Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

As a retained executive search firm, we get hired for very specific leadership roles for our clients. While we don’t help people find jobs, we want to be a helpful resource for those in job transition. Below is a collection of job search article links and resources.

** Read these articles in order. Why? The content is crafted in a way that builds upon prior sections. This system is proven, but it requires you to take a step back before going forward. Most of the challenges in a job search is getting focus and clarity. Your resume and interview strategy success depend on gaining clarity on where you are today and where you want to go next in your career.

This insight is developed from working on the front lines of hiring for 20+ years working with for 400+ clients and reviewing resumes of tens of thousands of candidates.

In other words, these are proven recruiter insider tips on how you can stand out from the pack and land that next job you want.

 

1. PREPARATION // Are you ready?

  • Get recharged. Invest 24 hours to rest, exercise, and do things that clear your head and give you energy. Laugh.

 

  • Check your dashboard indicators. Remember the big picture and assess what you could be learning during the job search. Appreciate your blessings, take responsibility for your life, and forgive others so you can move forward.

 

  • Get organized. Clear out clutter and get your workspace, computer, calendar, and contacts in order. Create folders and a spreadsheet to track your job search.

 

 

2. STARTING POINT // Where are you now?

  • Know your personality. Take a quick personality assessment online (DISC, Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder) for added insight on what makes you unique and what drives you.

  • Get wisdom. Share what you been learning with trusted friends, family and past co-workers. Ask for authentic feedback from those who know you best.

 

  • Unpack your career. Evaluate past experience to determine what you want to continue doing (or not) in the future. Create a checklist of criteria for your next job, including: Title, location, compensation, culture, and professional development areas. Download Unpack Your Career worksheet (PDF).

 

3. IDEAL DESTINATION // Where do you want to go next?

 

  • Narrow your focus. Identify the industries, companies and role(s) that interest you most. Narrow your big list down to a top dozen target companies. Aim smart at where you target your job search.

 

  • Visualize your ideal destination. Think about where you’d like to be down the road in your next job. Visit someone actually doing a similar job to gain inspiration and focus.

4. BE DIFFERENT // What’s your story and how can you stand out from the pack?

 

  • Research your network. Who do you know? Find connections at the companies where you want to work. Look for an angle, and a way to stand out to help give you an edge over other candidates. Upgrade your LinkedIn profile (download LinkedIn Tips PDF).

 

  • Ask for help. Tell your friends, family and social networks how they can help you with your search. This can lead to great referrals.

 

5. GET ROLLING // How do you land the job?

 

 

 

  • Say “Thank You”. Remember to follow-up with all of the people who helped you along the way. If you are still employed, finish strong and give notice professionally.

 

Summer Burt – Chief Marketing Officer @ Redwood Outdoors

Our Herd Freed Hartz executive search team was honored to partner with Redwood Outdoors, on a nationwide retained search to find their new Chief Marketing Officer.

Redwood Outdoors is an exciting e-commerce company that specializes in Outdoor Saunas & Cold Plunge Tubs. Started in 2019 by Co-Founders Killian Lannen and Nicholas Jensen, experienced entrepreneurs who were passionate sauna users, and saw an opportunity in outdoors health and wellness products. The company found early success in outdoor saunas. This success sparked the team to go on a mission to become the #1 health and wellness brand in the USA. Five years later the company has nearly 25 staff, an 8-digit annual turnover, and makes both indoor and outdoor saunas that can accommodate up to eight people, as well as a series of cold plunge tubs to complete the set.

Redwood Outdoors is based in Tukwila, WA just outside of Seattle, in beautiful Washington State. A love for America’s great Pacific Northwest, an incredible region blessed with unblemished forests, stunning mountain ranges, and crisp waters, the team knows what it’s like to escape from the city and how good it feels to rejuvenate yourself while surrounded by nature at its finest. Since launching the business, 

Learn more about Herd Freed Hartz’s:
Consumer & Retail practice
Chief Marketing Officer practice

Stephanie Choi – VP of Retail Customer Experience @ Uwajimaya

Our Herd Freed Hartz executive search team was honored to partner with Uwajimaya, on a nationwide retained search to find their new VP of Retail Customer Experience.

