Ask Brad

telephone network

Q: I have 15 years broad and in depth experience in human resource management. However, I’ve been a contract consultant through all of it. My assignments have been anywhere between 3 to 18 months working from my client’s site.

I’ve been networking actively to find a new position and truly want to join a firm full time.

I have had several networking meetings and even a few job-specific interviews. However, in each case, the person I’m meeting with is reluctant to refer me further because they assume that having been a contractor, my value to my client’s has been less than had I been an employee. I have tried to persuade them otherwise but have so far been unsuccessful.
While I’ve had seaches with lean results in the past, something always turned up – until now. After several months, I seem to be spinning my wheels. I’m located in Toronto and do not wish to relocate due to family reasons.
Any thoughts? Suggestions?

B: I would try to examine exactly why they feel you would be less valuable as a full-time employee. People are hired because they can do the job functionally and are a good “fit”. It would seem that these in-depth contract assignments you have had would prove your ability to really understand the nuances of your clients’ businesses as well as success working within a “system”.
I would look strongly also at the types of places and industries you are networking into. perhaps where you have been looking are places that are less comfortable hiring entrepreneurs. For every place that is not comfortable doing so, I would have to think that there are others that would see the value and initiative you could bring to the position. In this same vein, I would try networking into smaller, entrepreneurial type organizations. Best of Luck in your search,

Q: I am the primary caregiver for an elderly parent whose condition may worsen and
demand more of my time. How much of this should I reveal in either networking meetings
or formal interviews? I do not want to destroy opportunities for a possible offer too quickly
but also want to make sure possible constraints that could affect such things as work
schedules or travel are addressed?

B: In the beginning stages of either networking meetings or formal interviews the focus should
be on advancing your candidacy for a position. Conversations should center on proving that your background and experience make you the most viable individual. Personal or family issues really are not the business of your potential employer. Your ability to do the work required is how you should be evaluated. Pay attention to what is revealed about such issues as percentage of time that is required for business travel and daily work schedules. If, in fact, you cannot commit to work a regular work week, hours-wise you need of course to be upfront with your evaluator. Similarly, if you can say never be away from home for more than a night, again it is best for you to be honest. Realize, however, that if you generally can commit to such requirements but need from time to time some flexibility that these conversations can take place at the point of an offer. Employers these days are recognizing the importance of the getting the right person in the job. Hence, they can be flexible to accommodating personal needs as long as they can be assured that you will deliver on the job.

About the Author

Bradford Agry is Founding Principal of CareerTeam Partners, a New York City career management consulting firm. Agry works with individuals in industries ranging from finance to marketing to communications helping them identify and actualize career transitions.