In September of 2014 I turned in my badge and left 1 Infinite Loop for the last time. It tugged at my heart. I love Apple products and working there was my dream come true. I have no complaints about Apple. They treated me well, my coworkers were literally the best in their fields, and the perks were phenomenal. As a software engineer I traveled to China, presented training at WWDC, and contributed to some majorly cool projects. I happily settled in for the long haul.
Thinking of a Career Change?
Each week, I received three or four recruiting emails from various companies. That’s typical in the Silicon Valley. Companies love to steal employees—especially from Apple. They assume if you work for Apple you have already been vetted and have stellar skills. Recruiters routinely snatch anyone who can be lured away.
The recruiting process is extremely competitive. When Google did some preliminary screening on me, Apple’s HR department immediately contacted my boss. He called me into his office to match their offer—almost before I had finished reading their email. I didn’t explore the job at Google, but a couple of years later, I did get an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
I accepted a position with Kimmel & Associates. Kimmel is a well-known executive search firm in Western North Carolina. No one understood why I left Apple. My mother cried. Co-workers shook their heads in disbelief. My boss predicted I’d be back within a year. I have to admit I had some serious second thoughts about my decision.
Once I settled in here—far, far, east of Cupertino, I began to reflect on how Kimmel was there at every turning point. They seemed to anticipate every rough spot and knew just how to move me forward. I guess I shouldn’t marvel at this. After all, recruiting is their business. However, I found Kimmel to be exceptionally good at the fine points of the recruiting process. Here’s what I experienced as I was recruited by Kimmel & Associates.
It’s All About Relationships
When Kimmel contacted me it was through a recruiter whom I considered a friend. Justin knew me and knew all about the kind of work I do. He was familiar with my skills, interests, and my anticipated career path.
When Justin learned of an expansion at Kimmel & Associates he called me to see if I might be interested in a career change. He pointed out that a job with Kimmel would put me closer to my family and that the position also matched my career trajectory. He asked if I would think about it and discuss the job with their CEO, Charlie Kimmel.
The process was refreshingly simple and honest. I know now that there was a lot of vetting and reference checking going on behind the scenes. But I wasn’t involved in that process. All I had to do was consider the job and go straight to a hiring interview with the decision maker.
This was fundamentally different from other recruiters who contacted me. It was extremely frustrating to be contacted by recruiters who knew absolutely nothing about the tech field; who then would grill me with rote questions to see if I knew my job. What? Didn’t you call me because of my skills and experience? This kind of screening process felt like an insult.
It was even more frustrating with other recruiting firms who had me interview several different times for the same position. Then when I was finally passed to the hiring manager I found the position was totally different from what had been represented. The whole process ate up a lot of time; and since I was currently working a very demanding job I didn’t have time to waste.
I found that Kimmel was a different kind of executive search firm. They excelled at honest communication. They had a more Career Directed Approach. I could tell they truly cared about me and my future. Other companies would force a square peg into a round hole just to get a placement.
Many times I felt recruiters were pushing me to interview even though I was not exactly what the company was looking for. Kimmel was not like that. They immediately volunteered all the details I needed to make an informed decision about the job opening. Plus, they were pretty good hand holders.
Even though I knew this was a great career opportunity I almost backed out. Kimmel must have anticipated bumps in the road. Each time I hesitated I would get a friendly letter or a small gift card to remind me of Kimmel’s interest and appreciation.
I still dreaded turning in my resignation. The contract Kimmel mailed me laid unsigned on the kitchen counter. After a few days, I got a phone call from Charlie, the CEO. He explained that changing jobs is one of life’s most stressful events. His empathy and support helped me to take that last step.
Challenge and Opportunity
That same day, I went to my manager at Apple and handed in my resignation. He asked me if there was anything he could do to entice me to stay. What about more money? But then I remembered a Steve Jobs quote:
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.
I felt Kimmel was going to give me a chance to do something wonderful. And I wanted that opportunity. As I worked my notice, department managers moaned and groaned about my leaving. They asked my boss if he had tried offering me more money. Obviously, they were all out of touch with that Job’s quote. While money was definitely a consideration it was only one of many. I had already weighed my options and made my decision.
Starting a New Job
I hope that sharing my story will give you some insight into the outstanding recruiting process that is the hallmark of Kimmel & Associates. Having recently been approached by some of the best headhunters and recruiters in the country, I certainly have a basis for comparison. I can honestly say that Kimmel is distinct in their approach and philosophy. They acted with integrity. I felt Kimmel considered what would be in my best interests. They treated me like a person and not a commodity. And that was a good feeling.
So I took a leap of faith and left one of the most coveted jobs in the world. I wrote my farewell email to the staff and headed east on I-40. I am looking forward to challenging opportunities in my new position. I won’t be on Apple’s spaceship–but I still hope to reach great heights with Kimmel & Associates.