With nearly 500 employees, Uwajimaya is one of the largest Asian grocery retailers in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1928, Uwajimaya has evolved beyond providing basic grocery staples and become the destination to experience Asian food culture.

Denise Moriguchi, CEO commented on the executive search: “Stephanie is a great fit and brings a lot of value to Uwajimaya and the role.  She is working out great!”

Learn more about Herd Freed Hartz’s:
Consumer & Retail practice
COO / VP Operations practice

BZ Ellis – Chief Revenue Officer @ LightScalpel

Our Herd Freed Hartz executive search team was honored to partner with LightScalpel, on a nationwide retained search to find their new Chief Revenue Officer.

“Chris Blais and his team at Herd Freed Hartz did an exceptional job on our behalf.  The recruiting process for the CRO role of LightScalpel was well-organized and highly efficient.  We had a strong talent pool to interview and select from.  I would highly recommend Chris to any organization going through an executive search.” – Richard Wood, LightScalpel Board of Directors

Founded in 2002 and based in the greater Seattle area, LightScalpel is a leading designer, manufacturer and servicer of surgical CO2 lasers for dentists, physicians and veterinarians. They offer the highest quality, state-of-the-art, precise, reliable and affordable surgical CO2 lasers on the market today. With a wide range of exclusive and proprietary technologies as well as best-in-class scalpel-like handpieces their systems enable the most ergonomic and efficient laser surgery at a fraction of competitors’ prices.

Doctors, dentists and veterinarians prefer CO2 lasers because they allow for a clear and dry surgical field providing precision and confidence in delicate procedures. Patients appreciate doctors who utilize LightScalpel’s technology because it leads to improved healing and less post-operative pain.

With its extensive technical expertise across the engineering team, LightScalpel has developed unique intellectual property based on the latest in laser-tissue interaction science across different surgical specialties from plastic surgery to soft tissue dentistry. This unique approach has enabled LightScalpel to develop the only flexible fiber CO2 surgical laser capable of serving the dental, veterinary and small office physician markets.

LightScalpel’s mission is to provide surgeons with the highest quality, state-of-the-art, precise, reliable and affordable surgical carbon dioxide laser solutions.

Learn more about Herd Freed Hartz’s:
Technology & Startups practice
Chief Revenue Officer / VP Sales practice

Gather Your Courage and Get Wisdom

A job change can be humbling. You will likely feel the urge to retreat and go it alone. But this slows down your success and prevents insight on things you could learn that will help you for many years.

Other people confirm, or challenge, our assumptions which leads to better outcomes. Wisdom is waiting for you, but you need to ask for it.

In almost two decades of marriage, there are many times when my wife Rachel has pointed out food in my teeth. This makes me wonder how often I unknowingly embarrassed myself before she came along! I don’t feel bad when she tells me about the spinach on my smile. I’m grateful that she cares enough to help me. She is pointing out what’s obvious to her and others, but it’s something I totally missed.

Find a mirror

True friends will speak the truth in love about what they see, if you ask them. They are like a mirror that reflects things you wouldn’t see otherwise. It can be surprising. It can be scary. We may fear hurting the relationship in some way.

Ironically, the opposite tends to be true. Deep conversation like this can draw you closer. They feel appreciated you would ask. A successful job search is won out of such humility and listening, not pride and boasting.  

In addition to friends and family, take time to read and invest in learning new ideas and perspectives from other respected sources.

A doctor needs to ask you questions and do a physical exam to understand your medical issue before prescribing any sort of treatment plan. To make change, you need to first understand yourself and your career starting point before you can make a plan for the future.

Ask good questions

Once you have somebody to ask, what should you ask them? Here are a few questions you could raise with friends, family, and past co-workers:

  • What are some times in my life or my job when I seemed to be especially energized and excited? On the other hand, what have you heard me complain about over the years?

 

  • If I had to start from scratch, what sort of jobs could you see me doing, with my personality and background?

 

  • What are three areas of work where I’m strong?

 

  • Where do I need to improve? If I had to choose one weak spot, where do you feel I should focus to make the biggest difference?

 

  • Outside of work, how would you describe my personality?

 

  • Do I need to apologize to you for any way that I’ve hurt you in the past?

 

  • What favorite books would you recommend to help me learn and grow?

