Editor’s note: Nationally known executive recruiter, coach, speaker and author Joe Pelayo interviews other top recruiters, asking them about their motivation, their love of the business and how they achieve success. Here is one of his interviews.
Doug Beabout was once an Eagle Scout. Growing up in Ohio, Beabout earned the highest rank in the Boy Scouts, and he credits the scouts for opening up many doors for him, including his post as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. “I would not have done what I did without being an Eagle Scout,” Beabout said in a recent interview.
What’s more, he might not have become the man or the recruiter he is if not for the Eagle Scouts. Beabout is a great believer in the virtues of honesty and integrity, and in an industry in which those values are in short supply, Beabout said he stands out to clients as a result. “When something is great, I tell them. When it’s bad, I tell them. They don’t get that kind of honesty from many recruiters,” Beabout noted.
If his values have hurt him with clients, the results are not apparent. For the last 23 years, Beabout has served as the president of a recruiting firm, the Douglas Howard Group. With the help of a resonant bass voice reminiscent of the actor Sam Elliott, Beabout rides the lecture-speaking circuit (and has contributed to The Fordyce Letter).
Beabout has taken the Boy Scout oath — fulfill your duty to God, country, others, and self — to heart, and he would not have it any other way.
Q. Joe Pelayo: How old are you? Where do you live? And what is your family situation?
A. Doug Beabout: I am 65, married with five kids, and live in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida outside of Destin.
Q: What two or three skills enabled you to achieve the success you’ve had? A lot of recruiters want to be the president of a company. What allowed you to break away from the pack?
A: Well, the first thing to do is stop being transactional and pick up the telephone. My efforts are on a personal level. I think being extremely personal and professional appeals to them (clients). I find they are better employers and better clients. I practice it at the next level of honesty. My industry has a very negative stereotype [for being deceptive], so this helps me. When something is great, I tell them. When it’s bad, I tell them. They don’t get that kind of honesty from many recruiters.
…They have to assume I’m someone who is more than a resume monger. I have a proprietary matrix. I only deal with hiring decision makers. I keep them in the loop. I’m a little surprised that after 39 years I’m the only one who has come up with this.
Q: So you think the telephone is a more intimate bit of technology than technology?
A: It’s more intimate. It’s more honest. It’s more refreshing.
Q: How did you get the idea for the proprietary technology?
A: I hate resumes. Employers don’t like them worth a hoot. Transmitting this information is so subjective. It’s like sitting on a three-legged stool. It just doesn’t do the job. [But the proprietary matrix] it’s a fact-based line- by-line item.
Q: What does the matrix look like? How many pages is it?
A: It looks like windows. There are three squares – first: skills and duties; next, the challenges of the job and the goals of the successful employee; finally, the definitions of the employer workplace culture.
On the left side is the client position information and the right side the candidate that qualifies for the role.
Q: Do you work harder or smarter?
A: I try to work smart but the level of effort is also central to success. But my work is important to my well-being. I can’t take more than two weeks off for vacation because I want to get back to work. Heck yeah, there is more money to be made everywhere. My wife said I will probably die with a phone in my hand. My idea of working smarter is try to defy a negative stereotype that’s prevalent in our industry while gaining full fees and influence with all affected parties.
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Q: What are the stereotypes?
A: Well, that recruiters are impersonal, shallow, and they don’t have much of a shelf life. Recruiters take a job order on Monster.com and a candidate on LinkedIn and don’t get back to you if a fast match is not found online.
Their relationships are like one-night stands. So I know what people think of us; I don’t expect to hear from them if I behave in the way that reinforces the negative image.
Our industry gets populated by people in it to make a buck. They think getting a recruiting quota is the way to recruit. [But] numbers are not as important as a “fit.”
Q: You mention that recruiting is going through a difficult transition period. What do you mean by this?
A: The talent pool has shrunk. And we have a generation that has not learned to pick up the phone. All you have are people who for 10 to 12 years have been finding candidates through job boards and LinkedIn and Twitter. You have a lot of recruiters taking the path of least resistance, companies that are leaving some positions open for three to six months; and this is an economy where the unemployment rate among those with a four-year college degree is 2.5%.
Q: What are your hours?
A: I am generally an early bird. I work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But I can take any 3-day weekend I want. I take three- or four-day weekends 10 to 12 times a year. Plus, I live in a vacation spot.
Q: What three lessons do you have for an up-and-coming recruiter?
A: First, gain training from a practitioner, not a former one, in a viable, currently effective recruitment process.
Second, apply the process in total diligence.
Third, engage the person with whom you speak. When you talk to a product manager with a cigar in his mouth, you don’t talk to him as if he graduated from Cornell. And when you talk to a product manager from Cornell, you talk to him as you would someone from Cornell. People relate to themselves more than anyone else, but be honest above all else.