Ask Paul

EdisonReport and The Pompeo Group are teaming up to provide a new regular feature. And we want your questions! Hiring managers, owners, H/R professionals and candidates are invited to send their questions on anything from hiring, interviewing, resumes, the job market in lighting, etc. to paul@pompeo.com. All questions will be anonymous---names of people and companies will be withheld for sake of confidentiality.

…What Was Your Name Again?

Paul::  I can’t speak from a legal perspective, but I can say that most executive recruiters will never send you an unsolicited resume.  There are some firms that I call ‘resume houses’ that will regularly (or occasionally) send unsolicited resumes to employers, but we’d recommend you e-mail the recruiter and just request they no longer send a resume to you without your prior authorization.  True search firms will never send an unsolicited resume to you.

Is Anybody Out There?

Paul:  There are two ways I’ll answer that question. While there may be plenty of people available in some industries, they are often are referred to as ‘unskilled’ labor.  The labor in greatest demand in our industry is what I would characterize as ‘Skilled’ labor, whether we define “skilled” as having a formal education or as possessing specific experience with our industry. Additionally, the news headlines about plenty of people available are usually not referring to our industry, where we experience a very low unemployment rate. Mary Lindenmuth (our Recruiting Director for Engineering, Operations, Manufacturing and Finance) says that, in essence, unlike many other industries, “lighting is at 100% employment.”   Don’t give up, but realize you’re in today’s ‘gold rush’ for top candidates.

The ‘No’s Have It.

Paul:  Sorry to hear that.  There is a similar theme to our questions here---and it goes back to it being a candidates’ market in lighting, LED and energy.  And though the Pareto Principle----the ‘80/20’ rule, or the ‘law of the vital few’--- is often beaten to death, it does apply here as well---most of our client companies look for the top 20% of the candidates qualified for a position.  As I’ve written in numerous LD+A columns,  the majority of our client companies are looking for lighting, electrical and energy professionals who are currently employed.  In the past, companies would be eager to scoop up almost any unemployed professional in our industry.  That seemed to have changed after the 2008-2009 downturn and now hiring companies are all going after a smaller pool of individuals, usually currently employed.  With this new dynamic, there is a much more intense ‘feeding frenzy’ for good candidates.
     There could be several reasons for your having difficulty, and some of them may require some hard introspection on the part of you and your management team.  For a start, I would review your hiring process.  Do you quickly move from one interview to the next, or are there long delays?   Protracted interview processes will often cause slow-moving companies to lose out to companies who can react more quickly. Beyond this, I would look at your compensation packages (starting with salary [and incentive, if applicable]---are they competitive?  Beyond that, I would review your benefits package.   Those would be good places to begin and can often help to quickly improve your success rate in offers being accepted.
     Beyond this, remember that making an offer before knowing A) what your candidate is looking for, B) any other offers (or pending offers) your candidate has on the table and, if so, C) what those offers basically are is setting yourself up for an offer rejection.

Back To School.

Paul: Great question!  Obviously, continuing your education is never a bad thing and provides benefits both personally as well as professionally---and it’s never too late to go back to school.   But as a Regional Manager, I’m not sure how much it will benefit you professionally.  You didn’t say whether you’re with an independent manufacturer, start-up or conglomerate.  For an independent I’d say it’s less important, for a conglomerate it sometimes helps, as larger companies tend to be degree-centric, as do many start-ups, especially those who are VC-funded.  Does it sometimes give you a leg up as far as advancement opportunities?   With some companies, perhaps. As far as hiring for a senior or middle-management sales role in our industry, though, while most manufacturers prefer a college degree, most will ultimately make a decision based on your sales performance and track record, not your Bachelors or Masters degree.

The Soul Of Wit.

Paul: I understand that you may feel that a shorter resume doesn’t do your background justice, but I always say to think of one’s resume as the ‘trailer’ to the movie, not the movie itself.  The resume should be a brief summary that briefly touches on enough of the high points to interest the viewer in knowing more (not unlike a movie trailer), without distorting one’s background or being misleading.  Keep it to two pages maximum and one page if possible.  Recruiters, hiring managers and human resources and personnel professionals are receiving more resumes than ever.  When they receive a multi-page resume, they do what we all often do when sent a mulit-page document:  unless it was something we were looking for or had requested, we put it aside to read when we have more time.  And guess what?  That time may never come, and the person who received your resume may have even forgotten about it once the newest 15-20 e-mails arrived in their inbox.  Remember, most employers really are most interested in your past 10-15 years of experience.  For examples of one page resumes, feel free to e-mail me.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Paul: Yes, primarily one---you’re putting yourself at a real disadvantage by resigning your current job before you have another position secured.  A candidate currently employed in our industry has a much better chance of being hired (and more quickly) than one who is out of work---even if only for a few months! And, if your job search takes longer than you expect, the longer you’re out of work, two things happen:  1) you will get lower offers, as many employers will feel that you’re a ‘motivated buyer’ and that they have the upper hand in negotiation (which they will!); 2) employers will often be skeptical that you left on your own without another position to go to which now gives you another issue you have to deal with that you wouldn’t have if you were still employed.
     Finally, the risk in looking while being out of work (if you don’t have to be) is that if your job search takes longer than you project, you’ll find that positions that otherwise may not have looked that good to you will suddenly seem more interesting because, since you’re unemployed, you may feel like you’re racing against time to some degree.
     Even though you may be frustrated, stay with your current position, keep a very positive attitude and work to the very best of your ability for your company and look discretely careful not to let your job search get in the way of your current responsibilities.  This might take longer, but it’s the best way to go.   Plus, it’s not impossible that you might surprise yourself during your interview process and find that the grass on the other side is not always greener and you’re not that bad off with your current company after all.


EdisonReport and The Pompeo Group are teaming up to provide a new regular feature. And we want your questions! Hiring managers, owners, H/R professionals and candidates are invited to send their questions on anything from hiring, interviewing, resumes, the job market in lighting, etc. to paul@pompeo.com. All questions will be anonymous---names of people and companies will be withheld for sake of confidentiality.

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