 

  • What do you feel is the greatest misperception about me?

 

Listen, receive, recite

When you ask these questions and start hearing feedback, you might be tempted to get defensive and raise certain examples and counter-arguments. These interruptions stop the flow of listening, and you could miss something important or cause the other person to stop sharing. So keep quiet, engage with your eyes, nod your head, take notes, and just soak it in.  If they pause in their answer, keep mining for that next treasure by saying, “This is great stuff, anything else come to mind?”

Let the other person finish entirely. Say thank you and how much you value the feedback and appreciate the honest insight. Then read back your notes. This will reinforce key items, and demonstrate respect for the other person, as they’ll see you were actively listening. Reciting the main points also provides an opportunity for any clarification if something was misunderstood. Ask follow-up questions on specific examples or anything that confused you.  

Use your job search to take a risk, be vulnerable, and grow as a person. What do you have to lose? If you have spinach stuck in your teeth, you want your friends to point it out, not an employer. The benefits that could impact your career and life far outweigh the overblown, temporary fear you may feel.

 

For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips

Building Your Executive Band: Harmonizing Different Eras of Talent

By Scott Rabinowitz, Partner @ Herd Freed Hartz – Executive Search

Imagine Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, creating a band that includes modern icons like Keith Moon, Sheryl Crow, and Marvin Gaye. This unique blend of talents from different eras and genres in one band provides a powerful metaphor for the art of executive hiring. Check out this video below of Elvis introducing his band – it’s amazing.


The Art of Harmonizing Diverse Talents

In the hypothetical supergroup led by Elvis, each musician brings their distinct style, era, and genre. The challenge and beauty lie in harmonizing these diverse talents into a cohesive and dynamic band. Similarly, in the corporate world, bringing together leaders from different backgrounds, industries, and expertise can lead to a harmonious and innovative executive team.

Understanding Each Member’s Unique Contribution

Elvis’ band would need to balance the rock ‘n’ roll rhythm with Keith Moon’s explosive drumming, Sheryl Crow’s versatile vocals, and Marvin Gaye’s soulful melodies. In a corporate setting, this translates to understanding how a CEO’s visionary leadership can complement a CFO’s analytical prowess, a CMO’s creative strategies, and a COO’s operational efficiency.

Cultural Fit and Era Blending

Just as blending artists from different musical eras requires a deep understanding of their individual cultures and styles, assembling an executive team involves more than just skills. It’s about finding leaders who can blend into your company’s culture and adapt to its evolving narrative.

How We Can Help

At Herd Freed Hartz, we view executive hiring like forming this eclectic band. It’s about more than just finding the industry’s top players; it’s about creating a symphony of skills, experiences, and personalities that resonate with your company’s culture and goals.

Conclusion

Assembling an executive team is akin to creating a band with legends from various eras. It requires a keen understanding of how different talents and backgrounds can harmonize to create something greater than the sum of its parts. At Herd Freed Hartz, we specialize in conducting this complex orchestra of executive hiring, ensuring that each member contributes to a masterpiece of business success.

AUTHENTIC

OVERVIEW: As a company, you build trust and rapport by having a conversational tone and sound like a real person. If you read your job description out loud – is that what you would say to someone over a coffee?  If your job description feels just like you are talking with someone in-person then you know its a winner.  Things you can do to add personality include adding your company’s culture/values, links to your website and videos to increase engagement.

WHY IT MATTERS:
1) Sound like a human – Most job descriptions sound either like someone is yelling from a rooftop to a crowd or a boring HR/legal document. Instead when you sound like you would in-person – it builds trust and makes a stronger personal connection.

2) Culture matters – You have a unique company culture and not everyone is a fit. Companies often hire for competency but fire for culture fit.  Proactively include your company culture/values and include this early in the interview process to reduce turnover surprises.

3) Increase engagement – You spent money and time to make a great company website, so take advantage of this and link to it in the description. If you don’t tell someone where to look, you expect them to figure it out on their own.

4) Be memorable – 83% of information viewed by video is easily recalled vs. only 10% of text. Marketing and sales understand the power of video and likely already using this.  Did you know a majority of the consumer internet traffic is expected to be video by 2022? Wow.  Have company videos showing off your company, team and key jobs to stand out.

