Client: Hans Wessel was director of EMEA accounting at an international IT company based in Silicon Valley.
Industry: Business Services, Information Technology
Challenge: Hans spent 18 years helping the company build up its shared service center, but when new management moved the back office to India, Hans found himself out of a job in a market he no longer recognized.
Process: By building his network of contacts, Hans saw opportunities materialize in the unpublished market that didn’t exist in the published market.
Landing: Hans landed as director of accounting for another international, California-based, IT company where he looks forward to a great, long career.
Study: Hans Wessel was director of EMEA accounting for an international company based in Silicon Valley that provides a wide range of printing solutions for signage, packaging, textiles, and ceramic tiles. An 18-year veteran, Hans worked his way up to his position from accounting manager by helping the company build up and out its shared service center and he loved his job. As the company quickly grew from $350 million to a $1 billion, Hans oversaw the European general ledger and the European payroll from his office in the Netherlands. In 2019, however, trouble hit, resulting in the company’s being acquired by a private equity firm. To make the company profitable again, the new management transferred all the back-office jobs from the Netherlands to India. Hans was asked to help with the transition with the understanding that he should also seek other employment.
“For two years I worked hard to get them up to speed, the whole time preparing myself for a job change,” said Hans. “It was a tough challenge. The job market had dramatically changed in 18 years. I felt like I’d been living under a stone.”
The prevalence of LinkedIn in a modern job search was his first eye-opener.
“I had a LinkedIn profile, but I’d never spent much time developing my profile or relationships within it. That turns out to be very important. You can’t get a job if you don’t have good contacts,” said Hans.
With his level of experience, Hans hadn’t thought he’d need help finding a new job. But as his old job wound down, Hans searched with little success. After a year of no opportunities, Hans started to worry; his confidence waned. One day he stumbled across The Barrett Group on LinkedIn and decided to enlist their help.
“I kicked things off with the Clarity Program. My coach, Stacey Ballinger, had me do various personality tests. I had done tests before, but not like these. You learn a lot about yourself in a different context than in a working environment. The Clarity Program is very serious because your life depends on it! It forces you to take a step back and examine everything about your life,” said Hans.
Hans really valued his Clarity experience. It made him realize that he was happy with his career path and would be happy to do more of the same kind of work, and he was also open to change. His only requirement was to continue to work in an international environment.
After Clarity Hans was handed off to his career consultant, Rebeca Gelencser, who taught him how to maximize the potential of LinkedIn. She also helped him overcome his discomfort with reaching out to people and cultivating relationships.
“Rebeca had me build up my network and made me aware of all the benefits of using LinkedIn. That was good because if you casually use LinkedIn, you don’t see all the possibilities,” said Hans. “It turned out great. By the time my old job ended, people in my network were already reaching out to tell me that they knew of opportunities for me.”
The TBG writing team re-wrote Han’s CV, and Hans learned the importance of tweaking his CV for each job application to ensure it contained the key words in the job description.
“I reworded my CV for every application because your CV is alive, so to speak. You have to tailor it to the job post.”
Hans found it very helpful to work on his interview skills with his coach, too, because, while he had conducted plenty of interviews, he had little experience sitting in the interviewee’s chair.
“The interview practice helped me be prepared for strange questions and understand better what goes through the head of an HR person,” said Hans.
In the beginning, it was tough going for Hans during his job search. He did a lot of applying and not a lot of interviewing. He tried not to let the lack of responses from companies get him down.
“The most challenging thing about a job search is when the company doesn’t acknowledge your application. You start to doubt yourself, but you have to accept that during a job search you will interact with impolite people and try not to be too hard on yourself.”
For Hans, the published market yielded few opportunities. The unpublished market, however, was very successful. To his delight, as Hans built up his social capital two great leads materialized.
“There were two people, a tax advisor and a lawyer, that I had worked with at my old company. When my job ended, my relationship with them essentially ended, too,” said Hans. “After I joined The Barrett Group, however, I reconnected with them. They each told me about an opportunity that they knew of at a company where they did business. These were opportunities where there weren’t even job descriptions!”
Hans followed up on the opportunities and, after five interviews that happened very quickly over the summer, ended up with an offer to become the new accounting director of another international IT firm based in California.
“I have been in my new role for two months already and I like it very much! It’s just what I was looking for. Some aspects are similar to my old job, but there are also different responsibilities and opportunities to learn new things. All in all, it is a good fit!”
Hans sees himself at his new company for a long time and feels very gratified with his TBG experience.
“The program really works. It quickly got me from no responses to many responses – and all in the unpublished market. This job was published nowhere,” said Hans. “Once I started with The Barrett Group it was a smooth process. I’m very happy in my new role.”