Disrupting the Hiring Process From The Top Down With Luke Whitburn (Transcript)

The following is the transcript from Tuesday’s podcast with Luke Whitburn. You can find the show and show notes here. Our conversation starts around 14:00.

[00:00:00] Mark Anthony Dyson: Luke Whitburn and this is the guy who looks maybe a little bit like Brian Urlacher back in his playing days. Nevertheless, he is a leader in the staffing and recruiting industry for the past couple of decades. You’d be in his approach to job search.

[00:00:17] And he’s been doing this, I’ve known him for about six, seven years now. Right. Looking and we’ve talked on the phone. So it’s kind of like he’s yeah. We’re connected in several different ways. So it’s great to see you, Luke. How are you?

[00:00:31] Luke Whitburn: I’m great. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:33] Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes, sir. And it’s great to have you because you’ve done this seamlessly throughout your career cause I’ve seen you do it. Yeah.

[00:00:42] Luke Whitburn: Yeah. I’ve been doing, I’ve been doing recruiting for 23 years.

[00:00:46] Mark Anthony Dyson: Yes, sir. And you’ve been always in the leadership positions and the way you go about job searches, the way that many people should go, regardless of their position, and not being intimidated by other leaders.

[00:01:02] Luke Whitburn: I mean, we’re all, putting one foot through our pants legs at a time. I mean, that’s what it really comes down to in this crazy world we’re in. And so yeah, I take kind of a, a little bit more aggressive approach and that’s to start at the very top and get those referrals all the way down to the hiring manager.

[00:01:21] Recently I’ve pivoted to a new firm. And I spoke with the CEO and the CEO was instrumental then in hearing my pitch as to my background and getting me in front of then the decision-maker for that business unit. And at no time, did I ever hit a submit button and now I’m working for them.

[00:01:43] So it’s a great case study. And how to broaden your approach to jobs.

[00:01:51] Mark Anthony Dyson: Now you in your particular case you have always done this and like you said, you’d never hit the submit button and for somebody who’s going to be willing to try it, they have to also kind of have a thick skin and don’t mind being rejected or ignored many, many times over.

[00:02:10] Luke Whitburn: Yeah. I mean, one of the fundamentals mark that we all, whether you’re the CEO or the janitor at all levels of a company, all that, or rejection is redirection and you can’t take it personally. I’ve coached people and business owners on that. It’s simple. You’ve got to stay positive and you know, your tone and the way you present yourself has a lot to do with it.

[00:02:38] And people like other folks that step up and want to get in front of the decision-maker and there’s nothing wrong with it. You know, there are even sales professionals out there in this world who find cold calling addictive. And it really is if you’re in that line of work. So full circle, this is something that I have found throughout my career to be an alternative avenue then getting lost in the abyss of the job search that you hit that submit button.

[00:03:10] And then suddenly you’re just like, where am I? And we never hear back. So why not take a different approach?

[00:03:19] Mark Anthony Dyson: Sure. Now I use this approach in many different ways. One of the things back in the early days of my podcasting this show the first few people a lot of my colleagues were taken aback by how big the guests actually were.

[00:03:35] And one of the things I think is, is one is that, although you may not always be able to speak to the CEO, you might be able to speak to someone who might be influential to a C O like the person’s secretary or administrative assistant or his assistant that could just refer you. And then it’s interesting.

[00:03:54] CEOs are not the guy that turns you down. That’s the one thing I think that’s that that’s, that’s part of the science of this is that he’s likely the one that would just refer down, but he’s not going to be the one to turn you down.

[00:04:06] Luke Whitburn: No. You may, by applying for jobs that it has nothing to do with ever reporting to the CEO and, or ever talking to the CEO.

[00:04:14] So I think at the end of the day is a kind of reiterate it’s it’s about stepping up and an approach that’s proactive forward-leaning. With this mindset of clicking apply and just waiting you’re going to, you’re going to get so frustrated. So this is a suggestion for the masses out there that might want to try something new.

