Your Best Friends and your Worst Enemies…

Mark Lonergan, July 3rd, 2018

One of the most sur­pris­ing truths I have found in my work as an exec­u­tive recruiter is that your best friends and your worst ene­mies (well, most of us don’t have ene­mies, but we do have detrac­tors) iden­ti­fy the exact same list of our strengths and weaknesses.

Can­di­dates per­se­ver­ate over who to select as their pro­fes­sion­al ref­er­ences. They wor­ry some­one they dis­agreed with, com­pet­ed with, or alien­at­ed will pro­vide a dis­tort­ed and unflat­ter­ing pic­ture of them and tor­pe­do their chances at land­ing the new role. I am here to tell you that in my over 25 years as an exec­u­tive recruiter, I have found no mate­r­i­al dif­fer­ence in how you are described by your best friends and your biggest detractors.

"I am here to tell you that in my over 25 years as an executive recruiter, I have found no material difference in how you are described by your best friends and your biggest detractors."

I always find rel­e­vant peo­ple to pro­vide ref­er­ences who were not select­ed by the can­di­date (the infa­mous back-door’ ref­er­ence), so I know that these ref­er­ences do not reflect the candidate’s coach­ing in any way. And I still find I get the same com­ments and insights from a candidate’s great­est allies as I do from the peo­ple who did not work well with that indi­vid­ual. Your best friends see your weak­ness­es, and because I per­sist they will tell them to me. And your detrac­tors see your strengths, even if they don’t always see eye to eye with you about where you will suc­ceed and where you will struggle.

Is this just that peo­ple are like­ly to be hon­est? Maybe that is part of it, but I think it’s also a reflec­tion that those who dis­agree with us or even dis­like us are still over time able to see us for who we real­ly are. After all, our beliefs and actions are out there for all to see. And we’re all pay­ing atten­tion, regard­less of our affinity.

We are what we are. 

There isn’t any point in try­ing to hide it. And that’s a real­ly good thing!

Mark Lonergan

Founder & Managing Partner, Lonergan Partners

Specialties: Board & CEO placements


[email protected]

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