1611 – Relational vs Transactional with Encore Professionals Group’s Chris Fontanella

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Founder of Encore Professionals Group, Chris Fontanella.

Due to rising vendor management systems, Chris discussed the transformation of recruiting from a relational to a transactional sphere. He emphasized the importance of maintaining a relational component to find the perfect job fit.

The attitude was another primary emphasis, with Chris urging the necessity of having the right mindset and the willingness to work hard to achieve one's goals. Ambition alone isn't enough; a relentless determination to bridge the gap between current standing and desired position is vital.

Chris also pointed to the value of LinkedIn as a networking platform and connection to the marketplace. He cautioned against over-communication, encouraging balance to create meaningful connections.

These strategies promote career growth and development, emphasizing the relational nature of professional success.


About Chris Fontanella:

Chris Fontanella, the founder of Encore Professional Group, leverages his unique background in theology and staffing to offer specialized placement services for accounting and finance professionals.

He graduated from Oral Roberts University with a BA in New Testament Theology, later acquiring a MA in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Transitioning from ministry to the staffing industry, Fontanella uses his eclectic experience to help individuals thrive in their careers.

He is a published author, having penned three books, including “Against the Grain,” “Jump-Start Your Career,” and “Tune Up Your Career,” which provide insightful tips for business and personal success. His firm stands out in the industry, reflecting his unconventional journey and keen understanding of the professional realm.


About Encore Professionals Group:

Encore Professional Group is a distinguished firm known for its specialized consulting and executive search services in accounting, finance, audit, and information technology. The firm’s mission is to establish and nurture enduring relationships with candidates seeking career opportunities and clients needing tailored solutions.

Encore Professional Group bridges the gap between professionals and companies by focusing on this dual mission, leveraging its industry-specific knowledge to create mutually beneficial partnerships. The group's commitment to long-term success and satisfaction sets it apart in the competitive staffing industry.


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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Encore Professionals Group website at

Check out Chris Fontanella on LinkedIn at

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Check out Chris Fontanella on Facebook at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Chris Fontanella. Chris, you are the owner at Encore Professionals Group. You're found on the web at Encore Pros and you are also an accomplished writer and you're the author of a few books you've got. Let's see here you've got Jumpstart. Well, the the Jumpstart Your career. Tune up your career and then also ideas on business and life.

Josh (00:01:26) - So it's great to have you, Chris. Oh, against the green counterintuitive ideas on business and life. So yeah, Chris, great to have you.

Chris (00:01:32) - Thanks, Josh, It's a pleasure to be on your show and to have the opportunity to chat with you today.

Josh (00:01:38) - Yeah, absolutely. So go ahead and give us a just kind of a quick thumbnail sketch of of of what you do professionally today.

Chris (00:01:45) - Yeah. So right now I'm in the staffing and consulting world. I've been doing that for about 30 years. I'm sort of an anomaly in my industry because I actually spent nine years studying for the ministry. I've pastored a church. I'm one of those guys that taught Bible studies and led Sunday School and all of that. And somewhere along the way I entered into the staffing and consulting industry, put the ministry on the side. And I've been doing it for 30 years because I love the opportunity to help people find a job.

Josh (00:02:18) - And I suspect you still find yourself serving God in what we do right.

Josh (00:02:23) - And what you do in one.

Chris (00:02:24) - Form or another, for sure.

Josh (00:02:28) - So in the world of staffing, which, you know, again, there's a lot going on in talent acquisition. Could you kind of maybe niche yourself a little bit and like, you know, there are industries you specialize in positions and specialize in geography, that sort of thing.

Chris (00:02:44) - Yeah. I mean, as you can imagine, every company in America pretty much uses temporary workforce on one level or another. Whether they need somebody to answer the phones, they need some administrative support or technological support. I happen to focus on accounting and finance and audit related needs, so the niche I've created for myself is I wanted to specialize with helping accountants find jobs. So I work with MBAs and CPAs. For me, it doesn't matter what industry a business is in. My only concern is if a company can pay their bills and if they could pay their bills. Great. I'll work with you. But. But every company is looking for somebody to fill an empty seat on a temporary basis.

Chris (00:03:29) - Or maybe they're trying to identify somebody for a permanent role. And I'm sort of in that gap of being between the client and being between the client and the candidate.

Josh (00:03:41) - And in this work. And how long have you been doing staffing and recruiting? And then when did that lead into starting writing? Writing?

Chris (00:03:50) - Yeah, I've been in the business almost 30 years, really. So I started my career in the staffing industry with Robert Half International, which at the time was probably the largest staffing company in the world. Robert Papp himself was the founder of the whole staffing temporary service, temporary placement industry. From there, I went to work for a subsidiary of Deloitte Touche, which is a big four accounting firm. The name of the company was called Resources Connection at the time. And then after that I left to start my own business with a business partner, had great success doing that, built it up, and then sold the business to a company called a Creative Solutions, which is an actual accounting and finance consulting firm.

