Joe McElmeel founded Sarasota-based Brooke Chase Associates in 1980

Top Quote Executive search entrepreneur Joe McElmeel, in four decades of finding top officials for companies, mostly in the building materials and kitchen and bath industry, has developed some unassailable truths. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) February 27, 2016 - Primary among those: Talent trumps all. A past president of the National Association of Executive Recruiters and founder of the Executive Recruiters Roundtable, McElmeel says companies often overlook that seemingly obvious statement to quickly plug holes. That short-term thinking, he says, can lead to long-term issues.

    McElmeel, who founded Sarasota-based Brooke Chase Associates in 1980, has learned many other lessons in recruiting during his career. He's used many of these nuggets at Brooke Chase, a boutique-style agency that focuses on executive searches. The firm, after a dip in the downturn, is a on a growth spurt: Annual sales increased 38% in 2015 and 98% in 2014. "The business is coming back," McElmeel says. "We see a marked improvement in the executive recruiting industry, and we are looking to expand this year."

    McElmeel, in an interview with the Business Observer, reflected on his career and offered tips for how companies can improve recruiting strategies. Here are excerpts of the conversation:

    Make a match: Brooke Chase is a retained executive search firm, where clients are companies seeking candidates, not individuals seeking jobs. "We are what the Jewish people refer to as a yenta. A Jewish grandmother or mother doesn't want her son or daughter to be single, so they are always trying to be a matchmaker. And that's really what we are."

    Best practice: Like many others in recruiting, McElmeel says the best candidate is usually someone not looking for a job. "You are looking for the person who is currently employed, happy in what they are doing, appreciated by the employer and not looking just to make a change," he says.
    Eye contact: McElmeel says the in-person job interview will always be one of the best ways to judge a candidate. "You'd be surprised how many details change when you are interviewing someone face to face," says McElmeel. "There's just something about people being more specific about what they say in person. In a face to face you also learn the body language of a person, how they react and whether they take a long time to respond to a question."

    Honest policy: Résumé fudges are a common discovery in recruiting, says McElmeel. "We do a department of motor vehicles check, we do a criminal background check and we do educational verification," he says. "Educational statements are the single most lied about item candidates do. They don't intentionally lie, but people embellish."

    Performance outlook: Hiring takes some ability to project potential, but McElmeel is a big believer in learning from history. "There's an old adage in search: Show me what you've done in the past, and it's a pretty good indication of what you will do in the future," he says. "We ask specific questions to get specific answers," about past work. Adds McElmeel: "If I ask you who were your major clients over the past year, and you can't remember, then I start to wonder, 'What the heck did you do?'"

    More Money: A key point in recruiting is to keep the whole family in mind. "The biggest challenge now, and it's been this way since the '90s, is the dual income family," McElmeel says. "Whether you are recruiting a male or a female, the spouse's income is an important characteristic."

    • The best candidates are currently employed, content with their work, appreciated by their employer and not currently seeking a career change;
    • Cultural fit for a candidate can be more important than skills when assessing potential employees;
    • If hiring a search firm, find one that specializes in the specific industry.

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