Coley Company Blog

What I have Learned From 30 years of Executive Search


This summer I will celebrate 30 years in executive search. I am thankful for all I have learned and am still learning every day. As I reflect over the years, I have seen a lot of changes in executive search for the apparel, textile, and nonwoven industries, but there are several things that have stayed the same. Here are a few of the highlights:

There are no shortcuts.

Over the course of my career in recruiting, I have learned—there are no shortcuts to finding the best candidate for a job. It takes effort and time to identify, recruit, and engage the people we place. You cannot just put a job posting online and fill all our positions. It takes networking and many conversations to find talent for our clients.

Nothing can replace deep human interaction.

As technology moves the recruiting industry and the textile/apparel/nonwoven industries forward, I have learned that nothing can replace the value of deep, human interaction. As a recruiter, I must learn exactly the type of person a company needs. The company will only hire the candidate that has the intangible skills needed to be successful in their role, and that information cannot be found in a resume. When talking with candidates, I must learn exactly what that person wants for their career future. If I can help them accomplish that, then everyone is successful. This process takes time along with deep human interaction, and none of it can be done through search engine optimization.

Networking is not about you.

Networking is the process of building mutually beneficial relationships. If you come across to others as if the purpose of your conversation is only for you to get ahead, then the person you are talking with will pick up on that.

In my role, networking is about helping others be successful in their career and in the process they help me. There are many times where I will talk with a candidate and never have the opportunity to place them, but I still share advice, recommendations, and insight into the industry. Down the road, they may be able to help me find a person for a hard to fill position, or they will join a new company and call me when they have a talent need.

When you follow your passion, you find success.

Finding your career passion is the most important part of having a successful career. I have learned that my passion lies in helping people. It makes me feel good when I can place someone in a new job and they call me a year later to thank me for helping them find the job they love.

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