Author archives: Claudia Haque

Stop Lying to Job Candidates About the Role

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article, Stop Lying to Job Candidates About the Role,, by Atta Tarki and Jeff Weiss. Atta and Jeff discussed the importance of “full disclosure” to candidates. This is what we at Acumen Executive Search have been saying for years. People need to come into a position with “their eyes wide open.”

Clear expectations need full disclosure and challenges need to be openly discussed in order to know if the candidate is a good fit and if the candidate finds your organization to be a good fit.

“Too many hiring managers avoid telling candidates the truth about a job. Their logic is that if applicants find out how hard they will work or how boring the core of the open jobs are, they will walk away. This is a mistake. To hire effectively, you have to be honest about what working at your firm is like and what it takes to be successful.” states the opening paragraph.

Acumen learned early in our 12-year history that it is about asking hiring managers the hard questions to determine “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of a position AND the company.  Then it’s about asking hard questions of our candidates to determine the fit.

I recommend the article for all hiring managers. Hiring needs to be a win/win for both sides of the equation in order to have a successful employee and to have a high retention rate. Why go through the process of hiring and then have to do it again 6-months later when the candidate realizes that the position is not what they signed up for?

I also recommend the article for people looking at making a career move. It is your responsibility as a candidate to ask hard questions too and to understand expectations to determine if this is the right opportunity for you.

If you would like to learn more about Acumen, please visit

by Suzanne Hanifin

Acumen Executive Search is proud to announce the hire of Bryan Bast as CEO for Food and Beverage Innovations.

Food & Beverage Innovations’ Board of Directors was on a quest to find a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for their growing organization. Board members contacted long-time and trusted search partners Acumen Executive Search (Acumen) to locate an ideal candidate in an accelerated fashion. Understanding time was of the essence, Acumen swiftly leveraged their unique, customized 9-step search methodology and interviewed the Board Members to gain a clear understanding of the needs of the organization. Acumen next reached out to its broad network, searching for the right candidates to put forward. Acumen presented six exceptional, highly-qualified candidates from various complimentary industries for the Board to review. Although all candidates had the right industry and skillsets necessary for the job and were deemed solid cultural fits, the Board determined that Bryan Bast would be a valuable asset to the company with his strengths in sales, marketing, engineering, growing early stage companies, and expertise specific to the adult beverage industry.

About Bryan Bast: Bryan has a track record of success in the beverage industry as part of the executive team at Mirth Provisions, a leader in innovative adult beverages. Prior to his leadership at Mirth, Bryan served as Global Business Director and Head of Marketing as part of FMC’s Health & Nutrition division, recently acquired by Dupont Nutrition and Biosciences. Bryan received his MBA from Carnegie Mellon and BS in Industrial Engineering from Marquette University.

About Food & Beverage Innovations: Inventors of JEVO®, the world’s first and only automated gelatin shot maker. JEVO® ’s cutting-edge automation technology has been featured in Food & Wine, Esquire, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, Bravo, Mashable, Inc., Huffington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. Read more about JEVO®, its history, and their offerings, go to:

Says Tom Wells, Board Member “Big thanks to all of you at Acumen.  You put several great candidates in front of us in short order and I feel great about where we landed. You have a permanent home my contacts!”

 About Acumen: Since 2007, Acumen has been the premiere boutique, woman-owned Executive Search firm in Oregon with global clientele. Acumen works holistically and strategically with their clients to deeply comprehend their business and culture, to facilitate critical hires who can help solve meaningful problems. Our clients enjoy increased retention and lowered costs due to the services we provide. Visit

Suzanne Hanifin joins Professional 50

Suzanne Hanifin recently joined the Professional 50, a network of Greater Portland’s Elite Exit/Succession professionals. Each member of Professional 50 has been endorsed by others on the list, ensuring that only highly regarded experts are included. Congratulations Suzanne.


