Just a Few Questions

June 29, 2011

If this were “Jeopardy!” the correct response would be “What is a PCA?” We had to call it something. It is the big, scary thing many people never check out. These are handled best in a conversation but can also be done as written exchange.

Our biggest battle is just getting someone’s attention long enough to show that the only interest we ever have is whether or not we might be able to bring some kind of value now or years from now. I thought we should put this out there so people can see what we’ll talk about even before we talk about it.

We ALWAYS have ‘hot jobs’ and great clients just like doctors always have pills but we don’t go into a conversation assuming anyone needs medicine.

So, if we are calling you or “InMailing” or emailing you for the first time it is probably for this and we are happy to answer your questions first. Here’s the PCA.


     Thank you for interacting with S e a r c h P a r t n e r. We specialize exclusively in the search for, and direct placement of, cleared technology professionals in the DC/Baltimore/N.VA. area. Most of our business is engaged (retained) so it is essential that we know the best people in our field as opposed to the ‘active’ people.

     One more reminder…We’ll be just as happy as you are if you never need to leave the company you are with now. A majority of people who complete this exercise are not planning any change at this time and it does not signal us that you are ready to do anything more than get to know us.

     Note that this form is for our internal use unless otherwise discussed with you. Please send whatever level of responses you are comfortable with. We are looking forward to possibly representing your interests even if that means confirmation you are already perfectly placed.

1)      Describe in detail what you would be doing in your ideal next position. What technology would you work with? Who would you report to? What types of projects would you be working on? Does it differ from what you do now? The more detail you provide the better for us to understand your career aspirations.       

2)      When were you happiest in your career and why?    

3)      Where are you willing to work?  How far are you willing to travel to and from work?  Is there any reason to even discuss relocation?     

4)      What is your total compensation package?  Please include base, bonus, incentives, stock, etc, and list each separately. Bear in mind this may need to be substantiated at some point. What kind of package do you expect in your next move?      

5)      Please tell us what you can about your security clearance. We are not fishing for info we should not have but we have found people usually can tell us about polys, badges and ability to work ‘on site’.      

6)       What could possibly motivate a decision to leave your current job? If you have not yet made that decision what factors would influence it. 

7)      Describe your search activity, if any, over the past 12 months. Please include any information about interviews and/or offers you have had as well as the types of positions you have evaluated. Who has your resume? If it is available publicly we need to know that now.      




I sent the message below to some folks on LinkedIn and regular email if we had it. We usually don’t do the ‘reactionary’ thing because we don’t have time, but this time it seemed worth a message or two just to make a point. We are offering people the ability to have choices about where they work. Some of the people who regularly discourage you from checking us out do so for a couple reasons.

One is that they know we are good at what we do.

Another is that it might make it more difficult for them to do the exact opposite of what we do. That is to send you an email or call on a  Friday or Monday and let you know that you and all your co-workers have a new employer and you don’t even get to interview.

Would it not be better to know senior management at a couple other companies? You might even end up making a bigger contribution to the mission if you end up with a different part of the customer. Or you could confidently choose to remain with the company you just got sold to if you know it’s a good deal instead of being told it is by the management team you just made wealthy.

It’s probably also good to note here that our clients have different budgets and they spend money in different ways. Some hire us. Some hire internal recruiters. Some drive really nice cars. It all comes from the money the customer pays your company. It’s just divvied up differently by companies that have varying philosophies.

We have no desire to cost the customer needless dollars. And we don’t when the occasional person ends up in a more productive position for money that is not a lot different because we all know money isn’t usually a reason to move. It can be if you are a bit behind the market but unless you talk to us how will you know?

Bottom line…if you all just did better in the acquisition, what does that say about the time you spent waiting for it? And if you didn’t do better why aren’t you getting to know us? What other fantastic planet has a situation where you get an agent/broker that you don’t even have to pay who wants nothing more than to see if he could ever improve you and your families’ lives ?

Usually we try to be a bit more subtle but this time we’re just spitting it out.  We spend a lot of time trying to help people understand that it is ok to have a contingency plan. A contingency plan is a good thing to have when you get sold to another company. Sometimes the new company is better. Sometimes it is not. Either way, it would be good to have a bit of an idea. Many of you don’t get back to us because you think we really mean ‘move right now’. Some of you know better. There’s never a bad time to confidentially get to know a couple other good companies without even having to fill out applications etc. Please send a regular email or phone for further correspondence. Maybe next time you’ll get a choice. For more, see Dave Staats’ blog link on his profile.

For the record, I don’t know many specific people at Pangia or CACI. I am just discussing the nature of the beast here. They are probably all fine people.

Everyone in those two companies was probably bought and sold at least once and some were placed individually by us.

Since I just found the WordPress App for LinkedIn and it glaringly displayed the ‘xxx Days Ago’ by each post I thought it time to come back to my faithful reader more regularly. Let’s call him Tom.

