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Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford ( is the founder and CEO of The Good Search, an innovative retained executive search firm that delivers top talent clients never dreamed existed. Bradford also leads the firm's talent acquisition research and intelligence division, Intellerati, which offers services in support of corporate executive search and recruiting teams as well as diversity talent pools, succession benches, and custom intelligence that gleans competitive insights from the talent ecosystem. Prior to founding her firm more than a decade ago, Bradford served as an Emmy Award- winning investigative reporter and television journalist. She studied at Harvard University and Columbia University, ultimately obtaining her BA at The New School. Bradford is a noted recruiting industry expert, national speaker, and columnist. Her blog "The Investigative Recruiter" is counted among the recruiting industry’s Top 20 blogs.

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Executive Search and the Hero’s Journey

by Dec 27, 2011, 5:29 am ET

The holiday season is so very counterintuitive. Its many traditions demand that we rush around to get everything done in time, yet it also calls upon us to pause and reflect. Whenever I stop for a moment to examine the deeper meaning in our shared purpose as recruiters, I am humbled by the random acts of courage we witness every day in the candidates that we serve. The bravery may be stark and obvious as they endure the loss of a job, a home, or a loved one. Or it may be subtle and just as poignant as they suffer the slights and indignities that are simply part of being a job applicant today. The very act of becoming a candidate tests one’s mettle in profound ways. So, this holiday season let us remember the Hero’s Journey.

Within each of us, in the collective unconscious, there lies a hero — an archetype that Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung believed lies dormant until called to action. Studying world mythology, Joseph Campbell built upon Jung’s work, discovering that no matter what the myth, a hero’s journey remains the same. All heroes must leave what is familiar, venture forth, do battle, and then return, forever changed, with new talents and gifts to share. For those of us in talent acquisition, that means we deal with something far more important than recruiting metrics and candidate tracking systems: with each and every recruiting engagement, we bear witness to the hero’s journey.

Each senior executive, each technologist, each professional in some way is forever changed by his or her search for a new opportunity. If that involves unemployment, and even homelessness, the bravery and determination required of our hero is the stuff of which legends (and movies) are made. keep reading…

The Trouble with LinkedIn: Grey Goo

by Dec 7, 2011, 5:40 am ET

As much as we in recruiting enjoy the many benefits of LinkedIn, there is trouble in paradise. I’ve been a member of LinkedIn since the early days, to which my user ID (59572) will attest. Because LinkedIn numbers its members sequentially, if you do the math, you’ll find me counted among the first .06 percent of LinkedIn users. However, lately, I’ve noticed that what began as a business networking site is starting to feel more like a marketing and recruiting site dressed up as a social network.

Others suggest it more resembles the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, a digital beast that devours our contacts and serves them up to large corporate clients willing to pay for what was once our data.

One cannot really blame LinkedIn for monetizing its business model. It does need to generate revenues to keep the lights on. But as it pursues recruiting revenues, as it encourages business professionals to use LinkedIn more as a marketing platform for “brand you,” as it prods users to pay for the privilege of networking and recruiting on LinkedIn, it is fair to wonder what value we get in return for that investment. While LinkedIn may remain a shiny object to which many recruiters feel inextricably drawn, we are in serious need of a reality check. keep reading…

Occupy Wall Street from Within: Dodd-Frank’s Diversity Mandate

by Nov 25, 2011, 5:21 am ET

As Occupy Wall Street protesters criticize high unemployment and economic inequality, a little-known diversity mandate embedded in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 4173 / Public Law 111-203) is forcing a different kind of occupation within those very financial institutions. In 2012, Wall Street firms must be prepared to prove they’ve made a good faith effort to employ women and minorities or else they stand to lose billions of dollars worth of contracts with the federal government.

In other words, Dodd-Frank is mandating that more women and minorities must occupy lucrative Wall Street jobs that heretofore have been dominated by white men who, in gender and ethnicity, resemble Gordon Gekko, the anti-hero of the movie Wall Street and of its sequel. keep reading…

Bubble Hopping: Leveraging Economic Intelligence in Your Search Practice

by Apr 2, 2008

The longer I recruit for a living, the more I see recruiting inextricably linked to the economy. Our finger is on the pulse and, at any given time, if we’re honest, we can give you a pretty accurate read on whether the patient is thriving or on life support.

In fact, the longer I recruit, the more I start to think like a VC. At least, that’s what venture capitalist Stewart Alsop observed when we got together at the Money: Tech conference in NYC, a gathering where Web 2.0 meets Wall Street.

keep reading…

10 Ways to Supercharge Your Search for Candidates

by Dec 4, 2007

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines research as a “careful or diligent search,” a “studious inquiry or examination,” and “the collecting of information about a particular subject.” Why is it, then, that most executive search and recruiting professionals so often think of research as mere “name generation?” “Name gen” is rarely careful, diligent, or studious. More often, it involves a relatively haphazard scooping up of names and titles, willy-nilly. And that leads to a “kiss every frog” approach to recruiting in order to find your prince.

As the execution engine of executive search, your research can be either a Ferrari or an Edsel, a car that failed spectacularly due to poor workmanship and a failure to understand the American consumer. The Ferrari is Human Capital Intelligence: research that, through analysis, is transformed into actionable intelligence to provide your search with a competitive advantage. When you embed intelligence into virtually every step of your search process, you dramatically improve search performance. I’m not suggesting that you work harder. I am suggesting that by doing the following 10 steps, you can work smarter so you don’t have to work as hard.

keep reading…

Career Spotting

by Nov 2, 2007

As experts in careers, those of us involved in human capital are well aware that most people usually change careers several times over their lifetimes. That’s a given. This applies to candidates as well as the people who recruit them because we, too, are counted among those with multiple careers. But the really cool thing is that each of those changes presents an opportunity for even greater success.