[00:04:35] And you’re right, Mark. It, it could be your talking with the HR manager and, or you could be talking to the chief of staff who reports to the CEO. So, these other business unit leaders can be influential in helping get some time with them on the phone to share your story. And that’s the most important piece.

[00:04:57] It’s not just sending your resume to the CEO. That isn’t going to work. It’s having that time to share your story with them and why you like their company and what you’re passionate about, how that aligns with your back. Or aligns with a pivot you’re doing so that’s my encouragement to everyone.

[00:05:17] You know the fundamentals we’ve, we’ve got to have better resumes. It’s so competitive out there. It’s unnecessary. It’s unbelievable right now. I’ve been at the two-yard line at the one-yard line and, and, and even with my background, it’s highly competitive. I probably spend, I would say 60 days looking at opportunities and I had, I think, 15 interviews maybe four per company.

[00:05:45] But it’s, it’s remarkable. So it’s out there. You’ve gotta be creative. Do your homework. Look at the glass door ratings, get a second set of eyes on your resume. It’s always, no matter what level. Have someone else look at your resume as well. It’s so imperative. And it should read to what you’re applying for.

[00:06:08] So, you know, those are kind of my thoughts.

[00:06:11] Mark Anthony Dyson: I really believe when we’re talking about one of the things that I think you do too, and I don’t think you, you, you glossed over it in a lot of ways is that you’ve kind of been able to read the temperature in the rooms that you’re applying to. How do you get some insight into what’s going on, on the inside for you to be most effective on the outside?

[00:06:33] Luke Whitburn: That’s a really good point and I always say. And I’ve, I’ve coached people and done this myself and that is we look at a business from the curb and we say, oh my gosh, I want to work at XYZ company. Right. But we really don’t know that it’s toxic or it’s awesome. Or there’s infighting, or it’s got free lunches.

[00:06:57] I mean, there’s a lot of things that you can’t figure out until you’re in that final strike or your onboarding. And that’s just the way it goes. But you can do due diligence and that’s to talk to people who might be in your network on LinkedIn, for example, who are two-tier away and get a referral.

[00:07:20] And they don’t even have to be in that business unit. They could just be an employee and they’re going to be able to help you figure that those items out. Due diligence to me is so important. And I found myself in my 23-year career, several times where I would have had liked to have done more due diligence in the fact of finding out about the culture.

[00:07:46] And what’s going on. Why is there this tremendous turnover or why is this other thing happening, whether it’s reading Glassdoor ratings or it’s talking, networking through LinkedIn it’s imperative for people to do that because the last thing you want to do, right, Mark. This is a secret sauce that I’m talking about and then get there and work.

[00:08:11] And you’re like, wow, this is not what I expected. Right. It’s exhausting. I mean I don’t know about you, but going through interviews you know, I’ve, I’ve been on the other side of the table, my whole career and it’s a lot of work. You’ve got to, it’s like getting ready for a football game or some event and you’ve gotta be pumped up and polished and ready to deliver.

[00:08:38] Mark Anthony Dyson: I think that one of the things you kind of inferred and you went past it to get to the point. But I think something that could be gleaned is as you’re being referred down from the top down, so you get the referral, you get sent to the director of human resources is not the person that’s going to be managing the unit is going to be the next person that puts you through the filters. But every single referral is an opportunity, for you to gain that intelligence for your game. And you’re not, you just don’t want to just be referred to you should be asking questions.

[00:09:14] You can even be a little casual about it sometimes to kind of diffuse the bomb that goes off. If you’re not prepared,

[00:09:21] It’s so true. I am, you know, a seasoned guy. Right. If I was 30, I might be chasing money, you know, that kind of term, I’m chasing a great leader, a good mission, a good supervisor.

[00:09:36] Those are the things that are now really important to me. Because I’ve already done everything else. I’ve won all the wars I’ve I’ve made, made good money. It’s it’s now. So, to your point, that’s exactly why doing that due diligence too, to find out what’s going on in the pulse of that company. And does that align with what you really want?

