It was nearly 25 years ago when Mark James, then 44, embarked on a new executive path, founding his own company that helps other people with career transitions.
After decades of helping other companies recruit, select and retain workers, James in 1999 founded Hire Consulting Services, of which the San Marcos resident is president, working as a career management coach and executive search recruiter.
“I got tired of making a lot of money for my bosses,” said James, a certified personnel consultant. “It was a risk but a calculated risk, and it’s how I ended up where I am., and I’m loving what I do. I have freedom, flexibility and motivation. I’ve carved out my own niche. It’s been 23 years and I’ve always said, ‘It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.’ I’m 67 but I feel like 40.”
Through the years, James has gleaned insight into mindset of job seekers and those in departments that make hiring decisions. He has unlocked some secrets to finding jobs, best practices for networking, standing out during interviews and navigating a fulfilling career path.
James shares the bulk of that knowledge in his second guidebook, “The Interview Mindset: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Career,” released earlier this year.
James says that “with a slight adjustment to your outlook and timeframe, you can still soar through your job search with patience and positivity… and manage your R.O.E. (Return On Expectations).”
Chapter highlights include:
- Get LinkedIn or Get Left Out, with James espousing the importance of correctly using the social media tool to sell yourself, open up a world of research possibilities for future jobs and make professional connections. James says that LinkedIn is the No. 1 place used by recruiters to maintain a database of potential employees. He says that “networking is the lifeblood to anyone’s career. Your network is your net worth.”
- Interview Advice from a CEO, in which James explains “how to be memorable” and about not overselling yourself, being concise and accurate, asking questions and being prepared.
- The Six Interview Mindsets, where James shares best practices to navigate a successful interview through “a positive and constructive mindset,” and says that job seekers need to keep in mind that “the interview is a conversation, not an interrogation.”
James’ first book, “Keys to the C Suite: Unlock the Doors to Executive Career Path Success,” was released in 2018, during the time he was an adjunct professor at Cal State San Marcos.
New Book is ‘Life’s Work’
“This book is my baby, it’s my life’s work,” said James, a member of the North San Diego Business Chamber. “While the first book was great, I didn’t think it was going to be anything but a business card. This book is everything I left out of the first one.”
James grew up in Chicago. After working his way through school at UPS, he moved to Southern California in 1978, where he landed his first sales job at Gallo Wine in Los Angeles. 10 months later he was promoted to district sales manager.He said he left the Midwest for Los Angeles in 1978 and took a job at Gallo Wine, eventually taking over as sales team district manager. After that, he worked at Pepsi-Cola, then Polaroid until he moved to San Diego and took his first job as a recruiter in 1987.
James had one more stint in consumer goods, working as director of sales for the Bayer Corporation in Cincinnati, from 1989-96, then decided his future was elsewhere. He moved back to San Diego in 2005, began as a networking meeting facilitator, then started consulting as an executive search recruiter.
He said his books are for “anybody who’s serious about their career, people who are stuck or bored and not feeling utilized in their current role.”
James said “the interview mindset” is about keeping honesty, integrity and ethics at the forefront.
“I believe in the formality of honesty and truth,” he said. “When you get into an interview and exude these qualities, really genuinely caring and asking compelling questions, thinking to yourself, ‘Why do I want to work here? Do I like these people’ it puts you into a mindset that helps you relax and lets your natural self come out.”
The book shares relaxation techniques, champions two-minute answers versus rambling on, and explains why rehearsals and mock interviews are crucial. Being prepared, thoughtful, enthusiastic, making good eye contact, being cognizant of body language and gestures, and using a good speaking voice put you ahead of the competition.
James also said one of the biggest keys to success during interviews, as well as in networking situations, is active listening. “Listen and focus on what the person is saying rather than thinking about what you’re going to say next.”
The book is available at amazon.com. More information is on James’ website at hireconsulting.com