Emerging Lighting Professionals: Advice

As the third and final blog of the Emerging Lighting Professionals series, here’s the advice lighting firms had for emerging professionals in the lighting industry:

1. Be yourself, understand who you are. Write down your values i.e. helping others, being creative, financial security, etc.; and your interests, for example: what do you pay attention to, what are you curious about and what concerns you? What is your temperament: do you prefer being alone or with other people, do you make decisions based on feeling or facts, and/or do you prefer details or big ideas? Are you a morning person or night owl; when does your energy peak? What are your strengths, skills, abilities and your character strengths? Research different positions and look at job descriptions to see if they align with your notes about yourself.

2. Analyze the different sectors of the industry: manufacturers, specifiers (architectural firms, lighting design firms, MEP firms, etc.), rep agencies and distributors; determine which sector you prefer to be in. Manufacturers handle their own product line and are the product experts. Rep agencies are the middleman of the manufacturers and distributors. They represent many manufacturers products; which can be up to 100 manufacturers or more and they are market specialists, so they know all the distributors and specifiers in their city and which buildings are being built or retrofitted. Distributors stock the products for the manufacturers, so they can quickly ship to job sites. Specifiers are lighting design firms, architects or engineering firms and they design the building and select what products to buy. Specifiers are product agnostic, so they can use any manufacturer’s products they want. They design what the lighting will look like in the space and choose fixtures to create a specific effect.   

3. Find a mentor. Choose someone that’s seasoned and that you admire; ask them if they will be your mentor, take them to lunch or grab coffee; ask for their advice and ask them to hold you accountable. Choose wisely, look for someone that is enthusiastic, passionate, successful and positive. Choosing someone negative will drag you down. 

4. In preparing for an interview, dress and act professionally. Research the company and the industry, read their website, google the company name for other news and research their key employees on LinkedIn. Bring several copies of your resume, a notepad and pen. For lighting design or engineering positions, bring a few copies of your portfolio in both a hard and digital copy. Your portfolio should exemplify your work, whether it’s from school or a job, and give them examples of the work you did to get to that design and be prepared to discuss your process/involvement in creating that design. Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments and skills with examples to support them. Rehearse answering those questions before the interview several times to build up your confidence. Use STAR analysis as a guide:

a. Situation. Backstory, who, what, where, when

b. Task. What was your exact involvement in the situation, what were you assigned to do?

c. Actions. The steps you took to solve the challenge, how you attacked  problems, how did you overcome roadblocks and any unique methods you used?

d. Results. How were things better off because of your actions? What did you learn? Include numbers where you can, for example: increased sales by 10%, came in under budget by 10%, etc.

5. Be patient. You must put in your time; and learn your craft both on the job and on your own. The seemingly mundane details have value and are important to master your craft. I tell my colleagues all the time, we must return to basics when we are in slump/when sales are down; they are what made you who you are today. Exercise those basics until you’ve mastered them. Michael Jordan famously said that “you can practice shooting for 8 hours a day, but if your technique is wrong then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise. If you get away from the fundamentals the bottom will fall out.”

6. Be enthusiastic and passionate about lighting and what you want to do; I hear this from my clients all the time. They are excited about a candidate on paper and when they come in for an interview, the candidate shows no interest or passion. If you’re not passionate or excited about the opportunity, they’ll question your longevity within the company and industry. Frank Bettger said in his book, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, “enthusiasm is by far the highest paid quality on earth, probably because it is one of the rarest; yet it is one of the most contagious.” How do you become more passionate and enthusiastic? Act enthusiastically (fake it ‘til you make it), surround yourself with enthusiastic people, focus on what makes you happy and what you are grateful for and take care of yourself physically and mentally (eat well, get enough sleep, exercise). Create a vision board: find pictures that represent your goals, of what makes you happy, things you’d like to buy and/or places you’d like to visit; and hang it somewhere as an everyday reminder.

Here at Egret Consulting, we are always willing to help. Please reach out to us if you have any industry questions or are looking for professional tips at info@egretconsulting.com.

Brooke Ziolo is a contingent and retained executive recruiter working exclusively within the Lighting Industry. To learn more about how she can help your Lighting company, LED company or Lighting Design Firm attract talent, check out her biographyLinkedIn profile or email her at bz@egretconsulting.com.

