Posts Tagged ‘executive recruiters’

How to Future-Proof Your Career

There is a huge opportunity for those willing to redevelop themselves.

By Julie Norwell

In her 2018 memoir, Becoming, former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama opens with a reflection on how, when she was a little girl, adults would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up: “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child – as if growing up is finite. As if, at some point, you become something and that’s the end.”

It’s an observation that people in the modern work world might also appreciate because career changes have become a part of life. Long gone are the days when a worker might retire with a gold watch from the same company at which he launched his career. Nowadays, American workers stay with an employer 4.1 years on average. Chances are good that whatever you set out to do at the beginning of your career is far from what you now do for a living. And whatever you do today may not be what you will be doing tomorrow.

We can all thank (blame?) technology for that. For better or for worse, rapid technological innovations are changing the landscape for workers of all calibers, and the pace is only accelerating, especially since Covid.

A few years ago, management consulting literature was heralding the “future of work” as nothing short of a transformation of business as we know it. Until recently, analysts predicted this phenomenon would play out in five to ten years – a timeframe that seemed scary and head-spinning. Then Covid came and compressed the transformation into several months.

Almost overnight, people went digital, moving their lives and livelihoods online, and businesses, in a mad scramble to maintain business continuity, moved mountains to support the shift. People who had never heard of Zoom calls, met with a doctor virtually, or ordered household goods online, got a crash course.

The Covid experience has demonstrated that automation, artificial intelligence and digitization are quickly expanding into every aspect of our lives – and they’re here to stay. This is unnerving because the skills workers currently have fall short of those needed for future jobs. And the gap is increasing. At the same time, technology will create job opportunities that don’t yet exist.

It’s clear that the situation is complicated, and uncertainties abound. Navigating them will be challenging, and individuals must shoulder the responsibility of preparing for the jobs of the future if they want to remain relevant.

The good news is that many smart people are already thinking about how best to do that. Here are some of the ways they recommend to future-proof your career.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare yourself for your professional future is to start learning new skills today – and don’t stop. Ever.

If you aren’t familiar with the terms “upskill” and “reskill” yet, you soon will be. Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum raised the alarm about the widening skills gap in the world, launching a major initiative to future-proof 1 billion jobs that are estimated to be transformed by technology by 2030 – almost one-third of all jobs worldwide.

“Upskilling” means learning new skills in an existing job in order to do it better or, perhaps, in a different way. Why is this important? Because skills used on the job are estimated to have a half-life of five years or less. That means that half of what you learned five years ago is irrelevant, and much of what you learned ten years ago is obsolete.

“Reskilling” means training or learning to do a job in a completely different occupation. This will prove crucial for people whose jobs are at risk of being automated.

What skills should you learn? That depends on what you do for work, the demands of those fields and the specific competencies that you, personally, might need to grow. They might range from hard skills, such as data analytics or coding, to soft skills like leadership or emotional intelligence.

How should you learn? Again, it depends on what you do and where you work, but skills-building could incorporate a combination of formal education, online classes, coaching, and any number of other learning forums that can be layered into the daily work environment. Many of these are – you guessed it – digital technologies, like digital nudges delivered through mobile apps, augmented reality-based trainings, game-based learning, and micro-learning.

It Takes a Village

Rest assured that individuals aren’t alone in facing the evolving nature of work. Businesses are facing them, too, and business leaders are worried. It’s become abundantly clear that it’s in their interests to help workers bridge the gap between the skills they have and those they need for the jobs of the future.

According to PwC’s 2020 annual survey of 1,500 CEOs of major companies, 74% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of the talent they need to ensure their company’s growth – up from 53% in 2012. (Notably, the survey was conducted before the Covid crisis gripped the world.) They recognize the need to offer training opportunities to employees to both fill skills gaps and reduce turnover. Targeting companies with skills-building programs will give job seekers an advantage in the employment market.

AT&T, for example, spends roughly $200 million annually on employee training, and Walmart created Walmart Academy in 2016 to train its associates for promotion. Amazon offers multiple programs to train its employees in critical tech skills.

Unfortunately, most companies are more talk than action. Only 18% of global organizations have made “significant progress” in developing upskilling programs – in the United States that figure is only 8%.

