Top-Ten Mistakes Candidates make with Search Consultants!

1) Confusing Search Consultants with Career Coaches.

Search Consultants are hired by organizations looking to add specific, strategic, and critical talent to their organizations, and are willing to guarantee compensation to the search firm for providing the process and resources to ensure a successful hire. Search consultants define strategic need, job descriptions, research strategy, conduct candidate outreach, screen prospects, present their top candidate slate, and assist the organization in selection and negotiation for a hire for one position within that one organization.

Career coaches are hired by the candidate, and work for the best interests of the candidate they are coaching in their job search. They assist with identifying the candidate’s mission, passion, life work, writing resumes, defining job search strategy, and coaching through interviews and negotiations.

2) Assuming all Search Consultants are the same.

Search Consultants either work for retained search firms or contingency recruiting firms. Retained search firms provide a process and expertise necessary to find the BEST slate of executive talent for a client’s needs. Contingency recruiters emphasize having a database of candidates already developed and are often called upon to present the FIRST candidate.

Within the retained search world, consultants can have industry and/or functional expertise and specialty. They can also be classified by their geography, executive strata, and type of clients. A Search Consultant may specialize, for example, in recruiting Marketing executives at the VP level into Midwest CPG companies owned by Private Equity firms.

3) Assuming today is the perfect time for the Search Consultant to meet me!

Most search consultants cannot meet with you whenever you want them to. Search consultants are focused on current client needs and search engagements. They remove from their focus any candidates or distractions that don’t immediately benefit their current client projects and their respective targeted candidates.

Yes, they may ultimately want to know of you, but typically don’t want to meet you for coffee this week. Get on their radar, get into their database, stay connected with them, get to know their current friends, clients, and close connections, and in time you will develop a strong working relationship with the best search consultants whom are relevant to your career.


4) If the perfect job comes up,

Search Consultants WILL find me!

No, you are NOT that famous…yet.

You need to make yourself visible to the search industry. How? By working for visible companies in visible roles. By becoming a life member of AESC’s Blue Steps database of executives. By referring good candidates to search consultants who do call you now. Join trade associations, societies, boards, write blogs, and attend trade shows.

Identify and recruit your twelve most trusted professional career-mates. Work to help each other with job references, lead sources, topical resources, etc. Arm your career board with your career objectives/goals/dreams/targeted employers, and then educate them on your current strengths, accomplishments, and a current resume. Do the same for each of them. Chances are good a search consultant will be calling them asking for referrals…and now they will find you!

5) Who needs a resume…I have a LinkedIn profile!

You have a LinkedIn Profile, but it is sparse, incomplete, and doesn’t have a picture! This is not being discreet…it is a missed opportunity! It is also poor branding, and people ARE looking at your profile if you are serious about your career.

LinkedIn profiles do not replace resumes when you are competing for a role. Admittedly, LinkedIn is getting better at reporting out your data in what looks like a resume, but go the extra effort and have multiple versions of your resume ready to represent you when the consultant calls.

6) Photos don’t matter much

to search consultants.

Photos do matter in this age of social media, so don’t just crop yourself out of a group photo, wedding picture, or with your arm around your date. Today,professional head shots are affordable and available…and appreciated!

I suggest to candidates that they at least take a photo on their smart phones, in an outdoor setting, with your body at an angle and your face straight on to the camera. Best is in indirect sunlight with no shadows on your face. Greenery in the background is preferred.

Photos are a reflection of your brand. What is your career worth? Let your photo reflect how seriously you take your brand.


7) It’s okay to shoot the messenger.

Didn’t get the interview or the offer? Don’t shoot the search consultant! Don’t brood, pull back, or go silent because you missed a goal or experienced a gap in expectations with the search consultant.

Instead, communicate, ask for feedback, think on how to use that feedback constructively, and then thank the Consultant.

Ask these three questions:

What could we have done better?

What did we do well?

What didn’t we do, that we should do next time?

You and your search consultant are a team. You select opportunities together, fight for your career options together, and close deals for your career success together. You get strong together and that yields you a stronger career advocate.

8) Branding…Who needs it!

The most valuable tool in enhancing your career and your earning potential…is your Brand.

Take responsibility for arming your search consultant with branding tools, marketing support, references, executive assessments, and specific information that will assist them in understanding who you are, what solutions you bring to their clients, and then arm them to represent you to their client.

