First Job

Every one of us can remember our first job. It’s seared into our memory; we can tell you how much we were paid, what our specific job was, what hours we worked and most details of our boss at that time. It’s a notable part of our lives. For many of us, 1st job goes back to high school, or earlier. My first job was delivering newspapers and then mowing lawns. My first job with a supervisor was a grocery store; where I bagged groceries, cleaned the floors and stocked the shelves. My first ‘real job’; i.e. post education was a sales position, in an industry I knew nothing about; lighting.

For the past 10+ years, I’ve qualified candidates for leadership positions. Now that means that my typical candidate is probably early to mid-50’s, with 30+ years of experience; post college. I always ask them to do a complete career review starting with their first job out of college. And then I ask them what their ‘best job’ has been. I’ve interviewed hundreds of leadership talent and the one answer that comes back more often than any other…. Their first job.

Over the years, careers have changed as the employment market has shifted away from 30+ year employment cycles with a retirement party, a gold watch, and a full pension. Now, the millennial career path is moving every 2-3 years… for more money and more responsibility and the ability to learn something different. I first noticed the shift in career moves when I did my first VP, Operations role for a Chicago manufacturer. The number of job changes for operations executives was off the charts… 7, 8, 10 or more. I recognized quickly that this wasn’t a personality trait of operations people; it was a reflection of the change in manufacturing in the US; especially Chicago, with heavy unionized labor forces and the high cost of living and taxes. Operations leaders would go through their ‘career’ and list the number of plants that had closed and moved to Mexico or China, or transferred production to contract manufacturers. It was a sobering search for someone who believed that ‘job-hoppers’ were somehow less-qualified employees. Most of my clients were vocal about job-hopping. I still get that concern, but it’s waning as the reality of the employment market is shifting away from ‘permanent employment’.

We live in a time in history that is unprecedented; 4 generations of workers, the longest growth of jobs in modern history (over 8 years and counting) and an unemployment rate that is virtually zero. Most people who are not working don’t want nor need to work. (Sadly, for low wage laborers, there is still significant unemployment and they’re not as mobile to go to where the job growth is). Our population is growing slower than the expansion of the economy.  We have government policies that are trying to cut immigration in half and limit visas for highly trained help, or low-wage laborers for agricultural, seasonal work.  Despite efficiency gains and robotics, the pace of societal growth can’t significantly outpace the growth of the population; for the simple reason that population growth drives economic growth; more houses, cars, refrigerators and cell phones to feed the larger population base.

China, Japan, Italy and parts of the EU are already bracing for significant shortages of labor; which will ultimately impact global growth and opportunities. The race for quality talent will increase and the competition will spur rapid wage growth. The War for Talent; written in 1997 predicted the demographic impacts of the retiring Boomers and attendant, downstream competition for quality talent to fill jobs; at all levels. It’s truly arrived and will become increasingly more challenging over the next 15 years.

But I keep coming back to the first Job. It’s almost a form of imprinting; similar to a duck following their mother (which could also be a human). But the first job appears to also be the place where they learned the most. They had the freedom of ‘ignorance’ with them… they could make mistakes and learn and grow, rapidly. They all mentioned that money was low, but the chance to learn and get better at their craft resonated with them for 30 years or more. Their mentors tend to come from that first job as well.

I wonder how our worker movement would change if we treated every employee as if they were on their first job? Give them slack for making mistakes; have a formal on-boarding program that is open and supportive and encourages questions to help them get up to speed more quickly.

We pride ourselves on recruiting people for the challenge; an extension of their success or expansion of their responsibilities. We don’t recruit anybody ‘for money’. It’s never about the money; it’s always about the challenge. If we find the person who loves the challenge… our clients’ company improves.

In the ensuing War for Talent… offer a chance to grow. Simulate that first job experience.


Ted Konnerth, Egret Consulting Group’s founder and CEO, recruits on a retained basis, helping leaders in the electrical and lighting industry identify their next C and V-level hire. He is also the executive director for the International Retained Search Associates, allowing him to liaise with skilled recruiters around the globe. To learn more about how Ted can help your company attract talent view his biography, check him out on LinkedIn or email him at


Professional Recruiter Fees – Return on Investment, Not an Expense

You have a vacancy in a sales, operations, marketing or engineering role. One of your top performers left unexpectedly, or you need to replace an under-performing team member. In either case, you realize the role needs to be filled in a timely manner and with a stronger candidate that can solve the challenges the predecessor faced to further grow your business unit.

You clearly acknowledge the value in working with a professional recruiter that specializes in your industry. In the case of Egret Consulting; the electrical industry. You realize that nobody knows your marketplace better than a professional recruiter. You recognize that a professional recruiter identifies who your competitors are, understands your go to market strategy, knows the technology involved in your products and can effectively identify, attract and land the candidates that are both a professional and cultural fit for your organization. Easy, peasy, right?

