Opening the Door to an Executive Recruiter

Are you open to a new opportunity? If so, you are in the right place.  

This blog will equip you with actionable tips to help find your next rewarding career opportunity while highlighting the advantages of partnering with an executive recruiter in your hunt.    

Regardless of your situation, you may feel a bit discouraged in your job search. You’re not alone. Nationally, the hiring process has taken a lot longer than usual, with many leadership roles being put on hold midstream until organizations can confidently get through COVID-related challenges.

The good news is the economy is beginning to thaw; it’s just a little slower than we all hoped. But fear not, there WILL be another leadership position coming your way, and a great tip to speed up the job-seeking process is to work with an executive recruiter.

Why Work With an Executive Recruiter?

As a job seeker, there’s a variety of reasons why working with a seasoned recruiter can help streamline and improve your job search, but for the sake of time, we’ll cover two of the greatest benefits: 

  • Broadens Your Network – Very few professionals have a network as vast and as well-connected as a recruiter. Working with a recruiter opens the door to their massive network, giving you a competitive hiring advantage.
  • Partner For Your Job Search – Your recruiter is your hiring ally. They have your best interests in mind and genuinely want to help prepare you with details about the company, role and leadership team.  

What Type of Executive Recruiter Should I Work With: Retained or Contingent?

Understanding the difference between working with a retained recruiter and a contingent recruiter is vital to determine which is best for your unique situation.  

  • Retained Recruiter – A retained recruiter works on an exclusive basis for a client. They typically have a close relationship with the employer and know the culture, the history, and the leadership team. They are focused on finding the right combination of education, skills, leadership style, and contribution to their client’s culture. 
  • Contingent Recruiter – Contingent recruiters are typically generalists who work with various industries and types of positions. They do not often have an exclusive relationship with the employer; the employer only pays the contingent firm once they place a candidate. 

It’s important to note that employers often have relationships with both. In general, contingent recruiters are best at filling junior-level roles and are willing to market your resume to multiple potential employers. Retained recruiters are better suited for senior-level leadership positions that often require a particular skill set. Many of their roles are critical hires, confidential or immediate needs.  

Job Hunting Tips From Our Top Recruiters

With a combined fifty years of experience connecting job seekers to meaningful employment opportunities, the team at Curtis Food Recruiters put their heads together to develop five tips that will help you land your next role faster. 

Get Active in Your Network

It’s easy to take your network for granted while you’re gainfully employed. You might attend an occasional conference, belong to a professional association or have colleagues that you network with, but for the most part, you’re busy with life and work. It is important to continually refresh both professional and networking relationships.  

While 2020 has presented some unique challenges in networking, it’s a great time to pick up the phone and reach out to colleagues you have worked with in the past. People are willing to have those conversations now more than ever. It’s a great way to stay on someone’s radar. 

Additionally, you’d be surprised how many professional organizations are hosting virtual meetings. Be sure to engage in those meetings and aim to be an active participant – it certainly can’t hurt!

Get Social

Take time to be active on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. This shows prospective employers that you are a thought leader. Write engaging posts, share interests, and interact (liking, commenting, and sharing) with potential employers. Ensure that your social media profile is exactly how you want to present yourself. Consider taking down pictures or posts that do not represent you in a professional way.

Keywords and Key Phrases 

Take a look at your online profiles (LinkedIn, Monster, etc.) and determine what keywords and key phrases a potential employer is using as search terms. To start, review the job descriptions for any positions that you’re interested in. Write down as many keywords and phrases that seem relevant to your next role. 

Now that you have your list, spend some time thinking (and writing down) experiences that you have had. Challenging problems you have solved. Outstanding successes you have had in current/past employers. Write 2-3 sentences that describe the type of position you are most qualified for, and then add the keywords and phrases that are relevant. Adding concrete data and real numbers is a huge advantage, if possible (i.e. “Grew manufacturing sales by 15%”).  

Flexible Resumes

Keeping your resume flexible and making sure it is specifically tailored to the role you’re interested in is critical. There’s nothing that says, “average” to a potential employer more than having a generic resume. Take time to customize your resume for each job application you send. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; simply updating job descriptions and experiences accurately to reflect the relevant position is a great way to show your interest.