Make Time for the Search Firm. Stick to your commitments. Be swift and responsive. Make this part of your brand, too.

9) I can do my own thinking.

Not sharing your thought process with the search consultant, and thus not allowing them to inform you as needed, is short sighted. If you know where you are going and have shared those plans/goals/aspirations with your search consultant, then be confident in communications with your search consultant.

Be open, informative, transparent, and open-minded. No surprises. Be willing to learn together and improve together. You and your search consultant share the goal of creating the best outcome from each search project, both for the client and for you.

Also, be timely in your communications and responses. Time matters in executive search projects and candidate-consultant-client communications.

Strengthen your brand with the search consultant through timely and full communications. You’ll feel the partnership grow.

10) Ghosting is the new normal!

Maybe this is acceptable behavior in today’s dating scene, but not in the work place. Follow through and communicate frequently with your search consultant. Don’t disappear like a ghost.Leaving a Consultant hanging, whether for a phone call, interview, or worse yet, an offer, is unacceptable behavior and grounds for being “blacklisted” by the search consultant and possibly their whole firm. Keep your commitments and your reputation…and your search consultant’s.

Professional executives always follow through on their commitments and can be counted on…they do not become invisible. Behave the way you would on the job, as that is the experience the search consultant will share about you with others. The way you work with your search consultant will reveal and build your Brand, your most valuable career asset.


I hope this list of Top Ten Mistakes when working with a retained search consultant is helpful to you in your career development. We wish you unlimited success and satisfaction!






What do you say when you address the #1 MBA program in the world?

I had an amazing opportunity to be part on a panel for the Executive MBA program with INSEAD in partnership with the Wharton School. 52 MBA students from around the world…with lots of questions on how to work with retained search firms and manage their executive careers. Impressed with INSEAD’s global programming, and with my fellow panelists! Kate Bullis, Eouard Murat, and Sara Van Dyck. Thanks to Stella Mandehou for her expert facilitation.

Insead is a global educational institution with a pioneering multi-campus model, our mission is to create an open-minded learning environment that brings together people, cultures and ideas from around the world, in order to transform individuals and organizations through business education. Through teaching, we develop responsible, thoughtful leaders and entrepreneurs who create value for their organizations and their communities. Through research, we expand the frontiers of knowledge and influence business practice.

Click this HERE and find out about INSEAD’s rankings, awards, and achievements.

“Today I will make the conscious effort to GET IT RIGHT, rather than to be right.” 


In his post, Robert Glazer reminds us of President Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to getting it right, over being right.  When was the last time you had to choose between these two concepts?  As leaders, we have to overcome the urge to be right, and be willing to get uncomfortable with debate and opposing opinions in order to get the full facts…and then make the right decisions.

“Today I will make the conscious effort to GET IT RIGHT, rather than to be right.” 

Sharing Robert Glazer’s article posted 9/14/18.

Entrepreneur, Best-Selling Author and Speaker | Founder & CEO @ Acceleration Partners

Want to read the article?

Click here.

On the Eve of Success…Thank your Coaches.

As I train for the San Francisco Half Marathon, and think about tomorrow’s race, I reflect on my training program and the influence of my coaches.  They have nurtured and expanded my dreams and goals, shared knowledge that allowed me to succeed in my training and racing, kept me going when times were dark, and pushed me when I didn’t think I could perform at the level they expected.

It is the last part that amazes me the most.  Left to my thoughts and plans, I would never have set such ambitious workout plans. I just didn’t think I could do them.  Many days I couldn’t…I was right.  (And days when I was overjoyed when my schedule read “Rest Day!”) Yet, there were days when I did reach their expectations of me, and I was astounded and proud of myself for my workout accomplishment. Who knew?!

Similarly, when I ran for a Board seat of my local Homeowner’s association, it was the encouragement, support, and guidance of my mentors that got me elected…and then appointed Board President.  I would not have set such goals or achieved those successes by myself.  I must thank my mentors and coaches for my success.

In my retained executive search practice, I find that nearly 100% of CFOs and CEOs with whom I work have had great career coaches and mentors.

The message to share here today is two-fold.

First, recruit and develop your own coaches as soon as you envision a goal for yourself…or as soon as you identify a passion and need to set goals. This includes your career goals as well.

