To stay or not to stay: that is the question.

It’s no secret that we are seeing a shortage of proven talent within the real estate development and construction industries in many skill sets.  At a time when we need people/talent the most,  professionals are seriously questioning whether to make a change because of the timing of the economy, timing in our industry and timing in their own lives.

“Is it time to make a move in my career?” These thoughts, nerves, doubts are making it more difficult today to recruit proven, successful talent for open positions due to growth or vacancy.

Many clients are forced to promote people who aren’t ready to take on more responsibility because of the talent shortage, and starting a leadership program within companies won’t grow the talent fast enough to fill the needs.

In my practice, I speak daily with and recruit Vice Presidents, Division and Regional Presidents and professionals in Corporate level roles. Professionals are asking themselves “should I stay or should I go?” for a few reasons:

  1.  Recent builder acquisitions. Executives who are open to considering opportunities or desire that next step in their career are asking themselves, “Am I going to a builder that is gobbling or one that will be gobbled?” Since company CEO’s or Corporate CFO’s cannot share this information, professionals are left to the worry about the rumors and, therefore, may choose to stay rather than risk being the last person hired when a company is “gobbled.”  People do not want to be the less tenured in this case because some say the purchaser will keep most of their own team if in the same market. So be honest with interested candidates. It still may prevent someone taking a position with your company but at least you stayed true to what you know. Also know, even if it doesn’t feel like the case, builders are starting to interview all candidates in like roles within that market seriously so they can build the next best team.
  2. The next downturn.   Those of us who survived the last downturn always have our eye on the future, looking for signs that it may happen again.  While economic indicators are still very strong, professionals want to ensure they’re working for a company that isn’t in danger of going under if it does happen, either because of their financial situation or land holdings.  But professionals need to remember that the people working at the company they’re interviewing with likely survived the last downturn as well, and everyone in our industry made adjustments to their financial forecasting, land strategy, and processes to weather that storm should it arrive.  They are making hiring decisions based on long-term, not just short-term, growth projections.
  3. Counteroffers.  When people are hard to find, companies do what they can to keep the good people they have.  So companies making offers should expect counteroffers each and every time.  And to prevent the professional from staying put, companies should make their first offer their best offer.  The days of negotiating back and forth to save a few bucks are long gone.  If you don’t demonstrate to a candidate their value to you right off the bat, you can bet their existing company will, and you’ve lost valuable time in your search to fill that role.  It helps to have consultants like Joseph Chris Partners in on the formulation of offers so you can offer competitively based on market conditions and competition.

Our industry will always have mergers and acquisitions and there will be lay-offs during any economic slow down we experience. But that should not stop a strong professional from accepting a new role, proving their worth, and moving up the ladder.  If the opportunity is a great one, the company has the culture people thrive in, the team is strong and collaborative, then the normal things that affect our industry should not keep a professional from taking on a new position.

Joseph Chris Partners can help you with your search for the right professional, and we can help them answer “should I stay or should I go” in your favor!

Joseph Chris Partners can help you or your company navigate job and workforce changes

 

I was a baby lawyer, just one year out of law school, returning to my office after a hearing and there was a U-Haul trailer backed up to the entrance of my building.  Moving guys with banker boxes loaded onto dollies blocked my path into my office, and I stepped around them to get in.  I immediately noticed empty bookshelves, open file cabinets, and worried looks on the faces of my coworkers.

Something bad had happened.

I walked into my own office and surveyed my surroundings.  Only one case file remained of the 35 files I managed during my first year of practicing law.  I turned to see my boss standing in the doorway.

“Sorry about this, kiddo.  I really am.  We’re going to have to let you go.  We’re letting just about everyone go.”

Stunned, I sat down, head swimming, thinking of car payments and rent and groceries, and how to begin the search for a new job.  I barely heard his explanation that our biggest, pretty much only, client decided to hire a different firm and we lost all their business.  I just zeroed in on the part where I just lost my job.

At 27 years old, that was the first time I would experience the unexpected loss of a job and be forced to look for a new one.  Luckily, I had a good network of classmates and alums of my law school and was working within a week, but the prospect of finding something new was definitely a daunting one.

