National Sales Manager
Business Development Manager
Vice President K-12 Strategy
Segment Director Petfood
James Harris - Success Study
National Sales Manager
James Harris was a sales manager for a contract manufacturer of electronic solutions for the aerospace market.
When a change in senior management produced a shift in culture and vision, James grew disenchanted, but his efforts to find more satisfying employment elsewhere went nowhere.
James learned to use LinkedIn to better advantage, sharpen his executive presence, and tailor discussions to his audience.
James was offered a leadership position as national sales manager in a similar field, at a company with a more appealing culture, and with the potential for a much higher compensation.
James was a business development and sales manager of a small, family-run company that provides manufacturing services of mission-critical electronic solutions to the aerospace market. He led a team of six people in securing and closing multimillion-dollar contracts for U.S. commercial and defense contractors. He handled the entire lifecycle of manufacturing a product from cradle to grave to ensure it was quick, efficient, and satisfactory to the customer.
Three years into his tenure, changes in senior management prompted a shift in culture and vision at the company that didn’t sit well with James. His unhappiness spurred him to look for new employment over the next year. He began using job search sites and putting feelers out to his personal network of contacts.
“At first I was looking to change fields. I wanted to stay in sales, but I explored opportunities in the medical and software industries. I got a few interviews, but they weren’t satisfying and I wasn’t offered any jobs,” said James.
After nearly 10 months of job seeking, James became frustrated by the lack of traction he was getting and enlisted the help of The Barrett Group (TBG).
“I had revised my resume, tweaked my LinkedIn profile, and had impressive education and technical skills. I didn’t know what else I could do on my end to make the connections I wanted to make. So, I decided to get full service professional help,” said James.
James began his TBG experience by undergoing personality assessments in the Clarity program and learning what professional roles align best with his personality.
“I’ve gone through similar training previously, so much of the information I already knew. But it’s useful to be reminded of this kind of information every few years, and I also learned some new stuff,” said James.
In Phase 2 James began meeting weekly with his career consultant, Anne Lipsitz, who coached him on how to present himself in an optimal way to potential employers and how to emphasize his ability to fulfill their needs.
“It was useful to learn how to sell myself – especially my drive and my dedication. In the long run, competitiveness serves you better if you can harness it and utilize it as a professional asset,” said James.
James valued Anne’s help with learning to use LinkedIn better.
“Anne helped me not only with enhancing my LinkedIn profile, but also to navigate it in a way I didn’t previously know how to do,” he said.
She also helped him hone his “It” factor – the characteristics that makes someone really stand out as an executive.
“Anne had a career in sales, so she offered me a lot of advice on confidence, professionalism, and presentation. We discussed the importance of knowing who you’re speaking to – for example, if I’m talking to a CFO or a COO, I should keep in mind the different drivers or goals those individuals have with respect to their company,” said James. “From a career perspective, it definitely helped me a lot.”
Before long, James saw more responses to his efforts to build social capital, which translated into an increase in interview requests.
“I had become more visible in the market,” he said.
After three months working through the TBG program, James felt confident enough in his job search to resign from his job. He got some job offers, but turned them down as he waited for the right opportunity. Eventually, it came.
A recruiter for an electronic contract manufacturing company came across his profile on LinkedIn and reached out to him about a leadership position in the same field. After a number of Zoom calls with the owner and other key players of the company and a day touring their site, they offered James a job.
James feels that this position offers him more responsibility and more opportunity for growth.
“It checked most of my boxes and the time was right,” said James. “I like the direction the company is going. Also, the culture and the leadership of the company are very attractive. I’m very excited.”
David - Success Study
Business Development Manager
David was a senior account manager and a 13-year veteran at a family-operated specialty food distributor.
Sales, Logistics, Food & Beverage, Food Distribution
When management changed the company’s commission structure, David decided to explore opportunities with better earning and advancement potential.
David needed The Barrett Group’s full range of services to sharpen his job search readiness, but his interview preparation and LinkedIn Analysis training were critical to landing his new role.
Within seven weeks, David accepted a job as business development manager at a company in a similar industry making double the base salary, plus commissions.
David began working for a specialty food distribution company straight out of college, wearing many hats, and growing with this family business even through an acquisition. After 13 years, he had risen to senior account manager, driving direct-to-retail sales, developing new business, and writing record revenue, but he was beginning to feel that he’d hit a ceiling on upward mobility. When management then changed the company’s sales commission structure, David decided it was time to explore other opportunities that would allow him to leverage his experience and connections.