Tom loves LinkedIn the way cats love mice. I have learned to appreciate a few more of the facets but something I want to make a theme on here is the “Contact Settings -Interested In” feature of the LinkedIn profile. I’d love help from anyone reading this to preach the gospel of Contact Settings Awareness to anyone with a LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn claims a value of ,and displays a price of, about $10 for an InMail. I don’t know if anyone pays THAT, but they do cost money. I ask people about hit rates all the time and they are not very high. LinkedIn gives me all these stars for my InMails because mine are rarely rejected. I think they are rarely rejected because they are rarely read.

Maybe I should not expect more than a 10% or 20% return rate but even a person still gob-smacked by the lovelieness of Jamaicans with an inability to get really mad about stuff anymore can still get pretty annoyed by people who invite contact about what we do and then do not even bother to say ‘buzz off’ or ‘leave me alone’ after 6 or 8 InMail attempts.

I am not talking about some of my friends in the intel community who have 3 contacts because they log on to LinkedIn once a year. I am talking about the ones who have 100 to 500 contacts and obviously spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. It is just kind of rude when you said ‘Contact me about Career Opportunities’ to ignore these messages.

I am on the federal do not call list for phone calls. I have a right to get pissed when the burial plot people call me…and anyway I want to be in a baggie until someone scatters my ashes…well wherever they want since I won’t be there.  Just don’t get them in someone’s eyes.

I have the utmost respect for people with LinkedIn profiles saying “Is not open to yadayada” I also respect people who turn off the porch light on Halloween. Heck, after Thank You and Hello the first word they taught me when I got my first daughter in China was Bu Yao meaning “I don’t want it.”

In the overall scheme of life, this is a pretty small thing but it also doesn’t take much time to correct. Please tell everyone you know, when LinkedIn comes up, to review their contact settings. We are happy to go to the next porch where the light is on and the door is open or the candy is sitting on the front step.

Have fun! I know I am.


Those of you who went to Jamaica may be interested to know that Consumer
Reports just named US Airways the worst airline in North America. Worse
than the majors, worse than Jetblue, Airtran, Frontier and even Alaska
Air. The WORST – dead last.
All the best, Tom Keoughan

So… my Montego Bay to Charlotte flight was only 30 mins late but I only had a one hour turn. When we landed at CLT I called reservations while still on the plane to ask if they thought I could make it because I had customs AND recheck bag AND TSA security again. Bags arrived amazingly quickly. Customs was incredibly efficient and friendly. TSA guy volunteers how to get to gate and bumps me ahead just because he can see what’s going on.

I run my fa(s)t ass at least 1/2 mile at .7 CPH (cahills-per-hour) and arrive at gate to hear another woman crying because they won’t let her on at 355 for her/my 4:01PM flight. There is also another couple walking away. Five of us total.

I stand there waving at pilot through window, calling home and talking with two reservations agents on the phone for 15 minutes while the plane is there late and door is open. I can see my seat! 6 different people (not an exaggeration) tell me it me is not their job to do anything. Some of them tell me “It is closed. There is nothing I can do.” I have pictures and I have a firm grasp of the difference between open and closed.

I schlep back at a leisurely yet brisk 1hph (Hix per hour) to the main ticket counter after waiting in the line at the “You are F*cked” desk and seeing only one person move in 15 minutes. This is about a mile and I take it at a totally ‘must-kill-some-time’ speed of about 2 pmbh (post-midnight-Brians-per-hour) since the last Sr. ‘not-my-jobber’ of US Air told me all the seats to Nashville are gone for today. I get to the first-class counter (milking the hell out of my cheap-ass upgrade as long as I can even though all it got me was a bigger seat and pepper on the potato chips) where the lady tells me I am confirmed on the 6:06 and I am instantly back in love with every cell of every living thing on earth (thanks Jamaica for putting me there in the first place). I say “I love you US Air lady, what’s my seat?” She says “You are confirmed but you only get to go if someone gives up a seat.” Having a slightly different notion of what ‘confirmed’ means since Cari was just confirmed at church that day, I ask “Isn’t that kind of exactly what “standby” means or does confirmed mean I get to stand in the aisle? Does it mean someone has to give up a spot for my daughter to go to heaven? I feel slightly better since apparently I only missed her Methodist confirmation since she is not necessarily going anywhere and she had already been confirmed with a seat on the Vatican express a few years ago.

She explained that confirmed is standby with a kiss. Standby people are well and truly f-ed. Confirmed people on the other hand evidently get some kind of voucher to use for future flights on the airline they will desperately try never to use again.