Suzanne’s skills as a top recruiter naturally lent itself to succession planning. Over the past few years, Acumen has expanded their capabilities to support companies in transition with succession. If your company needs help creating a succession plan, contact Acumen at 503-430-0294.

The Inside Skinny on Getting Noticed.

United Professional Women Accelerating Relationships & Development is hosting “The Inside Skinny on Getting Noticed“. Recruiters are 13% less likely to click on a woman’s bio on LinkedIn, but 16% more likely to hire a woman. Does your profile stand out? Are you owning your accomplishments? Does your resume cause a recruiter or a client to want to spend more than 9 seconds (average review time)?

Join Suzanne Hanifin and Amanda Szeto April 23 at 5:30 pm to explore tips and tricks for building an effective LinkedIn profile and optimizing your resume for job hunting, board positions, consulting, or whatever your goal is.


Congrats to Scott Cooper – New MEDP Executive Director

Acumen Executive Search is proud to announce the successful placement of Scott Cooper as Executive Director for McMinnville Economic Development Partnership (MEDP).

The MEDP board was looking to replace its outgoing Executive Director and called upon Acumen Executive Search (Acumen) to help fill this crucial position. Acumen quickly implemented their unique, customized 9 step search methodology and brought forward a pool of top tier candidates.

The board ultimately chose to hire Scott Cooper. Cooper’s innovative accomplishments and exceptional understanding of economic, business, community development, and extensive involvement serving as a leader within extremely different environments set him apart as a top tier candidate and the clear choice to lead MEDP.

About Scott Cooper: Scott Cooper brings over 20 years of economic development for both small and large communities to the city of McMinnville, OR. He has previously implemented economic initiatives that created jobs, recruited new companies, expanded existing businesses, and launched a tech innovations center.

Cooper feels that there is much opportunity, both personally and professionally, in the community of McMinnville that offers a great quality of life and wonderful residents. He is eager to learn and understand the history of McMinnville and learn and work cohesively with the board for the betterment of all.

Says Cooper “The professional team at Acumen really made a difficult process go very smooth. From initial contact through the successful outcome, I felt I had a partner in the process. The efforts of the Acumen team did not stop after accepting my new position, rather they have continued to offer assistance. I could not ask for a better experience.”

About MEDP: The Partnership includes the City of McMinnville, McMinnville Water & Light, McMinnville Industrial Promotions, McMinnville Industrial Promotions, the McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce, and area businesses. To learn more about the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, visit or find us at

 About Acumen: Since 2007, Acumen has been the premier boutique, woman-owned Executive Search firm in Oregon with global clientele. Acumen works holistically and strategically with their clients to deeply comprehend their business and culture, to facilitate critical hires who can help solve meaningful problems. Visit

by Christine Billett

Product Marketing Manager Sought to Fill Gaps and Prepare Prior To Product Launch

“Acumen was easy to work with. I felt both Amanda and Karen genuinely looked out for my welfare. They kept in touch and clearly care about me – so unexpected and so very appreciated. Acumen’s coaching was on point; they advocated well for me resulting in a win-win agreement”

– Ananda, Product Marketing Manager



An early stage, pre-launch medical device company needed an experienced Product Marketing Manager to spearhead go-to-market strategy. While awaiting certain data for an innovative yet complex hardware/software product, it provided a challenge and opportunity for solutions. The product is a game changing medical device to be used in predicting disease state pre-dispositions to position patients and providers to enjoy improved health outcomes.



Acumen’s expertise quickly led to a top-tier candidate. As the interface of engineering, product management, and marketing, Ananda feels he has been able to be a sounding board for the team and has helped with overall direction and marketing approach. The team has been able to focus on goals in order of priorities and have clarity on product deliverables. As a result, Ananda is now a part of a Clinical Studies Group where team members from multiple departments meet regularly to examine next steps in the process of product development and launch.



Ananda feels heard and valued by his company.  He finds the science of the product and the whole space he works in is both exciting and fascinating.  As such, he is currently spearheading a group “The Voice of the Customer” to prepare to partner with customers post launch by building tools to work with and train distributors.