“My compensation changed dramatically,” said David. “I am in the best earning years of my life and I needed to make a decision that was best for me and my family, so I decided to see what else is out there.”
Because David had never worked for another company, he opted to enlist professional help early on in his job search. He began by researching executive recruiters, but when he came across The Barrett Group and learned about the fuller range of services it offered, he felt that an executive coaching firm would be a better fit for his needs.
“I had never been on a job interview. I needed to update my resume, my LinkedIn profile, prepare for interviews, and do a lot of other work to get ready for a job search. I saw that The Barrett Group had great results and knew I’d be in good hands,” said David.
David didn’t resign immediately, rather he started The Barrett Group’s Clarity Program while he continued with his job.
“It was great! I got a lot out of the different personality assessments. They were so impressive and really put things in perspective – they made me reflect on the ‘why’ of my drive to make a career transition as much as the ‘how,’” said David.
David was pressed to write down his goals in a clear, conscientious, measurable way, keeping in mind the skills he has. His goals included more responsibility, having a leadership role at a company, stepping outside of his comfort zone, and getting an opportunity to convert his weaknesses into strengths.
After the Clarity Program, David began working with career consultant, Paula Nordhoff. She helped David revamp his resume, develop his reference list, build up his connections on LinkedIn, and learn how to use LinkedIn Analytics.
“Paula was awesome! We had a great rapport. She really helped me in every facet of her responsibility. She was very professional and very willing to jump on a call at any time to work through a problem. I’m very happy with Paula,” said David.
What David valued most about Paula was her help with interview preparation.
“More than anything, Paula was really, really helpful with the interview process. She prepped me on what questions to expect and how to answer them,” said David. “I’d never done interviews outside of college and that was 13 years ago. Paula helped me to be as prepared as possible for them.”
David spent a lot of time beefing up his LinkedIn connections and he credits that effort, along with his newfound interview skills, for his job search success. In the weeks after starting with TBG, David interviewed with five or six different companies, but the lead that panned out successfully was at a company with which he’d unsuccessfully interviewed months before starting with The Barrett Group.
“In October, I connected with one employee at a company that manufactures and distributes ice products. I applied for a position as national account manager, but it faded away,” said David. “In December, after I began working with The Barrett Group, I connected with someone who knows someone who knows someone else at the company I had interviewed with. Thanks to all these new connections, the company decided to take another look at me. They thought I’d be a good fit as a business development manager and that I could grow the team.”
Soon after, a hiring manager reached out to David to set up an interview. One month and four interviews later, she became David’s direct boss.
“Paula, my career consultant, coached me through the entire interview process,” said David. “She was tremendous. She was very accessible – always there when I needed her. Everything she did was great. I couldn’t have done this process without her. And the information the TBG research team provided really helped me impress people during my interviews.”
David’s new position is to develop new territories, win new accounts, and grow ice sales in the Philly metro and South Jersey area.
“I love it! I don’t take orders with this job, I am focused on getting new business, which I love. This is new and exciting, and I have more responsibility than before, which I welcome,” said David.
David is thrilled that his base salary doubled, but the growth opportunity at the organization is what truly drew him in.
“They’re quickly growing and want to add levels to their team. I feel like I fit in well with the team and am looking forward to proving myself as a leader,” said David.
David found his interactions with his consultant, Paula, and his use of LinkedIn to be the most valuable aspect of his TBG experience, but he also recognizes the great benefit he got from all of TBG’s services.
“The whole staff was super helpful during the whole process. Everything helped put me in contact with the right people at my new company. Getting a base of understanding and putting my best profile together on LinkedIn really helped secure the job for me,” said David. “I’m very happy with the preparation I got from The Barrett Group. It has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Elfreda - Success Study
Vice President K-12 Strategy
Elfreda was a distinguished faculty member and national facilitator for a non-profit that researches the world’s best educational systems and shares its findings with America’s education leaders.
Education, Non-profit, EdTech, Software
Elfreda had risen as high as she could go in her organization and wanted new challenges, however, she wanted to be thoughtful and intentional before making her next career move.
Quantifying her accomplishments, using social media to leverage her rich network, and artfully messaging her job search were key to Elfreda’s success.
Elfreda connected with a former colleague who wanted her expertise in building out his EdTech startup and offered her an exciting executive role with a very attractive compensation package.