That’s why I am here today to build on the theme from my article about candidate spotting. Today, we’re focusing on career spotting, or scanning the horizon for changes in your environment that will lead you to that next better thing, while at the same time scanning your history for unique experiences and insights that give you a competitive advantage.

keep reading…

Candidate Spotting

by Oct 19, 2007

There is no shortage of job applicants these days. Rather, what we have a shortage of is qualified applicants. And whenever there’s a severe shortage, posting a job often makes it worse, not better. After all, when you post you waste precious time sifting through candidates who leave you wondering why they’ve bothered to apply as they have so little in common with the job requirements.

When you base your entire recruiting strategy on job postings to attract active candidates, you are giving up control. And that is a frightening concept. You’re left hoping and wishing, if not praying, that a contender will somehow surf by your posting and be seized by the impulse to apply for your job over every other opportunity out there. It’s wishful thinking he will send his resume off into the great unknown with no guarantee any human being will ever see it or respond.

keep reading…

Tracking the Elusive Candidate with the Federal Election Commission

by Jun 7, 2002

Whenever I am working on a search, I try to identify candidates by using unusual sources of information. I’ve come to appreciate sources I used to access as a journalist that are not typically accessed by recruiters. It gives my recruiting an edge in helping me come across undiscovered executive talent. Internet search engines only produce what is out there to begin with. If an organization is intentionally keeping some of its best executives under wraps, you won’t find mention of them in articles, on corporate websites, or as speakers at conferences. Perhaps the hidden executive is responsible for all the innovations claimed by their immediate superior basking in the limelight. Perhaps he is so busy he doesn’t have time to evangelize by giving speeches at conferences or joining industry organizations. Perhaps the CEO prefers to serve as primary spokesman for the company. All of those possibilities cause outstanding candidates to remain off-radar ó unless you know more unusual places to look, places which have nothing to do with the publicity track. One such place is the database of the Federal Election Commission. Twenty five years ago, Congress created the FEC to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act, which governs campaign finance. The independent regulatory agency discloses finance information, enforces contribution limits and prohibitions, and oversees the public funding of Presidential elections. Whenever an individual makes a federal campaign contribution, the SEC records the event, along with the corporate affiliation of the contributor. So let’s take a trip to the FEC website:

  1. Type the web address into your Internet browser:
  2. keep reading…

Investigative Recruiting: Using a Skip-Tracing Database

by Apr 26, 2002

Whenever you are working on a candidate search, a number of potential candidates inevitably come up “missing in action.” The switchboard informs you the executive is no longer with the company, for example. And often, that is where the search for those executives will end. Who has time to find them? Moreover, even if you wanted to track them down, how could you possibly find them if they have moved out of state? And besides, how could you possibly contact them if their phone number is unlisted? The easiest way to draw a bead on the executive’s new location, of course, is to find out who their executive assistant was and to ask that person for their former boss’s new contact information. If the secretary is unwilling to provide you with that information, simply have them get a message to that person to contact you. Another pain-free method is to enter that executive’s name and former company into the Google search engine (my favorite) or into other various news databases to try to pull up the announcement of where that executive landed. Sometimes adding the word “joins” to the search string of phrases typically used in news releases announcing that an executive joined the executive team will do the trick. But if you strike out there, what’s a recruiter to do? Well, don your fedora, pull on your gumshoes, and do what any self-respecting detective would do: search a skip-tracing database or visit a skip-tracing portal. Skip tracers are services that track down people who’ve moved (skipped town) in order to avoid prosecution or to avoid paying their bills. These services provide stunningly identifying information to law firms, banks, and creditors, as well as insurance and government agencies. But they also provide information to journalists who need to find sources to report the news. I became familiar with skip-tracing databases while working as an investigative reporter and television journalist. After founding my own investigative recruitment research business, I decided to use the databases to track the elusive executive. Because these databases contain seriously identifying information that often includes social security numbers, a series of current and former addresses, and unlisted phone numbers, the average Joe isn’t allowed to subscribe. A business must demonstrate that it is indeed a legitimate business and that it will use the information for the greater good. (There has been a movement to make such information harder to acquire out of the fear that stalkers will use this information to track down their prey ó a not entirely unrealistic concern.) I currently use Merlin Flat Rate (you can call (888) 259-6173 for a free demo). It’s affordable and easy to use. It allows you to search using different combinations of information, such as name and state, name and city, address and city, and address and zip code. You can also search by name and birth date or social security number. The process is simple and takes just a few minutes. Here’s how it works:

  1. Obtain the executive’s middle initial. Whenever the executive’s name is somewhat common, I start my detective work by quickly locating a middle initial of the executive I am seeking. Why? Often a skip-trace search will pull up hundreds of John Smiths in a state, but if you know you’re looking for John Q. Smith, you’ve just winnowed that list down to a handful of possibilities. Sometimes you can obtain a candidate’s middle initial by searching the Internet for corporate biographies or press releases. Sometimes you can find it in speaker biographies at conferences. SEC filings are also a good resource to check. Better yet, check out transcripts of testimony in court or before congress ó often the most fertile sources of a middle initial, as it is standard protocol to cite a person’s full legal name in legal situation (the recent Microsoft antitrust lawsuit has been quite fruitful for my technology recruitment practice in that regard).
  2. keep reading…