Arizona Republic On The Use Of Career Agents
Like most executives, Harvey Maslin was so busy running his business that he
had little time to run his career. When he left his job as the No. 2 executive
of a $400 million personnel firm this year, he hoped to land the top spot at
another company. Then a friend introduced him to Joe Meissner of Executive PR,
a San Francisco career agent. Meissner convinced him to piece together his own
He launched a public-relations campaign on Maslin's behalf to burnish the
executive' s image as a leader rather than as a subordinate and introduced him
to potential investors, management talent and even acquisition targets. Maslin
eventually created WorldStaff, retaining Meissner as an adviser and career
steward. "I probably could have done this without him, but I would have
needed a half-dozen people to help me," Maslin says. "And I wouldn't
have gotten it done as fast as we have."
With executive jobs and career directions changing more frequently than in
the past and the demand for "brand-name" executives heating up, the
concept of the full-service career agent, common to the sports and
entertainment fields, has filtered into the business world. Agents combine
executive coaching and career consulting with marketing and negotiations. They
plot career strategy, help build networks of business contacts, advise on
salary talks and shape their clients' images.
They also screen job opportunities for employed clients. There aren't many
of them yet. StybelPeabody Lincolnshire, a Boston retained search firm, has
launched a similar service, complete with a team of financial planners,
attorneys and even a theater director to polish presentation style. Most such
agents work for a percentage of their client's salary.
Who could use an agent? Well-known CEOs are candidates. So are senior
executives on the CEO fast track, some attorneys and consultants, cutting-edge
technology wizards and turnaround artists.
If you're thinking of getting an agent, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you at or near the top of the class in what you do?
- Is what you do in short supply?
- Do you lack the time or ability to plot career strategy and build business
In some ways, executive agents operate from the shadows. Laurence J. Stybel
of StybelPeabody conducts anonymous job searches for executives who don't want
anyone to know they're sniffing around. Meissner remains in the background if a
recruiter balks at his participation, not an uncommon experience.
Memo: Hal Lancaster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.