Melissa Ahlbrandt was named Senior Executive Recruiter at Signature Executives. I recently sat down with her to get her perspective on how the rules of recruitment are changing and how she plans to keep her clients ahead of the curve.
Congratulations on the new position! What about this opportunity excites you the most?
For one, it’s great being back with the Signature team! The quality of work that this group carries out has always been a subject of pride for me. So, it’s very exciting to get the chance to take a lead position in the group. Secondly, working as an executive recruiter for Signature Executives is such an exciting experience because our process is so different. We really delve into every component of the companies we work with during our cultural assessment process. Our executive recruiters don’t just look at the job description. They look at specific business and cultural needs that are lacking and determine what type of person would help close those gaps. On top of that, we have an established network of industry professionals that allows for us to find that perfect candidate for our clients. I think that’s what I love most about working as Senior Executive Recruiter – knowing that I’m filling the integral positions for our clients.
That does sound exciting… do you maintain contact with your clients after a placement?
As part of our recruitment process, we always make a point of staying connected with our clients after a successful placement. We do this for two reasons. One, we strive to foster long-term relationships with our clients. In fact, we’ve been known to fill multiple executive level positions for clients over multi-year periods. However, we also stay connected with our clients because it’s very gratifying to see how our placements lead to further success for our clients.
Before joining Signature Executives, you not only worked as an executive recruiter for Signature Staffing, but you also spent time as an HR Manager for a publicly owned corporation. How do you think that experience benefits you in the world of executive search?
The biggest benefit of having worked in HR is that I am well-versed in the legal aspects of recruitment. I understand the legal risks associated with employment and compliance laws. I was also responsible for drafting new hire contracts, which is helpful in the world of recruitment. In addition to my legal knowledge, working in HR has benefited me greatly since I have had an inside look on how time-consuming and tedious finding executive level candidates can be for companies. The amount of time spent scouring online sites like LinkedIn.com, sifting through resumes and sitting in on interviews is incredible. I can’t imagine how companies with no dedicated HR personnel find the time or the resources to locate an executive replacement.
So you believe there’s still a need for executive recruiters even with the existence of sites such as LinkedIn.com, Monster.com & Indeed.com?
Absolutely. In fact, I think it’s even more important for companies to utilize an executive recruiter/headhunter when looking to fill a leadership position. Jobseekers have the ability to shop around like never before. Our recruiters have experience in encouraging candidates to see themselves transitioning to our client companies. We also have a network of candidates who have distinguished themselves as qualified and are prepared to make a career move.
So you bring the candidates straight to the client… sounds like a definite time-saver.
Yes, especially since we only present candidates to our clients after they have been vetted. We investigate all candidates thoroughly and qualify them using internal procedures. Furthermore, we utilize third-party reporting to gather additional background information. As a result, the organizations we work with are able to avoid the cost of a bad hire. In addition to the vetting process, we also save our clients valuable time by presenting candidates via a video platform. This process seeks to mitigate time constraints from an organizational and board perspective, as well as a candidate perspective.
You obviously have a very strong background in executive search. So I must ask, why did you still find it necessary to receive your Certified Search Consultant credentials via the American Staffing Association?
First off, I think it’s imperative, no matter what industry you work in, to have continual education. For me, I always strive to stay ahead of the curve and to stay up-to-date on any changes to the legal status of the recruitment industry. The CSC certification helped further my knowledge in employment laws on the state and federal level. It also strengthened my knowledge in the pre-employment process as well as drafting client agreements. Lastly, I wanted to have the CSC certification so that my clients understood that I follow the ASA’s Code of Ethics. In a few weeks I’ll also have my certification as a Healthcare Staffing Professional. Many of our clients are in the healthcare sector and it’s important for our recruiters to be well-versed in the diverse laws that are associated with placing healthcare professionals.
What is the best way for a company to get in touch with you and your team?
In whatever way is most convenient for them! I’m personally available by phone or email. If someone is considering using an executive recruiter I’d be happy to meet with them to find out more about their specific needs.
What areas do you and your team work in?
My team works in the Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh & D.C. markets.