Elfreda was a national facilitator at a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that studies the world’s best educational systems and provides coaching for school superintendents, principals, and other U.S. education leaders on educational system designs and best practices. Her tenure at this organization capped a long career in education, education administration, and professional development, but after six years of piloting and driving various leadership development, performance, and system change initiatives, and earning the highest possible honor of “distinguished faculty member,” Elfreda felt that she’d maxed out her professional opportunities there. She wanted greater challenges.
The challenge Elfreda had was that she had always been recruited organically for new career opportunities and had little experience launching a job search. She also wanted to step back and carefully consider the direction of her career.
“I was so busy working that I never spent time getting clarity on what to do next in my career or reflecting on what I brought to a position. There came a point in my sixth year when I felt strongly that there was more that I wanted to do,” said Elfreda.
She also wanted a compensation package that was commensurate with her background and experience.
“I knew I had more value. I’m known in the education space and I’ve not had trouble supplementing my income with consulting work,” said Elfreda. “But I wanted to work with an organization where I would feel like a partner on a team and be excited about the work I was doing.”
A leadership coach, herself, Elfreda was a big advocate of coaching in career development, but she’d never hired one before. She knew the time had come to do so.
"I needed an executive coach to help me be really clear about what I wanted. I am near the end of my career and wanted to be very intentional about my career change,” said Elfreda. “Mentors have helped me throughout my career, but I knew a professional coach would help me develop a formal strategy. Coaches also bring a greater level of accountability, so the likelihood was greater that I would follow through on my strategy. I saw this as an investment in me – a gift to myself.”
Elfreda started with TBG’s Clarity Program, finding it to be a great way to reassess her goals and priorities.
“With my Clarity coach, Stuart Bailey, I realized that I had goals that I wasn’t prioritizing, like spending more time with family and exercising on a regular basis. I learned that salary is not the most important thing in my job search, rather, trust, respect, flexibility in my schedule, and working with open-minded people. Stuart also helped to reinforce some of my positive traits that I wasn’t highlighting,” said Elfreda.
“That first phase of the program was really helpful to me. I didn’t expect it to be as helpful as it was,” said Elfreda.
Elfreda got even greater benefit from the relationship she built next with her career consultant.
“Julie Mathern really pushed me. She taught me to do stuff on social media that I didn’t know how to do. That was a priority for me. I like systems to track things and she brought them to me. Julie really encouraged me. I felt we had a really good connection,” said Elfreda.
Although she had a great personal network already, Elfreda welcomed Julie’s coaching on how to leverage it and how to communicate to people that she was job hunting. She also felt that the work she did on quantifying her accomplishments added a lot to her resume and interviewing skills.
Elfreda’s job search had barely gotten started when the pandemic went into full swing. At first, she lamented her poor timing, but she came to see a silver lining.
“I was still working at my former job and, because of the pandemic, I wasn’t traveling as much. My work went online, and that shift meant less time in airports and more time at home to focus on my job priorities,” said Elfreda.
Her job search moved more slowly, but Elfreda trusted the process. She credits her consultant with keeping her on target. In the coming months, three or four opportunities arose, proving to her that her new strategies were beginning to work.
“Julie reminded me that I didn’t have to accept the first offer. She encouraged me to stay true to my priorities and wait for the right opportunity to come along,” said Elfreda. “I really valued that relationship. I didn’t want to let her down!”
Her consultant predicted that Elfreda’s network is what would bear fruit – not job postings, and she was right. Nearly a year after beginning her TBG program, Elfreda saw on LinkedIn that a former colleague was building out an EdTech startup. She initiated a conversation and, not long afterwards, the colleague said he needed her as a thought partner and would love to have her on his team.
Elfreda’s career consultant coached her through the hiring negotiations, including title, compensation package, and reporting channels. In the end, Elfreda got a job offer that delighted her and she is now thoroughly enjoying her new job helping to build learning tools for virtual education.
“I’m contributing a great deal and helping to grow the company,” said Elfreda. “I’m energized by my new job.”
Elfreda is grateful to The Barrett Group for helping her navigate this career transition.
“Having a consistent coach was really helpful,” said Elfreda. “And it was clear to me that all the people at The Barrett Group really wanted me to succeed.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Robert Hukshorn - Success Study
Segment Director Petfood
Robert Hukshorn was interim general manager for a Dutch innovator of diagnostic and analytical tools for the beauty industry.
High Tech, Beauty, Cosmetics, Sales, Packaging
When his interim position ended, Robert sought a new job, but Covid had changed the job market, and he knew he had to learn to job search differently from how he’d done it in the past.
Robert boosted his network and strategically leveraged his contacts to slip in the backdoor of a company for a position that was a perfect fit for his skills, experience, and long-term goals.
