Archive for the ‘Blogs’Category

Planning and Executing Your Job Search

Whether you are employed or between jobs, it is important to thoroughly plan and execute your job search to create your desired success. A lot of people do not know where to begin in the job search process. With so much information at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming.

If you have a good plan of attack and are armed with the best information from people who are plugged into the job market constantly (i.e. recruiters) before you begin searching, you can save time, frustration and confusion. Tackle  your resume, career interests and search process first before you begin your job search.

Make sure you have a good resume to convey your “job self” to potential employers. While there is no one right way to create a resume, a few steps will help you look your best on paper.

At the top of your resume,  include your contact information, with your name in bold and between 12- and 14-point font so that it pops on the page. Include your email address (make sure it is professional in nature!), your cell phone and home phone, and your address (at least put your city and state).

A traditional resume includes a brief summary at the top , an education section and a professional work history. Most employers prefer professional work history to be in bullet points, with your job duties clearly defined. Pull a job description for your position or a similar one to see how to paraphrase your duties. Add a software section and list programs you know(i.e. MS Office), as this is an important skill set to employers.

Next, ask yourself some basic job search questions. Are you interested in staying on the same career path? What is your ultimate career goal? What career path do you need to take to reach that goal? What is the minimum salary you would consider? What companies or industries are you targeting? At what locations would you consider working?

Answer these questions in advance to narrow down your career needs – this will make searching an easier process. These questions will come up in interviews with future employers and recruiters. Having them answered shows thorough preparation and seriousness for your search.

When beginning the search, pick a few of the main job boards to post your resume. .  If there are specific job boards for your industry/career, post a resume there. Incorporate social media in your search. LinkedIn is a great resource to research companies and their employees, and familiarize yourself with future interviewers’ backgrounds. If you use social media, make your business profiles  visible and appropriate – include a professional picture!

Set your personal social media pages  to private and remove potentially incriminating information – employers check these sites frequently. Use your personal network and networking groups to  promote that you are in the job market – get business cards, and follow up with handwritten “nice to meet you” notes when appropriate!

Save your online application as your last step. Network, reach out to recruiters and try to get the inside information to  get in front of the actual hiring manager . While most job responses are funneled into a pool for HR to review, the HR department is often not the actual hiring manager. Your goal is to meet the hiring manager ahead of other applicants.

If you are working with a recruiter and you see a posting with one of their clients, it is much easier for the recruiter to get you in front of the hiring manager, ensuring a better chance for you to get an interview.  Apply online only if you have no results after doing some initial due diligence.

Your job search process deserves adequate time and attention – especially at the beginning! Try not to let the process get you frustrated – that can show up on your personality during interviews and make you undesirable to employers. There are a lot of candidates in the job market, so the process does take time.

If you plan properly, you will be prepared for your job search and should have greater success over a shorter period of time.



04 2013

Following Companies On LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been letting users follow companies for some time, but now it is also allowing the more than 2 million businesses with company pages to post status updates to their followers. Take a well-known company such as Allscripts, for example: as of this date, Allscripts has a company page with more than 5,000 employees on LinkedIn and more than 9,000 followers. Now, imagine even just a fraction of those employees submitting updates, and then their followers reading those posts, and you will realize the tremendous impact this development allows LinkedIn members.

How can you as an executive or an independent professional take advantage of these status updates? There are quite a few ways. When you follow a company on LinkedIn, you can:
• Be among the first to be notified of a vacant or newly created position
• Receive information on recent hires, promotions and company profile updates
• See instantly who you are connected to within the company
• Check out statistics on the company’s employees
• Contact a company recruiter
• Learn the latest about the company’s products and services
• Like or share information about the company with your own professional network

LinkedIn reports that since the launch of “Follow Company,” it has had tens of millions of professionals following their favorite companies. Not everyone is searching for a new position. Some of these professionals may be following a company solely for the purpose of obtaining strategic or competitive intelligence, while others may see the company as a steady, dependable source of industry information and valuable insights.

Another purpose to follow a company may be for straightforward lead generation and marketing. If you are a vendor supplying products and services to the companies you follow, for example, you will know ahead of time if your primary contact leaves a specific company. You can then take steps to reach out to that individual’s replacement as soon as he or she is hired. In addition, you can find out which company your original contact is working for now and stay in touch with that person as well.

Note that the company page administrator will receive an email notification of your intention to follow, and your profile will be listed among other followers of the company.

There are multiple reasons to follow a company, and this new feature on LinkedIn should be another indispensable tool in your networking arsenal.

