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