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Engaging a Search Consultant – A Case Study for Highly Cleared Professionals February 2, 2010

Posted by stanleyreidrecruiting in HIghly Cleared Candidates.

Here is a true story about a candidate we worked with last fall.

“Jim” is a polygraph cleared software engineer.  He loves to code and wanted a new project at a new place to help him move on after some changes in his life.  Jim did what many people do when they want a new job – he posted his resume on several online job boards.

Our research team came across Jim, and while we don’t normally work with “active” candidates, I do like to talk with people, learn what kinds of things they are looking for in their career, and potentially work with them down the road.  By the time we talked with Jim (about 8 hours after he posted), he had already been contacted by at least a dozen recruiters. As the day wore on, that number increased rapidly. By days end Jim had received over 50 messages – each recruiter promising him that they had the perfect job in the perfect location at the perfect salary, all without ever having talked to him about what he wanted in a new position.

As the week wore on, we couldn’t reach Jim. We had given up when out of the blue we received an email from him. He had been screening all his calls due to the number of recruiters contacting him and had changed his email address as well. He let us know that he did want to talk to us since we weren’t pushing a specific job, and he gave us some times he would be near his phone and the “secret code” to get him to answer.  While we didn’t end up placing Jim at one of our clients, we did help him figure out what he was really looking for in a new job and which players in the market could help him get where he wanted to be at this point in his life. We also told him the next time he wanted to make a job switch to contact us or another search consultant he liked to conduct a private and confidential search on his behalf.  Jim learned a hard lesson about posting on job boards, especially if you have a clearance.

So what are your options if you are highly cleared and want to explore new job opportunities? Well, hopefully you won’t post your resume on a job board, unless you want to change your telephone number, your email address, and move!   You could spend all your free time surfing job boards, designing a search string and then reading through hundreds of postings, applying to the ones that interest you, following up, fielding phone calls from recruiters, coordinating interviews, following up after interviews, reviewing offers and negotiating better offers all while working your current job, spending time with your family, and attending to all the other things in your life. Oh, and most of this has to be done during lunch, in the evening, and on the weekends because you are in a secure facility all day.

The other option is to engage a search consultant to conduct a confidential search on your behalf.  A good search consultant will spend several hours getting to know you in depth – beyond the standard “how much money do you want” or “what is a tolerable commute” interview that a lot of high volume recruiters conduct. Search consultants really dig into what motivates you and your wish list for professional growth. They then take this information and evaluate it against a large portfolio of clients and identify any that they believe can provide you with an appropriate opportunity.  Once you decide which companies you want to be presented to, the search consultant then coordinates all aspects of the process, from initial interview through offer negotiation. You have one point of contact during the process and an advocate for your career growth.  There is no charge for this service – the company that hires you pays the search consultant a fee.

I encourage all highly cleared professionals to find a good search consultant before you want to make a move. Establish the relationship early and be prepared for when you want to make a move. And who knows, you might find that your next great position is already waiting for you.

Mary Reid Stanley

Mary is the co-owner of Stanley Reid & Company, a search firm specializing in placing highly cleared technology professionals in the DC and Baltimore area.



1. Dave Staats - February 2, 2010

That last paragraph says it all!

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