I’ve also been on the other side of that experience, having to tell someone they no longer have a job.  I know it’s never an easy conversation, even when you’re dealing with an employee that isn’t a great fit for your company.  Naturally, you don’t want them to stress or struggle even when parting ways is necessary.

Being on both sides of this coin gives me a unique perspective when helping professionals who’ve recently lost jobs, and with clients who want to help their severed employees transition into the job search market.  At Joseph Chris Partners, we offer services for both in the form of Executive Coaching for those professionals looking to reenter the job market, and Career Transitions for those companies who want to help their former employees prepare for their own job search.

Both options offer several levels of service, tailored to the needs and budget of either the professional or the company, and we offer free consultations for you to determine which level is right for you.

If you want to learn more, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk with you about how we can help you or your company.

Things worked out for the best for me after that fateful day when the U-Haul blocked my office door.  I went on to work at a litigation boutique with some amazing and talented people in a firm that was by far my favorite in my 13 years of practicing law.  So even when news of a job change makes your next steps in your professional life uncertain, something incredible could be waiting for you just around the corner.  Don’t be afraid to step around the things in your way and open the door to the new opportunities.

 

Dad’s lesson: Do your homework.

I was thinking about my work as a recruiter and remembered a lesson my father taught me many years ago. I was a senior in college and asked him if he had any advice before going to a couple important job interviews.

“Do your homework before you meet them, know something positive about the company that the interviewer may not know.”  My father wanted me make a good impression, stand-out in a good way, to do more.

Today the contents of a library are available on your smart phone. My best clients know I am interested in their businesses. I researched one client and learned the CEO holds several patents in his industry. I incorporated that into a conversation with him and prospective candidates. With another I pointed out career path similarities with two candidates and the company president. They were both hired. I learned the CEO’s five-year plan from a client’s annual report and pointed out how a particular candidate can help achieve his vision. Believe me, it can help!

It doesn’t matter if you are going for an interview, making an important presentation, or preparing for a conversation with an old client. Let them know you do a little more, that  you work a little harder, know more about them, their company and their goals then the other guy.

It can make the difference between average and exceptional.

Thanks Dad, I heard you.

 

How do companies know which Executive Search Firm is best for them?

In today’s world, it is a candidate driven market.  Candidates are getting called repeatedly by recruiters and quite a large amount of them end up with multiple offers to choose from in the end.  As a company searching for talent, the decision to hire a firm to help can be a daunting one.

The Solo Recruiter.  In a robust market, like the current one, recruiting is good business.  People who have little to no experience see an opportunity to cash in, hang out a shingle, and often offer slashed rates to compete with the established firms.  While saving money on an executive search may seem attractive to your HR team, the old adage “you get what you pay for” typically rings true here.  The cost of a bad hire far exceeds the difference in bargain basement search fees and the

The Big Guys.   There are some very large executive search companies that service multiple industries.  Their business model is usually more segmented, with one person courting client business, and once the contract is signed, the client is handed off to an account manager.  A search team is made up of other individuals, usually with a researcher, someone to recruit candidates, and someone who ultimately presents resumes to the client.  This assembly line approach might not be the best way for all companies to fill critical roles as it can be perceived as impersonal and disconnected to the candidates.

The Niched Firms.  Then you have your niche, boutique firms that focus specifically on specific industries, such as our own firm, Joseph Chris Partners.  Our niche is real estate development and construction.  There are multiple benefits to working with a firm that specializes in the field in which you work.  In most cases, niched firms have been in their chosen business for a considerable amount of time.  In our firm’s case, we have over 41 years of speaking the same language as our clients, developing relationships with professionals over the expanses of their careers, keeping current on industry news, attending conferences, and really understanding what our industry is about.  Our teams our small, and clients always get a personalized approach to their search.   For more clients needing a professional with industry-specific experience, it makes sense to work with an Executive Search Firm that already has the relationships with the people they are wanting to hire, one that “speaks their language” and knows who’s who in their industry sector already.

