Harry O’Brien follows his instinct to uncover new sales opportunities; a new position at SkillSoft plays to his strengths.
By Sharon Linsenbach
Harry O’Brien thinks of himself as a hunter. In his previous position as business development manager at Volt Information Sciences (a staffing firm headquartered in Westbury, N.Y., that specializes in clerical, accounting, administrative, light industrial, technical, IT and engineering fields), his predatory instincts were put to good use seeking out and placing qualified candidates in a variety of fields.
“I go find it; kill it; bring it back; and someone else cooks it, so to speak,” O’Brien laughed. While O’Brien also counts account management in his career experience, that part of his job wasn’t really his strong suit.
“I’ve done some account management, but it frankly bored me,” he said. “I like the challenge and the excitement of starting from zero, building something for two or three months, and then handing it off instead of landing an account that has to be maintained for a couple years.”
While he was content at Volt Information Sciences, the 32-year-old Bronx resident was unnerved when the company went through a substantial downsizing and realized the writing was on the wall.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable there after the downsizing, and I decided it was time to begin my job search again. I wasn’t sure if I would be laid off, but I didn’t want to take the chance that it would be my head on the chopping block,” he said.
The thrill of the hunt
In January 2009, O’Brien signed up for SalesLadder and took advantage of the available resume-rewriting services. O’Brien was blown away by the thoroughness and attention to detail of his resume-writing team and credits them with the incredible response his reworked resume generated.
“Coming from the staffing world, I wasn’t sure that they’d be able to do much for me,” he said. “I was looking at resumes daily, and I thought I knew what was what. But they pointed out things I’d never even noticed, and I was getting hits at least once a week.”
O’Brien developed a few different versions of his resume and tailored them to address specific industries he was searching.
“I liked the fact that I could have three or four different versions of my resume and cover letter to encompass software sales — which I’d also done in the past — human capital, etc.,” he said. While the ability to tailor resumes to specific job listings was helpful to O’Brien, he said that it’s more relevant for some industries than others.
“In sales, for example, you can sell anything you believe in; as long as you know the details of the product, the sales skills are all pretty much standard and the same, so tailoring a resume might not make a difference one way or the other,” he said.
O’Brien focused his search on companies that offered strong values and an emphasis on internal opportunities for advancement. He said he was looking for an employer that would understand the need for a balance between personal and professional time and that invested in its employees’ professional growth and career advancement.
Introduced through a recruiter
That opportunity presented itself in the form of a third-party recruiting firm representing SkillSoft. The provider of e-learning content, online information resources and flexible-learning technologies for global enterprises, government, education and small to medium-sized businesses has U.S. headquarters in Nashua, N.H. O’Brien said the interview process was lengthy, spanning almost four months and six total interviews from April to August, but the payoff was worth it.
As an associate regional account executive with SkillSoft, O’Brien is responsible for developing and delivering on-demand e-learning classes for clients’ internal employees and also selling SkillSoft’s e-learning expertise to new customers who want to employ e-learning technology.
“It took about four months, but my official hire date was August 3,” he said. “I got the professional growth I was looking for,” O’Brien said, “And I’m now in the middle of week one of a 13-week training program.”
Sharon Linsenbach covers executive recruiters for TheLadders.