FACT: It’s very rare to go through life without finding ourselves faced with the important decision of choosing WHO to represent us.
Whether it’s a large corporation relying on an individual salesperson (or team of salespeople) to make a mark on a new territory or demographic, or an individual needing to choose the right realtor, attorney, talent agent, etc., to represent them during an important time in their life, CHOOSING WHO becomes one of life’s great quandaries. WHO do we engage to handle such an important touch point? HOW do we decide between all of these experienced realtors, lawyers, talent agents, or salespeople? Do we choose someone who we’re friends with (to hook them up?) Do we go off of a referral (and who’s giving that referral?) Do we use our own series of checks & balances? Do we go with the most experienced? OR - do we just go with our gut? The short answer….there is no blanket template that works for everyone….but fair warning, the decision SHOULD BE evaluated with care.
The super agents of our time (both on the big screen and in real life) come in many forms, ranging from the boisterous “Entourage” star Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, or the sensitive, “change the world”/ heartfelt nature of Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise…and there’s everything in between Short answer - they both can work. There are good agents and there are bad agents….and there are REALLY good agents and REALLY bad agents. The question is…which profile works for YOU? Who translates YOUR message the best? Who is the alter ego of YOU? Who do you want “playing YOU” during that important negotiation or presentation? Have you even put the right amount of thought into it? Have you even thought of exactly how well (or how poorly) that negotiation or presentation COULD go if not in the right hands? If not, it’s probably (actually, it’s definitely) time you should….
It absolutely boggles my mind when I see intelligent people [or corporations] spend SO MUCH time, effort & money on their own branding and “message” - whether it’s for marketing purposes, hiring needs, expansion plans, etc., only to then skimp on (or gloss over) the salespeople they’re hiring or the individuals they’re engaging to go out there and PROPERLY SELL their message and represent them. Sales (and the ability to accurately & successfully represent someone OR something) is truly an art form, and like my most art, it should be evaluated & handled with care.
Sell me on ME
In my industry of staffing & recruiting (specifically in the cut throat world of technology hiring where I’ve spent 20+ years), I’ve literally seen it all. On the client end, companies like to many times use a multitude of outside agencies & recruiters to generate the greatest # of candidates in the shortest period of time. On paper, it sounds like the logical answer. Why NOT get all of that free groundwork executed and canvas the local area for everyone possible….only having to pay for the end result? Sounds awesome - right? Sure. But, in practice, it’s a HORRIBLE idea. Do you even know how these different firms are REPRESENTING you? Have you even asked them? What, if anything, makes them different from one another? Have they asked you all the right questions to understand your company culture or your specific job opening at hand? Do they even understand it enough to be able to successfully “sell” it? How many people at that agency are pitching your company? Who are they? What’s their process? What are they saying on those calls? Are they accurate? Are they misleading? Did you even think to ask “sell ME on ME” BEFORE engaging them (after the salesperson had a change to digest your message)? What are the benefits of working at your company? And, conversely, what are the potential limitations/downsides of working at your company (after all - it’s not all roses & butterflies all the time).
HOLY SHIT! That’s a lot of questions - right? YES - but shouldn’t you know the answers? Have we just programmed ourselves to “skip” these steps? Sure, once engaged, it’s easy to quantify the hit ratio of resumes they’re sending you that result in interviews, but by then, it may be too late. It’s this TOTAL package & process that creates winning results if done correctly. Personally, (only speaking of myself here), I can only “sell” people and companies I BELIEVE IN…..and that is NOT everyone. BUT, once I believe in you or your company, I’ll package together ALL of the important/noteworthy elements needed and create an amazing presentation which can attract anyone to your cause and fill your inbox with results. But - I ask, are you sure everyone else you’ve engaged can do the same thing? If you’re not sure…it’s time to test them.
There’s no prouder moment I have as a salesperson than when a candidate or company says to me “Wow - I literally could not have said that better myself.” It makes me feel great, but then again….isn’t that my job???
On the candidate / job seeker side, it’s really a similar path. “If I use a bunch of recruiters to find me job opportunities, I’ll see all kinds of stuff.” TRUE. However, be forewarned, you MUST consider the source. If the person on the other end of the phone is not very experienced, does not project excellent communication skills, or cannot answer many questions about what they’re selling you (the company, the specifics of the job, etc.) - what does that say? My friends, common sense goes a long way! Is this recruiter or agency trustworthy? Are they well-reviewed? Are they experienced? Do they know what YOU are looking for? Are they local…or are they from the middle of Michigan or from another country pretending to know “the Philly area well.” Are they calling you with good solid job opportunities every time b/c they truly KNOW what you want or are they just throwing spaghetti at a wall, hoping a piece sticks, basing their pitch on a buzzword down on your resume from 15 years ago? (yes - that happens all the time). Honestly, once these questions are answered, you probably only need one GOOD recruiter (maybe 2) versus a sea of marginal ones. Personally, I’d rather have one NICE car, then 10 crappy ones - no?
So - as we evaluate these questions, I think it’s important to realize that it’s no coincidence why grade A+ agents stay at the top of their games for what seems like a lifetime. Sports agents like Drew Rosenhaus, talent agents like Michael Ovitz, super realtors like Ryan Serhant, Josh Flagg, James Harris, & David Parnes, the list goes on and on - they’re all CONSISTENTLY GREAT. They stay on top by being the best each & every day, making every encounter matter and by doing right by their clients. They’re informative about their fields, constantly educate their clients, do am amazing job, show results, and in return, are the ones tapped to represent “the sale.” These are the types of people that should be representing you.
So - as I leave you today, I only ask one favor. The next time you need representation for something….anything at all….stop and think to yourself…”WHO exactly is representing me?”
Mike Butti hails from the Philadelphia suburbs, and is a highly regarded technology staffing expert, who has helped companies large & small solve their most complex staffing problems and has helped shape the Delaware Valley technology landscape since 1997. Michael is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of TripleScreen Search & Staffing, based in Downingtown, PA.