Interviewing

You’re likely to have interviews, but they may look a little different. Video interviewing is pretty much industry standard right now, so be sure to have a decent internet connection and proper attire. It’s also incredibly vital to embrace the importance of listening and not over-sharing. Practice and be prepared to speak to all aspects of your career that make you stand out, and be able to explain how those experiences will make you successful in the role you are interviewing for. After the interview, be sure to follow up with a thank you, and if you don’t end up getting the job, ask for feedback – positive and critical. Accept rejection gracefully. 

Using one or all of these tips will certainly help you get ahead. Here’s the bottom line: reach out and connect with people. You never know who knows someone looking for your exact background, expertise and personality. Your recruiting partner is your best advocate, so when in doubt, reach out. Good luck!  

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you. 

Recruiting Diverse Talent in the Food Industry: Strategies for Success

Just over 50 percent of food industry professionals are racially diverse, making the food industry the most diverse workforce in the nation. 

However, it has an unpleasant truth. 

That unpleasant truth is the massive representation gap in senior leadership positions. 

As a woman-owned executive search firm specializing in placing talent in the food and beverage industry, we pride ourselves on our track record of over half of Curtis Foods Recruiter’s placements are people of color and females.

This blog aims to share with you five strategies we have learned over 14 years in business to help food and consumer packaged goods leaders hire diverse talent. 

Remove Unconscious Bias 

Before actively recruiting for executive diverse talent, it’s extremely important to understand unconscious bias.  

What is Unconscious Bias?  

Research has uncovered that as humans, we use different sections of our brains to process interactions with people who are similar to us compared with people who are different. Upon first glance of someone different, we have an unconscious tendency to judge them based on stereotypes, appearance, skills and ultimately, whether they should be hired or interviewed.

It’s important to note that experiencing unconscious bias doesn’t make you a bad person. Even the best-intended individuals go through unconscious biases on a regular basis all without ever knowing it.  

How to Reduce it 

Tackling this invisible barrier is not something that occurs overnight, it takes time, practice, and the right tools. The first step to reducing unconscious bias is to recognize when it happens. We strongly recommend reading any or all of these 11 Must-Read Books on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to help. 

In addition, there are several strategies you can deploy now to limit unconscious bias in your recruiting efforts. 

Ensure Your Job Descriptions are not Deterring People from Different Groups from Applying

Determine what aspects of the role are required and what aspects others can bring to the role. Is a bachelor’s degree truly required to be successful in this role? Could prior experiences determine this person’s ability to be successful in the job? Be clear in the job posting which requirements are critical and which are a plus – women are often deterred from applying for a role if they don’t meet all requirements in the job posting.  

Be Strategic with Your Interviewing 

When interviewing, ensure that there are rubrics established for the interviewers to evaluate the candidates against the requirements of the role. Be able to quantify intangibles that come out of the meeting so they can be measured equitably. 

Cultural Competence  

Be aware that some traits may be valued more than others, and some may be misinterpreted (such as eye contact, expressiveness, and close communication for example). Be prepared to ask more questions if the hiring manager doesn’t want to move forward with a candidate to determine exactly what their hesitations may be.

Leverage Sourcing Tools  

Harness the power of an artificial intelligence sourcing tool to intelligently remove unconscious bias so your team can have a bias-free candidate pool. 

Aim for Half of Your Candidates to be Diverse  

The golden rule of recruiting is to simply hire the best possible candidate regardless of race, orientation, gender, and ethnicity.  

The biggest obstacle to achieving this is often when diversity is not represented in the candidate pool. To prevent this, we found that having a goal of at least 50 percent of candidates being from diverse backgrounds is critical to ensure you’re getting the best possible candidate. In our experience, more than half of the time the final candidate happens to be diverse and the best cultural contribution. 

Get Creative with Your Recruiting  

Searching for qualified, leadership-level diverse talent may seem extremely difficult at first, but in reality, it just takes a little creativity and strategy. Here are a few tips collected from our team to help you find your next qualified diverse candidate.  

Network with Diversity Groups 

Join diversity and inclusion LinkedIn groups, attend conferences that attract diverse crowds or cover diverse subjects, and start having meaningful conversations across various networking channels. Here are a few groups we recommend staying in contact with: 

If you’re not having any luck, explore unconventional routes like Reddit, volunteer work, and even community events. 

Ask 

Perhaps the best way to find, engage, and ultimately attract high-level diverse talent is to ask them first-hand where they spend their time. Interview diverse employees, families, and friends to see where they go online and how you could better reach them. Odds are good they would be more than happy to help you on your mission to hire more diverse people. In addition, referrals from diverse hires or employees tend to be more diverse.

