear to an interview before, and proper interview preparation and presentation. Here are some real life experiences I've had relating back to feedback I've received from hiring managers after they've interviewed a candidate. Good illustrations to my previous points.

The below are samples of real feedback I've received, and it is clear that details do count

  • Scot, great candidate, but he actually propped his feet up on my desk while we were talking. I like candidates to be relaxed, but that was a little too far.
  • Scot, the candidate was technically solid but they should have worn long sleeves. They had numerous scrapes up & down both arms. That came up in conversation and the candidate told me they had been transporting chickens in and out of cages the day before.
  • Scot, great candidate but they really should have brought another set of interview clothes. We met for dinner the night before the interview and the candidate got spaghetti sauce on their shirt. The next day during a full day of interviews in the office, they had that same shirt on with that same stain.
  • Scot, I liked the candidate’s technical claims experience, but I just can’t get past the strong smell of alcohol on their breath.
  • Scot, overall solid candidate, however details can be everything. The candidate came to the interview in a suit, but their shirt was partially untucked and their tie was loose. It just didn't seem appropriate for a first meeting.
  • Scot, I understand that not everyone can afford a new suit, but this candidate’s suit was clearly way too small and very outdated.
  • Scot, I really like the candidate but honestly could not get a word in edge wise during the interview.
  • Scot, good candidate but they blew it with me when they described their previous supervisor as a “crazy witch.”
Scot Dickerson
Capstone Search

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Background Checks - What You Need To Know

Background checks have become increasingly more common as part of the selection process. Typically the background check is not completed until it is determined that an offer will be extended or an offer has been extended. What I’m referring to is the credit, criminal background check. However most companies will also check previous employment and education. These repots often completed by a third party vendor can uncover not only legal or criminal issues but also verify information found on resumes such as college degrees, previous employment and perhaps even professional licenses.

Some companies may just want to verify basic information while others may be digging deeper. For example if the position includes dealing with company finances the company may want to check to see if the candidate has had any bankruptcy which could point to the candidate having a problem handling their own finances effectively.

If unfavorable information is found on a background check it does not necessarily mean that the candidate will be eliminated. Employers may consider the severity of the issue. They may even give the prospective employee an opportunity to explain the situation. Given the state of the economy the last few years, bankruptcy and other financial issues are not uncommon. The attitude about bankruptcy has changed as well. It is not an immediate knockout these days.

The bottom line however is this…if you know you have an issue talk to the employer prior to the background check being completed. If there is an issue, it will be uncovered. It is always easier to explain something before verse after. Explain the situation in detail. If there is any documentation be prepared to share that as well.

This applies in particular to bankruptcies. There is no shame and again, it will be uncovered. It is something that typically can be explained to an employer’s satisfaction.

Scot Dickerson, CPC 
Capstone Search