C-Suite Hiring Trends for 2016
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Episode 50 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth Igniters Radio, Episode 50 − C-Suite Hiring Trends for 2016. This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated, enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at Www.BusinessAdvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks Chris. I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated, and with me is my business partner and husband, Scott Harper. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi Pam, and Happy New Year. Once again, I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to join you for yet another episode of Growth Igniters Radio, and if this is your first time listening out there, our purpose is to spark new insights, inspiration and immediately useful ideas for leaders to take themselves and their companies to their next level of success. So Pam, what are we talking about today?
Pam Harper: Emerging trends that will be affecting hiring in the C-Suite in 2016.
Scott Harper: All right.
Pam Harper: This is whether you’re looking to take on your competitors in the war for top talent, or are yourself looking to advance into new opportunities. As with all things in business, C-Suite positions are subject to the trends that ebb and flow. For instance, back last summer in episode 20, Peter Gleason, President of the National Association of Corporate Directors, told us that one of the big trends was the rising need for CEOs and other C-Suite executives to work more collaboratively and strategically with the board, given all of the disruptions in the marketplace − whether they’re environmental, geopolitical or technology related. Naturally, as we’re moving into 2016, we want to tune in to what the new trends are − and not just the big ones that hit you over the head, but the small ones that are just starting to sprout and could have big impact in the future.
Scott Harper: That sneak up on us…
Pam Harper: That’s right.
Scott Harper: Yeah.
Pam Harper: That’s why we’re so happy to bring back Jane Howze, Founder and Managing Director of the Alexander Group, a leader in top level executive search. For those of you who are listening for the first time, Jane has more than 30 years experience in executive search and has recruited top executives worldwide in a variety of industries. You can see Jane’s complete bio by going to GrowthIgnitersRadio.com and selecting episode 50. We’ll also of course have links to some of Jane’s other episodes over the past year. Jane, welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio.
Jane Howze: Good morning, Scott. Good morning, Pam. It’s so wonderful to be back with both of you, and Happy New Year.
Pam Harper: Happy New Year. Of course, it just seem so logical to bring you back. I mean, we’re coming into this great year, and talent acquisition obviously is still a strong issue for so many companies, right?
Jane Howze: It is indeed, and you know I’m going to pull out my crystal ball here. I think that for every company always, talent management − who do you recruit, how do you invest in your senior management team, what is their roadmap for growth − that’s the backdrop against which we work. I think that this year, there are going to be some little quirks and nuances that will make this year very memorable.
Pam Harper: This sounds good. Tell us about one that seems to be really heating up now.
Jane Howze: Before I talk about heating up, let me give you a little some of my thoughts. Actually, I think this year is starting off a little bit cautionary. Where last year I spoke to groups and said, “Hold on to your hats. It’s going to be a good year for the economy − a booming year for hiring,” this year, because of several factors − it’s a presidential election year so there’s sense of change, moving from one chapter to another. In the business world, there’s a lot of things going on internationally with the Asian economy that I think will have some ripple effects. Of course, close to my own hometown Houston, we have oil at $30 something a barrel, which no one really would have predicted and that’s causing a little bit of slowdown, a little bit of caution. Do we put off hiring these C-Suite executives until we see what’s going to happen? Any time you have contraction, you have people pulling back, you have opportunities for other companies.
To come back around to your question, I think for companies that are entrepreneurial, that are rapidly growing, have cash and are not particularly leveraged, there are some wonderful opportunities here to capitalize on some of the slowdown in some industries − to really look at your executive team, look at your management team. Are there places you can grow? Where can you be opportunistic? That’s really a lot of what I’m seeing and what I’m telling our clients.
Scott Harper: It’s like buying stocks in a down market − if you have cash, it’s a good time to get bargains.
Jane Howze: Exactly. Scott, just leading off of that, we see a lot of private equity firms acquiring rapidly growing companies. We see them looking at the management teams − do we have the right team in place? Most of the time, they come in with the idea of acquiring the company and the management team, but we see a lot of movement in that industry and within those portfolio companies as well.
The other thing obviously is what someone asked me yesterday − “What are the hot industries?” I said, “Well, one of the industries that is going to be the hottest is probably one of the oldest industries, and that is the gun industry.” With all the discussion going on, that industry − pardon the pun − is on fire and booming.
Pam Harper: Yes.
Jane Howze: Secondly, there’s one of the newest industries that is also booming, and that is the marijuana industry. Pardon the other pun − please forgive me − but it’s smoking hot.
Pam Harper: You are on fire.
Jane Howze: I know. I’m so sorry.