Campus Recruiting / Career Fairs 

Attend career fairs in diverse neighborhoods to better connect with the community. Explore campus recruiting programs as a source of talent to build a leadership pipeline for the future.  Even better, offer scholarships and internships to diverse communities as a way to signal your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Partner with a Search Firm 

Some of the industry’s largest and most qualified diverse talent pools are generally located within the database of recruiting agencies and search firms. Many businesses looking to build up their diverse workforce often partner with search firms to find, vet, and hire diverse talent.  

Consider Relocation 

Another obstacle that plagues most hiring managers looking to bring on diverse executives is recruiting in areas with homogeneous demographics.  

We totally get it, there are definitely many areas throughout the nation with a low percentage of diverse citizens. To help combat this, we often encourage candidates to look outside their comfort zone and consider a new adventure in a new city. Additionally, with COVID-19, many jobs are now able to be remote, which greatly widens the search.  

Champion a Culture of Inclusion 

Diversity and inclusion are one of the top three priorities for nearly every business in 2020 but it’s so much more than just hitting D&I numbers and goals, it’s about building a culture with a foundation of inclusion. When senior leadership is motivated by constructing a culture that is focused on diversity of thought, that is when the door can be open to a more inclusive culture. After all, only 55 percent of global employees feel that their employers were making efforts to build a more inclusive culture.  

Leaders need to be a part of the conversation and take active steps to help the entire organization understand and leverage everyone’s differences. Here’s a few examples of tangible ways your business can build a foundation of inclusion that will attract top-tier diverse talent.  

  • Design a mentorship program that encourages and helps grow women and diverse employees within the organization. 
  • Establish a diversity and inclusion committee that makes sure everyone feels included in the conversation.  
  • Survey employees and ask how your company can better build out a diversity and inclusion foundation. Be prepared to enact changes to meet the employee’s needs. 
  • Clearly define the values of your organization and ensure leaders are accountable to upholding those values.     
  • Ensure that you are developing and advancing the career of diverse employees already at your organization. 
  • Review your interview process over the last year or two and determine where candidates in underrepresented groups have fallen out of the process. Determine where improvements to the process could be made.

We genuinely hope you found this blog helpful on your quest to hire more diversity in executive positions. It’s our sincere goal to help employ more diverse and qualified talent in the food industry. If you have any questions or need any help around hiring diverse talent, we’d love to connect! 

About Curtis Food Recruiters 

As a full-service executive search firm, Curtis Food Recruiters is in a unique position that allows us to independently evaluate food manufacturing and grocery retail companies’ hiring processes, from the perspective of both the talent acquisition team and the candidate. Contact us today and we’ll leverage our vast industry experience to ensure you not only attract—but keep—the best diverse talent on the market.

How to Refresh and Reenergize Your Resume

As a full-service executive search firm, we’ve been helping food industry job seekers polish and perfect their resumes for over a decade, so we know what works and what definitely doesn’t. We’ve also pulled together some surprising statistics from a 2018 CareerBuilder survey of over 1,100 hiring managers.

With that said, here are eight areas we believe you should focus on when refreshing and reenergizing your resume.

Feature the right keywords

It should come as no surprise that most hiring managers don’t look at every single resume that comes their way. Depending on the demand for the company and position, they can be easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of applicants. This is where computer-assisted filtering comes into play.

A good hiring manager knows exactly what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate and will be narrowing down the field based on a set of specific keywords. When drafting your resume, be sure to prominently include these terms.

But how do you know what they’re looking for? That’s easy—the vast majority of the keywords are listed right there in the job description!

Don’t exaggerate

Speaking of keywords, don’t just copy and paste them right from the job description to your resume—especially if they’re not true of your personal experience. At its core, your resume is a marketing document. You want it to represent what you’ve done in the past, but also show future employers what you are capable of.

Instead of focusing on a job title or proficiency you are lacking, it’s important to highlight the areas you do excel at. Oftentimes employers are willing to hire someone who has a less impressive title or skillset but shows promise in other areas and is willing to train and learn on the job.

Tailor it to the position

At least 18% of hiring managers can tell a generic application when they see one. Fortunately, you don’t need to rewrite your resume from scratch for every new application. It could be as simple as bringing different skills to the top of the page for jobs that specifically mention them. Basically, if your resume checks off the majority of their requirement boxes, then you’re much more likely to be contacted.

