Working with Recruiters – a Recruiter’s Feedback

I’ve been working in retained executive search since 2000, and have been in contact with over 10,000 candidates. Most people don’t understand what a recruiter’s function is – they believe that a recruiter will find a job for them, not that a recruiter is reaching out to them to find a client company a candidate. Much of my time is wasted on explaining the entire process, especially to those who keep contacting me over and over again because they aren’t getting hired for one reason or another. (Personally, if someone has contacted me more than 3 times – there’s a REASON they’re not getting hired, but that’s a story for another day!)

A retained executive search professional, such as myself is hired by a company who pays me (my firm) 33 1/3% of the first year’s base salary + bonus. Generally, this is a minimum of $60,000 per search. Retained firms get paid regardless of whether they bring in a candidate or not – good firms, such as the ones I work at always fill the search with one of our candidates.

I work for the client, not the candidate. When I present a candidate to a client and the client says no – there’s a reason for it. And nothing that candidate can say or do to me will change the client’s mind. It’s nothing personal – that’s how it is.

Recruiters such as myself will ask a candidate various questions about their background, based on what is written on their resume. I often ask a candidate something about their background that is clearly written on the resume – this does not mean that I cannot read. I want to hear the candidate describe to me what it is they did in that particular position. Many resumes today are written by professional resume writers – so there is a reason I’m asking a candidate to reiterate to me what may be written on the paper in front of me.

Another question I may ask is why a candidate left one position to go to the next. If a candidate refuses to answer this – this is a red flag. It’s much better to say – “I took time off to re-evaluate my position.” or “I took time off to travel after working for 15 years in corporate America.”, than not answer. That is.. if you want to be considered as a candidate for the position.

I also ask a candidate what their salary range is. I have found in recent months that some candidates refuse to answer this. My question for asking this question is the following: if the job is paying a lot more, or a lot less than what the candidate is making, I don’t want to spend 2-3 weeks of my time interviewing, prepping and presenting a candidate only to learn from the client company that the candidate is out of reach or too junior of a candidate.

Lastly, I enjoy networking, but refuse to accept LinkedIn invitations from people who are just collecting connections. This is one of the main reasons I ask those who invite me (whom I may not know) why they want to connect. If you don’t have a valid reason – we won’t be connected.

PR - Nata snorkeling

The Importance of Vacations and Days Off

Today’s society believes in work and little play, which is not healthy for the body or the mind. All of us get time off for vacations and person days, but how many of us really take advantage of those paid days? They are there to give us time to refresh, renew and rejuvenate, as well as relax and unwind from the daily work grind.

In the last 10 years I have made a point of relaxing when the weekend comes along. This does not mean that I will not take a call or answer work-related emails – it simply means I will not work on a Saturday or Sunday. Instead, I use these two days off per week to relax and concentrate on things that are important to me, which are not work-related. I also take vacation days and personal time off. I feel such days are necessary and prevent burn-out.

Getting Old(er) and Managing

In the last 2 weeks I’ve had my first surgery (not counting a caesarian birth of one of my daughters). I have chalked it up to my body getting older and not being able to handle those things, that my young body used to handle. I am on the mend now under the care of my partner and husband, who has proven himself over and over to be the kind of spouse I want in my old age.

I haven’t given much thought to getting older, even though my half-century birthday will happen in only a few months. We age – and that’s natural. The important thing is to keep a healthy diet, exercise regularly and staying challenged and bright in our jobs and lives.


I generally don’t write blogs about death, but I’ve been so incredibly stressed lately and feel that getting this off my chest would help me breathe more easily.

LIFE & DEATH – Life is beautiful, happy, fun, depressing, stressful and over before we know it. We either live a long life or it’s suddenly cut short.. and it’s pre-determined for us. I believe in God, and know that each of us has a limited amount of time on this earth, so we need to live each day as if it were our last and not put off anything or wait until tomorrow.

I turn 50 at the end of this year and have suddenly starting losing girlfriends – to cancer and other incurable diseases. This really puts my mortality into question. We are all put on this earth to serve a purpose and how we live that life is up to us.

