Interestingly, the simplest of things can sometimes have a derailing effect on candidates, both from our point of view and, more importantly, from a Search Committee perspective. While one might think it obvious and even sophomoric to have to point such things out, the sad reality is that there are many self-inflicted negative impressions that are made by not taking care of “101” issues, including actual disqualifying issues.

So, a few things to absolutely remember if interested in pursuing a position, regardless of whether KK&W is involved, it’s with another firm, or a club is conducting a search on their own. Consider:

  • Assume that just about every Search Committee has an English major on it! Whether it’s simple spelling and grammar checks (beyond Word spell check!), formatting inconsistencies, or major gaffes where something just doesn’t make sense, great candidates can find themselves on the outside looking in if they haven’t done a good job of having multiple reviews of their presented documents to eliminate mistakes.
  • In the eyes of our firm or a Search Committee, the assumption is made that THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION YOU HAVE APPLIED TO UP TO THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER! If that is true (and why wouldn’t it be?), that means necessary time and care in presenting yourself — in submitted materials, preparation for an interview, understanding your strengths and motivations, etc., should occur. Too often, we or the Search Committee don’t get that impression.
  • There is a reason a search profile typically asks that you save documents in a CLEARLY defined and noted manner. Not being able, or more often, simply disregarding the most basic of instructions in this regard sends a message to us and to a Search Committee.
  • In our firm’s case, we ask you to complete an insightful questionnaire that provides much more information than a cover letter and resume. Search Committees appreciate the discernments they obtain from these questionnaires, leading them (and us) to better understand your leadership style, your approach to certain issues, and more.
  • Having subjective, non-quantified information listed as achievements are pretty worthless. For example, it’s great to suggest that “Member satisfaction improved greatly during my tenure,” but without validation, it doesn’t mean much to us and a Search Committee. Additionally, suggesting things like, “Food sales revenue increased 50% during my tenure” for example, doesn’t mean much if there isn’t a dollar qualifier as well — that could mean it went from $100,000 to $150,000, which isn’t nearly as interesting or significant as going from $2.0M to $3.0M, but without quantification, it doesn’t tell the story it likely intended. If you can’t measure it and convey the actual measure, you likely don’t want to list it.
  • Mostly for golf professionals, while very well intended to have members write letters on one’s behalf, the best references are done by making direct contact with references. In some cases, either our firm or the actual club one is looking to join is deluged with well-intended letter writing campaigns that usually only serve to ‘turn off’ the recipients who are inundated, sometimes without even knowing the candidates who are being represented. Again, following simple instructions, which are usually specific in what is necessary and required/desired from candidates should be what is done.
  • Thinking in advance about the “why I’m interested and how I actually ‘fit’ the desired qualifications” saves time and better presents one for a role. Applying for most every position we present simply doesn’t make sense; no one is a good fit for every role! And, while someone often says, “I can live anywhere,” being happy personally with where you are being is just as important as having professional competency alignment.

These are pretty simple and obvious reminders, but hugely important ones to best manage your career and ability to stand out from the crowd.

Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, CMAA Fellow, is a partner with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries. Kurt can be contacted at