Am I promoting my own firm?  Sure I am! But clients and candidates I’ve worked with over my 16 years in the industry will attest that their partnership with my company and with me has been a very successful one.

Claire Spence

Executive Partner

clairespence@josephchris.net

MILITARY APPRECIATION MONTH: The importance of Veterans’ Hiring Initiatives

I grew up in the military. My dad served for 23 years, and we moved around every 3 years throughout my childhood. It was a really good life, filled with amazing people and places, and I credit my outgoing nature to that life. We’d move to a new post, and I’d go knocking on our new neighbors’ doors, asking if any kids lived there, and if they did (they almost always did), I’d ask them to be my friend.
The hardest thing about my childhood was saying goodbye to good friends when it was time for them, or for us, to move.

That’s nothing compared to the difficulties military service members and their families face today. We’ve been involved in armed conflict on multiple fronts continuously for almost 20 years. Families face multiple deployments in the modern military, and many returning service members struggle to assimilate back into civilian life.

We’ve all read the statistics about veteran suicide rates, and divorce rates among military families are higher than the already high national average. It’s a difficult life, but most military families wouldn’t change a thing about it because it’s their duty to serve, despite the personal sacrifices required to do so.
With very few exceptions, most individuals in this country support our military, even if they don’t agree with the conflicts they find themselves in, which is a welcome change from the sentiment the country expressed towards Vietnam veterans, like my dad, upon their return home. But we can all do more. We can do more individually; there are so many ways to help, and a quick Google search will point you in the right direction there.

But we, as business people, need to impress upon the leaders of our companies how important it is to support our military families with veterans/military hiring initiatives. Many returning service members and their spouses struggle to find work despite amassing incredible skills while serving our country. Most hiring managers, however, aren’t focused on what these individuals can bring to their organization and, instead, focus on the words on the resume that don’t appear—at first glance—to fit. Veterans positively impact a company’s culture, are natural problem-solvers, and set the standard for teamwork and work ethic.

Particularly relevant in our industry, where there is a marked shortage of talent, and construction shows no signs of slowing down, so that shortage will continue to grow unless we look for other sources of talent. Several large companies in our industry have recognized this and have implemented focused veterans’ hiring initiatives and are reaping the benefits of those efforts now.

Related Companies Senior Vice President Frank J. Monterisi, Jr., a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and Marine Corps Veteran, leads his company’s veterans hiring initiative. He recognizes that veterans:

are very valuable to our company and the overall construction industry. The men and women who come out of serving our country have dedication, a strong work ethic and are exceptional problem solvers—which are great attributes to have when working on construction projects. Construction projects are all about teams and working together. Veterans have great teamwork and can manage through demanding environments with efficient real-time, problem-solving skills. We are happy to bring them on and will continue to keep this hiring initiative as a key priority for our organization.

“The Benefits of Hiring Veterans,” US Veterans Magazine.

Jim Crigler, Vietnam Veteran, Partner of HC2 Capital, and author of “Mission of Honor,” an account of his trip canoeing the entire length of the Mississippi river to raise awareness about Gold Star Families, is a huge proponent of veteran hiring. “If you want leadership under stress, hire a veteran,” Jim said.

Only about 7.3 percent of Americans have served in our military. These are the men and women who keep the rest us safe and allow us to enjoy the freedoms that make our country great. The debt we owe them can never be fully repaid, and we need to honor and support them every day, not just on a few patriotic days of the year. They’ve done their part; it’s time for us to do ours.

For more information about setting up your own veterans hiring initiative, check out:
http://hr.commerce.gov/Careers/Veterans/index.htm
https://www.dol.gov/veterans/Employer-Guide-to-Hire-Veterans-DEC-2017.pdf
https://www.dol.gov/vets/ahaw/

Pay it Forward – Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Talent

Originally posted by Erica Lockwood as a guest blogger on Meredith Consulting’s website, March 22, 2018.

As we emerge from last week’s “Women In Construction Week” along with the observance of “International Women’s Day”, it seems quite fitting to address not only the lack of female talent present within the industry today but certainly the overall people shortage being experienced across the country. It’s a real conversation that I have just about daily with industry leaders. Reality is this is not a situation that will change overnight. But, I believe it can be transformed with focus and intention.

