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TGIF–a historical week

Hello and Happy Friday!

Yesterday and today, I’m at Talent42, a tech recruiting conference (conveniently) held on the Seattle waterfront  about 2 blocks from my office. World-class presenters on a diverse array of topics, lots of interesting people to meet and network with. Great to get away from your desk and fill your brain with new information/perspectives/insight.

This has been a historical week thanks to multiple rulings by the Supreme Court. Affirmative Action as applied to college applications (increased scrutiny); voting rights (removed key provisions); and gay marriage (ruling the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional; dismissing the request to overturn the lower court decision re: Prop 8).

The last two are personally important to me, as they represent fundamental equality as well as the granting of a huge array of rights (over 1,100 rights and protections) that are denied unmarried couples at the Federal level. I fully support equality for all, and while these decisions did not grant sweeping nationwide equality, it is a strong start.

This weekend, I’m excited to attend the annual Greenwood Car Show. This is an annual event in which the Greenwood neighborhood closes down 1.5 miles of a main street in North Seattle (67th to 90th) and fills it with classic cars, hot rods, low riders, and modern sports/exotic cars. It’s huge fun even for non-car folks–and immensely popular as the photo below demonstrates:

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


“Should I use a recruiting agency as part of my job search?”

I’m occasionally asked by job seekers if we do a lot of hiring through recruiting agencies/headhunters. The answer: “Occasionally.” We have agreements with a small number of agencies that specialize in different functions. We engage an outside recruiting agency when speed & quality win out over cost-effectiveness; that is, we need a very hard to find skill set–and we need them yesterday.

Agencies are usually paid a set or sliding scale percentage of the candidate’s first year base compensation; for specialized technology or more senior roles this can be $20-25,000 so you can understand that many companies do not undertake the engagement of this type of agency lightly.

Should you consider using a recruiting agency as part of your job search? Yes–but you must be an informed consumer who asks the right questions.

  • Who are the primary clients they work with in your specialization? (ex: “With what companies have you placed your last 10 Program Managers?”)
  • How many people in your job title have they placed in the last year? (Try to get a sense of how focused they are in your field)
  • If you are contacted about a position with a certain company–ask if they have been retained by that company to work on this position? (Please see why below)
  • It’s also worth asking how many positions have they placed with that company this year?

You need to ensure they are really representing an actual job opportunity for a corporate partner–and not just a fishing expedition for a ‘full desk’ recruiter (who are responsible for both finding their own business and sourcing/placing candidates) who is trying to get your resume, then contact the hiring manager and try to convince them that you’re worth paying them a large fee for. This is often a waste of both their time and yours.

Worse, if they have a signed contract with the company, if you have agreed to have the recruiter represent you and are presented to the company by the recruiter–you may not be able to be hired by that company without them paying a fee to the recruiting agency for the next 6-12 months.

Recruiting agencies can be beneficial as a resource in your job search, but like many things it’s important for you to be well informed before agreeing to be represented by an agency. Something that at face value looks to be an additional resource in your job search can, in some scenarios, end up limiting your opportunities.

Successful Career Changers: Share your stories

There is no solid data on how many careers an average American will go through in their lifetime. The BLS refuses to categorize it. However, most career-age (24-65) professionals will change careers repeatedly during their professional working years. Some of those career changes can occur while working for the same company (for instance, an ex-manager of mine went from being corporate counsel to a Sr. HR Manager while working for the same company); but for many of us, the change occurs either when economic realities force it upon us (a lot of mortgage industry professionals had a career change forced upon them in 2008, for example), or when we choose to make a major change (I chose to move from political campaign work into recruiting).

So this begs the question: How can one be successful at pivoting into a different career–especially when you are established in your current one? I’d like to share some examples from my readers in a future blog post.

  • How many times have you changed careers (not jobs)?
  • What factors made you change careers? (ex: Dissatisfaction/burnout with current career; major economic change)
  • How did you go about making the transition?
  • What has the outcome been for you?
  • What lessons would you impart to someone considering a major career pivot?

