Jeff Gillett, Executive Vice President, joined The Elliot Group in 2005 and is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Jeff’s restaurant career spans 30 years in a wide variety of operational, human resources and executive search roles. He currently spearheads C-Level and senior executive multi-disciplinary search assignments.
For 16 years, Jeff led management recruiting for Los Angeles-based Hillstone Restaurant Group (formerly Houston’s) and was involved in all recruiting strategy, succession planning, management training and development. Prior to Hillstone, Jeff worked for Bennigan’s Restaurant, joining in 1983 while in college, rotating through kitchen, dining room, training and supervisory positions before entering the Management Training Program.
We spoke to Jeff about his career at Elliot and why he looks for candidates who display “care” in everything they do.
Prior to joining Elliot, you had a successful career in restaurant operations, management training, and recruiting. From both an operations and human resources perspective, in your opinion, what is the key to building a successful team?
First and foremost, be arduous in the selection of your team. Take the time to hire the best.
Really get to know your team members, their skill sets, their likes and dislikes, and how they are motivated. This knowledge is invaluable to leaders, as it allows them to match each employee’s expertise to specific problems, which will help increase their productivity and job satisfaction.
Build relationships between your employees and foster a culture of teamwork. Communicate clearly, immediately and often; don’t wait to address a situation until a later time.
And always, find opportunities to celebrate!
What do you think has been the most significant change in the recruiting business throughout the course of your career? Specifically, has technology helped or hindered the process of finding the best talent for your clients?
Clearly, technology advances have provided a boost in our ability to research and collect more data on candidates and clients alike. For the most part, we love the onslaught of information and how it helps us evaluate. However, at the core of what we do is the meaningful relationships we continue to develop and nurture with executives and clients. We listen, we educate, and we counsel. This has never changed.
We talk a lot about ‘The Elliot Approach’ – what value does this bring to the client and how does this impact a candidate in the hiring process?
It’s the reason we have been so successful for so long. We deliver a comprehensive process for our clients with the ultimate prize of a great executive hire for the company. With executive candidates, it’s all about trust. They trust our insight into potential opportunities and why it might be an opportunity to consider. They trust we will maintain strict confidentiality and always be candid and timely in all our communication. The trust built between Consultant and executive is primary to building a long-standing and respectful relationship.
What is the key to incubating relationships with candidates after they have been turned down for a position?
In addition to our primary role in representing exciting opportunities as executive search consultants, we take pride and care in providing counsel to executives throughout the process and afterwards when results may not be as favorable. Remember, these are top performers who trust us implicitly with their careers and I want to help develop them in any way I can. It is important to give feedback and suggest tools necessary to help them advance their careers. In addition to our counsel, we regularly and proactively make introductions for more appropriate career mentors when necessary.
What is one quality you look for in every candidate?
First of all, a history of proven results is the only true indicator of someone’s future performance and success. Measurable results provide the objective measure to determine if this person can continue to obtain extraordinary results. Over the years, in all levels of hiring, I take special attention to people who display “care” in all they do. This is particularly important in our service industries. If someone shows “care” in how they perform their jobs, how they treat others and act as role models, how they make the business better every day, is a key indicator of the type of committed people you want on your team.
I had the unique opportunity to be a client of Elliot before I joined as a Consultant. I had exposure to many search firms throughout my career, but I kept returning to Elliot as my exclusive search partner as there were key items of differentiation. The experience of an Elliot Consultant is unmatched, and I put immense value on the expertise I received in all dimensions for the search process. Overall, the Elliot team understood my business, aligned as a true partner and were always accessible, and no question, this is why Elliot is top of mind when companies are selecting a search partner.