Local Seamstresses Come to the Rescue of Pediatric Patients in Need

While many of our inspiring neighbors have been sewing adult face masks, local hospitals in the PDX Metro recently expressed a need to mask their littlest patients.

Requests put out on Buy Nothing groups and NextDoor resulted in an enthusiastic group of seamstresses who sprang to action. They collectively created and donated hundreds of masks in just a few days, which were collected from all over the Portland metro area. Acumen’s own Molly Norton was among those who delivered the pint-sized masks to healthcare professionals.

Says Molly, “We are so inspired by these seamstress heroes”. Some of those heroes include:

  • Julie, a High School Spanish teacher who donated many beautiful masks for children with a moving photo and quote from Frida Kahlo. And the unicorns on the purple masks glow in the dark!
  • Shannon, a mother whose daughter’s life was saved by a local hospital when she was a pediatric patient — who wanted to give back to those on the front lines.
  • Karina Potestio, a native of Guatemala who sewed 50 pediatric masks in a couple of days (she has some beautiful, crafty masks for online order in her Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/karinapotestio)

THANK YOU to these generous women for donating their time, materials, and expertise to keep our littlest citizens safe during this public health crisis. Our team at Acumen celebrates you. And we definitely appreciate the purple unicorn masks!

Onboarding Lessons and Advice

Acumen’s clients often ask for help regarding onboarding and implementing a plan for their newest employee/s. The most effective plans we have seen are those from progressive organizations that offer their leaders/executives a 3-month schedule that allows them to work a week within each group in the organization. This strategy allows them to gather insights into how the organization works: understanding the workflows between departments, learning and understanding the management team and how they manage, discovering pain points, etc.

I recently read an article by Michael D. Walkins: “7 Ways to Set Up a New Hire for Success.” He outlines many good ideas to keep in mind when setting up your onboarding plan. He reminds everyone that a good employee needs skills, resources, and connections for them to become fully effective in the position. For new employees he also states:

Onboarding is among the toughest types of job transitions. Why? Because new hires, even if they are experienced professionals, are unfamiliar with the business, don’t understand how things really work, lack established relationships, and have to adapt to a new culture.

Here are some additional concepts that he shared and good ideas when setting up your onboarding plan:

  • Accelerate the new employee’s learnings:
    • Technical learning – products, customers, technologies, and systems
    • Cultural learning – attitudes, behavior norms, and values
    • Political learning – how decisions are made, how power and influence work, and figuring out whose support they will need most
  • Connect them with key Stakeholders
  • Give them direction
  • Help them achieve early wins
  • Coach them for success

In addition, Acumen has found that providing a mentor/regular point of contact (if possible) is incredibly helpful for onboarding a new employee, especially when working virtually.

A new employee’s success within the first 3 months of hire is critical for their happiness and satisfaction and is an indicator of how long they are likely to remain with the organization. Retention is important – effective onboarding is the key.

During these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, onboarding can still be effective in helping set new employees up for success. Some employers have moved to virtual onboarding. Others are conducting onboarding in-person with proper precautions. Others are using a combination of in-person and virtual meetings. Others are sending documentation or leveraging online training. Any of these approaches can work when you thoughtfully plan and strategize as to how you can present the information most effectively (and safely).

If your onboarding is being conducted virtually, laptops can be shipped to the new employee with their new technology preloaded with the programs they will need to use. Virtual calls can be set up with key Stakeholders. Critical documents can be emailed or sent securely by other means. Most everything that would have been done in-person before the pandemic can be moved to the virtual world with some forethought and preplanning.

Webinar: Leading through COVID-19

We’re all in this together. That’s why Acumen’s Suzanne Hanifin and her colleagues want to share their expertise with other local business leaders. Join this panel of experts in law, contracts, small business loans, staffing, investments and crisis communications for a conversation about leading through COVID-19. Bring your questions. It’s free, and you can register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_LkGNPY15RRexKkO1-p05Gg

How to Thrive in a Time of Video Interviews

By Molly Norton


To all of our Valued Clients, Candidates, and Community Partners,

While COVID-19 has brought all of us a great amount of uncertainty, it has also allowed us opportunities to thoughtfully plan and prepare to push forward towards imminently better days.

Our motto since we started Acumen has always been “We listen…We care…We deliver.” We continue to listen deeply, even more so than ever before and we continue to truly care for our clients, candidates, and community as we navigate this uncertainty together.

What is your organization doing to adjust to today’s challenges? Acumen has always had an effective, flexible, remote-work model in place and will continue ensuring the safety not only of our team, but the safety of our clients and candidates through virtual meetings and interviews. So, it’s a great time to level up those video-interviewing skills.

Here are a couple resources to help get you started navigating this virtual world of interviewing.