Consider your audience

Another way to tailor your resume to a specific position is to take the actual recipient into consideration. An application for a grocery retail position and one in foodservice are going to read differently when it comes to tone and word choice. Do your research and try to get a feel for the environment of the organization. And when in doubt, err on the side of professional.

One area all employers agree on though—use a professional email address! Over 35% of hiring managers will pass you over if they have to reach out to an email address that you thought was funny in college.

Make sure their are no tpyos

If you didn’t catch the two errors in the subheading above (it should be “there” and “typos” for the record), then you need to pay special attention to this advice. Hiring managers are especially adept at catching even the smallest of errors that you overlooked when crafting your resume.

Before you send it out, proofread it several times. An estimated 77% of hiring managers toss out resumes at the first sight of a grammatical error or typo. If you’ve been working on it for hours, take a break and come back with a clear head. It also helps to read the whole thing out loud. Even if everything is spelled correctly, this will help highlight any awkward grammar and sentence structure.

Speaking of grammar, don’t rely on your computer’s spellchecker for that (they’re good, but nowhere near perfect). Even with the help of a computer, you’re always your own worst editor. Have a friend, family member, or trusted professional provide a second set of eyes for anything you may have missed.

Keep it clear and concise

Whether you’ve been in the work force for five weeks or fifty years, you need to keep your resume clear and concise. It’s perfectly acceptable to go over one page, but make sure you are only using the space you absolutely need.

While you’ll want to list every job you’ve held for at least the last ten years, you only need to elaborate on the ones that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for. If you still have too much information, start removing skills and qualifications that aren’t as pertinent.

The opposite is true as well, unfortunately. Too much blank space on your resume will make you look woefully inexperienced. Even if your work history is sparse, this leaves you more room to elaborate on your specific accomplishments.

Be sure to include hard numbers and actionable results to showcase the organizational impact you made in your current and previous roles. Depending on your previous roles, this may include any of the following:

  • How many people did you lead?
  • What was the size of your business unit/company?
  • What metrics you improved?
  • What was your sales responsibility and what was the top line sales growth?
  • What was the gross margin improvement?
  • How did you reduce customer complaints?
  • What specific systems (FSMA, SQF/BRC, ERP, SAP, etc.) did you implement?

Make it visually appealing

In addition to keeping it brief, you want your resume to be as eye-catching and readable as possible. Studies show that nearly 40% of hiring managers spend less than a minute looking at each resume. This means that if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the next one.

Unless you’re applying to be a graphic designer, you should avoid any groundbreaking layouts and stick to the tried and true templates. Make it easy to scan by avoiding large chunks of text and including plenty of bullet points and spacing between sections.

You should also avoid any fancy fonts and overusing italics and boldface. They’re still okay for the truly important stuff, but remember: if you highlight everything, you highlight nothing.

Consider hiring a resume writer or career coach

Arguably the best way to refresh and reenergize your non-performing resume is to hire a professional. Many resume writers have at least some experience on the hiring side, so they know what interviewers are looking for. They also have a trained eye to spot poor grammar and other inconsistencies that may have been affecting your resume for years.

You might be hesitant to spend the extra money (especially if you’re currently in between jobs), but they’re almost always worth the price. A few hours of their time can end up saving you weeks—if not months—of job searching. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, we highly recommend  Carol Pitz Consulting.

Now you’re ready to apply

If you’ve followed these tips, then your resume should be ready to impress. If you’re looking for a position in the food or beverage industries, then check out our job board for plenty of great opportunities in sales, marketing, operations, food safety, and product development.

And when your new and improved resume does open up a conversation with the hiring team, be sure to read these 5 recruiter-proven strategies to prepare you for a job interview.

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.

5 Recruiter-Proven Strategies to Prepare You for a Job Interview

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve most likely secured an interview. First off, congratulations! Getting to this point in the application process is a huge step and deserves to be celebrated.

The big question now is: what next?

No doubt you’ve already looked up some commonly asked interview questions. While having a handful of good answers prepared ahead of time is helpful, what a lot of people forget is that there’s far more to an interview than a series of questions.

Here are five recruiter-approved tips to help prepare you for your upcoming interview.

1.  Reread the job description

Of course, you’ve probably already read through the job listing at least once. Though chances are this wasn’t the only one you were applying for at the time, so it’s a good idea to refresh yourself a bit. If something was important enough to include in the job description, it will be important enough to ask you about in person.

