This marks the first installment of what will be a weekly series we are calling Five Question Friday. By that we mean we will be asking different HR, staffing and recruiting professionals from around the country the same five questions every week.
The answers aren’t meant to be a prolonged discourse to spark debate and discussion, but rather just a quick end-of-the-week read with an interesting takeaway – or two.
Up first, Marni Hockenberg, principal at Hockenberg Search in Minneapolis. With more than two decades of recruiting and business consulting experience, she has provided focused, personalized search services to small- and medium-sized businesses to help them find, recruit, and retain top-tier talent.
Before establishing Hockenberg Search, Marni was co-founder of The Hiring Experts, where she provided searches for companies of all sizes and in most industries. She was also previously a senior search consultant for an agency that would become part of one the largest staffing agencies in the U.S.
1) What is the biggest growth area in your business right now?
Hockenberg Search’s niche is in serving small to mid-size companies in the manufacturing industry, which was hit hard during the recession. Many manufacturing companies are making a come-back due to updated strategic growth plans and increased product demand. In many cases, tenured senior leaders didn’t possess the skills or experience needed to take the company to the next level. As result of this need for talent upgrade, our growth has come from conducting searches for senior leaders to replace them with those who can make a more significant impact.
2) What is the biggest drag on your business, the bane of your existence at the moment?
What a difference a year makes! I could use more hours in the day to service existing customers, handle the day-to-day operations, and forge new business relationships. I am not complaining as I’m very grateful to be so busy, especially after the dip that our industry took these last few years.
3) How do you define success?
When I reflect back on each work day, I feel successful if I have made a positive difference in someone’s life. It could be as small as offering some job search advice or encouragement to a job seeker; or as large as successfully completing a challenging search that will help my client’s business move forward and enhance the career and life of the placed candidate. This is a personal service business and I’m fortunate that I can be a ‘corporate matchmaker’ and help people in need.
“I feel successful if I have made a positive difference in someone’s life. It could be as small as offering some job search advice or encouragement to a job seeker; or as large as successfully completing a challenging search that will help my client’s business move forward and enhance the career and life of the placed candidate.”
4) Name one way you have cut costs or increased profits during the recession?
Focus! I identified my ‘sweet spot’ and turned down the business that didn’t fall into it. Turning down business is not easy, especially during a recession. But by focusing exclusively on retained search for senior leadership positions, I doubled my business.
5) What book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I recently finished reading Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. The book describes how Israel’s adversity-driven culture fosters a unique combination of innovative and entrepreneurial intensity. There are many lessons that can be applied to our companies in the U.S, especially coming out of the recession where competition is fierce and innovation is king. The book itself is a page-turner and I’ve given out many copies as gifts.
And as an added special, holiday bonus, here are some end-of-the-year tips for employers from Marni’s blog.
Make the hard decisions for the right reasons.
I suggest to business owners that they need to make the hard decisions for the right reasons and hire the right talent to compete. My chief advice to business owners: You have to look internally and determine if your current bench has what is needed to move your business forward. Either invest in them, or be prepared to pull the trigger–and for the right reasons.
One of the top reasons key people want to leave a company is because they are being micromanaged. Top talent and key leaders are self-sufficient. They need to have autonomy to do their job well. Are you inadvertently pushing good people away by not delegating?
Don’t overlook older, more experienced job seekers.
I regularly advise business owners: Don’t overlook the middle-age-to-older job seekers. If you do, you are losing out on talent and experience your business cannot afford to miss. More seasoned candidates have been there, they’ve done that. They have already “cut their teeth” and learned from their mistakes; they know what to do.
Invest in leaders and utility players.
Consider providing leadership training, investing in the junior leaders who show promise or who could learn new skills and techniques. Polish the diamond in the rough. Also look for a “Swiss Army knife” candidate for your business’s pocket–the utility player who has the tools you need for the job right now, but who can also segue into another area of the business that may be growing and can solve a problem you may not have anticipated.
Thanks so much Marni, for getting our new series off to a great start. And if you know of someone who is a good candidate for Five Question Friday, please drop us a line at email@example.com.