To connect to Vaco Raleigh on LinkedIn, visit



01 2012

A Recruiting Firm Partner As a Lifelong Ally

Never used a recruiter? The best executive recruiting firms have contacts in your industry at companies that you might not even realize are looking for someone like you. Many of these companies conceal their recruitment activities from competitors—just as you do not want to advertise that you are looking for a new position.

The reasons to establish a relationship with a recruiting firm partner who knows your industry are many and varied. Such a partner knows the employment marketplace better than you do and has the contacts necessary to move you forward in your job search.

The best recruiting and consulting firm partners have pedigree and experience as well as deep relationships in the discipline they serve, whether it is accounting, financial services, telecom, oil and gas, information technology, gaming, construction, legal, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, health care—you name it. These firms will know of the existence of emerging companies and their needs long before others in the industry. They know how to find such companies and match them with just the right C-level executive candidate.

The best candidates—and this is probably you—are well known to others within their industry and area. It is a sensitive issue for a company to approach a candidate about an executive level opportunity. High-level executive searches are often  kept confidential to prevent the loss of a company’s reputation and threat from competitors. An executive recruiting firm partner comes in very handy as an intermediary and can ascertain your interest before revealing your name to the organization, or their name to you.

As a star executive, you probably do not surf the job boards, but you should fully appreciate the extensive value of a partnership with a recruiting firm. Such firms have a winning strategy to help leading companies locate their next impact player. A high quality recruitment consultant knows his or her market niche intimately, and can give you excellent advice and help you negotiate a comprehensive compensation package.

Perhaps you are reading this because you are an HR professional who lacks the time to maintain the professional network that yields qualified candidates for various positions at your company. Senior level recruitment processes tend to be lengthy affairs. Whether you are an executive considering a new challenge or an HR professional in an emerging company seeking top talent, think of your trusted executive recruiter as a “Millionaire Matchmaker” and lifelong professional ally.

For more information on how executive recruitment play a part in securing your desired employment in the Raleigh and Research Triangle Park area, call (919) 719-6500 or e-mail our executive recruiter team:

Christiaan Heijmen, managing director for executive search

Dan Davies, managing director for executive search

Bob Reuss, vice president of business development



12 2011

The Value of a Mastermind Group

By Christiaan Heijmen

Napoleon Hill first introduced the concept of the mastermind group in his classic book, “Think And Grow Rich.” He defined the group as two or more people who work in harmony to attain a purpose.

The benefit of belonging to a mastermind group is that you can use or borrow the experience, education, influence and maybe even the capital of others to accomplish your objectives. With problem-solving, brainstorming, inspiration and motivation as their primary goals, mastermind groups take individual members to higher levels of accomplishment and insight than what any could achieve on their own.

The executive team at any company can be a mastermind group if it functions properly (remember, Napoleon Hill specified working “in harmony”). But as a C-level executive, you should also consider the idea of a mastermind group of your peers, in which members come from non-competing industries.

Let’s say you’re a CEO, facing the same challenges and problems that other CEOs in other industries face. Seek them out. The reason behind this approach lies in protecting trade secrets from your competition. When your mastermind group is composed of CEOs from other industries, you do not have to worry about divulging trade secrets.

Invite five or six people to meet with you on a regular basis, even if it’s only a few times a year. It’s important that everyone in the group commits to these meetings and to the group process. Confidentiality is an absolute requirement. Sit down together, and ask these other CEOs for their advice about what you should be doing and how you can advance yourself and your company. Besides CEOs, maybe you can include a banker and an accountant in the group. Most people will be flattered when you ask them to participate in a mastermind group.

After you gain commitments from your chosen individuals, make sure that you do not waste anyone’s time. Be prepared with a set of topics or questions to discuss, and provide the agenda to everyone ahead of the scheduled meeting so that they have time to ponder their input and do research.

At the meeting, listen and take the suggestions of your mastermind group very seriously, and act on their advice. Nothing will happen unless you follow through. You must demonstrate to the group at the following meeting that you acted on their advice, and tell them the results. 

Christiaan Heijmen is the managing director for executive search at Vaco Raleigh, LLC, where he is part of a team dedicated to building the company’s executive recruiting practice by developing relationships with senior executives throughout the Triangle.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Simon Blackley



12 2011

Alternative Job Search

As many Americans still find themselves unemployed, people are getting creative with ways to go about finding the perfect job. As seen in the News and Observer, by creating his own website, Cris Cohen was able to draw attention to aspects of his professional experience that would not ordinarily be on his résumé, our own David Rhode, managing partner at Vaco, has a few thoughts for job seekers like Cohen.