Scott Harper: It’s getting higher, huh?
Jane Howze: I hope people don’t disconnect with the bad puns. Old industry, new industry − very, very hot now, as it were. In between that are a lot of industries, Scott that you’re right − where you can be opportunistic. It is the time to look at your management team? Are there places I can upgrade? Are there people who are pretty close to retiring that maybe we can retire and take as an opportunity to upgrade in the caution of the resonance of the economy now.
Scott Harper: Okay. Is this trend hitting differently at different size companies? Is it more hitting the larger companies?
Jane Howze: I think my feeling is that you are going to see more movement with medium sized companies. I think many of the large companies − and I can talk about a little bit in detail − I think larger companies are going to be hiring for specialized positions. For example, financial institutions, you’re going to see a tremendous demand for compliance people. You’re going to see a lot of demands for senior lenders and people tied to the guts of the business, and let’s face it, compliance is part of the guts of being in a financial institution. I think those needs of big companies you’re going to continue to see, but I think you can see a lot with medium size rapidly growing companies poaching from the larger companies.
Pam Harper: That’s something that’s distinctly different in 2016.
We’re going to take a quick break now, and when we come back, we’ll speak more with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of the Alexander Group, about emerging trends in C-Suite hiring. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You’re listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − on the web at www.BusinessAdvance.com. We enable successful companies to accelerate to their next level of innovation and success − and if you like what you’re hearing, spread the good word. Go to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com, select episode 50, and use the share links for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter at the top right of the page to tell your social media communities all about us. And while you’re there, sign up for our weekly alert of upcoming episodes so you’ll always be up to date.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper − that’s me − and Scott Harper. Scott and I are talking today with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of the Alexander Group. Jane, how can people find out more about you and the Alexander Group?
Jane Howze: Our website is www.TheAlexanderGroup.com, and we’re very active on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and almost any other social media platform you can think about.
Pam Harper: That’s true. You can also access any of Jane’s previous episodes by going to GrowthIgnitersRadio.com, Episode 50, and there are links to the Alexander Group there as well. Jane, let’s get back to our conversation. We left off that 2016 is a different kind of year. It has a lot to do with many trends in industry, and a lot of the political trends, it sounds like. Can you tell us − are there difference perhaps in the types of qualifications [companies will be looking for]? You started to talk about that, but are companies being more selective? Are they taking risks in terms of types of candidates and some of the new expertise that hasn’t existed before?
Jane Howze: We talked in one of our previous episodes about what are some new positions and how are the titles of such positions changing, and I think you’re going to continue to see that. The pharmaceutical industry, for example − they’re going to be continuing to focus on innovation, on partnerships, on different ways to bring drugs to the market faster and in collaboration with other partners. I think another trends you’re also going to see is the business-to-business service industry outsourcing. A lot of companies are starting to outsource facilities, outsource IT, which is certainly not new, but also outsource human resources. I think companies that provide outsourced services to other businesses − I think that’s going to be a booming industry this year. I think you’ll see people [needed here,] and these are industries that maybe didn’t even exist 30 years ago.
Pam Harper: True.
Jane Howze: How do you find these types of people? Because there aren’t going to be that many people who have that type of experience, so how do you find these types of people? What other industries will they come from? I think there’s a lot of opportunities if you’re someone looking. I think there will be opportunities this year even though the general vibe is more cautiousness. If you’re hiring − seeking to hire these different kinds of people this year, I think this is a really good time as some of the larger Fortune 100 companies are slowing down somewhat. There’s a great chance to recruit talent from them.
Scott Harper: Jane, you’re talking about outsourcing non-essential functions. Another thing we’ve seen changing is companies, especially companies that have been accustomed to bricks and mortar − retailing for instance − are being really challenged by movement to other types of business interfaces. Do you see that affecting what executives may need to have in their quiver to be really attractive?
Jane Howze: Scott, we have talked in the past, and I’ve said every executive needs to understand the levers of social media. I will say also that companies need to understand also how to use social media. I think the companies that don’t have social media are moving towards that. You look in the retailing world, which is a great question because a lot of the retailers who have not moved beyond bricks and mortar are being hammered because their competitors are. You look at these companies and go, do they have people? Do they have someone who understands how social media’s a great way to talk to their customers, their clients? I think if you’re a marketing person and you have the social media piece, you have e-commerce piece, that’s a very marketable skill set, and its only going to become more so.