Recent statistics have revealed that less than 15% of the total construction industry is made up of women. While a predominantly male dominated industry, I am a believer that with the right outreach and education, we could do much more to encourage young women to consider our industry as an exciting and viable career option. The opportunities are endless and having a concerted effort to make sure young women who are considering career possibilities hear this message is vital.

I have observed a recent trend within a handful of companies where women have been promoted into leadership roles. For example, Taylor Morrison Homes has impressed me with the career advancements and the openness to provide not only leadership roles but also entry level opportunities to women in the workforce. A recent post by Taylor Morrison stated, “women make up 49 percent of our workforce, 30 percent of our executive team and Taylor Morrison is the only publicly traded homebuilder led by a woman chairman and CEO.” Talk about inspiring women to see the possibilities! Way to go Sheryl Palmer for leading that vision!

I perceive mentoring opportunities as one of the most viable avenues for awareness and outreach. Local home builder associations are typically quite involved with a variety of educational outreach programs, for instance, Junior Achievement. This program creates opportunity for discussions geared toward elementary, junior high and high school students, creating interest and spurring curiosity. I encourage our industry to be keenly focused on education and mentorship of our future leaders – young men and women alike.

Although this week had much to celebrate it also felt a huge loss as we learned of Bill Pulte’s passing. Mr. Pulte was a mentor to so many. He inspired creativity, growth and vision to so many of today’s leading industry professionals along with some of the most forward-thinking and impactful entrepreneurs I know. If each one of us might consider paying it forward in honor of Bill Pulte, we may just reach some of tomorrow’s most amazing and creative men and women industry leaders. We can all make an impact – one young person at a time!

It’s not about placements; it’s about relationships and commitment.

I can’t believe in two months I will have been with Joseph Chris Partners Executive Search for 16 years. Wow, what a ride it has been! 16 of some of the best years of my life, and still going strong.

Thinking back over those 16 years made me decide I might share what made all those years worth it for me, even during the downturn, with all of you. There are so many “recruiters” out there; some call them “Head Hunters”
( I don’t know about you, but I have never “hunted heads” in my life!). But back to my point… in general, those individuals who just throw paper at clients to see what sticks leave the rest of us with a really bad taste in our mouths.

What is it they say? KISS: “Keep it Simple Stupid”. For myself and my ilk, it’s not about making placements. Sure, we all need to eat, but I have never considered myself in sales. Our founder and former CEO used to love to argue that I was most definitely in sales, and when it comes down to it, of course that is true; but I have never in 16 years felt like I was selling anything!

When you choose the right companies to work for, and you know that company inside and out, and you truly believe in them, their culture, and consider yourself an extension of that company, there isn’t anything to sell. All that is needed is honesty and the rest falls into place. I spend face-to-face time with my clients whenever possible. I have crawled through homes under construction and put mud boots on during rainy land development days. I become a part of their team.

Many times, I have foregone placements. When I discover something, or have a feeling that something isn’t right with someone I have already presented, I will tell my clients point blank: “Hey, I know I sent this person to you, and I know you like them, but I am now letting you know that I no longer have faith in them and I am advising you not to hire him or her.” That kind of committed partnership with your clients is why most of the clients I have, I have had for going on decades, and the new ones that I get, I keep.

Same thing on the candidate side. Most of my clients started out as my candidates or came to me through referrals. I treat my clients and candidates as if they were part of my family. I know all about their spouses and children, even their pets, hobbies, and passions. I truly care about putting a company and a candidate together that will be a forever relationship. Who wants to do a replacement search? I guarantee my candidates. Fortunately, I’ve only had three replacement searches in 16 years out of hundreds of placements.

So, always keep it real, and remember to just KISS.

Our House  

JCP 40

I had planned an industry-specific message for my blog this week, but tragedy struck the Joseph Chris Partners family this weekend, and I wanted to share my feelings about all of it

At 5 a.m. Saturday morning, my phone rang.  I knew something was wrong, but nothing prepared me for what I would hear when I answered that call:  through her sobs, one of my long-time JCP team members shared with shock and sadness that she’d just lost her husband.