Offbeat website reboots job search

BY DAVID RANII – Staff Writer

After Cris Cohen was laid off from his job as a contract worker for Cisco Systems in April, he decided a conventional job search just wasn’t going to cut it.

“The typical way of looking for a job has always been very frustrating, the whole thing that you have to present yourself in the format of a résumé, which is two pages and has all the excitement of insurance literature,” said Cohen, 40, of Cary.

So Cohen ventured down the unorthodox path of creating a website, “Cris Recruits A Company,” that provides a more engaging, more personalized showcase of his talents – including his writing skill.

“Hi. I’m Cris and I am looking for a company to join, one that needs people who can do more than just one job, people who can adapt,” Cohen states on the home page of “Although I favor communications work, I am the employee equivalent of a Swiss army knife in that I have multiple skills and I look good in red.”

Indeed, Cohen’s varied work history is anything but résumé-friendly since it is, as Duke Ellington would have said, beyond category. As Cohen points out on his website, “I am experienced in communications, sales operations, project management, and certifications security enforcement (I swear I did not make that last job up).”

In case you’re wondering, certifications security enforcement work was what Cohen did as a contract worker at Cisco for the past four years. It turns out that there’s an active black market in Cisco certification exams, and Cohen, according to his website, was a project manager whose responsibilities included “creating tools, processes and programs for identifying illegal replication and distribution of Cisco testing and certification materials.”

Given the struggling economy and the high unemployment rate, job seekers across the country are trying new methods – video résumés, renting billboards – to stand out from the crowd.

It’s an extra tool

David Rhode, managing partner at Vaco Raleigh, an executive placement and consulting firm, said a website such as Cohen’s enables job seekers to call attention to pluses that might not make a résumé. In Cohen’s case, that includes the speaking engagements he has booked to promote a humor book that he plans to self-publish in September, “Staying Crazy to Keep From Going Insane.”

But, Rhode cautioned, it’s not a replacement for the traditional tools of job seekers: networking, applying for positions online and preparing a résumé.

“If you think you are going to build it and they will come, you are mistaken,” Rhode said.

Cohen agrees. He’s hoping the website will give his job search some extra oomph, but he’s using it as a supplement to a conventional job search. That includes, among many other things, “communicating with any and all family and friends” that he’s on a job hunt.

Rhode also stressed that anyone who takes this approach needs to “make sure it is done really well and really professionally” – a standard that, in his opinion, Cohen has met.

Issues such as misspelled words or haphazard organization, Rhode said, could turn what should be a “positive differentiator” into a negative one.

Finding a role model

Cohen was blindsided when his boss at Spherion Staffing Services, a company that provides contract workers nationwide, told him that he was being let go as part of a downsizing at Cisco. The day before Cohen had been given a new work assignment.

“It was one of those typical situations where you’re going 100 miles an hour and then suddenly somebody says you don’t have a job anymore,” Cohen said.

Cohen is a fan of a blog written by Seth Godin, a best-selling author and marketing guru, so he decided to ask him for advice on how to conduct a different kind of job search. Godin referred him to the “Susan Hires A Boss” website. It was created in 2009 by a protégé of Godin’s, Susan Villas Lewis, when she was seeking a job.

Cohen liked what he saw.

“My superpower is getting things done,” Lewis boasted on her website ( main.susan ). “I battle the agent of chaos. I overdeliver. I delight. I amaze. And I’m looking for a place in need of a super hero like me.”

Lewis said in a phone interview that she was contacted by 40 or so companies from across the country who saw her website, including a software development firm in Nashville, Tenn., that ultimately hired her for a marketing job. However, she had a not-so-secret weapon that Cohen doesn’t: Godin promoted her website on his blog ( seth ).

“That was a huge advantage,” she said.

Still looking

“Cris Recruits A Company” has been up for about six weeks and, so far, hasn’t produced any tangible results for Cohen. But he isn’t discouraged.

“I know times are difficult,” he said. “I like that it’s a proactive step. I like that I can update it and it’s not just ye old resume.”

When he communicates with a prospective employer, he makes sure to refer them to the website.

His hope is that executives will visit and say to themselves, “I like that he is doing something different.”

