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Recruiting Executive Brings a Novel Approach - Literally - to His Job-Seekers' Guide

An award winning playwright who is also a top recruiting executive has taken a novel approach to producing a job-hunter's guide.

Using a fictional approach, Danny Cahill offers some stinging and unusual strategies that also includes relationship advice as well.

“There is no difference between making decisions on your career path and making decisions in your romantic life,” says Danny Cahill, an executive recruiter and the owner of Hobson Associates, one of the nation's largest search firms.

Based on his many years of professional experience, Cahill has found that the actions that build great careers also lead to great relationships.  In his new book, Harper's Rules:  A Recruiter’s Guide to Finding a Dream Job and the Right Relationship (Greenleaf Book Group Press, April 2011), he delivers strategies for landing the perfect job, while showing how these very same strategies apply to personal relationships.

Instead of writing a how-to book, Cahill – who is also an award-winning playwright – puts his ideas into a fast-paced novel featuring a straight-talking headhunter named Harper Scott and his favorite client, Casey Matthews, a superstar technology salesperson, who’s ready for a major change.  She’s looking for a new job and a new relationship, and Scott shows her why the same strategies can apply to both.  Some of his rules include:

Knowing When It’s Time to Go: How does one know if it’s time to leave a job or a relationship?  The Scott character suggests asking some pointed questions:  if one were unemployed and could interview for one's present job, would one?  If one didn’t need an income, would one still do one's job?  How often does one laugh during the day?  Does one believe what one is told at work?  Creating appropriate variations of these questions can help one examine one's personal relationships as well.

Saying Goodbye: If one decides to leave one's job, use direct language when talking to the boss.  “This is not an exit interview or final goodbye.  That comes later,” explains Danny Cahill in the guise of Scott.  People should not spend time revisiting everything that went wrong.  And don’t burn bridges. (The same is true if someone needs to end a personal relationship.)  “Offer two weeks’ notice – committing to work hard and not bad-mouth the company during that time,” the author says.  In addition, he urges readers never to accept a counteroffer. It’s like going back to an ex-spouse after the divorce.  Realize that one's loyalty will always be in question – once trust is broken, it cannot be repaired.  Moreover, one will regret lacking the courage to make the change one knew was best for one's career and life.

The Job Hunt/Networking: When looking for a job – or a new relationship – understand that “high touch” comes before “high tech.”  Let everyone in “your personal supply chain” know that one's looking – from the accountant and lawyer to dentist and vet.  “You don’t know who people know,” says Danny Cahill/Harper Scott.  When it comes to the job, make sure to contact one's business references.  Not only is one alerting them that they may be hearing from potential employers, but also these conversations could reveal an open door at a prior company.  Former colleagues also may have heard about positions that could be suitable.

Résumés: Even in today’s wired, social-media-driven world, one won’t get an interview without a résumé.  The trick is to craft a great one.  “You have between five and 15 seconds to catch your reader’s attention before they either engage or pass.  God’s résumé should be one page.  Why is yours three pages?  Nobody is reading it,” Cahill/Scott says.  Tips for creating a winning résumé include:  limiting it to one page, including only highlights that project one in the best light, never starting with one's “career objective,” and explaining, in a quantitative way, one's achievements in each job.  Apply this advice when posting one's profile on dating Web sites as well.

Interviewing. According to Harper's Rules, this is where the job search and dating are most similar.  The objective of every first interview (or date) is to be invited for a second.  The key to achieving this is to recognize that “it’s all about them” – the company’s, or other person’s, needs.  The goal is to show that one is listening.  And be genuine.  Don’t offer any obvious or phony compliments.  Cahill/Scott cautions against discussing money in the first interview, and walks readers through neutral responses to use, if pressed.  After the job interview, a handwritten thank-you note is in order.  However, any additional follow-up only weakens one's position.  According to the author, “candidates who interview like they don’t need a job will almost always get the offer before candidates who interview like they do.”  The same is true when dating.

Negotiating the Offer.  “When a company makes an offer, it is the corporate equivalent of saying, ‘I love you,’ ” Cahill/Scott says.  “When you tell someone you love them, you don’t want to hear, ‘Thanks a lot, let me think about it for a few days.’ ”  Time kills deals.  The longer one waits, the more variables one allows.  However, Harper's Rules also walks readers through handling a “deal breaker” – a concern that is so important one would prefer to turn down the job, or the relationship, rather than let it go unresolved. 

Other topics addressed in the book include dealing with reference checks (why providing a “bad” reference along with positive ones is a good idea), handling compensation discussions, dealing with noncompete agreements and negotiating the final offer.  Throughout, author Danny Cahill makes it clear that the book’s insights and lessons are as applicable to romantic relationships as they are to the work world. 

Harper's Rules provides advice from cover to cover, ending with Scott’s final rule:  “If we used the language of work in our relationships, we’d have fewer problems and a lower divorce rate.  We need to stop saying we ‘fell in love.’  Falling implies a misstep, a mistake.  We would never say we fell into a job; we accept a job offer.  We need to start saying, ‘I love you.  I want to be with you.  I accept your offer of love.’ ”



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