The first link is a free guide that provides a range of solid tactical tips:

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/video-interview-guide (FREE)

If you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, Jenny Foss, who is a celebrated local LinkedIn Learning Author and Founder of Job Jenny, has a LinkedIn Learning Online Course that is helpful for anyone who is about to embark on video interviewing, on both sides of the table. Note that this course is included free with LinkedIn Premium.


In this series of enjoyable short-courses, Jenny suggests asking your recruiting team to help you prepare (that’s our job!). Some good questions to ask about a video interview include:

  • How many people will be on the call?
  • What’s the hiring team going to be looking for?
  • Do you have some prep materials to share?
  • For a one-way interview – ask if questions can be reviewed in advance, if available
  • How do I handle a technical snag? Is there a backup plan?

As with any interview situation, Jenny (and we) recommend:

  • Do your homework – study up on who you will be interviewing with – LinkedIn provides a treasure trove of information.
  • Do some online sleuthing to see what’s going on with the company and the industry.
  • Dig into their products or the services they offer.
  • Get an idea as to their culture by reading blogs and social media accounts, which will also help determine if you have good cultural alignment with the organization.
  • This due diligence will hopefully lead to a list of thoughtful, insightful questions that you can have in front of you during the interview to show how thoroughly you’ve prepared – and because you are interviewing the organization too.

We wish you good health and we look forward to connecting with you — virtually and emotionally.


Welcome to Your Future

Acumen was a sponsor for Columbia Bank’s “Welcome to Your Future” presentation. @Rick Pay and @Vinay Rao did a great job highlighting how ANY manufacturer can use artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning to improve profit, reduce costs and remain relevant in a connected world! If you missed the event and want to hear what it’s all about, register here to reserve your seat for the March 11th presentation in Beaverton.


Work Flexibility is the Key to Recruiting and for Building a Culture of Trust

The number 1 request from candidates is Work Flexibility. We, Acumen Executive Search, have been interviewing and placing Director-level through C-Level candidates since 2007, and this has been the case for 13 years. Today, with unemployment so low and top talent in high demand, it makes more sense for employers to be creative.

Many business owners, executives, and leaders talk about “work-life integration”, meaning that when they are on vacation, they check emails in the morning, play with the family in the afternoon, and return to work in the evening. If employees can practice this while on vacation, why can’t more businesses offer work flexibility to their employees? I know that there are industries that cannot offer work flexibility, but many organizations can!

I read a Harvard Business review article titledBill Gates says This 1 Employee Perk is Most Important. A New Harvard Study Backs Him UpI find the statistics amazing. When the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office implemented work-flexibility, they saw 13.5% increase in production from their workers. But what was interesting was that the work-flexibility did not require workers to work from home or from work 100% but allowed them to decide where to work. We know that with technology, we can work anywhere, including when we are on vacation.

The Acumen Approach – Now Backed By Behavioral Science

Acumen spends a great deal of time with our managerial through executive-level candidates.  First and foremost, as true partners with our client companies, we need this time to ascertain the candidate’s ideal position, cultural and core value alignments, and a multitude of other factors making them the one right candidate for our open opportunity.  Secondly, we genuinely develop meaningful relationships with our candidates and want them to succeed.  During interview coaching, one of Acumen’s most highly stressed suggestions is to never answer an interview question with a yes or no but rather, tell a story.  A story that doesn’t talk about what the candidate may have done in the past but instead helps the hiring manager envision how the candidate can be additive and help with specific challenges facing the organization.

Recently, I attended a Link event at which Mr. Larry Shoop was giving a presentation titled “The Science and Power of Story.”  I knew I had to attend on the title alone given the potential significance to one of Acumen’s core tenets and I am so glad I did. In addition to being with a dynamic and fun group of ladies and hearing an amazing presentation, I learned a statistic I was previously unaware of.  A statistic that gave the team here at Acumen further conviction in our approach.  I learned behavioral science shows a staggering 95% of all decisions are first made emotionally while rationalization and reasoning follow later.  As human beings we are wired to learn through stories, we are going to remember the stories which trigger an emotional response and those emotions are going to color our decisions.  I also learned the average attention span is now just 5 minutes; not a lot of time to leave a memorable impression and further underlining the importance of making an emotional connection with your audience.  Apparently, this is all simply science and the Acumen team couldn’t agree more!

As a recruiter I conduct a lot of interviews and my most insightful interviews occur when the candidate opens up and starts sharing applicable stories.  I am able to develop an essential rapport through shared stories.  I get to see what is really behind that nervousness as the candidate relaxes and I often gain valuable information I wouldn’t have otherwise received.  The content, structure and even subject matter of candidate stories help us to better understand their motivators, core values, personalities and much more.  With over 12 years of success following our proven process, it was exciting to hear about the science behind why it works!