Photo Credit: Flickr User SOCIALisBETTER



11 2011

The Effect of Charitable Activities on Your Employment

Many people do not realize how their charitable activities can play a part in securing their desired employment.  Although it only makes sense to volunteer for an organization that you hope to someday work for—such as a hospital—in order to get your foot in the door, there are reasons to volunteer your time and money to any number of nonprofits that may have nothing to do with your industry or choice of career.

Serving on nonprofit boards allows you to give back to your community and gain a certain prominence at the same time. Whether your specialty is accounting, marketing, computers or construction, you’ll be able to find a nonprofit that will welcome you with open arms. 

Being an active volunteer for nonprofits and charities affects your employment in the following positive ways:

  • Adds credibility to your resume and makes you appear well-rounded
  • Demonstrates that you have clout in the community
  • Shows who you are and what you care about
  • Opens doors to meeting other people, especially prestigious and powerful leaders 
  • Helps you win awards

People are attracted to others who display a social conscience, and that includes potential employers.  Many firms encourage their employees to be active on boards and to participate in charitable activities, because it reflects well on the company and builds public goodwill.

If you have ever wanted to volunteer for a cause, a nonprofit or a charitable organization, but are unsure which one or where to start, take a look at Charity Navigator, ( ) a 501© (3) non-profit organization that provides information on more than 5,000 charities. One or two will probably attract you. Find one that means something to you.

For more information on how charitable activities can play a part in securing your desired employment in the Raleigh and Research Triangle Park area, call (919) 719-6500 or e-mail Crystal Suazo at

Photo Credit: Flickr User HowardLake



11 2011

The Future Of The Gaming Industry In Raleigh

The Future of the Gaming Industry in Raleigh


Over 30 video game companies  have set-up shop in the Raleigh area providing another profitable, technology-based industry for the Triangle on which to pride itself.  This sector of the entertainment industry has brought over 1,000 jobs and increased attention to the benefits that Raleigh has to offer.

The Wake County Economic Development industry website breaks the gaming industry into three categories; engine development, gaming development and serious games. Each sector targets a different audience and brings in a variety of workforce specializations.

 A combination of tax breaks, education and area amenities make the Triangle a “triple threat” in the gaming industry.

Tax Breaks

With technology becoming more accessible to people of all ages, the gaming industry is reaping the benefits. With higher profitability comes greater competition between states to become the center of the gaming world. To stay a top contender in the fight, Governor Bev Perdue signed into law, effective last year, Tax Breaks that provide companies a credit on compensation and research efforts.


As popularly mentioned when discussing the Triangle, the area universities play a major role in the success of the industry. N.C. State, UNC – Chapel Hill, Duke University and even local community colleges, including Wake Tech, all offer degrees in fields that are beneficial when gaming companies are looking to higher. Around 2,000 students are in computer sciences programs, and, with degrees including game development, graphic design and game design, these future generations are continuously pushing the envelope and introducing new technologies into the field.

Life in the Triangle

Wake County Economic Development says Raleigh is “a mix of big city flair and small town values.” Raleigh residents take pride in their community, always working to better where they call home. The city is affordable and offers a multitude of opportunities for ways to enjoy your time; including being the center for many major college and professional level sports teams.  With an area that offers so many benefits to its residents, those who work in the gaming industry based in Raleigh, have an additional positive environment outside of the work place.


As Raleigh continues to provide the three aspects that make it a “triple threat,” it is only natural to see the gaming industry continue to grow. Local news stations WRAL and News 14 Carolina have reported for the past two years that the gaming industry has been prosperous despite the severe economic conditions. The Raleigh area provides a beneficial environment, both in and out of the work place, and greater numbers of gaming companies are taking note. The game industry is here to stay, and will continue to provide jobs and bring attention to the developments that are being made in the Triangle.

For more information on job opportunities in the Raleigh and Research Triangle Park area, call (919) 719-6500 or e-mail Crystal Suazo at

Photo Credit: Flickr User Alfred Hermida



10 2011

The Importance Of Good References For Job Candidates

When interviewing for a job, the references that go along with your resume are usually going to be what seals the deal between you and your future company.  It is a scary thought to think that the opinions and views of others (those you listed as references) are what could make or break this job for you.  A common misconception is that companies don’t call the references you have listed, but on the contrary, there is nothing further from the truth.  Although it is true that the reason for references isn’t to do a background check, make no mistake that the company you are applying for will certainly call one or two of your references. 

If you and one other person were tied in terms of qualifications for a job, it is vital that your references are people that you can completely trust to give you a good review if called upon.  Suggesting to the new company you apply for that they call your past CEO at the old firm might not be the best idea.  You want someone who can accurately describe how you are as an employee and as person.  But in order for that to happen, it needs to be someone who has worked closely with you. Your references need to be people who know what you are capable of as a worker.