My heart sank for her.  This employee has been with our company for over a decade. I have heard so many stories about her children’s successes, her worries, her life situations and just every-day stuff that you learn about someone working with them for as long as we’ve worked together.  She gives her all every day to make sure she does what she can to make our team successful.  She can’t sit still and is vigilant about getting the job done right, whatever that job might be.  If you need anything, she is there for you, no matter how many other responsibilities she may be juggling at the time.

She is more than just an employee; she is my family.

And I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one who felt that way about her.  After hearing the tragic news, the JCP army mobilized to help her and her own family.  Within hours, we had collected money, food, and cards filled with love to deliver to her.  Joseph Chris Partners’ reaction spoke volumes to me about the power of team.

When a situation like this happens in our house, we take action.  We not only had an outpouring of love but we also had an outpouring of support from the team.  Everyone from the most tenured in our company to the newest member of the team has rallied, volunteering to give up their vacation time so she didn’t have to worry about returning to work before she was ready, donating money and buying groceries even when they had their own financial stresses, making time for her even when time was scarce, and offering emotional support and counsel.

She is family!  She is one of us! We take care of our own! It reminded me how blessed I am to have such an incredible team.    We have togetherness.  We are family, we have unity.  We get in the trenches for one another.  Humanity… Love!  The old sayings that “no one messes with our family” and “no one stands alone” really does exude in our company.

I am so grateful to work with a group that is there for one another.

Just to be a little real and open with all of you, I do not have kids, but I have been blessed with an amazing family:  my parents, my brother’s family, my four-legged family members, and my team mean everything to me.  They are my reason each and every day that I am on a mission to perform at my best.  I wake up thinking about them, and they are in my prayers each night.

Like most bosses, I may not do everything right all the time and I could be a better leader at times, but I will stand for them always like a deep-rooted tree that will not move in the worst of bad weather.   Hopefully they know that they are part of a work family that will always be here for them.

I talk to people every day about their jobs.  I learn about what makes them happy, what keeps them in a job or what drives them to leave.  And one of the biggest influences on their happiness is whether or not they feel like they’re part of a team, whether they matter, whether the people they work with appreciate them.

And with each of those conversations, I feel more and more blessed to be working with such amazing people who care so much for each other.  And I know because we have that, we can all accomplish anything, together.

That’s how it works in our house.

And I couldn’t be prouder.

You Snooze, You Lose: How to streamline your hiring process so you don’t lose out on top talent

blog

I am not a morning person.  My bed is really cozy, and I keep my house nice and cold at night, so when the first of my 4 alarms goes off at 5 a.m., I snooze so I can stay in my warm and cozy bed.  And each of my four alarms is set to snooze 5 times before it stops.  And depending on how cozy I am, I may snooze for an hour, relishing the quiet 5 minutes between alarms, until I finally turn on my morning Spotify mix and start my day.

It’s a silly ritual, I realize, but it’s my morning routine, and one I’m pretty Rainman-esque about.

Until Monday of this week.

I haven’t been going to the gym like I should.  Or at all.  And I’ve always got an excuse.  I usually blame my daughter’s busy schedule, or just being tired from life in general, but the bottom line is, I just don’t want to go.  I want the results from going to the gym, like we all do, without doing the work.

So Monday I changed the paradigm.  I set my alarm for 4:00 a.m.  I didn’t snooze.  I got up, dressed, and out the door for a 5 a.m. class, and was home by 6:20, showered, and at work by my normal time of 7 a.m.

And Monday was an incredibly productive day.  Things just seemed to go my way.  It was probably just coincidence, but I’ve committed to abandoning my snoozing habit on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and getting my morning workout in.  It’ll be my new Rainman-esque routine.

Certainly, snoozing has its benefits, and no one loves it more than I do, but if you really want to get things done personally or professionally, snoozing is not the way to go.

