Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Adventures In Recruiting: Do You Know A Good Recruiter?

This post is hard to believe.  But it is the honest truth. I thought it would be a fun read before the holidays.

I have been recruiting for over 30 years. My specialty is advertising.  During that time, dozens, no, hundreds, of candidates have asked me for the names of recruiters who recruit for related businesses -  marketing companies, brand managers, in-house ad agencies, corporate communications and public relations.  I actually don’t know anyone who specializes in those areas. 

Each time I have been asked this question, I give the same response. “If you find someone you like, please, please, please give me their name so I can establish a relationship with them. I would love to be able to send candidates to a recruiter who does what I don't do.”  Every person I have asked has told me that they would call with a recommendation.

Now here is the truth: Not one single person, no one, has ever given me a single name.  Ever. Not once in 30+ years.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?

So this is a plea.  I would love recommendations on good recruiters in other fields.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Beware Of Companies That Want To Hire And Don't Knew What They Want To Pay

Believe it or not, many companies start searching for new talent and do not know what they want to pay.

Every recruiter knows this story.  You get a call from either an officer or the HR Director of an agency or a company.  They give you an assignment; sometimes the specs are well thought out, sometimes not.  But when the recruiter asks for a salary budget for this new hire, the client says, “You know the business.  You tell us.”  This happens with both contingent recruiting (They hire, then pay) but can happen with a retained search as well (They pay up front).  However, when there is no salary budget, retained recruiters often back out of the assignment; many contingent recruiters will pursue the assignment in the hopes of making money.  It is almost always a fool's errand. 

If there is no salary budget, the search will almost always end in a  disaster.  It often turns out that the company is unrealistic in their expectations in terms of experience and cost.  Or, the budget has not been approved by managers.   And it happens all the time. 

The response to “you tell us” is generally to name a salary range based on the job description.  That range is generally acceptable, or it may elicit a budget ("Gee, we were thinking of spending less...").  But here is the real issue. In well-managed companies, the CFO or CEO has to approve the hire and should have approved the job and budget prior to a recruiter being called. .

Assuming that the budget has been accepted, the recruiter starts looking for appropriate talent.  When  a candidate is introduced to the client, they are always told the candidate’s current salary and their expectations for this job.  That goes without saying for a competent recruiter.

It is almost inevitable in these circumstances that if and when an offer is made, it is at the lower end of the agreed upon specifications.     Previously, I have written that when a recruiter gives a salary range to a prospective candidate, inevitably the candidate sets his or her mind only on the highest number they have heard.  And when the company offers the job at the lowest end of their spec or, worse, makes an offer even lower (It happens all the time), there is probably a 75% chance that the job gets turned down.

As a result, I have learned (and it has taken many years) not to accept these kinds of jobs because it almost always results in double or triple work.  The salary always sounds good until the company has to pay it.  Mostly it happens with senior people, but not always.

The problem for a contingent recruiter is that unless their business is successful and well-grounded, the client will not call again if the job is turned down. Nor will they call again if they can’t get an accepted offer.

I have learned that often this kind of assignment is kind of like looking at homes or apartments just for the fun of finding out what is out there.  It rarely results in a purchase.

Candidates should always ask the recruiter what the job is paying and the recruiter must reconfirm the salary when introducing a candidate.  It is also permissible for the candidate to ask the first person they interview with what the salary range is for the job.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Abusive Men In The Advertising Business

When it comes to sexual misconduct, things were different up until a few years ago.  As a recruiter, I have heard stories which were dreadful and appalling about senior executives who brutalized and humiliated women; demanding that they sit on their laps, pinching, feeling and groping, verbally putting them down. They left these women with, for the most part, no choice but to accept it if they wanted to succeed or be promoted.

Somehow, when I was in advertising, I was unaware of all this abuse.  It was certainly nothing I ever did – my parents would have killed me and, besides, it was just not what I did or even thought of.  But as a recruiter, I started hearing the stories.

I heard about one creative director who would stand outside on the street in front of his office building and when he saw a woman who appealed to him, he would say that he was going to meet her.  He would stand in front of the building every day at the same time for days until he saw her again.  And he would approach her and, sure enough, somehow, about 80% of the time he was successful.  He would do the same things to women he liked in his office and, in those days, it was assumed that whatever happened was by mutual consent.

There was another creative director who practically attacked women. He was successful with some, but was rebuffed by dozens (literally), some of whom quit, others who sued the agency and received a substantial settlement. But the agency did nothing to stop it; his talent was valued above and beyond his persona.  He was so outrageous that someone I know who lived in his building would get off the elevator if he got on because she would not be alone with him.  He was totally a sexual predator.

Looking back at it all, it was repulsive. And worse, it was tolerated by management.

It is hard to realize that only fifty years ago there were few women senior executives in advertising, especially account management, creative and media.  I can only imagine what they had to do or go through in order to succeed. Mad Men was very accurate in that regard.

But just last week I heard a recent story from a former advertising person who told me that her boss constantly humiliated her by throwing or dropping things on the floor and asking her to pick them up so he could look down her blouse. What kind of man does something like that?

I once worked for an account guy who came to the agency business from space sales (Sports Illustrated, I believe). When he was asked what kind of skill his new secretary should have, he told the HR lady that he wanted someone who would sleep with him.  The HR person told me this many years later. She also told me she found him such a person.

I couldn’t believe that stuff like this really happened, but I know it did.

I congratulate the #metoo movement; it is about time that women feel safe enough to share their experience.  And, on behalf of the majority of men in business who would never do things like that, I sincerely apologize and hope that ad agencies (and, in fact, all businesses) put programs and processes in place to address this problem.   Yes, it is about time.

Creative Commons License