Interview with Retiring CEO Mark Bregman
Why are you retiring?
I’ve been working since I was 11 years old. I’ve had 34 great years in executive search, including 24 years at BOB Search. I had another career in Architecture and Construction before that. It’s time!
What will you be doing from this point forward?
I’m fortunate to have kids and grandkids living very nearby, and I will enjoy more time with them. I also want to do some organizational consulting, executive coaching, writing, creating art, cooking, home improvement, traveling, etc. I have so many plans, I’m not sure when I’ll really feel “retired.”
What are you most proud of having done in executive search?
The implementation of the Performance Based Search System at BOB Search is a big achievement. Identifying, recruiting and evaluating candidates based on their ability to get specific results for the employer means a better fit, and a bigger impact for the employer. It’s a win-win for employers and job seekers. I’m also happy to have had the chance to work with many great people, including my own staff, my colleagues, my clients, and the many candidates I’ve gotten to know. I feel privileged to have established such rewarding, lasting, and positive relationships.
What are your thoughts on hiring, and where it is headed?
Well, that will be the first book I write, and it might not be so pretty. Over my 34 years in executive search, I don’t think employers have gotten much better at hiring. Even with technology, social media, and lots of HR experts in the field, hiring accuracy has not fundamentally improved. Everything else in business has advanced, some with quantum leaps. Companies still make a lot of mistakes when hiring.
Hiring people that don’t fit, don’t make an impact, and don’t last in the job. Companies use antiquated job descriptions, interview methods that don’t predict success, and they fail to incorporate “recruitment” – attracting the candidate – into their process.
So what would be your advice for employers?
Be more deliberate and purposeful about the art and science of hiring well. Define the objectives up front. Don’t use “behavioral interviewing” unless it is in the context of the specific results the employer needs. Candidates know how to game the behavioral interview, but if you add context (how they need to apply that behavior), you get more accurate answers. Make the candidate show you how they would actually do the job. Learn more about how to improve your evaluation, and your recruitment techniques. Cast a wider net – to get the passive candidates (not just active job seekers) into your pool of prospects. Create an excellent candidate experience, so everyone you interview would want to work at your company.
How about your advice for job seekers?
That’s going to be my second book. Job seekers must be more proactive. You cannot rely on answering ads, waiting for headhunters to respond, and sending out 12 networking letters. Job seekers must assertively work their network, asking for referrals to those that might need their skills. Make 200 significant contacts, and you will have choices in job prospects, not just a yes/no for one job you might be offered. A job seeker must create a value proposition citing the benefits to their next employer of hiring them, from the point of view of the prospective employer. And, talk to people. Making phone calls immediately differentiates you from other job seekers. People can’t present their entire communicative ability in just emails. It takes talking to, and meeting people to get them to understand why they should hire you.
What’s the most exotic search you’ve done?
I placed a CFO for a hotel chain in Tahiti early in my search career. The selected candidate was a French citizen, living in the US, working for another hotel company. He and his family had to be willing to move to Tahiti and live in a grass hut – a four star grass hut!
What’s the most fun search you’ve done?
We placed a Soft Power Program Director for a defense company. We didn’t even know what Soft Power was. It is how our government wins hearts and minds in trouble spots without using force. A very interesting discipline, and every candidate we spoke to had the most fascinating stories.
How about the most challenging search?
Several would fall into this category – it is when the employer isn’t really clear on who and what they want to hire, and the ideal candidate is a moving target. Whether they’re using a search firm or looking on their own, uncertain goals will make good hiring less achievable.
Anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to add?
I hope all my friends in business will continue to enjoy the excellent results that BOB Search can deliver. I thank all the friends I’ve made in business, and the BOB team for a wonderful run. I wish you all much happiness and continued success.