In this candidate-driven job market, clients who hit “snooze” on a hot job search are losing out on great talent.   Some companies are used to being able to select from a myriad of wonderful professionals itching to go to work for them, but the dynamic has changed, as dynamics always do.  The pendulum has shifted once again, and while professionals will still entertain conversations about great opportunities, companies that don’t have an efficient way of moving from initial conversation to offer will likely lose out to those companies that do.

The best way to avoid losing a great addition to your team due to hiring process delays is to do the following:

  1. CREATE A HIRING TIMELINE.
    • Identify when you want this person to start working for your company. Is there are big project that they need to be in place for?  Is someone retiring and time is needed for training before the changing of the guard?
    • Decide who in your company needs to weigh in on this decision, and take inventory of scheduling issues to determine how quickly necessary interviews and pre-hiring testing can take place.
    • Working backward, tentatively schedule necessary meetings with key team members so time is reserved on everyone’s busy calendars for hiring activities.
    • After your hiring timeline is created, you can share it with your hiring partners, either internally or externally.
    • Your talent acquisition partners will then be able to tailor their search efforts to your timeline, as well as be transparent with the professionals they connect with about the process.
  2. BE RESPONSIVE WITH YOUR FEEDBACK.
    • From a branding standpoint, you need to consider the message candidates in market are receiving from the length of time it takes your hiring team to share feedback with them.
    • Commit to provide feedback on candidate resumes, interview performance or other follow up questions during the hiring process within 24-48 hours.
    • If unexpected delays occur, communicate them promptly to candidates and/or your talent acquisition partners.
  3. MAKE A FAIR OFFER.
    • It is not the time to try to save a dime on a hire. That’s not to say you should just throw money at people, but you should discuss your offer with your talent acquisition partners to ensure it’s a fair one.
    • The cost of making a lowball offer in today’s candidate centric market is high: not only will you lose the interest of the professional you’re pursuing, you will have lost the time your team invested in the job search when the candidate declines and you have to restart your search, and your brand will suffer if the professionals in your space don’t think you appreciate the value of what your team members bring to the table.
    • Listen to experts in the industry about what it takes today to get the type of talent you really need to grow your business.

There are a lot of companies competing for the same talent in our industry right now, and while the hiring process alone will not guarantee that your company will win every head-to-head battle for talent, those companies committed to efficiency and transparency in their talent searches will win over the ones who aren’t.

If your company needs help restructuring your hiring process or connecting with the right professionals to add to your team, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Joseph Chris Partners.

Technology has Changed, but Good Recruiters Still Focus on the Basics: Advice From My 15 Years in Executive Recruiting

Claire2

When I started recruiting in 2002, you could call it a “whole other world” compared to recruiting today. And I honestly believe the skills that I learned back then made, and have kept, me successful all these years.

Back then, there was no LinkedIn, no Google, no Social Media, etc., to speak of. We did have a great database of candidates going back to when the company started in 1977, but other than that, you had to truly dig and hunt for candidates anywhere and everywhere. I spent a lot of time calling companies that were members of certain associations, using Biz Books for every city imaginable to find out who the top companies were in that location and industry, and trust me when I say I made 50 calls every day before noon!

It was truly “hunting” and sourcing from every place imaginable. We even had yellow pages from cities around the country. We faxed all the time and some of us were even still on dial-up internet.

I am grateful that I started before the world of Social Media and LinkedIn came. Personally, I think those things have become too much of a crutch for recruiters. I still apply the old methods today because they work. If everyone could be found on LinkedIn people like my colleagues and me would not be needed.

If I could give advice to any new recruiter today, it would be:

• Stay on the phone, use social media and LinkedIn only as second and third sources.
• Call those associations, call everyone.
• There is nothing like a personal referral.
• And keep in touch with your candidates. Most of my clients are former candidates and it makes life so much simpler.
• Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, return every single call and email.
• When you truly care about your clients’ and your candidates’ well-being, the rest will just fall into place.

I feel truly blessed to have been with such a wonderful company as Joseph Chris Partners for 15 years. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and have taken many of today’s leaders in our industries through their entire careers. We have a lot to be proud of these past 40 years. Here’s to 40 more!

Written By: Claire Spence, Executive Partner