Ooqio Spotlight: Job Searching (and Resigning) from Upper Management with Strategic Resources

How do you go about finding the next right step for your career when you’re already in a high-profile position? And when you do—how do you break the news you’re leaving? For this intel and more, we turn to Ted Warren, founder of Seattle recruiting firm Strategic Resources.

ted-warrenI see that you’re celebrating 20 years in business. Congratulations! Can you talk a bit about what has changed most in your field over the last two decades?

Without a doubt, the biggest change that has affected us is technology—the different ways we’re able to (and need to) communicate.

The people haven’t changed; they’re still looking to improve their circumstances, they want better opportunities, and our job is to identify those and appeal to them. That element is the same. But how we find and communicate with those people is what has changed. It has both simplified things and complicated things.

You specialize in recruiting upper and mid-level management professionals. What does a typical search look like, and what are the most important considerations in the process?

We work with a lot of established clients—people who use us over the course of their entire career. They’ll get in touch with us and tell us about their needs, and it’s our job to go out and find companies who have needs that sync well with the client’s.

Our job is to dive into the real issues that will make this person successful within a company: what will they be expected to accomplish in the first 30 days? The first 6 months? A year?

It’s not necessarily about the length of their experience or the skills on their resume, but their recent performance. Equally important in the long run is their fit with the company’s culture, existing management team and hiring authorities. Chemistry is the ultimate part of the hiring decision.

Resigning from a job

One of the things that caught our eye was your resource for giving your resignation from a job. It’s never a fun process, yet it’s something we’ll all go through. Talk us through the right way to do it.

Well, first of all, the person needs to be confident in his or her decision to leave. If they’re really good, there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll be given a counter offer. We want to be absolutely sure we have a position lined up that’s the right fit for them, because we anticipate that counter offer.

Once that’s off the table, we have a step by step roadmap we give our clients to follow. Resigning isn’t easy because it often involves a person you’ve known for a long time, one that you may even be friends with. We often suggest they have that road map in hand when they go to resign so they can express their thoughts succinctly.

Essentially, it can go one of three ways.

First, it’s “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” This one is the easiest to deal with because though it’s negative, it’s a clean break and you can walk out the door.

The second option is the guilt trip. “How could you do this to us? We can’t afford to lose you!” Though it sounds like they really value you, in this case the company is only thinking about its own best interests. Losing you is an inconvenience. It will probably cost them money to find your replacement. They’re not looking for a new opportunity that will meet your needs; they just don’t want you to go anywhere.

Finally, there is the ideal scenario. This happens when you’re with a very supportive supervisor, someone who is almost like a mentor to you. They realize there may be better opportunities for you elsewhere, and they wish you the best. Obviously, this is the scenario we want to work toward.

You can watch Strategic Resources’ video on resignation prep here.

So, if someone is currently employed but is toying with the idea of looking elsewhere, how should they go about it?

If you’re in a mid- to senior-level position, you have to be very careful. I always suggest to people, DO NOT APPLY ONLINE. You never know who is going to see that or where it might end up. Plus, the realistic chance that anything will come of an online application is very small anyway. Rarely does the right person even see your resume.

For the person you’re talking about, my best advice is to get them off the job boards. Their roles are too public, too critical to let people know they might be looking.

Then, I suggest finding an executive search professional who is particularly knowledgeable in their industry and who can tap into their own network on your behalf. Picking that right search professional is very important. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this field who are not looking out for the candidate’s best interest.

90% of the people we place are currently employed when we work with them, so we need to protect their employment first. We have a lot of confidential conversations. We have to be able identify their skills and performance without revealing who the individual is.

Some recruiters will share this confidential information indiscriminately, and that’s both unprofessional and unethical. When you’re choosing a search professional, you need to make sure that’s not going to happen. You’ve got to interview and screen them just like an employer will interview and screen you.

As we head into the last quarter of 2017, what new or different technology are you excited about? What would you like to see?

Applicant tracking systems are getting better and better, that’s for sure. If there was a magic way to know the technology we use to communicate with somebody—phone, email, whatever—was actually being seen and reacted to, that I would love.

Today people are overwhelmed. They’re flooded with communications on all different platforms. We’re excited about anything that can help us get through that clutter.

Social media keeps us in front of people, but ultimately we still have to get that one-on-one time with the persons. The methods to reach people are many, but that end goal is the same: a conversation.

Ted Warren founded Strategic Resources in 1996 and works daily with decision makers to help them identify and recruit top tier talent for their organizations. To learn more about his company, visit StrategicResources.com.

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