Companies should do more, and they likely will, but until they do the onus will continue to be on individuals to do what they can to remain competitive.

Intentional Learning

For some people, learning new skills is easier said than done. They can’t just take a course on a new topic and immediately master the material. It often takes time, context, and countless iterations before they can truly learn a new skill. It also takes a unique frame of mind.

The latest thinking on upskilling and reskilling is that the first lesson that some people need to learn is how to learn. “Learning itself is a skill,” according to a report by McKinsey, “and developing it is a critical driver of long-term career success.”

People who are effective learners can be called intentional learners. This means they approach every experience as a learning opportunity and, thus, squeeze more value out of it than the average person.

According to McKinsey, intentional learning can be developed by adopting two critical mindsets and five core skills. The first is a growth mindset – that is, a belief that your competencies are unlimited – that you are capable of evolving and changing as a person. This is in contrast to a fixed mindset – a belief that you are who you are, that you cannot change, and your talents are finite. Cultivating a growth mindset requires you to recognize that “failures and mistakes are not indicative of the limits of your intellect but rather tools that inform how you develop.”

How to Future-Proof Your Career

The second critical mindset is one of active curiosity, which McKinsey labels the “engine of intentional learning.” Curiosity is an openness to new ideas and a channel for inspiration, and it motivates people to learn more and more. Many people are naturally curious, but those who aren’t can cultivate it, which is great because curiosity is useful at any stage in your career.

Once these two critical mindsets are in place, McKinsey identifies five best practices to support and develop them. They include setting goals, protecting time for learning, actively seeking feedback, conducting deliberate practice, and reflecting to evaluate yourself and determine your progress.

Practicing intentional learning is a personal investment, to be sure, but the pay-off is improvement in your skills and performance, using a method that keeps you inspired and engaged, which will help you prepare for the changing demands of the jobs of the future.

There is a huge opportunity awaiting those who are willing to redevelop themselves. It’s just a question of seizing it.

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8 Key Career Lessons to Be an Executive

Everyone knows the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” This maxim offers a great lesson to people who are trying to navigate the demands of the modern executive job market because it’s no longer prudent to leave the task only to recruiters.

By Julie Norwell

There is an endless supply of people who don’t know how to find an executive job. If you’re smart and capable, you can easily manage the succession plan of your career up to a point. But at a certain level you won’t go any higher if you haven’t learned 8 key lessons on what it takes to get tapped as an executive.

1. Understand that executive positions are filled predominantly by word of mouth – as many as 75% of them. Really!

When hiring managers need to fill an executive role, the first thing they do is blast out a note to everyone they know to ask if they know someone who might be a good candidate for the job. Professional contacts and networking are THE most used tools to source executive candidates.

Most people wrongly think that third-party recruiters account for the bulk of all placements. They used to have a much bigger share than they do today, but when LinkedIn came onto the scene in 2003, it democratized the recruiting process. Today, third-party recruiters are responsible for filling only 10% of executive job openings.

A tool used even less frequently than recruiters is job postings. If they’re used at all, job postings will simply fulfill a regulatory obligation after a candidate has been determined. Why? Because hiring managers want to hire someone they know and respect or someone who is recommended by someone they know and respect.

2. Always be looking for a job before you need one

Good career change skills aren’t limited to when you are actively looking for a job. It begins way before you are thinking about a transition and it extends well past it, too. In fact, a good career transition in the short-term hinges on good career management in the long-term.

You should never miss an opportunity to increase or enrich your network. The essence of this lesson is: Who do you know? and Will those people advocate on your behalf? If it seems like a chore or too time consuming, remember that networking is a core function of any executive job. It’s very important to build time to network into your work week. If you lack the time management skills to do this, put it on your calendar until it becomes a habit.

In addition to building relationships, networking helps you stay abreast of industry trends and know what the competition is doing. It is a way to keep your ear to the ground and keep yourself in people’s minds. You never know where your next opportunity will come from and networking keeps your options open. Executives who learn this early are most successful.