WHAT TO INCLUDE:

Conversational tone – Does your job description sound like you would be talking to someone in-person?  Read it out loud as a test.  Make it sound authentic and real.

Ideal candidate persona – Does your description target some motivation or drive behind why someone might be looking to make a change.  For example, “Tired of large company endless meetings and politics and looking for a smaller company where you can make an impact?”

Culture/values listed – Do you include them in your company overview.  Ideally, you have this page on your website you can link to for further information and photos.  Are you OK that not everyone is a fit for your company?

Hyperlinks – Include 3-5 links to your company website.  Include hyperlinks to Product/Service overview, Portfolio/Case Studies, Culture, CEO story, or News/Awards.

Company videos – Engage and draw people in more with your unique personality, culture and vision.  Leverage the power of video you already use in marketing and sales.   Showing a realistic job preview of the location, team and role in a video will inspire as well as pre-screen others who realize it is not a fit.

Good job – You completed component #3: AUTHENTIC

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NEXT STEP: #4: TITLE & OVERVIEW (click to view) 

PRIOR STEP: #2: DIFFERENT (click to view)

Upgrade Your Job Description

Do your job descriptions attract talent like a magnet?  Do you stand out from the pack and inspire candidates to check out your company over the competition?

As retained executive search recruiters, we have a front-row seat to see what works for companies trying to attract top talent.  Using our 20 years of experience as a firm working with 300+ companies, we have crafted a winning job description template that helps our clients stand out from the pack and attract talent that is not actively looking.  In our experience, taking an hour to upgrade a job description ends up saving you 20+ hours later as you attract better talent, proactively answer questions and present a positive first impression.

So how does your job descriptions currently stack up?  Here are 8 practical steps we take for our clients to upgrade their first impression with candidates and hope you find this a valuable resource.

Our goal:  Help your job descriptions stand out from the pack and inspire more talent to join your company.

* Want higher quality candidates? It starts with the job description.

* Want to save time and have fewer interviews per hire? It starts with the job description.

* Want to recruit faster? It starts with the job description.

* Want to have great onboarding for new employees? It starts with the job description.

YOUR ULTIMATE JOB DESCRIPTION TEMPLATE
There are 8 steps that make up a winning job description.  This template has been field-tested with hundreds of companies and roles over our 20 years as an executive search firm – it just works.

Job Description Components

Your “company pitch” is assessed in the first 3 steps. This is your standardized, two-paragraph company overview you can use at the top of ALL of your job descriptions, from entry-level to executive.  This proactively answers common questions which saves you time and will inspire someone to consider applying and learning more.  Often when we do our intake conversations with our clients, what a CEO or hiring manager shares is often inspiring and makes you lean forward – but often the written job description isn’t close.  Honestly, most job descriptions are really boring. Just like copywriters know when crafting news articles – you need to catch someone’s attention in the first section or they will not read on.

Your “role pitch” is assessed in the next 5 steps.  This is your typical overview of what the specific job is you are looking to fill ranging from the title, key outcomes in the first year, activities, and qualifications. But the key is to not come across as sounding like “Here are 20 soul-sucking tasks you can do in this job and not know why….interested?”

OK – let’s now walk through each of these job description components in detail.  Each of these 8 articles includes an overview description, why it matters, and practical examples of how to assess your job description.

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LEARN ABOUT STEP #1: INSPIRING (click to view)

INSPIRING

OVERVIEW:
The talent you are interested in wants to feel inspired by your company and the role.  Make your company story more exciting and inspirational will cause candidates to lean in with their hearts.  This is the emotional side, or the “sizzle”.  Talk about your exciting mission and why people love working at your company and why you are winning.

WHY IT MATTERS:
1) A-players want an inspiring reason for the job beyond the paycheck. Many times while working on executive searches, we’ve seen a candidate decide between two similar job offers. Often the candidate will pick the company with a more inspiring mission and a story of the impact the company is making.  This is especially important for Millenials. You want to attract people who are happy and not actively looking.

2) Moment of truth. A new employee will need to quickly explain to friends and family about their new job.  You want their friends to say “Hey – that’s cool” and for your new employee to feel proud about sharing why they love working at your company.  If the company can reference any awards or recognition – this also validates something special is happening.

