Are You Chasing Regret?

One of the best parts of my job is having the opportunity to speak with Professionals about what they are chasing in their careers.  I try to get candidates to take a step back from any particular position at hand, and just think what they’re really working for.  Is it to move up in position or influence? Is it to have a title that equates to a certain status level?  Is it commute?  Is it to make more money?   The more Senior the candidate I’m interviewing, the more common it is for money to be a secondary motivator.  I think if more candidates learned this lesson early, that career fulfillment would be more common.

When you really think about this, it helps you see your career field in a map that’s easier to navigate.  I’ve known several people to leave a job that they were satisfied with only because someone tempted them with a little more money.  They were always taught that if you’re staying in place, you’re basically going backwards.   I would argue that if you have the career satisfaction you need, make enough money to provide for your lifestyle, enjoy your work environment, and are respected by your leadership team, then you have something that everyone else is looking for – even if it’s not the highest paying position out there.

Keep in mind that I fully support changing jobs, I mean I am a recruiter after all!  However, before you make a move, you need to know what you’re chasing.  There’s always another job out there that will pay you more money – but that job should play into your long term goals and provide something that you’re currently missing.

If you find an opportunity that provides the influence you want, the title you’re chasing, or the work life balance that you need, don’t pass it up over a few thousand dollars.  I’ve seen this play out multiple times, and I always hear the same word repeated in hindsight – Regret.  Of course you have regret – you made a move that wasn’t congruent with your long term goals!  I can promise you that if you don’t know what you’re chasing, then the dollar signs will become your deciding factor.  Making a choice primarily motivated by money, is almost always a short term move.  Learn from the wisdom of those who have fallen into this trap.  People typically chase money one time, and then they realize what their true primary motivator is – It’s typically the part of the job that still wasn’t worth it even with the pay increase.  Figure out what this is for you.

Don’t get stuck chasing regret!

Excellence – Not just for the outliers

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day who is a leader at a company that has experienced growth from 100 to 17000 people.  He started at the beginning when the stakes were low, but has been rewarded more than he could have expected.  He has a strange ability to speak on topics in a way that can relate to multiple facets of life including both personal and business.  He started asking the question, “Have you ever seen someone who works with Excellence?”

He’s not talking about people who are the most successful contributors at your workplace or the outliers who happen to beat the odds consistently, but someone whose effort, attitude, and abilities seem to set them apart from the crowd.  You might define it as someone with the “it Factor.”

As I’ve started to pay more attention to this subject, I’ve found myself watching people.  All kinds of people; Executive Assistants who greet me when I’m waiting for a client, programmers who think I’m not watching as I walk by their desk, janitors at my church, local chick fil-a workers, even the people within my own organization.  There’s something contagious and inspiring about watching a person perform with excellence – especially when they think nobody is watching.

Is it the passion about a specific task that motivates them to work with excellence or is it just something they were pre-wired to do?  I work with professionals who are in periods of career transition, and I would be foolish to think that everyone I represent happens to be a person who portrays this idea of excellence.  That’s the hard part about interviewing!  You’re getting a snapshot of an individual who is trying their hardest to convince you that this is the energy, attitude, and overall person you will always get if you hire them – “the best version of themselves”.

The funny thing is that we all know the characteristics we’d like to portray – because it’s exactly the points you try to emphasize when you’re interviewing with a prospective company.  I would challenge you to make a list of these traits and hold yourself accountable to start demonstrating them consistently.  When you can settle for making 10 calls, make 15.  When you are comfortable running 1 mile, run 2.  When you have completed your part of the project before deadline, see where you can help a peer.  Excellence is contagious!  When you elevate your performance, don’t be surprised when other people take note and start making small changes to their behaviors.

Going to back to my friend who grew his company from 100 people to 17000 – you don’t achieve those kinds of results by demonstrating excellence in rare moments and then shrinking back to a casual/normal run-rate.  You achieve great things beyond your reach, when your performance is consistently elevated.  When my friend speaks, I listen!  He has demonstrated excellence which has made me take note.  You don’t have success like he’s had all by himself.  He made a choice to work with excellence, and elevated a team of people to do the same thing.  Imagine what you can accomplish if you choose to aim a little higher, and hold yourself accountable to the version of yourself you claim to be on an interview.



