Peter Witke - Success Study
Chief Commercial Officer
Peter Witke was head of international sales at a medical supply company in northern Europe.
Medical Devices & Equipment
When an executive-level disagreement about management structure forced him to seek other employment in the middle of the Covid crisis, Peter knew he needed help.
Reeling from an unanticipated severance, Peter benefited greatly from the Clarity program, which helped him better understand himself and his ideal work environment.
In two months, Peter landed a role as chief commercial officer at a company with a great need for someone with his skillset.
As head of international sales for a spinal device medical supply company in Germany, Peter Witke oversaw distribution to 37 countries around the world. He designed local strategies for business partners, managed the corporate sales structure, and set organizational goals. He racked up many impressive achievements, including 39% growth in Europe. Despite his accomplishments, however, a disagreement with company leadership about management structure evolved into an untenable work environment, and Peter left the company.
Peter had always managed his job searches and knew what to do. He contacted recruiters, reached out to his network, and signed up for LinkedIn Premium for premium job access resources. But this time was different – the Coronavirus had just begun sweeping across Europe.
“At the start of Covid all the responses I got from recruiters and hiring managers were a variation of ‘We aren’t hiring now because of Covid,’” said Peter. “I also learned that, nowadays, the majority of CVs are run through an algorithm that easily filters you out if you don’t tick a certain box. I hadn’t run into that before.”
As a homeowner and a father of four over age 50, Peter felt a high level of stress about his financial situation. He knew he matched the profile of someone who can expect high hurdles to a successful job search. So, when he learned about The Barrett Group (TBG) and the robust professional support they offer jobseekers to leverage the unpublished market to find their dream jobs, Peter was intrigued.
“I found The Barrett Group’s story appealing. When I heard from The Barrett Group that 75% of all jobs are found in the unpublished market and they can help me access it, I became very curious to find out what they do differently from what I have always done,” said Peter.
Peter first talked to Tomasz Lisewski and was impressed by TBG’s sales offerings. He remained skeptical, however, until he interviewed TBG CEO, Peter Irish, too.
“I became convinced that TBG could open doors to me that were currently closed – even in a completely different industry,” said Peter.
Peter signed on with TBG and began the Clarity program, which to his surprise, turned out to be the most valuable aspect of his entire experience.
“The Clarity program was a real eyeopener for me, especially the DISC profile exercise,” said Peter. “It was the scariest experience in my life to answer 24 questions and have it yield a 20-page analytical report about my skills and personality that was spot on! The report included what other people say about me. It wasn’t all positive, but it also made me better understand why my last job failed.”
Peter learned a lot about himself, including the kinds of management structure that fit and don’t fit his personality and skills. The coaching that followed built on that understanding.
“My Clarity coach, Julie Holifield, really helped me process my situation and figure out a reasonable next job. She was very compassionate at a time when I felt vulnerable,” said Peter.
Next, Peter was assigned an employment consultant, Paula Nordhoff, who gave him various tasks and guided him on how best to benefit from LinkedIn, leverage his network, get in front of hiring managers, and represent himself on his CV. Peter threw himself into the work, meeting twice per week with Paula.
“It was obvious that Paula was very experienced. She realized that I was in a difficult state of mind. I wasn’t just looking for a job, I was surviving life. She kept me very active, which was important to me psychologically,” said Peter.
Peter’s ultimate landing stemmed from a contact he’d made months earlier at a medical exhibition. The head of another medical device company desperately needed someone with Peter’s skills and experience to commercialize his products. He was thrilled to consider hiring Peter as soon as sales in medical devices recovered from the Covid downturn.
With Paula’s help, Peter nursed the relationship for several months, offering the CEO ideas and a proposal for a corporate strategic plan. Peter was finally offered an employment contract as chief commercial officer of this exciting company – and at a compensation level exceeding that of his previous position.
He couldn’t be happier.
“This has been a great learning experience,” said Peter. “I greatly appreciate the compassion shown to me by my two coaches, and their willingness to support me in getting to my next role. This coaching can really make a difference in how you approach the job market.”
Rob Szafraniec - Success Study
General Manager, Tooling
Rob Szafraniec was vice president of a national supplier of industrial products and tools and general manager of one of its business divisions.
When his company went bankrupt unexpectedly, Rob found himself cast into the employment market for the first time in over 20 years.
Rob overhauled his resume, built up his network, and utilized LinkedIn Analytics as he patiently waited for the right opportunity during the Covid slowdown.
Rob landed at a company in a parallel industry as general manager of a growing division, a position that ticked every box on his wish list.
As vice president of a major, Pennsylvania-based industrial MRO distributor and general manager of one of the company’s divisions, Rob Szafraniec co-managed $220 million in revenues, 350 employees, and 22 locations. Rob got his start in the industry when he joined his family’s industrial MRO distribution company in 1999. He helped run the company for 17 years until it was acquired in 2016 by a larger company, which was itself acquired two years later by an even larger company. Through both acquisitions, Rob advanced in position and was expecting to move into the C-level soon when the company suddenly fell on hard times and was forced into a rapid restructuring.
After 23 years at, essentially, the same business, Rob found himself thrust into the employment market with little idea of where to look for a new job.
“Our company hit an iceberg and it eventually shuttered,” said Rob. “I had been swept along with the evolution of this company and had never had to look for a job. I hadn’t updated my resume since 1996.”
Rob tried to reintroduce himself to modern job hunting, but he quickly realized that he needed help.
“I hit the job boards, rewrote my resume, and spruced up my LinkedIn profile, but I didn’t get anywhere,” said Rob. “I was a neophyte. I had no direction or plan.”
Somehow, Rob stumbled upon The Barrett Group (TBG) and reached out for more information. He was surprised by the cost at first, but the more he learned about the program, the more he felt it justified the investment.