Emerging Lighting Professionals: What Companies are Looking for and Their Concerns

Part 1

I was invited to speak at the IES Annual Conference in Boston presenting for the “Marketable Skills for Emerging Professionals in the Lighting Industry” seminar. Over the next 3 blogs, I’ll review the topics I discussed in that presentation.

I surveyed presidents and VP’s of lighting manufacturers and principals of lighting designers. Here are the top 5 positions for emerging professionals companies are looking for:

1. Lighting Designers – junior to mid-level, project managers, production work, etc.

2. Engineers – electrical, mechanical, software and electronic

3 & 4. Sales (inside and outside were tied) – calling on specifiers or distributors

5. Marketing

The top concerns companies have for hiring someone with 0 – 5 years of experience:

1. Work ethic. Companies are worried that people with 0 – 5 years of experience aren’t interested in putting in the work and doing the little, mundane details required to build a strong foundation for their career and be successful in their career. As Michael Jordan said:

You can practice shooting for 8 hours a day, but if your technique is

wrong then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.

Master the fundamentals and the level of everything you do will rise.

If you get away from the fundamentals the bottom will fall out.

Those little tasks have value even if you don’t see that today.

2. ROI (Return on Investment) and longevity with their company. You may see the company is paying you a salary of, say, $50,000, but they are investing much more in you. Statistics state: for a $50,000 salary, a company invests $75,000 – $135,000 for you. They are covering your benefits such as medical, dental and retirement account, but more importantly, they are investing their time to train you and taking time away from their own jobs to do so.

3. Character. Companies want to make sure you are who you say you are and you will invest in yourself; to learn on the job and on your own time.

Please stayed tuned for the next blogs on Marketable Skills and Qualities for Emerging Professionals and the 3rd blog on Advice for Emerging Professionals.

Brooke Ziolo is a contingent and retained executive recruiter working exclusively within the Lighting Industry. To learn more about how she can help your Lighting company, LED company or Lighting Design Firm attract talent, check out her biographyLinkedIn profile or email her at bz@egretconsulting.com.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail!

Being a recruiter is one of the most rewarding experiences. There’s nothing more gratifying than helping grow my client companies.  When I follow up with a candidate I’ve placed and they share they’ve grown sales by $5MM, cut manufacturing costs by 9%, or launched a new product that is expected to generate $30MM in sales – it simply feels great!  From the candidate side, other than personal development, there’s not much else that compares to a great job. I am fortunate enough to help improve people’s lives.

Outside of recruiting, I’m a volunteer youth travel baseball and softball coach.  One message I consistently share with my developing student athletes is: they cannot be afraid to fail.  Let’s be honest, baseball and softball are games designed to make you fail.  Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times. Though, he hit 714 home runs.

We cannot be consumed by the fear of failure. It’s impossible to achieve success without failure.  Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison all experienced failure before their successes.  I share with my 13-14 year old softball players that success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up; with goals so strong that obstacles, failure and loss only act as motivation.  We’re all going to fall…what makes the great ones special is rising up every time they fall. Nothing is wasted if you learn from it. We’ve all experienced rejection. Don’t let those setbacks define you.  Recognize what caused the problem and turn that into strengths. Take ownership and proceed.

Take chances. Reach for the stars. Break new ground.  Michael Jordan said, “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. I can’t accept not trying.”  Set your goals and achieve them. Each of us can achieve greatness.  Don’t be afraid to fail during the journey.

Rob Wieska is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Power Distribution and Building Automation in addition to general Electrical Product Manufacturing. To learn more about how he can help your company identify and attract talent, check out his biography, view his LinkedIn profile or send him an email at rw@egretconsulting.com.

What to do if you hate your new job


You worked with a great recruiter, went through the interviewing process with flying colors and your first week is finally here, but something’s not right. Maybe it’s not what you thought it was going to be or there was a change that put you on edge. Whatever the reason, stop and take a deep breath and don’t run out the door quite yet.


Your first day, week or even month at any new job can be uncomfortable. You’re still trying to learn everything, including everyone’s name. In the midst of over-stressing about if you made the right choice, you could end up making a regrettable decision. So before you run off, try a few strategies first.


