Lee Group executive search and staffing professional Eric Kean

From cutting yards and cleaning out gutters as his first job, to Buster Ball the mascot, to Principal of The Lee Group, leading the executive search team, Eric Kean has been helping people for decades. But did you know that the best job advice he ever received was a challenge? Or what he sees as the biggest challenges for people looking to enhance their careers?

We sat down with Eric and got his take on all this and more. Happy reading!

What was your first job?

My first job(s) was cutting yards, trimming bushes, and cleaning out gutters for others. I worked up a bunch of flyers and stuffed them in people’s mailboxes in the neighborhood and my entrepreneurial spirit was born.

My first “real” job with an actual company and a paycheck was Putt-Putt Golf & Games when I was 16. I worked there for about two years and did it all – sales, concessions, maintenance, ran birthday parties for little kids, even dressed up as Buster Ball the mascot on Super Saturdays – my first taste of celebrity.

What is the best job advice you ever received?

It wasn’t so much as advice as it was a challenge. When anyone told me that I probably could not do something or I might not be successful at something, that simply fired me up to make sure I did whatever it was and did it better than anyone.

What is the best job advice you ever gave?

Short version: Must be present to win.

Longer version: If you don’t give things a chance and leave too quickly, you will not be around to receive the opportunities of tomorrow that you have no idea about today.

What motivated you to go into the staffing field?

Honestly, I did not know much about it at all, to the point I hardly knew the industry existed. Granted this was 1999, so as a recent graduate from college, we did not have the access to information and knowledge that we have today. There was hardly an internet and certainly no Google, no LinkedIn, no Facebook, etc. However, I took a leap because it sounded interesting in that I could have the chance to speak with and learn from people all over the country in various industries and disciplines that I otherwise would know nothing about, while at the same time helping those same people advance their career. Likewise, I would be helping a company identify and gain exposure to great and talented professionals they would never know about…a win-win! Seems that almost 20 years later, it was a good leap!

What are the biggest challenges out there for people searching for jobs today?

The internet and bad recruiters.

The internet is a double-edged sword. The internet can be a great thing – it provides fast, easy access to various job boards, company information and reviews, news feeds, etc., with the ability to quickly apply or submit your information and resume to a prospective employer.

However, there are SO many jobs posted out there and it can be extremely overwhelming for any candidate searching for their next position. Where do you start? How do I stand out? How do I know if my resume even gets reviewed or even gets to the right person? These are all very frustrating questions each and every job seeker out there deals with.

Furthermore, a large percentage of the jobs posted are not even real, meaning perhaps the positions have already been filled or put on hold, or the company is just “fishing” for resumes with no real intent to hire, or the company knows they will hire or promote internally but they post the job just to cover the bases, or a “bad recruiter” has posted it just to gather resumes when there really is no job.

Finally, the internet, with all of its access, power, and glory has taken away a large part of what I personally find to be the best and most critical things about the hiring process…relationships, communication, and connection.

The “personal touch” has eroded in so many hiring processes these days which is truly a shame. Last time I checked, no one went to go work for a computer. They went to work for another human being.

While most of the time there is some sort of an in-person interview, the process itself has been spun up so fast and so reliant on technology that the process become a transaction with little to no emotion, compassion, and understanding. There are so many obstacles that one has to navigate, which makes a great and powerful tool like the internet very frustrating.

Now let’s talk about those “bad recruiters.”

Just like there are many “bad jobs” posted on the internet, there are many bad recruiters out there as well.

These are the ones who simply focus on filling the job any way they can without much consideration or concern given to the candidate.

Many professionals out there have been on interviews that end up being a total waste of time, because the position was actually beneath their skills and level in their career, but the bad recruiter painted a different picture and basically wasted everyone’s time, AND put the candidate at risk of being exposed. But guess what? That recruiter got a “check mark” for the day because he / she scheduled an interview.

People need to be very careful when selecting a recruiter to work with. They need to interview the recruiter just as a recruiter will interview them. It is so important to align oneself with a recruiter who has the candidate’s best interest in mind, not their own.

What are the biggest challenges out there for companies looking to hire great team members today?

Basically, just as mentioned above, the internet and bad recruiters.

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