Business is picking up in many sectors and companies are starting to realize they don't have the experienced employees they need to do the work. In recent discussions with clients about their current needs we’ve found:
- Consulting firms are lacking in senior managers who can become the next partners to lead projects
- Agencies need to find more people with experience in managing clients and leading teams.
- Technology companies have an immediate need for new levels of management in sales to drive and grow sales teams
In all of these cases there is a need to fill the middle management ranks, as these ranks were decimated by the dot.com exodus and later layoffs, especially in the high tech sectors. Companies are turning to executive search because this kind of talent is increasingly difficult to find. We are again seeing a job market turnaround and because of increased demand, qualified candidates have multiple job opportunities.
To understand why this is happening, let’s examine the talent market of the last five years:
- During the initial Internet boom, many people were hired and promoted into leadership roles with VP and higher titles, often without experience. "A" players in traditional training grounds such as large technology companies, consulting firms, PR Agencies jumped into the fray.
- The corresponding bust resulted in both boom companies and traditional companies laying off large numbers of talented employees. During the subsequent years, even good talent struggled to find a stable company for employment or turned to consulting.
- As companies hired for the limited openings, they sought the most talented, capable individuals because they were often doing the work of 2-3 people. The most experienced people were hired, often taking titles below their capabilities and working more for less. Even so, the hiring process was very drawn out and very selective so few people were actually hired.
- With these mid-management levels filled by experienced leaders, there was little opportunity for the up-and-coming talent to move beyond individual contributor roles. People remained individual contributors, and were not getting the skills needed to advance to the next level.
- Many people have also not been getting training to advance in their careers. Large companies pulled back on training, dot.coms don't offer much, if any, training, and unemployed people have had to find it on their own.
This has left a detectable void in middle management in some industries or functions. Many capable individuals didn't get the experience or training and companies are now looking to fill this void.
What can companies do?
- First, keep the top talent you have; develop retention plans to retain key employees
- Provide leadership opportunities for employees to develop leadership talent
- Develop training plans and offer training to employees
- Look at hiring candidates with potential for senior opportunities in your company to rebuild a talent pipeline
What can individuals do?
- Seek opportunities for building skills in team or P&L management
- Ask for additional responsibility; take on a special project that may provide additional experience, even for a short duration
- Develop core skills such as people management, team skills, project management, communications, sales, selling, and negotiation
To help individuals acquire professional skills needed to reach higher job levels within marketing and sales professions, Kathryn Ullrich Associates, Inc., together with Alumni Career Services at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Highland Team, a marketing strategy consulting firm, presents Getting to the Top. This series explores the skills and knowledge successful sales and marketing leaders leverage in their careers to get to the top.
The Getting to the Top series will be offered evenings in Palo Alto on the following dates:
- March 7 Getting to the Top in Marketing
- April 4 Getting Unstuck
- May 3 Getting to the Top in Sales Management
- June 6 Getting to the Top in Public Relations
- September 7 Getting to the Top in Strategic Alliances and Channels Management
- October 3 Career Assessment and Strategies
- November 9 Getting to the Top - CEOs with Marketing and Sales Backgrounds
Kathryn Ullrich Associates, Inc. recently completed searches for Director of Investor Relations, IT Audit Consultants, and Product Managers.
Current searches are as follows:
- SVP, VP and Managers, Internal Consulting – Fortune 500 diversified financial services company
- Partner, Financial Services – Boutique strategy consulting firm
- Manager/Senior Consultants – Boutique consulting firm
- Regional VP Sales – Call center solutions company
Kathryn Ullrich Associates, Inc. focuses on VP, Director, Manager and individual contributor executive level hires across the functions of Product Marketing/Management, Marketing, Sales, Engineering, and Consulting for technology and professional services companies.
Check out our website for the press release on the upcoming Getting to the Top career series.
Some coming Silicon Valley events that may be of interest:
- January 26, 2006 – Paired for Success: Mentors and Mentees. ATW International. See http://www.atwinternational.org/chapters/silicon_valley
- February 7, 2006 – Getting to the Top in Product Marketing/Management.
- March 7, 2006 – Getting to the Top in Marketing.