Try to narrow your focus to the top five bullet points, especially if it’s a particularly long and detailed description. For each one, come up with concrete examples of how you have demonstrated that qualification in the past.

Try to frame your answer into an SBO (Situation>Behavior>Outcome) or STAR (Situation>Task>Action>Result) format so that the hiring manager can easily follow along. Be as specific as you can and use actual numbers if possible.

2.  Do your research

You should never go into an interview without first learning everything you can about both the company and the individuals you’ll be meeting.

Know the company

  • When researching the company, make sure you have a firm grasp on the specifics of their services/products offered, their target audience(s), and a brief overview of their company history. Don’t limit yourself to what’s on their website either. Glassdoor, the Better Business Bureau, and a Google search or two are your friends here.
  • Be prepared to talk about what drew you to the company and why you’re excited to work there. Try to be as honest as possible here, unless the real reason was the perks, location, or pay. It’s also a big no-no to say it was because a recruiter called you. You may think this makes you seem noncommittal and therefore a catch, but trust us, it’s usually a major turnoff.

Know the interviewers

  • When researching your interviewer(s), make sure you’re aware of their place in the company and its relation to your position, as well as their more recent professional history.
  • In almost every single interview, there comes a time when you’re asked to turn the tables with some questions of your own. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! You can even take it a step further by writing specific questions for each person in the room. For instance, you should direct general questions to HR, company goals and outlook to senior executives, and day to day specifics and success metrics to the manager.

3.  Review your own history

Your past experience and education were obviously enough to get you this far, but don’t think they won’t want any further clarification. You may think you already know everything there is to know about yourself, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget certain details when you’re put on the spot.

Unless this is your first job out of school, you’re not likely to be asked about your education, so there’s no need to dig up those old GPAs and valedictorian certificates. You will, however, want to brush up on your job history a bit.

Make sure you have answers prepared for why you left each position, as well as explanations for gaps in employment, if any. For each job, go over a list of all your responsibilities, as well as any accomplishments and awards you received so you’re not struggling to remember them in the moment.

You should also be prepared to talk about how you made a difference at each organization. Did you make/save the company money? Did you change/improve a particular process? Again, know your numbers and have those concrete SBO or STAR examples ready to go if you want to really shine.

4.  Know your worth

In addition to knowing what you bring to the table, it’s important to have a good idea of what your market value is. While it’s easier for those who’ve held multiple jobs in a particular industry, even newer recruits should do a little research to see what the industry average is for their desired position.

Have a specific number in mind and don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s also equally important to know the lowest offer you’d be willing to accept, should it come to that. While many hiring managers are reluctant to discuss specifics in the first interview, it pays to be prepared, just in case.

5.  Ready your outfit and belongings ahead of time

Everybody knows it’s bad to be late to an interview. So, why not give yourself every advantage possible to be on time (or a bit early) by preparing all your things ahead of time?

Pick out the clothes you’re going to wear the night before (and stick with them). You’d be surprised how many job seekers are late because they went through a last-minute wardrobe change.

Speaking of attire, we recommend dressing to impress, unless they specifically say otherwise. Even if it’s only a phone interview, you will feel more alert and confident in business casual than you will in pajamas.

You should never arrive at an interview empty handed either, so be sure to bring a professional binder/bag with a copy (or two) of your resume, references, and questions to ask. It’s also wise to have a pen and paper handy for taking notes.

You’ve prepared yourself well. Now it’s time to impress.

Get plenty of rest, eat a good meal, and try not to worry—you got this! If you’ve followed these five strategies, then you’ve done all you can, and you’re sure to do great.

If you haven’t taken advantage of a professional recruitment service yet, now is a great time to do so. Landing a good interview is difficult, and a recruiter can help ensure you don’t have to go back to square one.

Working with a recruiter

You probably don’t interview every day—but recruiters do! They can offer you specific advice on what to wear, what to bring, and what to do to make the best first impression. A good recruiter, especially one that knows your industry well, can give you a big leg up by providing you with specific advice about what your particular interviewer wants to hear, which can’t always be found on the internet.

While they can’t possibly know everything about you, they do know the right questions to ask and can help determine what’s worth highlighting and what’s not. You will also have an experienced partner to help you dial in the perfect examples that are sure to please even the shrewdest of interviewers.

A recruiter will also cover any salary discussions upfront and share that information with the employer, so everyone is on the same page. And unless you’re significantly over or underpaid, they can often secure you a 10-15% pay increase (assuming you’re currently employed).

For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.