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By Harvey & Mark Weiner 
Partners of
Search America®

The Nine Requirements of the Club’s Hiring Authorities

If you’ve ever wondered why you didn’t get the job for which you considered yourself ideal, here are the top reasons.

Among the fatal errors made by those interviewing for a job, is their preoccupation on their own needs while neglecting to consider the needs of the hiring authority. Common to most applicants is their interest in compensation, benefits, compatible philosophy of governance, location, responsibilities, title, prestige, and club culture. The board of directors’ standards for candidate consideration, however, may be entirely different. Failure to recognize this distinction often results in rejection of an otherwise capable candidate’s application.

Just what are the criteria often sought by the boards of directors as they evaluate prospects for their club’s top management position? Which issues trigger either positive or negative reactions among hiring authorities? When you address these issues in your cover letter, resume and throughout the interview process you improve the likelihood that you will become the standard by which all other candidates are to be measured.

The Employer’s Top Expectations

1. Skill and appropriate experience.
This should be obvious but we are constantly amazed how many otherwise bright people apply for positions for which they have absolutely no qualifications. Before any rational executive search firm or employer begins the vetting process they will look for basic information about a prospective candidate’s applicable experience. If you don’t have it, or have not communicated that you do, don’t bother applying. You will not get beyond the initial screening. Build credibility for your candidacy by citing results in prior positions that are relevant to this particular club’s needs. Answer the key question that any employer will have: What’s in it for us to hire this person?

2. Stability.
How stable is your career path? How many jobs have you held that didn’t outlast the industry turnover average of 2.3 years? How often have you been promoted at previous jobs? How often have you lost jobs and had to explain periods of unemployment? Most directors are seeking a candidate who can hit the ground running on their behalf. If you are that person your materials must reflect the ability to do so. They can’t train you on-the-job so they expect you to know how to do the job. You must demonstrate where and how you tackled a similar situation to their's and cite results. If you can’t then don’t bother applying.

3. Loyalty to your craft.
Employers in the club industry recognize that there will be times when their club’s manager might be expected to accommodate some unreasonable or even distasteful member expectation. Directors want to know how you have handled such issues. Think about a time you were asked to wink at some potential illegality or act of a dubious nature. Were you flexible? Did you compromise your personal and professional values? How dependable will you be in protecting the club’s assets and reputation? You don't want to be perceived as a rigid do-gooder but how far will you be pushed before standing up for what’s right. Remember, the board is supposed to establish what is right and the manager is expected to determine how to do it right. If there’s significant conflict then neither party is a good match for the other. Be sure to mention examples of the esteem in which you are held by your peers; cite accolades, awards, elected positions within the CMAA or other professional association, etc.

4. Self-assurance.
Directors need to know that, if they hire you as their manager you can be trusted to perform and produce the desired results. Their trust will be influenced by your self-confidence. Do you speak with authority? Does your presentation include words like “This is what I do”. This is how I handle that situation”, “I have”, “I can”, “I will”, “I know”? Or do you too often say things like "I think," or "In my opinion", or “Perhaps if we tried this”? Do you have a commanding presence? How are you dressed and groomed? What about your posture, eye contact, and other nonverbal communications? Demonstrate an ongoing pursuit of success. Show confidence in your accomplishments and yes, even brag a little about your successes. Don’t forget to mention the many people that you’ve mentored and trained who have gone on to much bigger and more responsible positions in the industry. If you don’t show self-confidence and the assurance that comes from real, not exaggerated success, then don’t expect directors to put their multimillion dollar enterprise in your hands.

5. Leadership.
Management skills do not make a leader. A supervisor manages others but isn’t ready to manage the entire club. Think about the difference between a General and a Sergeant. Leadership can be seen in those holding almost any level of job. A housekeeper, a dishwasher, or a server can lead by finding a better way to do her job and set an example that others will want to emulate. Leadership is not the exclusive domain of the manager. What makes you a leader and not just another supervisor? How can you best show the directors, in an interview, that you have that rare ability to lead and have done so in the past?

6. Fit.
Club directors seek management candidates whose personality, background, culture, appearance, and behaviors meet the job specifications as well as the club’s and the community’s culture. When they picture you as their manager will they be comfortable with the image? Will they be proud to introduce you as their new manager? Is there something about you or your family that may bring embarrassment upon the club? Can they picture you fitting in ? Is your use of language persuasive and polished or do you sprinkle in slang, profanity or do you bad-mouth prior employers? Do you come across as positive or as a whiner?

7. Attitude
How does one become the standard by which all other candidates are measured? Everything about you must be a sign of high energy, gusto, professionalism, self-confidence and a commitment to your chosen field. People feed off the sincere enthusiasm of others. It drives others to accomplish more. Increase the odds that you will be the one hired by letting your passion for serving members and managing clubs shine through.

8. Respect.
Addressing the board members by their first names, without their having expressed their desire that you do so, is a definite no-no. Respect and courtesy will never be out of fashion. Please, thank you and yes sir are a joy to hear these days as are giving credit and praise to others. Once you’ve learned their names, address each director by that name. Credit your subordinates, “your team”, with earlier accomplishments. Share the credit. Cite examples of your leadership and mention the contributions of those around you. You did, after all, build that team, didn’t you?

9. Communication Skills.
The first evidence of your communication skills are your resume and cover letter. Next will be the telephone interview and, perhaps, a face-to-face interview with either a search consultant and/or the club’s board of directors. If your documents were produced by a resume mill make sure they sound like you. You don’t want either the search consultant or prospective employer to harbor unrealistic expectations. An effective communicator has both outstanding written and verbal skills and knows how to use them. Demonstrate how you continually use communication skills to achieve your goals. Cite examples. If you’ve redone the club’s Web site or are responsible for the club’s newsletter bring forth examples. If you ghost write, or draft, the president’s letters and write the board meeting minutes then say so. Don’t neglect to mention that you MC the club’s annual dinner or that you wrote the job descriptions for your previous board’s committees and routinely stay in touch with members through E-mail and call those whom you haven’t seen in awhile. Naturally, members’ comments are followed up by you personally, in a timely fashion. 

This is a lot to digest in one reading. We suggest you keep this article handy for future reference. Being aware of these issues will help you be a better prepared candidate, perhaps becoming the one by whose credentials all other candidates are measured. Focusing on what the board wants in a candidate rather than what you want from the club will go a long way toward making you a more attractive candidate.

© Search America 2007



Harvey and Mark Weiner are partners in Search America® , International consultants for private club management search and consulting. Their articles and columns appear frequently (sometimes under the pseudonym “The Career Doctor”) in various trade publications. Their presentations to CMAA chapters and club board of directors’ retreats have been attended by thousands since 1974. They may be reached at 800.977.1784    © Search America