1. Figure out what the issue is
Try your best to sit down at home and really think about what the issue is. Grab a pen and paper to jot things down in order to get a better understanding of the big picture. What is it that you hate about the new job? Is there a chance that because everything is so new that you don’t feel confident? Sometimes we need to give “new” a little more time. When you feel uncomfortable it can translate to you feeling like you are failing.


On the other hand, maybe your fears are completely valid. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding of the work itself. And in some cases you may notice right away that this place just isn’t a cultural fit for you. But to be fair, you also need to think about or jot down what is working.


While things might not be your idea of perfect, you may find a few positives. Maybe it’s a great company and your future there will open you up to some great opportunities. Maybe you will meet coworkers you can learn from and will help bring you to that next level in your career.


After going through what is and isn’t working, consider the idea of trying your best to get through the first couple months where you feel a bit uncomfortable. It might just be new job jitters and pay of in the end if you stay.


2. Talk to your recruiter
Regardless if you want to give it a little more time or you know that it just isn’t a good fit, the first thing you should do is talk with your recruiter. You may think a recruiter is there only during the interviewing process, but that’s far from the truth. You can always call your recruiter and just explain what’s bothering you. They can help you sort through the situation and make the best choice for your career if you are open to communicating with them.


3. Set up a meeting with management

If a company hired you it’s because they believe you have what it takes to add to the company’s success. No company wants to go through the recruitment process only to end up hiring the wrong candidate and have to start over in a month. As a new employee this is the best time to voice any concerns you have. There may be a solution to what’s bothering you. If you don’t communicate with your manager, they have no way of knowing you are unhappy. Be honest and open to a discussion.


In the end you need to make the right choice to benefit your career, but just remember that change is never usually a comfortable feeling. Sometimes we just need to give things a little more time and always be open to communicate with those who can help us. Both your recruiter and your new company want you to succeed, so if there is an issue, be honest and willing to have what may seem like a difficult talk.

Biggest Job Search Lessons Learned

If there is one lesson that each and every one of us could stand to learn from a job search, it’s that we should have done a better job creating a network of people prior to our search. Building a network from scratch is hard work, but you don’t have to start over. Here are a few tips on how to build and maintain a great network and why.

  1. Recognize the value a network offers. When you recognize the value a network offers, you will be more motivated to stay in touch. Wouldn’t it be great to hear about a job while employed? Of course! And it will only happen if your contacts remember you and what your expertise is. Or what about when you need references? Having a network of great references can be a huge plus.
  2. Develop a system for reaching out. Perhaps start with the past colleagues, and make a point to call, email or meet up for coffee. Share your updates on how your current job is going, and what your thoughts on your future are.
  3. Join a professional group. One of the lessons you may have learned during your search was that you need to stay up to date on trends in your occupation and industry. By joining a professional group you will stay up-to-date on trends and have the opportunity to meet others in your field.
  4. Choose a mentor. A relationship with a mentor provides you with firsthand feedback and knowledge to refine your career. This mentor could be someone from your company or from outside of your organization. Both have pros and cons, so you could choose one of each. The advantage to having more than one mentor is that you don’t feel like you are asking for too much from either one. One mentor may be able to help you navigate internal policies and politics. The other may be more helpful in helping you plot your career course.
  5. Never lose touch with recruiters. If you developed a working relationship with a recruiter, definitely reach out to them. Let the recruiter know you are considering a job change, and to keep you updated. Tell the recruiter you would like to be contacted if there is an opening that fits your background. If nothing else, you may know of people who would be a good fit for the job if you aren’t, and recruiters appreciate referrals.
  6. Give back. You now have greater empathy for those who are hunting for a new job. Remember how difficult your search was? The ups and downs? Offer to help current job seekers by sharing your experience and lessons learned. And most of all teach them about the importance of building a network!

You’ve learned how challenging it is to build your network so don’t wait until the next job change to get started. When you have existing relationships, it feels much easier to ask for help, advice or information. This is why it is so important to continue to nurture and grow your network for long-term career success.



Pati Kelly

Pati Kelly

Pati Kelly is a contingent and retained recruiter exclusive to the electrical industry with a specialty in Wire and Cable. To learn more about how she can help your company identify and attract talent, check out her biography, view her LinkedIn profile or send her an email at pk@egretconsulting.com.


By |September 9th, 2016|Blog, Candidate Advice, Hiring Advice|0 Comments