The employment market of today presents a deluge of challenges for job seekers, especially in the post-COVID landscape of the “Great Resignation,” and particularly for the C-suite sector. The method of submitting a résumé electronically and waiting around for a response while HR managers pluck through hundreds of applicants is an ineffective one and rarely, if ever, elicits the desired outcome. And for the lucky few who are granted an interview, not many are adequately prepared to land the position.
Tim Madden has sculpted a career out of evening those odds, and to the delight of over 10,000 working executives that he’s helped to land six-figure and above salaries, he’s been doing it for more than a decade with no plans of slowing down.
To say that Tim has amassed over a decade of experience is an understatement. He’s not your average “headhunter” and his company, Executive Career Upgrades, is not your run-of-the-mill recruitment agency. But don’t take our word for it—Tim’s stats speak for themselves. By the time Tim founded Executive Career Upgrades in 2017, he had already worked for the largest Fortune 500 executive placement firm in the world and led teams who generated $50 million in staffing services. From first year revenues of a hearty $100,000 to an impressive increase in its second year that nearly touched $1 million, then a massive 100% growth for 2021, Executive Career Upgrades is now poised to exceed $4 million in its fourth year. That translates to an average of 800 jobs filled annually, even during COVID, when hiring all but ceased.
So what is it that drove Tim to continually surpass his own extraordinary records, year after year? He could have rested on his laurels after becoming one of the top recruiters in the nation for the U.S. Army, where he served in active duty for 12 years and subsequently contributed his expertise to major publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, Business Insider, Newsweek, and Entrepreneur. Surprisingly, despite the notable profits and acclaim, he’s not motivated by a financial goal or placement benchmark. “I love seeing people succeed. It’s great to have a company and to be successful, but doing something purposeful, where you know you’re impacting people’s lives for the better is the reward. It’s a great experience. That’s why I started this company. I do this because this is what I love to do,” Tim reveals.
Naturally, we were intrigued and had to learn more about Tim, his company, and how it is that they are succeeding where so many others have faltered—helping professionals with no network and no “inside track” land careers with some of the most exciting and desirable companies in the world.
Tim, tell us a little about Executive Career Upgrades. What’s the mission statement?
Well, what we aren’t is a “recruiting agency.” We don’t just put people in front of an HR person for an interview. We are a comprehensive career coaching company for upper-level executives from all over the world. We provide our clients with a full spectrum of assets so that they can convert interviews into jobs. In this market, candidates must have a unique “brand” and understand how to convey their value. They’ve got to be comfortable with discussing compensation because, although no one likes talking about money, everyone wants more of it. We also work with the people who do the hiring because they need to recognize talent and create a culture that will attract it. For instance, we were engaged by NASCAR to develop a training program for one of their business units, which had to address the communication skills and leadership principles that their C-level executives needed to support.
What makes Executive Career Upgrades different from other executive coaching companies?
Last year, I developed a marketing automation tool that put our clients in front of 2,900 decision makers per week. Thus far, it has generated about 5,000 interviews. The biggest differentiator, however, is that to my knowledge, we are the only executive career coaching firm that will work with people until they’re hired. The number one thing we hear from job seekers before they work with us is that they keep applying but they don’t get called. If this happens enough, they start to blame themselves and question, “Am I too old? Am I not qualified? Is it because I don’t have a specific degree or education?” It’s none of those reasons. The hiring process has changed dramatically, so if you don’t have a strategy, you’re left behind. We also work with people who want to change careers but don’t know how their skills translate to another field. We help them find those career possibilities and create the right message to land a new position. Our partnerships with placement agencies around the country are also a great benefit because it removes the geographical limitations many other companies contend with.
How are you helping organizations with their leadership development efforts?
Organizations need to be open to change. Every business has problems—turnover, budget, team cohesiveness. If these problems affect their growth, they’ve got to find a new way of thinking and operating. If leaders don’t know how to train, motivate, push, and inspire their staff, they’re going to sacrifice talent, and there’s a wealth of it out there. They need to change their strategy if they’re going to attract and retain it.
Are you seeing greater demand as a result of the unprecedented number of career-changers triggered by COVID?
Absolutely. People are leaving their jobs in record numbers, to the tune of 4-6% monthly. In fact, if you’re not leaving your job every two-three years, you’re losing out on 50% of your lifetime earning capability—most people don’t know that. That’s why it’s so important for your life, family, and legacy to be trained on how to obtain your worth in the marketplace. That’s what we do. Being good at your job isn’t enough anymore. You could be the best basketball player in the world, but if you don’t get in front of the NBA, why waste your time?
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