[00:09:57] And, you know, many times we think. And, and this happens to us, as we grow and learn and the career paths that we want. We think we want something, whether it’s manager responsibilities or more money or stock options or whatever it could be. But the fact of the matter is maybe we’re better as an individual contributor or you know, something along that lines where you’re really able to spread your, your wings and in it’s a place where then you get to, as they say, you love what you’re doing and you don’t feel like you’re at work really.

[00:10:36] Luke Whitburn: So that’s another bit tidbit of wisdom for you there.

[00:10:40] Mark Anthony Dyson: I think as well, what’s going on so far, you’ve been fortunate in that you know, four interviews right now is nothing compared to a growing trend that we’re seeing that people are having 8, 10, 14 interviews. It’s exhausting in some sense, but it really isn’t another opportunity to, again, gain a lot of wisdom on the way into where it can really jumpstart your onboarding and your success at the company.

[00:11:14] Luke Whitburn: Let me tell you a quick story from last week. This is great, right? Okay. So we’re talking about trying to figure it out. The inner workings of an organization. And so I found this digital transformation company and I applied. And next thing you know, I was interviewing with a guy in a t-shirt in a, in a baseball hat who is a VP in his hand was backward.

[00:11:39] And I thought to myself, you know, I get it. I mean, it’s a casual world, but I’d never, my 23-year career ever had a first interview with the C-suite person wearing a baseball cap backward. I don’t know it just, so that’s a great example. We look at this website, we look at these ratings, we talk to these people, we’re networking.

[00:12:01] I just know, I, this is not, that would not be a place for me. The professionalism is kind of questionable and there isn’t, there isn’t something written about that, anywhere that I read it, it was a visual experience. And yet you’re right. It’s having a, a ton of interviews, you know, it’s, it’s really funny.

[00:12:19] I was talking to my wife about this at dinner. It’s like, there was a point where I had the spreadsheet, what was going. Friday we were on a trip as you know school starts on Monday for the kids. So we took this quick, last trip. Somebody called me at four o’clock and said, can you call me in the next hour?

[00:12:36] We, we just love you. We haven’t even talked to you. And it’s so it’s like the race is on it’s out there and there are people out there, you know? It’s, it’s kind of an interesting paradigm right now. It really is.

[00:12:48] And you do something now, the inside scoop to this is that you bore, you were hired when you took those calls last week.

[00:12:58] And Lord knows I would want more job seekers to be aggressive in that sense that the job search isn’t necessarily over anyways. Even if you land a position, it’s not, this has been, my principle, the premise has been, you’re always going to be in the job search. You should always at least entertain the connection so that when one opportunity falls out, your next one is just a conversation away.

[00:13:25] Yeah.

[00:13:25] To your point. It’s not a, it’s not a question of if you’re not all in for what you’ve accepted. The economy is volatile right now. So you don’t know we’re all in this whole we’re all at will. So you just never know. And plan B and plan C are, are you, you just gotta be castling, networking.

[00:13:45] I mean, anybody that is in a profession like yourself, talking with job seekers or coaches, people even I’ve coached, you’ve got to have that plan B. You’ve got to be marketing you’re always keeping your feelers out there. And it doesn’t mean anything as far as to disrespect for what you’re in or what you’re doing.

[00:14:04] It’s just we’re all we have to protect ourselves and our families. And in this new landscape of the world of work, that’s really what it comes down to.

[00:14:13] Mark Anthony Dyson: Yeah, it’s rapidly changing and it’s not going to look the same six months from now. Think about it. Just think about the preparation for Christmas, and then there’s going to be this hiring spree, that company is gone that may not happen this Christmas.

[00:14:31] Luke Whitburn: It may not. And you know what? What’s really interesting is there, you know, we’ve got millions of people at home. They’re on unemployment and they’re making more money per se than they might, if they were working and it’s caused tremendous pain for all of our small businesses, they’re closing, you know, where I live in and around our state, they’re closed.

