Laurie Mitchell is the go-to recruiter in the marketing, public-relations and advertising business. As owner of Laurie Mitchell & Company Inc., this Beachwood, Ohio, woman has the reputation of being a straight shooter — and someone who really knows what she's talking about.
Laurie Mitchell is the go-to recruiter in the marketing, public-relations and advertising business. As owner of Laurie Mitchell & Company Inc., this Beachwood, Ohio, woman has the reputation of being a straight shooter — and someone who really knows what she’s talking about.
Her record is proof: She has placed 1,120 professionals in those fields since 1984, at midlevel management and higher. Corporations and agencies hire her to send them job candidates.
Here, she discusses what it takes for job-seekers to succeed.
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Q: Recruiters often have a reputation for being tough. Why is that?
A: Part of it is that you have to manage your time, and there are lots of people who want free advice. I’ve heard from three people today already who want to me to rewrite their résumés. (She doesn’t do that, but she offers résumé samples on her Web site, www.lauriemitchellcompany.com.)
But I also have to be the toughest interview that job candidates face, because I’m the gatekeeper. My clients don’t want me to send them idiots. They’re not paying large recruiting or search fees to have their time wasted.
Q: What’s one of the dumbest things people can say to you?
A: That they’re underpaid. Somebody might say they’re making $40,000, “but I really should be making $70,000.” An 8 percent to 15 percent salary increase when you’re changing jobs is normal. Your next boss is not responsible for what your current boss got away with.
Q: Are most people realistic about how good they are at what they do?
A: Most people think their skills are better than they are. There’s a lot of self-delusion at all levels. I’ve had CEOs tell me, “I’m cheerful and funny, and my people love me!” And I know their people hate them!
Q: What’s one of the most important things you convey to young people about the workplace?
A: Often they don’t understand the most important part of the job description, which isn’t in writing. That is, “Make your boss look good.” If you do that, you’re home free.
Q: You’ve been in this business since 1984. Have you seen a generational change in the candidates you work with?
A: I’ve seen some young people who are very self-absorbed. They’ve been coddled and overpraised and so they think they are due praise and compliments all the time at work. When they don’t get that, they’re unhappy.
Q: You’re a frequent speaker. What message do you try to convey to people about the professional world?
A: I tell them it’s not OK to cry in the office or storm down the hall when you disagree with someone. You’re supposed to be professional and concentrate on your job. Your job is to make other people look good and to accomplish your goals, not to express all your emotions.
Q: What else is something that 20- and 30-somethings have had to learn to deal with?
A: They have to know that ugly e-mails stay around. It’s not OK to send insulting e-mails. Young people are comfortable dissing others with their friends, but you can’t do it in e-mails. They have a way of ending up in people’s “poison” files, and you don’t want to be in someone’s poison file.
Q: What about people’s online presence?
A: If people go to your Facebook entry and see you naked or read about your sex life, that’s not a good idea.
But it doesn’t even have to be that obvious. I got a résumé from a young man, and it was decent; he mentioned his blog on it, so I checked it out. It was about how he’s completely opposed to modern medicine, hospitals and doctors. And I told him, “Health care is the largest employer in Northeast Ohio. This is the wrong city to promulgate that view in.” E-mail and online stuff lives forever, and employers and hiring influences do Google you.
Q: How are younger workers changing the workplace once they do get hired?
A: I think the workplace could be friendlier, and I think that is happening, in work-lifestyle balance. Employers are more sympathetic to that.
Q: I’ve heard a lot about a sense of entitlement that some people bring to the workplace or an unwillingness to pay dues. What’s your take on that?
A: I tell people, “You are not entitled to anything but a desk, a computer, a business card and your job description. You are not entitled to run the department the first month or to manage people right off the bat. You are entitled to prove you are an excellent employee who accomplishes her duties. You are not entitled to grouse out loud or demand unrealistic perks.”