Another industry I want to just bring up that we’re seeing a lot of movement in, even though the economy is cautious right now, is law firms. Large mega law firms are looking outside to hire people to help run their organizations. You’ve had a huge compression through mergers and combinations of law firms so you have many law firms now with well-over 2 and 3 billion dollars of revenue, and that’s a big company. Who is running these law firms? Yes, you have partners running them, but they’re increasingly looking to, say a marketing executive from consumer products or from financial services to create a global marketing strategy.
Pam Harper: That’s a huge mindset change.
Jane Howze: Yes. We’re seeing this happen quite a bit with our law firm clients. We’re doing a lot of CFO, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Diversity Officer for law firms as they become more global and function like global companies.
Pam Harper: This is interesting, because there’s a war out there for top talent. You’re talking about needle in a haystack people in one sense, and more opportunities as you’re talking about these law firms for instance that are also competing for the attention of somebody who could go say to a consumer product company or somewhere else. How can companies of all types stay current so that they’re more likely to win the competition [for talent] in this case?
Jane Howze: That’s a really great question. I see that the talent acquisition process starts at the top, where it’s not just human resources function, it’s not talent acquisition’s function to focus on where we should be looking. What trends should we look in? I think it starts at the CEO on down.
Pam Harper: Agreed.
Jane Howze: Every executive, as part of the way he or she is evaluated, emphasis should be on how well they hire. Do they hire people who stay with the organization a long time? Do they hire people who have a great growth trajectory? Do they hire for the future or do they hire for the past? That’s what I tell our clients. Make hiring − and good hiring − part of your company culture and how every C-Suite executive is evaluated.
Pam Harper: That’s excellent advice. Another thing I’m wondering about is you were mentioning earlier that companies are being more cautious, and I’ve heard and seen a number of situations where companies were very slow to make the decision as part of that cautiousness. How does that impact on this war for top talent? I mean, could the top talent then go somewhere else?
Jane Howze: That is the question, isn’t it? Because on one hand, you value a thorough vetting process and the other things that go with that. On the other hand, if you take too long, you aren’t nimble, you are not opportunistic and you’re not capitalizing on [the moment] − the saying is the quick in the dead, time waits for no one − it doesn’t work in your favor usually. What I tell medium-size companies, is you’ve got to be nimble but you’ve got to have a good process so you don’t make mistakes. One of the things I counsel companies is look back to the past, what hires have worked well? How did you find these? Were they referrals? Were they from a search firm? If they’re from a search firm, were they a specific search firm? If so, analyze where you’ve been, so in this time of caution where some companies are being overly cautious, you can capitalize on their cautiousness by having a process, having a commitment and having the need and the vision of what you’re seeking.
Pam Harper: Absolutely. All sound advice.
We’re going to take another quick break now, and when we come back, we’ll talk more with Jane Howze, Managing Director of the Alexander Group about some immediately useful ideas for leveraging new trends in C-Suite hiring. Stay with us…
Pam Harper: Well, we’re into 2016, and as we approach the first anniversary of Growth Igniters Radio, Scott and I want to thank you for being part of our community. This has been a wonderful learning experience for us, and we want to hear from you about the value you’ve been getting from what we’ve been producing every Wednesdays since February of 2015. Go to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com and click “Contact Us” at the bottom of the page. Along those lines, do you have an idea for a guest you’d like to learn from in the coming year? We’re always on the lookout for more best-selling book authors and innovative CEOs of successful companies. Again, go to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com, click “Contact Us” at the bottom of the page and we’ll get back to you to follow up.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last 2 segments, Scott and I have been talking with Jane Howze, Managing Director and Founder of the Alexander Group about emerging trends that will be influencing C-Suite hiring in 2016. Jane, how can people find out more about you and the Alexander Group? Can you remind us?
Jane Howze: Yes. We’re on the website at www.AlexanderGroup.com. We’re also on LinkedIn, Facebook, and we post a weekly blog to both of those sites which talk about hiring trends, career advice trends, those types of things. You can find us also on Twitter and I think almost every other social media platform.
Pam Harper: Okay. Let’s get back to our conversation. You’ve done enough of these episodes with us that you know that the third segment of Growth Igniters Radio is dedicated to the immediately actionable idea, the concrete kinds of steps that somebody could take to bring some big ideas to action. We’ve talked about the fact that companies are going to have to do some things differently in order to bring in the right talent in the right way. Now let’s talk about people out there who’ve resolved that they’re going to be upping their career game in 2016. They’re going to go out for that C-Suite position or CEO position or a board position even. What are some things that they can do?