By now, it is after 5pm so I have to get through security again and run from there to gate E 30 (halfway to BNA) at .5 cph only to find a group of 4 other people telling the gate lady their stories of how/why “I NEED THAT SEAT MORE THAN THE OTHERS” and again, thanks to Jamaica I have just figured out that I want to look like the one of the 5 puppies in the box the lady wants to pick up and pet. None of it matters because all of us get on and I am once again as happy as a Marley cousin on royalty check day.

I end up sitting in the exact same seat I would have had on the other flight..5A… I love flying and I like to look out the window. In this case I just wanted to get in and slump down in case the Sr. NotMyJobber stuck her head in and said Mr. Staats…we made an error, please come out here, you are still totally f-ed. It didn’t happen. It was fine. I am still happier than I have ever been (but also confirmed (MY definition) to never use US AIR unless I have to).
(SPECIAL NOTE…any pilot of anything I ever ride in is excluded from any bitching I ever do).

At this point all is well. We are almost loaded for the 6:06. It is 6:02 (so there’s some other dude running up and cussing a blue streak because he can see me in HIS seat)…

At this point I notice Mr. 5B checking his watch, and shaking his head, then checking his watch, then checking his watch and shaking his head. I start to count because I already did the crossword puzzles. This guy checks his watch 22 times in 10 minutes and intersperses about a dozen head shakes. At this point I do not yet know Osama/Usama is now spelled Osashimi or Usashimi and this guy looks like he might possibly be from a place that doesn’t love Americans (sadly, this means nothing about how he looks because even many Americans hate America) but it makes me pay attention. Now he is also muttering occasionally…one I can make out is “I hate this f*cking airline.” then I hate this f*cking s*it.” So I had enough and I look at him and say “Buddy, this will go better for both of us if you just keep it to yourself.” and he says “I thought your Bose headphones made it so you could not hear.” I said, “It makes what you are saying even clearer.” With this, he goes back to tap foot,check watch, adjust phlegm-blower nozzle, check watch, adjust phlegm-blower, disgusting head-shake, mutter mutter. All this and we are still early/ontime or whatever.

Before I zoned out I thought of that commercial on the golf matches (always about people with piles of money) where the guy looks over and says “Are you me when I am old?”… I am looking at 5B and thinking how glad I am that I am not me 10 years ago because I probably was Mr. 5B.

That, my friends is how I go back from the best Pinnacle meeting of the 18 I have attended.

P.S. It took him the whole flight to do the crossword.

P.P.S. As fate would have it…we got there at EXACTLY the same time!!

P.P.P.S. Trying to figure out how I ate some of the best food in the world…some hours fresh and some of it lying around for 30 years in bottles…and still lost even more weight….

Interested in a possible career as a commission based recruiter. Where do I start?”

This question came in to the general Pinnacle Society mailbox yesterday and a number of potential answers popped into my head nearly simultaneously. I am sure my responses will be different than they would have a few years ago.

Are you nuts? I have so many experiences now with people who got involved in recruiting not understanding the ‘commission-based’ part that I have to admire this guy for even mentioning that aspect of it.  I think ‘Are you nuts?’ popped into my head first because of the general experience of the industry in the past several years. I kept thinking it wasn’t that bad for me but I had 25 years experience. Now I question and reject that ‘nuts’ reaction because I think Clyde would tell you I started in these kinds of times not even knowing what a recession was. In these kinds of times this may be the best thing a guy can do if he wants to rely on himself to succeed when it doesn’t seem like such a great time to entrust that to others.

Not here! A couple years ago I reached the age where I realized it just wasn’t fun or economically sensible to try to teach people what I know and how to do what I do. Mostly, they just didn’t care. I don’t blame them. It’s my fault for not learning how to hire better or for not questioning myself more carefully on what I was trying to achieve. I am proud of the legacy of people I left in the industry but the percentage of those I hired just isn’t high enough for me to want to keep doing that. And I found many other guys around my age were right when they told me I could make more money just making placements. And that IS rewarding. My placements all get better jobs and raises. Too many of my recruiter hires reminded me of my framed sign… You Can’t Teach a Pig to Sing. It Wastes Your Time And Annoys The Pig.

Right here! Yeah, even though I feel as I described above I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I thought I really had someone who could appreciate getting what I got for answering a newspaper ad in 1985.

Are you 27 years old? This one’s kinda’ random but I was about 27 when I knew I had to do something that would pay me based on my efforts and 28 when I actually started. Over the years I found what I believe to be a very high percentage of long-term recruiters who started around that age. I think it has something to do with being old enough to know what sucks and being young enough to have the energy to invest a couple years in figuring out how to do this.

My final answer…Go find someone really good at this. Make him or her hire you and don’t ever quit. Why? Because after 25 years in this business 98% of the time I still win the “I’d still rather be me doing this.” when I play that mental game. I could lie and say 100% but heck, who wouldn’t want to be Tiger Woods’ attorney or Elton John’s baby?

Twitter Haiku

December 13, 2010

Never has so much
Effort been expended by
So many for naught