“The Barrett Group promised to educate me on how to market myself. That made a lot of sense for me because I hadn’t thought about that in forever,” said Rob.
He found the Clarity Program to be among the most valuable aspects of the whole program.
“Laura and I hit it off fantastically. My sessions with her went very well – not just because she’s so good, but also because it was important for me to understand where I was in my career and in my life and where I wanted to go,” said Rob. “I learned what I liked and what I didn’t like about my previous employment, and how to develop a personal business plan. It was a powerful experience because I’d never done that before.”
One thing Rob learned is that he did not want to travel as much as he had previously done.
“Travel was impacting me more than I realized. Clarity highlighted the need to bring balance back into my life with my next job,” said Rob. “I have little kids, and these are important years. You don’t get those years back.”
In the next phase of the TBG program, Rob dove into restructuring his resume in a way that made his accomplishments shine.
“My background and skills were all there, but it wasn’t coming through on my original resume. The Barrett Group helped me immensely with that,” said Rob.
Rob also took a lot of time to understand how to do effective LinkedIn searches and use LinkedIn Analytics. He also learned how to leverage his social capital.
“The concept of networking wasn’t completely foreign to me, but TBG’s tactics really opened my eyes.” said Rob. “I had spent a lot of time building business contacts for my sales and my business, but I had never really cultivated relationships on a personal level.”
When he finally launched his job search things went well – until Covid hit. All his job opportunities in-process were put on hold.
“It was nerve-wracking,” said Rob. “I wondered if things would ever change, but I stuck to my guns to keep leveraging my social capital and job hunting.”
Rob leaned on his career consultant for support when he needed it, checked LinkedIn frequently, and kept an open mind to opportunities in industries outside his expertise. It took a while, but his patience eventually paid off.
When Rob finally landed, it was through a combination of the published market and leveraging his social capital. After playing around with his settings on LinkedIn, he noticed an interesting job post appear that previous searches had never triggered – a position for director of MRO in the machine tool industry. He researched his network on LinkedIn and discovered that someone he had once worked with over 20 years earlier was employed at the company. Rob reached out to him through LinkedIn to reconnect, then set up a call. Before long, Rob’s former colleague was walking his resume directly to the president’s office for him.
At first, the lead went nowhere. The company wasn’t hiring due to the Covid downturn. But a couple of months later the president reached out to tell Rob that they were ready to move forward. Within two weeks Rob had a fantastic job offer.
Rob’s career consultant coached him through the compensation negotiations, which yielded a package with far superior potential to his last role and a strong opportunity for advancement. Rob couldn’t be happier.
“Without question I’m happier than I was in my previous position,” said Rob. “I could see spending 15 years at this company. I’ve landed a dream come true!”
Vinod - Success Study
Director of Intellectual Property (IP)
Vinod was a customer success manager for AI solutions at a young tech startup in Canada.
After a new job in a new field went badly, Vinod sought a better fit. However, job prospects were limited.
By reworking his resume and LinkedIn profile, and learning interviewing best practices, Vinod learned to better market himself.
Despite increasing competition in the wake of the pandemic, Vinod landed a 6-month contract as director of intellectual property at a higher annualized salary with the potential to go full-time.
After working eleven years as a solutions provider in the intellectual property (IP) and technology space in Ottawa, Vinod felt that growth potential was exhausted at his company, and even in Canada. He decided to explore opportunities in a new field with better long-term prospects and took a position as an artificial intelligence (AI) solutions manager at a young startup outside of Toronto. Soon after starting, Vinod realized the company was a poor fit and he wanted out. Only seven months into his new job, Vinod negotiated his departure and began jobhunting again – but this time he found himself at a big disadvantage.
“I was stuck. Most of my experience is in the intellectual property space. I was successful there, but in Canada there are few opportunities at my level. Meanwhile, I didn’t have enough experience in AI to target senior-level positions, and I wasn’t interested in junior-level jobs,” said Vinod. “In the U.S. there are more opportunities, but in the U.S. I need H-1B sponsorship.”
Although under pressure to land a job before eating up his savings, Vinod struggled to get his resume past applicant tracking systems (ATS). He had some good initial interviews in Detroit, but after he was ruled out of contention for several jobs by his need for an H-1B visa he decided to seek professional help. Vinod hired The Barrett Group (TBG).
“Working with Vivek [Vivek Agarwal, Vinod’s Executive Career Consultant and Program Manager] was fantastic,” said Vinod. “He gave me weekly assignments to work on, such as identifying my strengths and weaknesses in interviewing, improving my social capital, and identifying work experiences that might be valuable to a hiring manager.”
With the help of the TBG team, Vinod also polished up his LinkedIn profile and rewrote his resume to improve its chances of getting over the ATS hurdle. Vinod especially valued the experienced feedback from his interview coaching sessions.
“Vivek explained how to better market myself,” said Vinod. “He gave me great perspective on my mock interview responses and how to strengthen them. With his help, I learned how to discuss a weakness and make it sound like a positive attribute. I now feel more savvy and confident about how to answer interview questions.”
Like so many others, Vinod’s job search was stymied by the Covid-19 pandemic. An offer in March was quickly revoked. Another pending offer was postponed, then revoked. Just when he was on the point of panic in June, his networking efforts from months earlier finally bore fruit and Vinod was offered a 6-month, full-time contract position for a firm based in Seattle, for which Vinod’s skills align very well, with the intent to become permanent when the pandemic’s grip on the economy eases up.
“I am grateful this worked out. This position was very competitive and I feel lucky to have gotten it. I’m back in IP and, so far, it’s great!” said Vinod. “With luck, this job will turn into a full-time position. If it doesn’t, I will sync with Vivek again. Regardless, his coaching was valuable and will continue to be valuable.”
Some identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com