My first year in Executive Search

I made it! Happy Anniversary to me! I transitioned into a new career one year ago. The symbol for a first anniversary is paper, so I’m putting pen to paper to share some reflections. Things I’ve discovered about me, about the industry I chose to transition to, and about the stakeholders I engage with, in particular the candidates.

Self Discovery

I had always thought I could hold a conversation with anyone – and I’ve discovered, even after having hours and hours of conversations in a day, I can still find the energy and enthusiasm for one more. I guess I am a curious cat who gets energy from engaging with others.

One thing did surprise me: just how difficult some conversations were. The ones where I had to reluctantly share not-so-positive news. I naively anticipated I would develop a Teflon shell and not let the candidate’s disappointment flow through to me. Turns out my shell is make of a highly porous natural fibre called, skin. Totally permeable. It sucks.

At my age, transitioning to a new career, learning to do what my colleagues have been doing for years and years, has left me feeling somewhat in the dark. But with super amazing supportive colleagues, I have found a certain comfort with that uncomfortableness.

It’s been such a great year of transitioning and learning. Thanks to all who have made it possible, including my extraordinary colleagues, amazing clients and phenomenal candidates.

The Executive Search/Recruitment Industry

I have come to discover and appreciate the immense value that a search process provides. A client gives us a box to work in and we provide candidates very close to the inside edges of the box – or sometime just outside of the box. It is a great feeling when a client is delighted by your candidates who are not the usual suspects.

They say that all organisations today are essentially data organisations. You may think that Starbucks is a café, but in fact it’s an organisation that collects all sorts of data and leverages that data. So too is the search firm. It collects incredible data about values, motives, salaries and brand perceptions. While we are certainly discreet in what we share, it holds immense value for our contributions to every assignment.

Another value point that I have come to discover and appreciate is how we take responsibility for representing the client and their brand. This plays out especially loud when it comes to relaying bad news to candidates. What a great thing to outsource! And while I have already established that those conversations are difficult and don’t get easier, we at least do it in a compassionate way. And its lovely when we are able to offer candidates other opportunities that turn out to be even better for them!

The Candidates

Candidates – more often than I could have imagined – are doing themselves a disservice by neglecting key things. Relaying a compelling story is a key tactic that is so often overlooked. In a highly competitive market, the ability to authentically convey why you want a role can be the difference in success and just missing out. So please, convince me!

Another thing that has surprised me is that some candidates will send a resume without calling me to find out more about the opportunity or at least to pitch themselves firmly on my radar. My number is listed for a reason. Please call me!

The other thing I wasn’t prepared for was how even the most senior Executives sometimes need interview coaching. But I understand their outer layer is indeed porous, like mine, and attached to nerves, so I get it. And I like to think that I help with their preparation.

As I enter my second year in Executive Search, I look forward to continuing to build on the partnerships I have established with amazing clients and candidates. I can be contacted at or +61 3 9016 6000 and would love to hear from you.