3. Pay it forward

Many job seekers get the importance of networking, but might miss the equally critical step of building up social capital first. The only time they think to reach out to people is when they need something. That is a huge political mistake. It’s a lot harder to take from the pot if you haven’t contributed to it.

People are far more inclined to help you if you’ve already put something into the relationship. People who pay it forward have learned this crucial lesson. Paying it forward has a way of paying us back.

If your career seems to have plateaued, it may be that you’re not doing enough to nurture relationships with people. You should be responsive to requests for favors from others – even better, you should proactively help people who aren’t asking for it. The more you do, the more likely it is that people will think of you when they learn about opportunities.

4. Learn how to verbalize your value proposition

Lots of people can be extroverts in their work and in everything they do that relates to their competencies, but when it comes to talking about themselves and marketing the value they bring to the table, they hide in the corner. They aren’t comfortable verbalizing their value proposition.

The best way to understand what value you offer is to talk to people – that is, to network. Solicit feedback from people about the work that you’ve done so you can understand how your efforts contributed to the success of your projects. Log your achievements regularly in a book so that you can refer to them when you need to.

5. Ask not what a company can do with your experience, tell them what you can do for the company

A lot of people lean on the traditional measuring stick of academic credentials, experience, and time served in a job to demonstrate their value during a job search. But thinking about recruiting in terms of function and credentials is old-fashioned. Much more important to hiring managers is: What specifically can you do for me?

Hiring managers want to hire an executive who can change the company for the better.

They look for someone who can minimize risk, drive revenue, improve efficiencies, innovate new practices, and so on. In the age of Covid, this is especially true. Some industries are in big trouble and need leaders who can lead in times of crisis. They may need to reinvent how they do business. In their mind, it’s far better to hire someone with a stellar reputation for demonstrable achievements than someone with an impressive pedigree or with the right number of years of experience.

To boost your appeal as a candidate, it is incumbent upon you to tout your abilities to meet a company’s known needs. Don’t know what they are? Ask! Ask hiring managers what keeps them awake at night or what opportunities they wish they had time to pursue. Explain clearly the value you will bring to the company if they hire you.

6. Recognize the opportunity to create an opportunity for yourself

In today’s world, it is common for savvy people to convince hiring managers to create a position for them that didn’t otherwise exist. If you’ve saved business partners millions over years and you are actively interacting in the job market, people will learn of your amazing qualifications and realize that they can’t afford NOT to hire you.

How does this work? It starts with a conversation with a hiring manager about the challenges her company faces and the opportunities in the business that need to be addressed within the year. If you articulate your value proposition well enough, they will find a place for you in the business.

7. Always be upping your game

Your value proposition rests on the results that you’ve produced. Therefore, it is important to do a really good job in your current position so that people are enthusiastic about supporting you. But that’s not enough.

Upping your game has become a must just to stay competitive. According to a Pew Research Center survey 87% of workers believe it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace, and 54% see continuous training as essential to career success.

A great, non-traditional way of honing your executive chops is by doing board service for a nonprofit organization. Doing so gives you valuable experience, demonstrates your social responsibility, and builds your network – often with some pretty impressive people.

8. Hire a professional

Job search tactics change over time, and during the Covid crisis they have accelerated. How can you stay on top of market changes? When in doubt, consider hiring a pro. There are many benefits to professional assistance:

  • Because pros are constantly working with job seekers, they have the most up-to-date information on current hiring practices and hot button issues
  • Pros are best positioned to help you identify any blind spots or unknown needs that are holding you back
  • Pros can help you consider career options you encounter from an objective perspective
  • Pros can offer new tactics to try when you just can’t seem to reach the golden ring
  • Pros keep you motivated, on task, and are your best cheerleader

Growing professionally is an ongoing process, and your route will likely change over your career. To maximize your potential as an executive and optimize your options, use these lessons to manage your career, and you will see the payoff.

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Diversity in the Workplace is a Win-Win-Win

Corporate America has a long way to go to achieve true diversity, especially at the executive level. Change has come at a snail’s pace for decades. But then the Black Lives Matter protests happened.

