Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger Elsa Duty. Elsa owns executive search firm Recruiting Services International (founded in 1970) that specializes in technical search globally (R&D/engineering, manufacturing, science). Elsa has been an active member of NPAworldwide for 10 years and is currently serving on the Board of Directors.
If you’re like me, you often reflect on what we do and marvel a little. The proverbial “matchmaking” game we play is thrilling, challenging, stressful, and yet extraordinarily rewarding. I feel so fortunate to learn about what some of the brightest people in their professions do; how they’ve become who they are, their climb up the corporate ladder, details of their lives that are personal, intense, heart wrenching…intimate glimpses into how they run their lives. Many of these folks have sacrificed so much, and “played the game” so well, to be the best in their field. I often think how extraordinarily different their lives are than many of ours, yet our success levels are often parallel.
The majority of recruiting firms I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know closely through NPAworldwide for the past 10 years are smaller firms with <10 employees, many even one-person firms. What I often mull over is…would I have enjoyed and thrived in Big Corporate? I’ve never been a part of interoffice mingling, lengthy board room meetings, water cooler talk…these things sound fun! (However, my German heritage and commission-based life immediately scream, “Is that an efficient use of my time??”) More than just efficiency, I think about the main reasons people tell me they are unhappy or on a job search:
Politics: My executive candidates talked about the intricacies of office politics, “the game,” how to position themselves for success, who to network with internally, and frustrations about their boss or someone limiting their ability to grow professionally. Not to say that we don’t have office politics in our recruiting firms, but we are SO fortunate that we have control over our success (owner or recruiter)! We have TOTAL control. Tell yourself that daily. Even if you have a boss; you are in control of your income, your success, your failure, your mental state.
Stability: Recruiting can be volatile and often unstable. Everyone reading this survived 2009; supposedly over 40% of recruiting firms closed their doors. Every day my boss asked me if I was going to quit. The difference is, for recruiters vs corporate folks, it’s ours to lose. No one can take it from you. The only RIF that you’ll experience is *you* deciding this is not the path you want to follow. I’ve recruited many outstanding C-level candidates that have been victim of a new CEO “cleaning house” and making a statement. Performance did not equal success. Ours does.
Work-Life Balance: I often hear my candidates speak of 1+ hour commutes each way to work. Ten hours a week. Five-hundred-plus hours a year, over 20 full DAYS a year sitting in a car. I have a 20-foot commute to my home office, so it’s hard for me to relate to this. So many key executives I recruited have made large sacrifices to benefit their families, including cross-country telecommutes for years. I admire and respect their commitment to the “corporate climb.” We are our own toughest critics. We know if we work hard, we will succeed, and if we don’t, we will sink. We are to find that balance ourselves. The pressure is there, but it’s coming from us. To me, that is the ultimate win.
There simply are so few professions as potentially lucrative as ours, that are balanced as it relates to the elements above. I still think part of me would have loved the challenges that lie in the corporate world. Recruiting is hard, intense, and not for the weak of heart. But is hugely rewarding, transcends barriers, and gives us the ultimate jurisdiction to be whomever we want to be.