TGIF–And SuperMoon!

Hello and happy Friday to everyone. Glad it’s Friday–it’s been a busy week.

First off, be on the lookout Sunday evening for SuperMoon. This will be the closest the moon is to earth all year, and it is the largest the moon will appear in the night sky. Here’s an example of a previous SuperMoon:


Last Saturday morning, I put the top down on the convertible and trekked across Lake Washington to Exotics @ RTC. This is a weekly ‘cars and coffee’ meeting held at an outdoor mall in Microsoft’s hometown of Redmond, WA. Over 200 classic and exotic cars were on display on this beautiful Summer morning. Here are a few of my favorites:

Austin-Healey 100-4

Mk1 Lotus Elan–what I wouldn’t give…

Jaguar MkII 3.8

F355, F360, even a BB512i

Saturday night we went to see Aisha Tyler do standup. She’s whip-smart, hilarious, and incredibly gracious. I also have no idea how she survives the crushingly busy schedule she’s committed herself to; I’d need three of my sloth-like self to accomplish what she does in a week.


She also seems to be devoid of any Hollywood star attitude. After her set, she stood alongside her opening act at a fold-up table in the parking lot behind the comedy club and sold Archer DVD’s, posed for pictures with anyone who asked, and signed autographs. No bodyguard, no PR handler, and she was amazingly kind to everyone.

Next week, I’ll be attending Talent42, the technical recruiting conference being held here in Seattle. For those readers in the recruiting community, I hope to see you there.

Hope you have a great weekend!

YOU are in charge of your career. Don’t ever think otherwise.

At one point in a former role, I had an employee who was under-performing. In talking with the employee about the situation, they provided reasons why they could not perform their job adequately:

  • They hadn’t received adequate training from the outgoing employee or their manager
  • Their manager didn’t give them enough face time/direction on how to compete their assigned projects
  • The team was dysfunctional/the work environment was difficult
  • The key stakeholder with whom this person needed to interface in order to complete their projects was buried in other work and hence not readily available.

In reply,  I said “There’s one major component missing from this.”

The employee asked, “What’s that?”

I said, “You.”

Everything they’d shared with me made it very clear that they took zero accountability for their current performance issues.

In gathering 360 feedback, it became very clear that the employee in question: had not taken advantage of the training time offered by the outgoing employee; wasn’t managing up to their manager effectively; and had not made an effective case to the key stakeholder as to why this project was worth them prioritizing.

When things don’t go like you want or expect, it’s easiest to place blame somewhere else. For instance, when you and your significant other have a fight, to think you’re in the right and they are wrong. As the example above illustrates, it happens in a professional context as well.

The more mature–and much more difficult–thing to do is to accept you have responsibility for a conflict or sub optimal outcome, and then spend some (often tough) time analyzing why. What did you do that contributed to that outcome or conflict? What did you do (or didn’t do) that caused something to fail?

Can’t find a job and are blaming the economy/your industry/the President/Congress/The Pentaverate? You need some remedial education–read this. If you’re still blaming the aforementioned? This blog isn’t going to help you. Sorry.

Didn’t get that interview? Go back and review the resume you submitted. How could it have been better tailored to that job?

Didn’t get the job? Review each conversation you had in turn. Did you represent yourself to the best of your skill and ability? Did you build effective rapport? Ask thought-provoking questions? Follow up with a great thank you note re-selling them on you?

You did get the job? Great. How long are you prepared to fail at it until you get to a base level of initial mastery? During that time, how are you going to learn from those failures (rather than deflecting them onto other people/circumstances)?

I leave you with this:

You are solely responsible for the success or failure of your career. Nobody and nothing else. It will be impacted by various people and circumstances, absolutely. But how you choose to react–and take action–is entirely up to you.

Own it. Always. People will respect you for it. And you will be far more successful.

June 2013
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