By Julie Norwell

BLM protests successfully put the issue of racism and racial prejudice front and center in the national debate in the same way that the #MeToo movement spotlighted sexual harassment and gender bias in 2018. In the wake of these protests, employers will surely feel pressure to recruit and promote more Blacks, as well as other underrepresented groups.

As with women, a redress is way overdue for Blacks in the workplace. Last December a significant study about the status of corporate diversity efforts in the U.S. found that Blacks face myriad obstacles to professional advancement and workplace success that Whites just don’t experience – and don’t even see. The report, “Being Black in Corporate America,” which was produced by the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit group focused on workplace diversity, included these key findings:

  • Blacks, who comprise over 13% of the U.S. population, occupy only 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S.
  • 58% of Blacks, on average, have experienced racial prejudice at work, with that number reaching as high as 79% in the Midwest.
  • Fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black – at last count there were only five. (According to Fortune Magazine, there have only been 18 Black CEOs at the head of Fortune 500 companies in the past 20 years.)
Diversity in the Workplace is a Win - Win - Win
Diversity in the Workplace is a Win – Win – Win

If you’re a jobseeker, lack of diversity is a critical issue regardless of your skin color, gender, or sexual persuasion. Why? Because studies prove that companies that are racially and ethnically diverse perform better than companies that aren’t. They also show that companies with weak track records on diversity have a competitive disadvantage. Can you say “job security?”

The Covid-19 crisis will likely make or break many companies. Finding solutions to the challenges they face will require innovations and new approaches that a diverse workforce can bring most effectively. Therefore, jobseekers of all demographics would be smart to target diverse companies in their job search.

In short, companies that aren’t diverse may not have much of a future.

Diversity to the Rescue

It might seem an inauspicious time – the middle of a pandemic that has sent the economy reeling – for supporters of diversity to be pressing their case. Companies often lose focus on their diversity and inclusion (D&I) goals during economic downturns as they face other pressing challenges. That was certainly true during the 2007 financial crisis.

But now is exactly the right time for companies to ramp up their efforts to improve D&I

But now is exactly the right time for companies to ramp up their efforts to improve D&I according to global consulting firm, McKinsey.

McKinsey, which tracks corporate diversity, found in its latest report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, that the business case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever. When it comes to gender, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile – up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. It also found that the greater the representation of women, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.

When it comes to ethnic and cultural diversity, the results were even more impressive. Top quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in profitability. That is up from 33% in 2017 and 35% in 2014.

On the flip side, companies that ranked low on gender and ethnic diversity faced a steep penalty. They were 27% more likely to underperform on profitability than all other companies.

Diversity Delivers the Goods

So, what’s the secret sauce in diversity? Quite simply, diversity unlocks potential. Novel products and solutions are created when people of varied experiences bring new ideas to the table.

Consider the Broadway hit, Hamilton, for example. A highlight of the Fourth of July weekend for many people was the opportunity to stream Hamilton on Disney+. The show, written by a Latino, featured the original cast, of which nearly everyone was either Black or a person of color.

Diversity Delivers the Goods

That might seem ironic for a show that features the white men that were America’s Founding Fathers. But very quickly skin color takes a backseat to a unique retelling of the country’s nascence, and the West Indian immigrant at the heart of it, because it is performed in an incredibly creative, unconventional way.

The success of Hamilton is a good example of how diversity, and the fresh ideas that accompany it, can take shake up an institution – in this case, the Broadway musical industry – and create a new formula for success. After all, who would ever have guessed that a historical epic about a White man and his penchant for policymaking told through hip-hop and rap – musical styles that originated with young, urban, Blacks – would become one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time?

Inclusion Is Critical, Too

Another key finding in studies about corporate diversity is that sometimes diversity isn’t enough. Workers in diverse environments won’t give their best performance if they don’t also feel included. Inclusion means a sense of fairness of advancement opportunity, freedom from bias, and an ability to be themselves.  

Workers of all stripes who feel a lack of inclusion or belonging will be less engaged in their work, less loyal, and less likely to stay at a company. In fact, they are less likely to even pursue a job at an organization if they perceive that organization to be non-inclusive. Women, LGBTQ+ and racial or ethnic-minorities are particularly prone to feeling a lack of inclusion, but workers in all demographics report a lack of belonging at work.

