In 2016, I was living in Indiana and just recently sold the company I was in. For over two years, I had a led a small manufacturing company but it required more capital to fix than what my parent company was willing to invest. I was slated to start my MBA at the Kellogg School of Management the following year so I wanted to move to Chicago to reduce the commute. Without much luck on job postings (I didn’t know how to leverage my network effectively at that time), I turned to a military recruiter to help me find a job.
And I found one, to work in a highly visible Operations role for a manufacturing company 10x larger than the one I was in. Despite my reservations with the job, he convinced me that this is an amazing opportunity and I should accept it, and he did a great job closing me on the deal. It turned out, however, that this was the worst possible cultural fit possible, and I was miserable. The politics that I was forced into (and the limited authority I was given) drained me of any desire to be the best manager I could be. Luckily, with the abrupt change of management at the top, I was let go a few months later.
I don’t blame the recruiter for finding me the role, he was doing his job. Like nearly all recruiters, he was working for the client to fill an important role for them, and was working for a finder’s fee. As you can imagine, if a company has an open position for too long, the organization is unable to function to its full capacity (imagine an Army unit missing a XO or PSG… you get it?). But unlike the military, where the culture is established and everyone generally follows the same values and principles, every entity in the private sector has its own culture and assessing cultural fit is absolutely critical.
This was what left that “bad aftertaste” following this incident. The recruiter did not have the business sense to realize that there would be a cultural mismatch between me and the role. He didn’t do his due diligence to see what my interests were and if they would be a fit with the company’s circumstances and current needs. He just pushed for a placement and got his fee… then on to the next one.
But unlike the military, where the culture is established and everyone generally follows the same values and principles, every entity in the private sector has its own culture and assessing cultural fit is absolutely critical.
So – as the job-seeker, do recruiting firms then offer any benefits to work with?
Absolutely yes! The key is to understand how to leverage a recruiter to best work for you. There are three huge benefits in working with a recruiting firm.
Recruiters give you access directly with the company and job. You are no longer just a resume waiting to be sorted and (hopefully) selected for an interview. They are often-times very knowledgeable about a specific sect of business/industry and directly connect you with the hiring manager.
Recruiters already have a close relationship with the employer, and should know what they are looking for in an potential employee. Use them as a resource and ask them about the company, its leadership and its culture: Do they value their people? Are decisions made quickly or require lots of input from other decision makers? Does the company respect its people, customers, and even vendors?
Recruiters know what the compensation range is for an open role. Instead of “guess-timating” how much a job pays, like on an anonymous job board, recruiters can tell you exactly the compensation ranges for the role help you figure out if it job is worth pursuing.
To best leverage recruiters for your next dream job, you should first know what you want. Take some time to evaluate your strengths and interests; talk to people and gain different perspectives in various industries. Then, get to know recruiters in those fields and form relationships. In fact, get to know several. Be on their radar as someone who’s looking for a specific type of role, whether it’s industry, position, or geography. Have them remember you if they come across a Director of Operation role for a distribution business that pays between $140-160K. Don’t fear recruiters. Engage!
Get to know recruiters in those fields and form relationships. In fact, get to know several.
MilSpec Capital is a boutique professional development and placement firm that places High Impact Veterans into mid-to-senior level career opportunities in Operations or Finance. We actively seek and vet candidates who have already transitioned from the military, and who have gained ample experience and success in the private sector as an effective leader. Our focus is finding the right Veteran candidate for the role, with a priority placed on determining cultural fit.