Why you don't need to meet with me

October 27, 2010

Last week I received a call from an executive searching for a job. Nothing out of the ordinary there as I receive a half-dozen such calls every day. But this individual was no ordinary caller, most being content to make an introduction and follow-up with a letter and resume. Instead, this individual was part of a group whose misguided views on searching for work feeds a cycle of ineffective actions which prolong the pain.

The caller started our conversation by expressing interest in several searches listed on our web site and requested a meeting to discuss his candidacy. Knowing nothing about this individual, I suggested that he send me a resume and that we schedule a follow-up call to discuss. Minutes later he emailed a resume which spoke of an individual who, while perhaps very competent, had no market or functional ties to the positions in question. And when I say none, I mean none, whatsoever.

I responded with an email that thanked him for his resume but indicated that while he had an impressive career, it deviated significantly from what we were asked to find by the clients in question. I suggested that we would keep his resume on file and contact him should we secure searches closer to his area of expertise (any cursory review of our web site would have indicated to him that this was an unlikely eventuality).

The executive in question thanked me but continued to press for a 15 minute “introductory meeting.” I suggested a telephone call. He immediately countered that a meeting was preferable and that he would make himself available early morning or late afternoon so as not to impact on my day. I suggested a telephone call. He asked again for a meeting. The next day, at 6:30 am we met in my office. He thanked me for the meeting and then proceeded to wait for me to lead an exploratory discussion on his experiences and track record in a career that has nothing to do with the sectors or roles in which we work. It was a painful, awkward exchange, and altogether predictable. I spent the next half hour suggesting more productive strategies by which to conduct his job search.

Searching for a job is a learned set of skills that most people prefer never to need. As a result, competency is usually developed through painful trial and error, with some erring more painfully than others. They spray and they pray. But looking for work is a decidedly purposeful endeavor, a decision-tree process that starts with an understanding of where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going. Unfortunately these are all reflective endeavors that most people also avoid unless forced by need.

In ensuing posts I will offer a few thoughts on how to become more effective.

About Author

Robert Hebert, PhD is Managing Partner of Toronto-based executive search firm StoneWood Group Inc. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements. 

He can be reached @ rhebert@stonewoodgroup.com or at 416.365.9494x777