10 Tips From a Top Recruiter

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Brian Walsh is an Executive Recruiter for The Renaissance Network, Inc. in Newton, MA. By its own definition, The RenNetwork is "an award-winning search firm specializing in sales and leadership expansion for Education and Technology companies."

Recently, Brian agreed to answer 10 questions and share his perspective on the current job market.

Q1: How do you find people to recruit?

Our research team does a lot of initial legwork. Candidates come from a variety of sources including LinkedIn and other social media sites, and we also recruit from companies who compete against our clients.

Q2: How important is LinkedIn for today's job seekers?

LinkedIn is essential for candidates both to have a presence on the job market and to network with people who are hiring. One of the first things we'll do is check the LinkedIn profile to get a good sense of the candidate's experience. The key words that candidates use in their profiles can help us identify if their skill sets may apply to an opportunity we are retained on. We look at recommendations and check out career history to get a nice snapshot of the candidate both before and after we receive an updated resume.

Q3: There's been a debate about how much work experience to show on LinkedIn. What's your opinion?

I think it's important to show experience all the way through one's career – a career path with promotions. Your profile should be a complete honest assessment of your career. Sometimes the pertinent experience to a particular search can be earlier in a career.

Q4: What if experiences are from different career paths? Can this detract from the profile?

I'd suggest using two sections in the profile -- work history going back as far as you have access to and then personal interests and interests outside work. It's important to highlight your full range of experience, but it can be misconstrued if it looks as though you had two jobs simultaneously or made drastic career shifts.

Q5: Age discrimination is a topic that comes up frequently with Boomers. Do you see it from clients as well?

Age does not typically come up with our clients; we will see compensation levels factor into a hiring scenario based on someone's years of experience in the field. Candidates who have many years of experience may have compensation expectations which are aligned to their in depth experience in the industry, but may price them out of the candidate pool.

Q6: Are you finding candidates willing to take salary cuts due to the current economy?

It's an even split, especially since we work will sales candidates who may not care about a decrease in base salary for more earning potential in commission. Some candidates are motivated by the opportunity to get in the door, but other people are set on their level of compensation and don't want to take a step backward.

Q7: The RenNetwork specializes in technology jobs in the education field. What trends are you seeing in that segment of the industry?

Skill sets have changed. Most sales people have the attitude they can sell anything, but selling new technology products or new education initiatives takes a different skill set than we have seen previously within the traditional education space and for print products. Every couple of years new initiatives and/or new technologies emerge.

Right now professional development and solutions which are not tangible but cause positive change in schools and universities are more critical to the Education market than previously, so we're frequently looking for a sales person who can bring consultative sales or solution-based skill sets to the industry. We can look at people with a traditional K-12 background, and also look at people with a mixed, combination background of B2B sales plus education sales. For candidates, there seem to be many more opportunities. People we worked with recently have had numerous jobs to consider, which was not the case 6-7 months ago.

Q8: What do you look for in candidates?

With every search, there are generally three top qualifiers – type of market experience, location, and their specific sales background. If all three are present then we start a dialogue on their general background and personality match with the hiring manager or company. Market Experience relates to the type of product or technology experience the candidate might have -- software or hardware. People who've sold hardware, as an example, may not be a good fit for software sales. Sales background will entail whom the candidate sold to, their deal size, and sales cycle, as well as if the candidate has a specific subject-matter expertise such as science or literacy.

Q9: What creates a red flag for you when assessing a candidate?

It's case by case. If a candidate moves from job to job every year, I need to spend some time discussing the reason for the moves, as this could be a red flag. Sales is such a different kind of industry that you could be with a company for 10 years and have lots of success without having promotions or moving forward, so we will look at sales numbers, but also if more responsibility has been taken on, the amount of revenue the candidate is managing, if their territory is increasing, or if they've had added responsibilities such as training others.

Q10: What's your advice to people who just haven't landed yet?

Keep networking, stay motivated, and reach out to as many people as you can. It really is about whom you know. The more conversations you can have with employers about what they're seeing out there and what your interests are can only lead to good things. People do remember candidates who keep reaching out. And, if you are still struggling, consider working with a recruiter specific to your industry.
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