I’ve had a few health concerns lately and decided that it’s time to stop and really take a long hard look at life. I’m not a fan of exercise but realize that if I want to live a longer life, exercise must be a part of my daily routine. I’m a foodie – love to cook, bake, eat – don’t we all, but in the last month or so I’ve started to eat more consciously. I still enjoy what I eat and drink but do less of it and eat quality rather than quantity.

To borrow the lyrics from Nickelback – “If Today Were Your Last Day” – each day is a gift and not a given right. Live for today!

A New Beginning?

My life will take on a new beginning come fall.. both my daughters will be in college and our life will be very different. Our life changed quite a bit almost 2 years ago, when our older daughter went off to college. It was a new beginning for us and a new one for her. She adjusted quite quickly, as most teenagers do and has really come into her own at university. The introvert that she was has blossomed into a self-confident young woman, who is friendly and no longer shy, brave and open to trying new things. When we visit her, she is eager to show us the new places she’s discovered in the city of her university and talks for hours about new friendships, new classes and new adventures. It took us a bit longer to get accustomed to setting the dinner table for 3 instead of 4, for cooking/buying less food, and less chaos/fun in our household.

Our younger daughter is in the process of deciding on a university; she has narrowed down her long list to a choice of three and in a short 2 weeks, will have made her decision. My husband and I will be left alone in our house – at least for the school-year. I’m excited to be able to experience the one-on-one we had 20 years ago, and at the same time a bit frightened, as our lives have changed so much since the children came into our lives. Times have changed also.. there is new technology, new jobs, a new house. The adjustment will be interesting.

Life – are you living for today?

It is December 29, one day before my 49th birthday. Many of my friends have already had their big 5-0 birthday and I have one year to go till my half-century birthday.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who thinks they will live to be 100, so basically, I’ve already lived half of my life. And life… is so fragile. This past year, several of my friends were diagnosed with cancer, some with other life-threatening diseases, my parents are aging, we are all looking and getting older. Some of us try to slow down the aging process by changing our lifestyle, our eating habits, our exercise routines, the products we use on our bodies, but it is inevitable – we are all getting older. And whether we are 49 or 89, we need to ponder – are we living for today, living our lives to the fullest?

I have led a good life so far: I have a wonderful family who I am close with, 2 daughters I am very proud of, a successful husband, and a successful self-made career which I never thought I’d have. I no longer wait to use the special china on holidays or the expensive wine glasses when company is over – I live life for today.  I don’t wait until the New Year to make resolutions, or eat that piece of chocolate cake when my lbs come off – are you living life for today? Don’t delay – life is short. Do today what you have planned for tomorrow and live life to the fullest!

Holiday Shopping – Black Friday and other stressful nonsense……….

Each year I’m more bewildered how quickly retailers rush toward the Christmas season, throwing people into mass hysteria about all the great “deals” they are offering on gifts for the holidays. Really? What deals are these? Why would someone waste a day braving through (sometimes) cold weather, crowds and the rush to save $20-30 on an item they or their recipient probably don’t need? How much is too much? Do we need all those TV sets? Excess clothing? Electronic devices? Have you ever thought that you have/own too much?

I stopped shopping at malls several years ago mainly due to the fact that 85% of all the items sold in these stores are “Made in China” and also poor quality. I’ve become more particular about what I buy and where. This includes my groceries, toiletries, fresh food items and other staples. I’ve tried to minimize what I need and don’t need. I also buy quality over quantity and either save the extra money I make, or use it for vacation, theater tickets, updating my home and for creating family memories with outings.

A friend of mine convinced me to try the shopping experience of Black Friday several years ago – we can cross that off my bucket list. You wouldn’t be able to pay me enough to do that again – mass-crazed midnight shopping madness at NYC’s Macy’s, where I didn’t really see fantastic deals. Instead, I had a headache within half hour and had to run outside into the cooler air one hour into my shopping experience because I thought I was going to vomit.