Second, listen to your coaches when they believe in you more than you believe in yourself.  Then, thank your coaches when you are on the eve of your success.  We couldn’t have gotten as far without them!

PS: Based on my training success, I’m resetting my goal for tomorrow’s race.  Now I hope to place Top Three in my age group in the S.F. Half Marathon!

Results will be shared in my next blog post.  Stay tuned…

Freedom isn’t Free


We often hear the adage, especially from our military servicemen and women, or our First-Responders, “Freedom isn’t Free!”  Here, FDR gives us another angle: “…it must be earned.”  Just like leadership cannot be given away, it must be taken away, freedom and leadership both must be earned.  What have I done today, to earn my freedom and leadership?



Sonoma & Napa County Wildfires: Stanton Chase Raises $10,000 for Victims

While Napa and Sonoma Counties have gained notoriety around the globe for their outstanding wines, they recently were in the news for their destructive wildfires.  High winds and dry vegetation and hilly terrain all combined to create a fire storm that raced overnight through parks, vineyards, homes, businesses, hotels, and stores.  Tens of thousands were evacuated in the dead of night in the nicest of neighborhoods.

Wildfires came perilously close to Sonoma’s Scribe Winery, but CalFire crews held the flames back and the winery is still standing.

The fires burned over 5,000 homes, 210,000 acres, hundreds of businesses, and took over 40 lives.  Thick smoke and ashes blocked sunlight around the Bay Area for many days.  Thousands remain displaced today, and face the grim reality of having lost all their possessions and in need of rebuilding their homes.

Stanton Chase – San Francisco came together as a team to respond to this tragedy.  In addition to the many volunteers who served the evacuees in make-shift shelters, money needed to be raised to immediately get people back on their feet.  Our team wanted to help, so we set a goal to raise $10,000 for fire victims.  Within a few days we donated our first check for $8,500 to Brett Martinez, CEO of the Redwood Credit Union and spokesperson for the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.  We recently donated the balance of our $10,000 goal.

Brett Martinez, CEO of Redwood Credit Union (RCU) receiving check from Paul Herrerias.

We are proud to report due our underwriting of all fund-raising fees, selection of the best online tools, and generous donation distribution partners, that 100% of the funds from our donors went to the victims of these fires.  With our research team’s skills, our network in the community, and everyone’s caring and generosity, we came together as ordinary people but were able to accomplish an extraordinary act of support.

The slogans ”Sonoma Strong” and ”Love is Thicker than Smoke” will remain in our minds and hearts for many years to come.

Judy James, Chair of Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and Board Member- RCU, receiving latest check from Stanton Chase for North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

Side note: Just days before the fires broke out our team was selected to conduct the search for CEO for the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce.  This new leader will have the opportunity to help Santa Rosa and Sonoma County to rebuild from the worst natural disaster since the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.

To contribute to our ongoing fund-raising efforts:

For photos and a chronicle of our efforts to keep our network informed of the fires, see my personal Facebook page. 

To read details of fire unfolding from Chamber Board Chair, Judy James:

Fountaingrove Golf Clubhouse devastated by fire.

Charred statues all that remain of destroyed business.








Stanton Chase – San Francisco meets Brett Martinez and Judy James. Our team pledged to raise $10,000.

Happy Independence Day! 

We often hear this proclamation, but what does it mean to us today? For business leaders, it has special meaning. “This is America!” Where we can become anyone we want to be, and work in any career we choose. We are not told what to study, which fields to work in, or which employer to work for. Leaders know this freedom can be both a blessing and a challenge when building a business.
Being able to lead a business is a blessing, and we thank our forefathers and our previous generations for this gift of opportunity. We also know that it was a choice on our part to pursue our careers and ambitions. Our challenge is in the reality that our teammates have this same choice…same freedom of thought and career commitment.  They can be totally committed, or they can leave our team at any time.
Business leaders need the commitment of our teammates and followers to be able to pursue our dreams and goals of building our enterprises. They have the same free will as we do, and chose to commit to our team. We must give them good reason to join us, and stay with us, on our journey. They have the same independence of choice given all of us in this country, and all free countries of the world.
So on this Independence Day, let’s reflect on the gift of career choice, and, as business leaders, earn our teammates’ commitment for another year.