Furloughs. Hiring freezes. Layoffs. Since March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the economy. Glassdoor reports that between March 9 and April 6, 2020 U.S. job…
You could say Derrick West does some heavy lifting when doing executive search consulting with The Lee Group. Figuratively speaking, that is, considering the industries he most often works with.
West specializes in recruiting for construction and manufacturing clients nationwide, focusing on civil, commercial and industrial, heavy highway, underground utilities and bridgewater sectors.
Like the rest of his colleagues on The Lee Group Executive Search team, West takes great time and pays attention to the true needs of both the clients / companies doing the hiring, and the candidates looking for a new position.
You have to, he said. This is important work. Putting people in the right position at the right company makes a difference in people’s lives.
We sat down with West recently and asked him some questions to get to know him better. Enjoy.
What was your first job?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Starting a very young age, I was the kid setting up lemonade stands or going door to door throughout the neighborhood selling my limited skillsets as services. I would wash/wax/detail cars, rake and bag leaves and mow lawns. If they even hinted at something my answer was always “no problem, I can get started now if you would like.” I grew up driving a tractor, so around 13 I rode my bike all around the city and knocked on every door that had a large field. I negotiated rates and cut frequency and within no time, I had a customer base. All I had to do was hook the bush-hog up and head out. When I turned 15, I was able to get another job cleaning up construction sites.
What is the best job advice you ever received?
You don’t have to be the smartest to be the most successful. You just have to be the hardest working. Attack every task as if it were your life’s work and never quit pushing forward. You never know who’s watching.
What is the best job advice you ever gave?
Perseverance is the key to success. Your willingness to work 10 times harder to be 10 times better is what will make you stand out. Perseverance doesn’t start until you feel you’ve already put the hard work in and done everything you can. It’s what you do after this that will differentiate you from the rest.
What motivated you to go into the staffing field?
Recruiting was the only career that would allow me the ability to have a positive impact on everyone I work with. Aside from getting married or buying a home, your job, or job change, is the next biggest decision people will make. If you think about the impact your career has on your life, there really aren’t too many other things that can compare.
Being able to have such a tremendous impact on someone’s quality of life is motivation enough on its own, but the impact I’m able to have for my clients is just as great. Finding the best candidate to fit within my client’s needs can have a huge impact on their bottom line and success. Through the relationships I build, I’m able to have a positive impact on everyone I work with.
What are the biggest challenges out there for people searching for jobs today?
In today’s market, finding a job may not be a difficult task. Finding the right culture fit with the right company where they enjoy their work and are set up for success can be challenging, and at times seem like finding a needle in a haystack.
What are the biggest challenges out there for companies looking to hire great team members today?
2018 was definitely a candidate’s market, with more jobs available than workers to fill them, it becomes extremely competitive to find top talent. This is a trend that will likely continue for quite some time. Over 300,000.00 jobs were created in January of 2019 but as the Baby Boomers start exiting the work force and the birth rate at 30-year low, top talent candidates are going to continuously become more difficult to find.
Can you recall a time where you saw the real impact a job, or having the right person working for a company, made in someone’s life?
My job is all about assessing the needs of my clients and candidates I work with in order to find that perfect fit where everything aligns. One of my first job orders was for an Engineer and I had a candidate that was scheduled for an interview. Now as part of my job, I always have my client’s best interest in mind and I’m constantly assessing, reassessing, and gathering information thought my interactions. Before the interview, I had uncovered information, which ultimately led to my decision of withdrawing my submission. My client was in complete support and fully trusted my decision that this candidate was not the right fit for their organization. The candidate I placed was a perfect fit. They brought her in for multiple interviews where she met with every executive. After her final interview, which was with the CEO, I received a call. They explained their lengthy process but said they had to be sure of what they were about to offer. They were so over the top about this candidate and saw so much potential they were ready to make an offer to bring her onboard as an engineer, but they wanted to make sure she was okay with their plans to accelerate her into a Director’s position. This was a life changing moment for my candidate and a perfect representation of what The Lee Group means when we talk about culture fit.
What trends do you see in today’s job search and hiring world?
There is no doubt we’re in a candidate’s market. Unemployment is low and it is harder to engage talented professionals. The Lee Group was founded on the principles of building relationships. Getting to know our clients and candidates we work with on a personal and professional level to really understand their unique individual needs and what’s important to them. Even though we have an extensive network spanning the entire Nation, finding that perfect candidate can still be tough. In this market, it’s not unusual to make contact with 500 to 1,000 or more candidates to find the one. Identifying the perfect candidate is something I take pride in. My goal is to achieve a first submission hire. This mean I did my job by getting to know my client, candidate and accurately assessed the potential fit. I streamlined the process, respected the value of my clients’ time and worked efficiently to reduce lead times and the potential loss of a good candidate.
When you aren’t helping companies find qualified people or helping people find good jobs, what do you do for fun?
When I’m not working, I’m enjoying time with my family and traveling for my daughter’s field hockey.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
Hard work beats talent everyday, but talent without hard work is a waste.