[00:14:53] There’s a couple of businesses I know about that have been around for 50, 60 years. That for the first time, this summer they’re not open and they can’t find people. So we w I hope and pray that that piece of the economy changes and you know, something that’s that I want to share real quick.

[00:15:09] That’s on par with this changing world of work is we’re accepting jobs where we’ve never met people before. And that in itself, it, you know, it’s so unique. It’s very different and we’ve got 100% remote, we’ve got hybrid, we’ve got two days a week. We’ve got salary adjustments happening for a remote job.

[00:15:32] We’ve got come back to the office in herds, and now where I’m at starting tomorrow. We’re back on man mask mandate in our county a hundred percent. So it’s this it’s so fluid right now. It’s, it’s unbelievable. If you struggle with ambiguity, it’s challenging, but you just have to be flexible.

[00:15:51] Mark Anthony Dyson: But, and that’s what employers are looking for as well. They’re looking for you to show that you’re flexible through the interview process. Yet there might be some resistance on the outset first, but you gotta look at the long version of this is that down the line, if things remain the way they are remote, that’s going to be your relationship and you really can’t treat it like it’s going to be different in person. You can’t afford to be indifferent about it if you’re away from someone. So we’ve been conditioned for the human touch. We’re really, the human touch is really you and I are people to person.

[00:16:28] So, you know, you can expect me. And we would have lunch for it to be a seamless relationship. That’s what and you’ve got to do it as short as a short period of time. We had six, seven years to work at this as opposed to people or going into a working situation may be, may have to go in one time a year.

[00:16:49] Luke Whitburn: This whole working remote deal something else I want to share with the folks out there is, you know, if you see an opportunity out there, Matches your background and your aspirations, isn’t remote. I would still apply for it because you’re a conversation away from a company that needs you, who doesn’t know you yet.

[00:17:14] And who might have that flexibility as they’re casting a wider net for talent. So again, if you see something out there, but it doesn’t say remote, I’m still telling you, or, or suggesting that you should apply. It’s the facts, right?

[00:17:31] Mark Anthony Dyson: We’re definitely going to have to have another conversation as you’re heading into your new role.

[00:17:35] And just to get the other side of what you’re seeing and how you can help redirect job seekers. Anything that we should know that you’ve got coming up next as far as your work and the way that you’re viewing work and what you’re looking forward to when you get in the virtual office, so to speak

[00:17:53] Luke Whitburn: I’m, I’m excited.

[00:17:54] Everyone who I’ve met so far has been outstanding and that’s exciting and half the battle. And I think that I know there’s going to be a big emphasis with my team on hiring sales professionals on the east coast and down in Louisiana. So those are two markets that. Connecticut in particular and in Louisiana that’s I know that we’re going to have to have our finger on the pulse for, but yeah, stay tuned.

[00:18:21] You know, if you’re on LinkedIn and you’re listening to this again, I’m an open networker, please feel free to reach out.

[00:18:29] Mark Anthony Dyson: Great Luke Whitburn staffing and recruiting. You want to follow him on LinkedIn. Be sure you also connect with them. Write him a note first. Tell him that you saw him on the show here and he’s gonna be back later on in the season to pursue more wisdom and give us some more insight because he is about helping people unabashedly and we’ve shared intelligence all this time.

[00:18:53] So he’s been an asset to my network and of course, friendship as well. Thanks, Luke, for coming on the voice of jobs live, and hope to talk to you really soon. We’ll follow

[00:19:04] Luke Whitburn: up. Okay. Thanks. Bye-bye

About Mark Anthony Dyson

I am the “The Voice of Job Seekers!” I offer compassionate career and job search advice as I hack and re-imagine the job search process. You need to be “the prescription to an employer’s job description.” You must be solution-oriented and work in positions in companies where you are the remedy. Your job search must be a lifestyle, and your career must be in front of you constantly. You can no longer shed your aspirations at the change seasons. There are strengths you have that need constant use and development.

Be sure you sign up to download my E-Book, “421 Modern Job Search Tips 2021!”

You can find my career advice and work in media outlets such as Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Glassdoor, and many other outlets.

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