3) Your in-person pitch is usually better. Most CEO or hiring managers will have a compelling company “sell” when meeting a candidate in person. But somehow the written version loses the energy and becomes boring.  If you don’t inspire someone to apply, you may never get to meet them so don’t save “your good stuff” for later.  Record yourself saying aloud the company pitch like you would tell someone in person as a good starting point.

4) Boring job descriptions = low response rates. You need to interview more people and work harder to get talent to apply for your job openings which costs you time and money.  This isn’t just about making people feel good, it’s about helping you win and make money.

WHAT TO INCLUDE TO MAKE THE INCLUSIVE JOB DESCRIPTION:

Sizzle – Energy, passion and inspiration felt just like it would be in-person. Emotionally makes you excited and leaning in.

Customer stories – You have specific customer examples/case studies of how you helped them (“Clients/Portfolio” page on your website). Facts tell but stories sell.

Quest/Mission – A compelling reason your company exists beyond making money. What drives you and inspired the company to be founded?

CEO background & company history – The personal story of how the company got started. People work for people.  (“Message from CEO”)

Why employees working here – What would your employees say if you asked them? Is that reflected in your description?

External awards, press, or recognition – External recognition you are doing something special and interesting. Let other people say you are great.

Why are you winning – Explain why customers are choosing you over your competition. You must be winning for a reason.

Good job – You just completed component #1: INSPIRING!

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NEXT STEP: #2: DIFFERENT (click to view) 

DIFFERENT

OVERVIEW:
Proactively explain what key facts and details your company does, or the “steak”. This helpful insight will answer common candidate questions and save you time in answering the same questions with candidates.  Example: Description of your product/service, typical customer/customer logos, how you make money, office location, team size and investors.

WHY IT MATTERS:
1) Respect – When looking to hire mature adults, you gain trust and respect by explaining common questions they might have. Top talent will use this information to be better prepared for interviews.  This respect is gained across all roles – from entry-level to executives.  For some reason, executive job descriptions tend to be more detailed, and then less so for mid-level hires and then just a few sentences for entry-level roles.

2) Saves time – Proactively answering key questions also enables you to reduce your phone interview time by 30-50% as you are not repeating the same facts and candidate questions over and over again.

3) Pre-screen – Sharing more details might make your company not a fit for someone (which is OK). Candidates should be able to understand your industry, product/service, how big you are, how you make money, etc.

WHAT TO INCLUDE:
What product/service(s) do you offer?  – Provide a quick overview of your core products/services you sell.  Link to your website for these key pages as I’m sure Sales/Marketing teams have developed a good overview already.  If you have more than one, explain a % mix breakdown (example: 25% online; 75% retail sales).

Typical customers – Describe your ideal customer – not just demographics, but also the challenge they are facing and how you are helping them solve a problem.  Provide 3-5 key customer examples for reference (“Customers include top industry players like Starbucks, Apple and T-Mobile”).  How many customers do you serve in a year?

Typical sale/deal – You do not need to provide any secret competitive data, but general pricing structure and deal.  Someone needs to understand how you make money and what a typical transaction looks like.

Employees / Revenue – How many employees do you have?  If revenue figures are shared with employees – include them in the description.  What is a general team make-up and structure and revenue by product lines?

Growth (past and future plans) – What was your growth the last few years and plans for the upcoming year?  This gives context to your story, financial stability and future ambitions.

Investors or Bootstrapped – If your company has received venture capital or private equity investment – list them (and can link to the firm or announcement).  If you are bootstrapped, talk about building up the company and look to the long-term.

Product/industry terms defined(if needed) – Do you have common questions candidates always ask about your product or industry?  Define them or link to Wikipedia overview examples to help educate and get someone up to speed.

CEO background – Telling the story and background of the CEO can sometimes be as important as the company.  People join teams and inspiring leaders more than companies.

Location(s) – What is the office location(s)?  Beyond mentioning the city name – talk about the neighborhood amenities (near bus line, restaurants, parks, shopping, etc).

Good job – You just completed component #2: DIFFERENT.

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NEXT STEP: #3: AUTHENTIC (click to view) 

PRIOR STEP: #1: INSPIRING (click to view)