Executive jobs: It’s not you, it’s not me. It’s just not meant to be. - Jose J Ruiz

Executive jobs: It’s not you, it’s not me. It’s just not meant to be.

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Executive jobs: It’s not you, it’s not me. It’s just not meant to be.

By Jose Ruiz | Alder Koten

Originally published on Forbes.com

These are hard times for finding a new job or making a career transition. The state of the economy and uncertainty has forced many companies to downsize. Yes, downsize. Not rightsize. I do not hear clients tell us they need to hire 100 people because they are rightsizing. Companies are downsizing and in many cases executing across the board pay cuts. They have also been forced to rethink their strategies and business plans forcing changes in their talent needs. Requirements and career paths have been altered forever.

In the executive search business, we are finding that it is taking longer than usual for executives to transition and find a new job. It’s frustrating and challenging amid hard times and many executives end up questioning if they might be doing something wrong, if they did something wrong in the past or if they are making mistakes during their job search. No two individuals are alike, and while every case is different, there is a broad trend of how corporations are hiring and retaining talent. Understanding those patterns can help eliminate frustration.

Short term requirements, speed and reaction time, dominate the business environment. Corporations need to plan for shorter horizons building organizations that can execute seamlessly and react quick while guaranteeing profits and long-term sustainability.

Time is money. The need for speed and lower costs has made learning curves unbearable in many business environments, and it is having a profound impact in how corporations hire. It is not about quick learners. They want executives who have been there, done that and can have an immediate impact. Executives with the right leadership qualities for the task at hand, industry knowledge, technical experience and proven business success in a similar environment.

Hire for attitude and build aptitude is now relegated to entry-level employees. The trend for executives is now hire for attitude, assure aptitude and guarantee success.

Ensuring aptitude and guaranteeing success requires a close match and fit at four different levels:

I. A broad cultural fit – Broad cultural fit includes the business and corporate cultures. The culture and business dynamics of a private family owned enterprise tends to be very different from a public, global corporation. A broad cultural fit will help guarantee long-term success.

II. The “Must Haves” – What we typically see in a job description: Qualifications, experience, knowledge, technical skills and functional competencies. These used to be very broad and have now become very discipline and industry specific. These are essential elements to a quick learning curve, a fast start and short term success.

III. A “micro” cultural fit – The broad cultural fit focuses on global business and corporate cultural. A micro-culture focuses on a regional or site level. At this level, it is important to seek a fit in behaviors, leadership and management styles of the immediate team including subordinates.

IV. The task at hand – A position or discipline takes on a different meaning depending on the task at hand. The executive and leadership competencies required for a turn-around, growth, a contraction or a stable environment can vary widely. A successful turn-around specialist is seldom the best choice for a stable environment.

A fit at all levels is not easy. Many elements that were once considered intangible are now part of a tangible evaluation process and from the standpoint of an executive it is not about right or wrong, good or bad, it is simply about fit.

Jose J. Ruiz
Jose J. Ruiz
Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the firm’s future. He is a recruiter involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures. An important part of his time is spent on research work focused on organizational effectiveness centered on leadership and culture. Prior to joining Alder Koten, Jose was a Principal with Heidrick & Struggles’ Global Industrial Practice based in Houston, TX and Monterrey, Mexico. His professional experience also includes leadership positions in engineering and operations management for manufacturing organizations in the US and Mexico. This experience includes serving as vice president and general manager at Holley Performance Products. Jose holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. He is fluent in English and Spanish.
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