Notifying your references before you list them as a reference is also a must.  There is a possibility that they would not want to speak on your behalf, or might not feel like they could present the most accurate representation of you to your future employer.  You want your references to feel familiar with this process, and you need to make sure that they feel comfortable helping you out.

The references you list in addition to your resume are one of the most important aspects of the interview process, besides your qualifications, of course.  You need to be able to trust those you listed as references, and you need to be confident that they will do nothing but help you gain this new job.  It is frightening to know that your “dream job” is in the hands of others, but you can make the references you list work to your favor.

For more information on job opportunities in the Raleigh and Research Triangle Park area, call (919) 719-6500 or e-mail Crystal Suazo at

Photo Credit: Flickr User DeclanTM



10 2011

Today’s Favored Techniques For Writing Resumes

Three Techniques For Writing Resumes

Like it or not, an employer will only glance at your resume for about 15 to 20 seconds, so knowing the purpose of your resume is extremely important.  The main purpose of your resume is to land an interview, and in turn hopefully that interview will land you a job.  The biggest mistake that job seekers make is to cater their resumes to getting the job and they forget about the interview process altogether.  Be careful that your resume doesn’t turn into a boring piece of work that makes you look desperate for a job.  

 A resume is designed to showcase your strengths as a professional.  It is important to backing up your qualities and strengths by connecting them with real life experiences that will provide evidence that you do actually know what you’re doing.  Here are some tips for making your resume as effective as possible.


In the high tech world that we live in, a lot of resumes are stored on computers.  If your resume does not have certain keywords that might be specific to the companies wants or needs, you might be out of luck before they even get a chance to view your resume that you worked so hard to compose.  Before writing your resume, research the company and the description of the job and try to include keywords and language found in the job description.

Attention Grabbers     

Because an employer will spend less than a minute reviewing your resume, the title under which all of your information is listed really needs to grab your potential employer.  Be as expressive as possible so that your future boss can get a good idea about your past work experiences.

Bad Title:  Engineering

Good Title:  Hydraulics Engineer

Past Experiences

Every job that you’ve ever had in your entire life is probably not relevant to the job you might be applying for now.  Working in a bakery when you were 16 probably isn’t going to help you land an executive position.  Most experts agree that the past 20 years of your work experience are enough to determine if you are qualified for the job.  Also, don’t be afraid to list volunteer positions!  Even though you might not have been paid for work doesn’t mean that it isn’t applicable to the job you are applying for.  As long as it’s relevant, don’t leave it out!

Need help composing a resume? is a great source for creating and maintaining a resume.  We are also here to help you take your job search to the next level.  For more information, call (919) 719-6500 or e-mail Crystal Suazo at

Photo Credit: Flickr User juhansonin




09 2011

Contract and Special Career Opportunities Out of State

If you are a contract, contract-hire, or special project consultant who is pursuing career opportunities out of state, you must rely on multiple channels to find jobs and complete the hiring process. Here are some factors to consider when pursuing contract and special project career opportunities out of state.

Utilize Internet-based recruiting tools, such as Monster, Dice and Careerbuilder, as well as online networking and contact with recruiters. Often a recruiter can help you prepare a resume that highlights the technologies in which you specialize, including keywords for expertise such as: Java Developer, Infrastructure Architect, Bioinformatics Systems Administrator, Oracle/SQL Developer, Network Engineer and so forth. 

Much of your screening and pre-qualification prior to presentation to managers or others involved in the hiring authority will be conducted by a recruiter, especially if your industry is in a high-tech area such as software, biotechnology, healthcare or related industries. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn to collect testimonials from internal or external customers thanking you for your help and praising your actions and the results. If you have website skills or are willing to hire someone who does, an online portfolio of your work can be very effective.

More than likely, you will have to negotiate salary and/or hourly pay rates over the phone as well, so be prepared with a game plan. Get your references in good order and be prepared for any online-administered skills testing. And when you do land the position, make sure that you fully understand what travel, room and board, administrative and other costs will be borne by the employer, and get it in writing. For instance, often general purpose software or hardware are not chargeable to specific grants and contracts unless explicitly budgeted, justified and approved in the project proposal.

For more information on contract and special career opportunities in the Raleigh and Research Triangle Park area, call (919) 719-6500 or e-mail Crystal Suazo at

Photo Credit: Flickr User lizzardo



09 2011