Robert is the new segment director petfood of a global leader in metal packaging, a position that satisfies nearly every aspect of his 5-year goals.
Robert Hukshorn was interim general manager of a Dutch innovator of high-tech, diagnostic and analytical tools for the beauty industry. An experienced change manager, Robert succeeded in achieving some aggressive organizational improvements at the company, including reducing working capital, growing sales, and reducing default rates. It was his first taste of being managing director of a company – something to which he’d always aspired. When he stepped down, he took a short break before looking for another position.
His timing, unfortunately, coincided precisely with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t consider my next move before I left the company because I needed to clear my head. In February 2020 I did what I always had; I lined up some interviews. Then Covid happened. One day I had three or four opportunities cooking; the next day they all stopped,” said Robert.
Robert continued his job search for several more months without results. By May, he knew he needed to do something different.
“What had worked before wasn’t working anymore,” said Robert.
As Robert sat googling recruiters, he began to wonder if there weren’t a better way for job seekers to get the help they need.
“Headhunters and recruiters work for the company, and I thought: Isn’t there someone that does it the other way around? Then I stumbled on The Barrett Group and thought: This is it! They are doing something different!”
Robert had never used an executive coach before, so he did his homework.
“I asked a few people I knew in the recruitment world if they’d heard of The Barrett Group. Only a few had, but none had worked with them. I filled in the form and within a few days I was talking to a company representative. Obviously, I asked for a reference. I feel that I got a really honest portrait of what the process entails. There is no magic wand and you get a dream job. You need to do the work,” said Robert. “In the end, I took a leap of faith because it was a method I’d never tried before.”
In signing on with TBG, Robert wanted guidance on honing his job search and building his network.
“I can sell any product, but I found it hard to sell myself,” said Robert. “Once I get to the table, I get my strengths across. But how do I get to the table?”
Robert’s first “Aha!” moment came during the Clarity Program.
“It was really good – way better than I expected!” said Robert. “I expected everything to be focused on the career path, but you also focus on personal goals, like work-life balance, health and fitness, and 5-year targets.”
The greatest benefit Robert got from Clarity (including the motivation to lose 25 kilos) was that it became very clear that a position of general manager, impressive though the title may be, was not for him.
“I realize that I derive my energy from the commercial and technical side of business and less so from the operational side,” he said. “That focused my job search. I put that and other goals on my wall so every day it would remind me: These are my 5-year goals!”
He also narrowed his search to the high tech and packaging industries. As Robert began working with his career consultant, he found himself reflecting on that “dot on the horizon” often during his job search, which helped him stay on track.
“The next step of the program is totally different from Clarity – it’s business!” said Robert. “Working with Greg Emslie, I really came to understand how the job market works.”
Robert had used both the published and unpublished markets in previous job searches, but he found this time was a very different experience because he learned how to be strategic.
“It’s a sales funnel! When you understand what influences a company to hire you, you can consciously take steps to increase your chances of success,” said Robert.
Robert doggedly followed TBG’s program. He updated his resume, built up his social capital, and leveraged LinkedIn to search for new opportunities. Before he had enlisted TBG, he had searched for people in the packaging industry in the Netherlands and invited them to connect. Many did, but until he joined The Barrett Group, he didn’t know how to make those connections useful. With his newfound education, though, he created a spreadsheet of his new contacts and wrote each one requesting a 15-minute conversation to get to know them. This turned out to be the key to his landing success.
“I saw a position for ‘segment director petfood’ of a packaging company that was so close to my 5-year target. I submitted my resume and a PowerPoint presentation that laid out all my qualifications through their website, but there was no hiring manager’s name associated with the position. I felt like I was throwing my resume into a black box,” said Robert. “So I leveraged the unpublished market as I’d learned.”
Robert noticed that one of his new contacts had recently worked at the company. He reached out for more information. Before long, he had the private cell phone number of the hiring manager in hand and was able to reach out directly to the decision maker. They had a great conversation.
“He told me that he knew in the first 30 minutes that I was the guy for the job,” said Robert. I entered the game just in time – even two to three weeks later would have been too late!”
Robert signed a contract two months later and is elated to have had such a successful landing.
“It’s absolutely fantastic! I wake up with a big smile in the morning and I go to work singing,” said Robert. My new colleagues have been extremely welcoming. It’s been one of the best onboarding experiences I’ve ever had.”
Robert truly valued the help he got from his coach.