Sweatworking: A Different Kind of Networking Event

Sweatworking: A Different Kind of Networking Event


Thursday, September 17, 2015 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM (EDT)

iStaff is very excited to present the first of (hopefully) many alternative networking events. Our first event will feature a Crossfit-style workout followed an opportunity to connect with other professionals. Refreshments will be provided (and of course, they’ll be Paleo!).

The workout will be done in teams of three and will be scaled so people of all fitness levels can participate.

This event is capped at 30 participants and the cost is $10 per person. Space is limited so please sign up soon!


Please contact Merry Wiseman with questions.


A Candidate’s Market – It’s a love/hate kind of thing

I get the same question day after day, “Aren’t you guys loving this Candidate’s Market?” Ha!  If you’re up for working twice as hard for half the results, then I think a hot staffing market is the perfect combination.  It prompted me to start thinking whether a candidate market is really such a great thing for everyone as I had previously believed.

During a candidate market, companies are typically doing very well (which is a great thing), and unemployment is typically low (which is also a great thing).  How could this be bad?  Well, let’s take it one step further.  If companies are doing well, what do they require?  More talent to meet the increased demand!  As the war for talent increases, the natural play for a company is to start treating their employees better – which makes it harder for them to want to leave and explore the unknown, which nets fewer people ready to leave their current jobs.

As a staffing professional, I find that this is typically when companies are more than ready to sign up for our services.  On the surface, this sounds like a great opportunity for a staffing firm; I’ve been calling you for 2 years trying to help with your staffing needs and now you’re ready to let me prove our value.  Well, enter the conundrum that the staffing industry faces.  We are sales professional, sourcers, and negotiators; not magicians.

This is probably the most daunting scenario that I engage in, as I know that my reputation and the reputation of my firm is on the line with each job order I choose to work.  While the job opportunity is qualified and the hiring manager is motivated, the shortage of talent is real.  Even when we are successful, it typically takes twice as much work & time, and it’s rare that everything lines up perfectly.   While it’s difficult for us as the staffing firm, it’s really a scenario where everybody stands to potentially lose.  Companies are missing opportunities to advance, candidates are missing opportunities to explore what could be best-case scenario career opportunities, and everyone is waiting for the opportunity to snatch the next candidate who had a bad day at the office!

All hope is not lost.  Here’s 3 things you can do to help yourself when helps not easy to come by:

  1. Invest in the person, not the skill: A great market is an optimal time to train and invest in up-and-coming talent.  Sure, it will take longer for the employee to make an impact, but think of the long term value that employee can have towards your business, not to mention how loyal they’ll be for taking a chance on them.  Added bonus – you’ll probably save a little budget on their salary.  However, I wouldn’t recommend under paying even when you can – that has a tendency to result in someone else luring your employee away once their trained up and ready to make a contribution.
  2. Contract out the really hard to find jobs: A hot market is only temporary, but the opportunity cost for not pursuing a business opportunity could be a costly mistake. Don’t let your job stay open 180 days waiting on that “perfect” person.  Even if you only hire permanent employees and don’t like the thought of using a contractor, considering this avenue might be a great option to get the project started whether it’s laying out the architecture, helping with a migration, or coming in for temporary relief.  Once the heavy lifting is done, it’s much easier to find a mid-level employee to come in and handle the day-to-day as you’ll be able to attract that person with the opportunity to increase their responsibilities and their skillset.
  3. Consider your salary bands: I understand that budgets are a real thing and you’ve been able to get employees at a certain salary range for the last 5 years. However, just as you are seeing market opportunities like you haven’t seen in the last 5 years, you may have to adjust to the market to ensure you don’t miss out.  I’m never an advocate of “buying” talent, but I am a fan of paying market value.  If you’re worried about paying a new employee more than what your current team makes, perhaps the wise move is to hire the new employee at market rate and give their peers a market adjustment to ensure they’re not your next poached employee.  Yes, it will change your P&L and the cost of doing business might increase, but if you can service more clients, wont you potentially be able to provide more products or services to narrow the gap and then some?  As a fairly frugal person myself, My CEO is constantly reminding me to do what’s best for the business – “don’t be a penny wise and a pound foolish.”

So maybe a great staffing market isn’t the worst thing in the world and there are almost always creative options to help you capitalize on these rare opportunities, but sometimes it involves thinking around the traditional and pioneering tactics that the market demands.

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