So today, with the fabulous online deals available to us on our computers (and all of us have at least one) – why would someone leave the comfort of home and put themselves through this type of holiday shopping torture? Instead, why not join friends for some conversation, mulled cider or wait until early December, and shop at your local stores, who need your support to survive.

My advice to you this season – kick back, relax and try to enjoy the holiday spirit without all the added stress.

Our Busy Lives

How often in our lives do we have time for ourselves? Seems these days, with all the new technology dominating our lives on a daily basis, we find little time to return to basics. Taking that afternoon walk on a fall day with a child or spouse, planting flowers or vegetables in a garden for seasonal enjoyment, baking a cake for no special occasion, catching up with a friend over coffee…….. and so on.

I try to make time for myself and others in my life on a daily basis. And although it’s hard to find that extra half-hour or more to do so, it enriches my life. I regularly visit my parents, who live one town over from me to see how they’re doing, to catch up over a cup of tea, to play a game of cards or to take them shopping to the ethnic supermarkets we all love going to. I make time to have lunch with my close girlfriends. I regularly call my brother and sister-in-law who live on the west coast. I also take some time for myself by either taking a pilates class or going for a walk to clear my head. 

If we all regularly took time for ourselves and our loved ones, life wouldn’t seem like it’s passing by so quickly.

Doing things outside your comfort zone

Today’s post is concentrating on doing things outside your comfort zone – or more so, doing things you are afraid of doing. What is fear really? Many of us are afraid of one thing or another – I know I definitely am. Fear of heights; fear of  trying something new; fear of a new job;  fear of trying something new to eat – ok, I’m getting carried away now, because those of you who know me well, know that I am never afraid of trying new foods….

This past weekend, my family had our 10th annual reunion. It was well-attended. As one of 12 grandchildren on my maternal side – several of my cousins and siblings came out to join in the yearly festivities. In addition to different sports and other activities, this year we added a side trip to Opus 40 (, we harvested honey (see sample video –, and some of us even took part in the 2nd world’s largest zipline – the Hunter Mountain Zip Line – myself included.

I spent all of my summers in Hunter, NY. The Ukrainian community in Hunter celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer, so many of the friends I’ve had, I’ve known almost my entire life by spending my summers here in the idyllic Catskill mountains. I climbed Colonel’s Chair (also known as Hunter Mountain) at age 8 with my father and a friend of his, and then in my early teenage years, my father repeated this hike with 32 other children, myself included. Hunter Mountain has been a big part of my life – I learned to ski there and we often take part in summer and fall festivals there. So it was only natural that I wanted to explore their newest adventure – the zip line ( What an exhilirating experience – one I cannot describe. A series of 6 zip lines down Hunter Mountain, the first one being 3200 feet long – it’s a feeling I cannot describe in words. In the first several seconds of that first zip line experience, there is some fear, soon taken over with awe. It is the closest I’ve come to feeling like an actual superman – that I can do and see anything. Glad I did it – and I can’t wait to try it again, possibly in the falltime.


Opinion: Should Kids Go To Sleepaway Camp

Generally the blogs I write are on career advice or recruitment. Today, I’m going to write on another topic altogether – sending your child to sleepaway camp. Today’s New York Times had an interesting article (opinion) on sending your child to sleepaway camp – When is the right time? Is it helpful for the child to be away from you?

As many of you know, I am a Ukrainian-American; born in the US, my first language being Ukrainian (as was my children’s). I met my husband at PLAST Ukrainian scouting camp – I have belonged to Plast since I was 6 years of age, and so have my children. I spent my first 3 weeks at sleepaway camp at age 8, as did my brother, most of our Ukrainian friends, and my 2 children. I learned at age 8 what many of today’s children learn as teenagers – confidence, independence, Imagestrong personality, working in a team, making a decision and standing up for myself. I don’t think there is a right or wrong time to send your child to sleepaway camp, but I definitely think it builds character. Today, both my children as young adults are camp counselors at the Plast scout camps. They, much like I are passing along the knowledge they learned as scouts to other children.