The team began a Culture Committee late last year to bridge the lab and corporate office.  It was an initial success, with approximately 27 people show up to an inaugural event designed to bring everyone together collaboratively as one team.

“I have learned so much and have never been in such a brand spanking new environment. Such a great experience!”

Suzanne Hanifin awarded Dave Grimshaw Award for Volunteer of the Year

On March 10, 2019 at Mt Hood Meadows, Oregon Cancer Ski Out (OCSO) awarded Suzanne Hanifin the Dave Grimshaw Award Volunteer of the Year. Suzanne has been involved with the Oregon Cancer Ski Out for about 25 years, as both a volunteer and ski racer.

Suzanne stated “Cancer touches all of us whether ourselves or a loved one. To be able to support an organization like OCSO for about 25 years has been an honor and a privilege. It reminds me of the saying: if you want to run fast, you run alone; if you want to run far, you run with others. Together we can beat cancer.”

Suzanne went on to say “OCSO is one of the best unknown organizations in Oregon where all the dollars raised stay in Oregon. We can see the impact daily with their support of the Knight Institute, Candlelighters, Children’s Cancer Association, different hospice organizations, plus other organizations and today support the War on Melanoma.”

Now in its 31st year, Cancer Ski Out creates avenues to raise funds, provide hope and enable healing in the fight against cancer. What’s raised here, stays here! Learn more about Cancer Ski Out here.

By Christine Billett

Small Business Hiring Trends for 2019

Businesses are growing and creating more jobs. Finding qualified people to fill those positions in a booming economy is a challenge. According to a article Small business hiring trends 2019: What to focus on to stay ahead here are things you can do to make recruiting a little easier when unemployment is down.

  1. Invest in technology that requires fewer hires. Upgrading to the latest technology and equipment can help your current workforce worker better requiring less additional hires.
  2. Use HR technologies that level the playing field. Make your website mobile friendly as 70% of applicants use their mobile devices when searching for jobs. Another easy thing to do: make a video of your office space, yourself or someone from HR talking about the position. Use social media to find candidates; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Also, a career website can be useful for getting in touch with hard to reach candidates.
  3. Source for potential vs. perfect candidate. Instead of looking for the perfect candidate, sourcing for a “high-potential” candidate who is trainable may be the solution. Tailoring the job for a candidate and/or offering training are ways to make the search more successful.
  4. Do reality checks on candidates’ interest in the job. An important aspect of searching is weeding out candidates who are not a good fit. This can be accomplished through “Job-shadowing” where a candidate interacts with the team and gets a feel for the job.

Putting all or some of these ideas in place will hopefully give you a leg up the next time you need to hire.


By Christine Billett

PwC 2018 Family Business Survey Results Are Out

PricewaterhouseCooper’s released the results of their survey PwC Global Family Business Survey Results 2018. It finds family businesses to be in good health. Revenue is expected to continue growing for most family businesses.

Respondents were enthusiastic about future growth. Over 50% will take significant steps in terms of digitalization and bringing in outside resources to help run the business. Almost 40% see themselves buying and selling in other countries. Some will be involved in buying or merging with other domestic companies while others will be looking to buy or merge with non-domestic companies. Still others will significantly change their business model or earning profit from new products or services.

The survey looked at the myriad of challenges family businesses are facing.  Major challenges include digitalization, innovation, and technology.  Thirty percent of family businesses feel vulnerable to digital disruption. They’ll need to look to millennials who are tech-savvy and well educated. “Once they get these younger people, it’s important to empower and enable the disruptive generation and allow them to do their job. The family businesses that don’t embrace change probably won’t be here in 20 years’ time because they haven’t taken the steps to address these issues now. When they do, it may be too late.”

The future has some definite challenges ahead as times are changing. The leaders that embrace these challenges and run with them stand to reap the benefits in the years ahead.