Jane Howze: Okay. The advice I would give for somebody looking to move in a C-Suite is the same advice I would give to somebody who is already in a C-Suite, and that is, every year, start off the year by assessing. If you’re someone who is a broadly mobile − thinks you may want to move up − assess your strengths, assess your current state. What have you learned? What do you need to learn? Maybe you need to have international experience, or maybe you need to have some other piece in your resume that you don’t have. Resolve that this will be the year you will try and get that.
Pam Harper: Improving your resume…
Jane Howze: Yes. Exactly. Well, in looking at it internally, before you do it externally. Look at your resume. Evaluate. What do I need to have? Same thing if you’re hiring people, if you’re hiring a position, look at your current team − are they good for now? Are they good for the long term? Do I need to tinker with it? Now is the good year to do both.
If you’re upwardly mobile, the second piece of advice I would tell you to do in January is look at your resume. Have somebody prepare a resume if you don’t want to do it, that’s a booming industry, the resume industry. Ask for feedback on your resume from your friends.
Third part, map a plan of attack. In every plan of attack − every upwardly mobile person usually connects with people. I would have as a small new year’s resolution, even if you aren’t looking, to have lunch with somebody you wouldn’t usually have lunch with at least once every 2 weeks. Have a phone call with somebody that you’re maybe have done business with − “What are you seeing? What is going on? I’m looking some time in the next year for my next opportunity, do you have any ideas for me?” That’s a hard thing to do because we all end up either at airports or sitting at our desk under deadlines, and it’s I think a really discipline thing to do. Just make it part of your habit, every 2 weeks you’re going to connect with somebody.
Fourthly, look at your LinkedIn profile. A lot of search firms that we’ve talked about use LinkedIn to identify candidates and we’ve written a lot of blogs about how to make sure your LinkedIn profile is in a place where you can be findable. I think that’s really important.
Pam Harper: Very much so. Jane, how can people make better decisions about which opportunities they take in 2016, because of course, it’s a two-way street. The company has to decide that they’re interested in you, but at the same time I’m sure you’ve run into people who said, “I wish I’d never taken that.” I mean, I used to speak with so many people when I was behind the desk, and they’d say, “Wow! That was a wrong opportunity − the one that I was in before.”
Jane Howze: The one thing I tell people is to look at patterns. If you’re hiring somebody, look at their patterns because people repeat patterns. Companies repeat patterns also. Look at the position. How many people have had the position before you have had the position? What is the turnover? Does the company has people who’ve been there? Executives who’ve been there a long time? Also Pam, I think one thing that people don’t really utilize is some of the websites that provide background information. Glass Door, even though a lot of it’s geared to non-C-Suite executives, you can really get a sense of the culture and how employees think of the C-Suite by digging in.
Pam Harper: That’s true.
Jane Howze: Another site to look at is Yahoo Message Boards for public companies, where you have people − a lot of them are complaining about the stock price − but you also can get some insights on the company, on the company culture as well, which I think is important. There are so many tools to do your due diligence, be you hiring or be you looking, that I think people don’t really use as much as they could.
Pam Harper: Due diligence is something to keep in mind in 2016, and perhaps always. It’s a two-way street.
Scott Harper: One of the trends that you’re highlighting, Jane is that there’s more and more and more ways to get information about companies and for companies to get information about you too.
Jane Howze: You know Scott, there is no place to hide really.
Pam Harper: Yes.
Jane Howze: It’s a great way. If you have high turnover as a company, somebody you’re recruiting is going to find it. That’s one of the reasons when we conduct searches, we do a lot of background checking on the companies so we can tell their story, and if there have been layoffs or changes or something, we try to address it in a way that we’ll give the client and the candidate both enough information about each other so that it is a win-win. Sometimes, a lot of change in a company and a lot of turnover can be a good thing. You’ve just got to have all the facts and know if it’s a good mix for your personality and your management.
Pam Harper: Being clear about what you need is as important as having the company be clear about what they need, and making it fit. This has been so valuable. Can you leave us with some last thoughts?
Jane Howze: Yes. January is a great month to plan. I know people are trying to exercise more and eat less, but it’s also a time to look at what you want to accomplish for your career and set the stage and the goals for the rest of the year.
Pam Harper: Okay. Well, thank you as always for being our guest today at Growth Igniters Radio.
Jane Howze: My pleasure.
Scott Harper: Thank you, Jane, and thanks to you out there for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To check out resources related to today’s conversation with Jane Howze, share on social media, find out about upcoming episodes or open a conversation with us, go to www.GrowthIgnitersRadio.com and select Episode 50.
Pam Harper: Until next time. This is Pam Harper…
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper…
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to think about:
Scott Harper: What 3 steps can I take now to become more aware of new trends in executive hiring to get the jump on my competition?