“Greg was a critical co-thinker during my job search. He is someone I can brainstorm with and has been an extremely good sparring partner for me – asking the right questions, like, How will this opportunity help my long-term goals?” said Robert. “With the help of Greg and The Barrett Group, I didn’t get nervous. I stayed focused on my goals and made a conscious choice about where I wanted to be. All this has been tremendous value.”
Mike - Success Study
Mike was managing director for a management consulting firm that specialized in helping companies innovate.
Management Consulting, Financial Services
When business dried up at Mike’s firm in the wake of the pandemic, he needed to find another opportunity and wanted help navigating the challenging job market.
Mike focused his goals, rewrote his resume, built up his LinkedIn network, and sharpened his interview skills.
After a long job search with few leads, Mike was offered an incredible opportunity at an exciting startup as CFO – a role he’d never undertaken before.
Mike was managing director overseeing the entire Americas region for a small, UK-based innovation advisory firm. He started working there less than a year before the pandemic began. The role of Mike and his team was to find large corporations with areas of strategic need and pair them up with startups that had emerging technologies that could meet those needs. He loved his job, but the business couldn’t weather the pandemic shutdown – innovation programs moved to the backburner for many corporations and Mike saw business dry up. Mike’s job became tenuous, so, even as he soldiered on in his role, he started looking to transition to something else.
“I thought 2020 was going to be my year. We had a pipeline of clients and then Covid came and it was like a bomb exploded,” said Mike. “I continued working through 2020, but I had realized in March that I’d need a Plan B.”
Before he’d taken this job, Mike worked for a large financial services firm, where he’d worked for 18 years. So, he decided, to do his job search right, his best course was to hire a coach. He chose The Barrett Group because it offered the two-pronged approach he wanted: 1) Help with reflecting on the best roles and companies for him, and 2) Help with tapping into the unpublished job market.
“The Clarity Program was good. Everyone should go through this experience as a checkpoint in their career. I really wanted to find a job that I could stay with for the rest of my career. It made me dig deep and think about what would excite me and what I might want to avoid in a new employer,” said Mike.
For Mike, Clarity confirmed some things. He really liked working with innovative programs, and he wanted to continue that. In addition, he no longer wanted to work for a big company; he’d rather be at a small or mid-size company because they are nimbler. Naturally, there are risks associated with that, but Mike also realized that he is a calculated risk-taker.
Mike transitioned to his career consultant next, and worked through all the steps of TBG’s program, starting with reworking his resume, refining his LinkedIn profile, and strengthening his network of contacts.
“It was a lot of work, but George was wonderful. He is very seasoned, has a lot of war stories and gave me great advice. George was a great mentor. He was very detail-oriented, kept me on track, and was very patient whenever I got caught up with something and took time to follow up with him,” said Mike. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Mike particularly appreciated the help George gave him in preparing for interviews.
“In the practice questions, George made me realize that I needed to change my answers. He helped me prepare better responses for what a hiring manager would want to hear and put my best foot forward.”
When it came time for Mike to focus on pursuing leads in the unpublished market, he became a little overwhelmed by the long list of leads he was offered.
He discussed the situation with his career consultant, who worked with Mike to tighten the focus of his target companies and produce a more manageable list.
Despite his efforts, Mike didn’t have an easy job search. For months, he had no interviews. Mike was shooting for a VP or C-level role in a small to mid-level organization and, although he understood that the higher the level of the role, the fewer the positions there are available, he began to worry.
“I started to wonder whether there was something wrong with my resume or with my candidacy,” said Mike. “George kept telling me to keep doing what I was doing and I would land.”
Things got really quiet during the holidays. But in January 2021 Mike got a text from a former colleague who sat on the board of a financial services startup that needed a CFO. She wanted to chat.
“At first I thought she was asking whether I knew someone else who would be good for the role because I’d never been a CFO before. She laughed and told me that she knew that I had a lot of experience in financial services, I know financial rules and legislations, and I understand how things should operate from a customer’s standpoint. She thought I’d be a great fit,” said Mike.
After that conversation Mike met with the company’s founder. The two discussed candidly that Mike would not be a “traditional CFO.” After meeting a few more times, however, the founder grew to feel that the range of Mike’s experience was exactly what his company would need a few years down the road and that Mike was the best person to scale the organization as it grew.
Within about a month of the initial text, Mike was hired.
“I really like my new job. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked, but I think we are building something really special, and a lot of people are excited about the product we are developing,” said Mike. “We are hoping to go public soon. I think this could be really big!”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com