It’s bad news for everyone at a company when a portion of the workforce isn’t engaged. Imagine trying to execute a project when your team members are thinking more about leaving the company than about their responsibilities.  

As a jobseeker, it’s not easy to ascertain indicators of inclusion at a company from the outside. But looking at the diversity of people at all levels is a good start – especially the executive level. Look for processes and policies that promote equality of opportunity and transparency. You should also look at who is accountable for D&I efforts. Ideally, they will be on the plate of core-business leaders and not just relegated to the HR department. 

A Nexus of Change

A Nexus of Change

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the numerous crises our country faces simultaneously: a pandemic, an economic crisis, and race protests roiling the nation. But it will be a silver lining, to be sure, if the intersection of these events results in employers taking significantly greater steps towards advancing diversity and inclusion goals.

Doing so will benefit not only underrepresented groups, it will also benefit workers of every demographic. Best of all, the innovation and creativity it ushers in will position companies to survive, thrive, and, if necessary, rethink their entire business models.

In short, diversity in the workplace will be a win-win-win.

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Letting Go and Taking Control

Letting Go and Taking Control
Letting Go and Taking Control

Does your job search seem to be a series of complex activities and programs? A list of ever-changing To-do’s and To-don’ts? Can it appear to have a life of its own? Does it feel like it is out of your sphere of influence? You might perceive that you live in a world of reaction, where each day blindsides you with a new and unexpected frustration. Or you may feel that your job search is more like living in a “Murphy’s Law” situation where anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

But, there is a cure.

In Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism, we are told that the seen and unseen world can be divided into two groups: those things we can influence and those that we cannot.

Even if you do not follow the philosophy of mystical enlightenment, let’s see how we can use the reasoning behind it and apply it to your job search.

Close your eyes and breathe.

Take a moment and think about your day, breathing in and out.

As you see yourself getting organized for your day, take a few minutes to visualize the events and people that may impact you, through planned meetings, emails, televisions broadcasts, alert notifications or serendipity/the pipeline/LinkedIn connections, etc… and breathe.

Now deliberately plan the positive… and breathe. Plan the active steps you are going to take to improve your positioning through each of your interactions.

If you feel your human nature beginning to erode your newfound purposefulness and you allow fear of rejection and faith in all things Murphy to bring in the clouds…. stop a minute. Take a deep, cleansing breath and…

Let it wash over you like the cleansing waters of the…okay, right, so just let it wash over you, we’ll hope for the best on that one…. and breathe.

Let go of all the things you cannot control. Let go of any fear and frustration that appeared… and breathe. Let go of other’s reactions. Let go of outside influences that cause chaos in your day. Let it go, all of it.

Let it go… And breathe.

Do you feel better after that exercise? Did you find a better realization of your influences and the things you are able to control? Maybe. Maybe not.

But whether or not that exercise helped center you, we hope that you realize that there are things in life (and the job search) that you cannot possibly predict, control or directly influence. The Barrett Group’s recommendation is to observe, witness, and watch it go by (really, all of it).

Then after it goes by, take a sober, critical look at what is left. Realistically decide what you can do now or in the future. Come to a practical resolution of actionable tasks that will make a difference for you, the ones you love, and the world.

Then do it!

We would be interested in hearing from you if you are having problems with your job search technique, or if you believe it will never work, or if you could use guidance.

The Barrett Group can refine your job search, allowing you to take control of what matters most to you while releasing those circumstances that are beyond your control. Contact us today to get started.

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Our View from the Front Lines of the Job Market

How to Future-Proof Your Career

How to Future-Proof Your Career

There’s opportunity awaiting those who are willing to redevelop themselves. It’s a question of seizing it. Here’s what you can do to “future-proof” your career.

Read more

8 Key Career Lessons to Be an Executive

8 Key Career Lessons to Be an Executive

Eight great lessons for people who are navigating the demands of the modern executive job market – because it’s no longer prudent to leave the task only to recruiters.

Read more

12 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn During a Career Change

12 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn During a Career Change

Most people considering a career change know that LinkedIn is THE place to start a job search. But few fully understand the richness of the tool.

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