Now…that final question, “tell me about your fee structure?” Radio silence ensues. After reviewing and acknowledging all of the benefits to working with a professional recruiter, suddenly the recruiter’s fee is an ‘expense’. I challenge you to rather view the fee as an investment.

Let’s start over…remember…you’ve already walked through your professional recruiter’s approach to recruitment. You ‘get it’. Your professional recruiter isn’t creating an internet ad or social media post; nor are they posting a job description to a website only to collect 200 resumes of candidates that aren’t a fit. Think of how your valuable time will be wasted by reviewing all the submitted resumes that won’t get you who you’re looking for. Instead, your professional recruiter is attracting the best ‘passive’ candidates. They’re dutifully employed and achieving tremendous success…for your competitor. They’re the best, not the best ‘available’.

A professional recruiter will develop a list of a hundred or more candidates for each search they perform. Your professional recruiter has an established and vast network of industry specific contacts…relationships. Each are called and evaluated against the specifications that were outlined in a lengthy phone conversation with the hiring manager. In addition, the list of candidates is measured on a personality fit with the company and the team they will work with. The list is, then, broken down into a much smaller list of finalists; and in the end, three to four will be formally presented and  interviewed face to face by the client. Your professional recruiter works confidentially, with speed to minimize ramp up time and ultimately, save you, the client, money. Then, comes the close…the professional recruiter’s ability to negotiate a strong offer on your behalf. Remember, your professional recruiter has ‘real time’ data of what candidates in the same positions are making at your competitors. Your professional recruiter should be viewed as a trusted adviser who can assist you in preparing a great offer that the candidate will accept. Now it’s time for your professional recruiter to walk the candidate through the resignation process, address potential counter offers, and then walk both the client and candidate through the onboarding process. Your professional recruiter will then stay in touch with you and the candidate, checking in regularly to get progress reports and learn of successes. As a professional recruiter, there’s no better validation of a successful placement than learning of your candidate’s first big purchase order, product launch, or implemented product design. Personally, my greatest accomplishments come when I learn of placed candidates being promoted into even larger roles within the organization. What’s the end result? Retention and productivity; increased revenue from that placed candidate.

Back to present…the professional recruiter’s fee. Hopefully you’re no longer viewing it as an expense. When you consider the ‘real’ expense of trying to fill critical roles with less effective (and not necessarily less expensive) methods that may land a less effective candidate it makes sense. Sharp executives recognize that a professional recruiter’s fee is a strategic investment, not a line item expense. The return on your investment will indeed pay dividends over time.

Rob Wieska is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Power Distribution and Building Automation in addition to general Electrical Product Manufacturing. To learn more about how he can help your company identify and attract talent, check out his biography, view his LinkedIn profile or send him an email at


7 Areas to Help You Dust Off That Old Resume

In the electrical industry, we have noticed more people getting ready to make a job change.  Many seem to have been with their companies for 10 years or more and want to raise their heads out of the sand and see what is out there.   If you feel the same way, dust off that resume!

Below are 7 areas that you can improve or update:



If you still have an AOL email, update to g-mail or another popular provider. You do not want to look like you are stuck in the past.  Also have your email address on your resume. Add your LinkedIn profile to your resume. Most companies will do a web search and you want to make sure they find the right person.   If you are not on LinkedIn, set up a profile as soon as possible. Make sure to list the city and state where you live and your cell number.


Summary/Executive Summary:

Use a Summary instead of the ancient “Objective Statement”. Also “References Available upon Request” should be removed from your resume.



When listing the companies you worked for, make sure to have a description of what they do, their size and headquarters and which location(s) you worked at.  Detail your roles, responsibilities and key accomplishments. Why are you better than the other candidates?  With more employers using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter through resumes, keywords related to industry are helpful to get your resume to the top of the pile.


Keep Things Bite-sized:

Employers review resumes for less than 7 seconds before they decide if you will get a call or interview. Keep your information bite-sized and concise.



Make sure you put job dates on your resume. If you’ve had several positions with the same company or have been promoted, it is ok to list the title and responsibility changes during the time you’ve been there.  Putting the year you graduated from college is also important. Your age will be obvious during the interview or when you start discussing your job history.  You want the company to respect what you have accomplished over your career, not what age you are.



List your education at the bottom of your resume.  Put the degree you earned, not just BA or BS. Some companies are looking for a candidate with a specific degree.  This is important so your resume will be placed at the top of the pile.



Proof read your resume and also have someone else proof it. Misspellings on resumes and LinkedIn look unprofessional.  The spelling error we see most is “ Manger” vs “Manager”.


Good luck on your new job search and dust off that resume!

Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her biography, view her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at