It’s Opposite Day

It still feels surreal to return 25 years later and be in the front of the room teaching Recruiting & Retaining Talent to the MBAs at Kellogg School of Business, instead sitting in the back praying that I don’t get cold-called by the professor.

walking-opposite-directionThe course takes everything I’ve learned to help the students avoid making hiring mistakes, which I’m convinced is 90% of the battle in business. (Here’s the online version if you’re not in the mood for an MBA, or you already have one.)

And here’s the funny thing…

Every time we tackled a topic, a student would inevitably shoot their hand up and say “Huh? This is the opposite of what I was told as a job-seeker.”

And I’d say “Exactly!”

Recruiting isn’t job-searching. Don’t confuse the two.

In most cases, the counsel that I give to executives who want to hire Rockstars is precisely the opposite of what I tell to those same Rockstars. Some days, it’s hard to keep straight.

Hiring? Always ask compensation on the very first phone-screen, so that you don’t waste weeks falling in love with a candidate you can’t afford.

Job Searching? Never answer the compensation question. Ever.

Hiring? Never use a headhunter, except as a very last resort. Get out of the cycle of just-in-time hiring, and build your well of candidates before your thirsty.

Job Searching? Always answer the headhunter’s call… or email… or text. It never hurts to listen.

Hiring? Don’t pay much attention to resumes and LinkedIn profiles. 81% contain at least one material lie. And they should be treated as a sales brochure.

Job Searching? Obsess over your resume and LinkedIn profile. Every word, every phrase. Should be designed to entice an executive to take the meeting with you. And for gosh sakes, get a professional photo.

Hiring? Don’t pay much attention to the list of references that the candidate hands you. Instead, do Backdoor Reference checks from mutual contacts that you find on LinkedIn. That’s how you get the real skinny.

Job Searching? Have that list of references put together well before you need it. Keep track of your former managers, their mobile numbers and emails. Even if you had a rough relationship with them, now’s the time to patch things up & enlist their support. Because the smart hiring executive will track them down on LinkedIn.

And so on.

In short, never forget which side of the table you’re on.



Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman launched his recruiting career at Heidrick & Struggles and Spencer Stuart, the preeminent global executive search firms. Today, he’s Chief Talent Officer at Chicago-based Strong Suit Executive Search. Along the way, Jeff created four companies, backed by $50 million in venture capital. He currently teaches the MBA course about recruiting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and hosts the five-star Strong Suit Podcast. Jeff has been featured by Inc., Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg, and other media outlets. He holds a master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from The Wharton School.

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