Chris (00:04:35) - Left that company in 2017, started my second business called Encore Pro. So it's been a long journey in that business. And during Covid, I had a lot more time on my hands because my business sort of just stalled a little bit for obvious reasons. And I decided that I wanted to start writing down some notes about what I've been learning in the world of career development. And so I started writing books.

Josh (00:05:02) - Yeah. And before we get into all that, what are your observations about kind of the recruiting and staffing world right now?

Chris (00:05:09) - One of the key observations I've made is that things are becoming less relational and more transactional, which is a little disappointing for me because I still to this day believe the relational component is super important in helping people find jobs. But a lot more, especially the larger organizations, they're implementing what's known as vendor management systems, and that is basically a system that allows them to deal with their vendors who are providing access to talent. So and what they want you to do basically is submit resumes for open positions.

Chris (00:05:47) - They sort of scrub the resume. So whoever the hiring manager is doesn't really know what agency the resume is coming through, what the candidate's name is. And a lot a lot of times. They're just sort of wiping that clean so that the person can just look at the resume and go, Oh, this person looks like a good fit. And what happens with that, in my opinion, is you lose the relational component, right? I feel like the benefit of working with somebody like myself is I get to know the candidate, right? And I'm looking for more than just what his or her technical abilities are. I want to know about them as a person, and then that allows me to communicate certain things to the client. And that seems to allow for a better fit. Like because I could talk about soft skills as well as the technical skills that the candidate brings to the table.

Josh (00:06:36) - Yeah, it is really interesting. And I think, you know, AI is definitely, um, you know, creating some evolutions for sure in one area.

Josh (00:06:46) - Absolutely. You know, the human element. You know, it's like ten, well, you know, again, I don't want to be too arrogant to think that only humans can do this, but you know, it's like, you know, really understanding or getting a gut feel on someone. Again, I'm probably being naive and thinking that, you know, we need humans to do this. But yeah, I mean, you know.

Chris (00:07:07) - That's definitely looming overhead right now, right? I mean, AI is in the news every day. Yeah. But what I keep telling people is, is look, you know, if you focus on having something to bring to the table, there's always going to be a seat for you if you don't take the time to make sure that you can add value and bring something to the table. Now, there might not be a seat for you because you potentially could be replaced by a robot or some form of technology.

Josh (00:07:36) - Yeah, Yeah. You know, and certainly, you know, I look at, you know, the value of networking in why that's so critical today. Let's kind of use that as a pivot point to kind of get into some of these skills that are valuable for folks that are looking to level up professionally. Either they're open to a new opportunity or they just want to improve the current situation that they're in right now. But can you talk about the role of, you know, kind of like your network and ecosystem and like who you know, why connection human connection is really valuable for anyone to move up at as opposed to I just happen to be the best human calculator on the planet when it comes to insure or something like that.

Chris (00:08:21) - Yeah, I mean, I'm really big on not underestimating the value of relationships and the value of your network. I mean, I look back over my career and I could, I could rattle off 3 or 4 names of people that had a direct impact on the trajectory of my career.

Chris (00:08:41) - And that could even go way back to, you know, meeting George Davis, my youth pastor, because meeting him got me got my feet on a better path in life in general. Then I met a lady when I interviewed for Robert Half International. She saw things in me and she saw things in the years that I spent studying for the ministry that she believed were transferable skills into the staffing world. You know, she pointed out and she's like, Well, it seems like having a message is really important to you. Why don't you make the service offerings of Robert half your new message and go talk to people about it? So like, I had significant people like that I entered into a relationship with and ended up impacting my relationship, my career. So I don't think you can ever underestimate the value and the importance of relationships. So you do have to take the time to build that network for yourself because those people become sort of springboards for you to continue to grow and develop in your career.

Josh (00:09:42) - Yeah, and of course, you know, again, we always want to be amazing at what our job requirements are, you know, kind of those hard skills. What are some of the soft skills that that may have been? Nice in the past, but now employers and workplaces are. This is pretty important. Is it you know, or, you know, is there anything that you can think of that stands out that, you know, maybe we could be kind of working on? And from a personal development standpoint outside of our professional credentials side? Yeah.

Chris (00:10:17) - Yes, I from that, yeah. I mean, I think it's important to it really gets done to a lot of attitudinal type stuff, right. Like to me, I'm a little concerned that people want to be further down the road without actually taking the steps to get there. So to me, one of the key things you should be thinking about is developing an attitude of I'm willing to work my ass off to get where I want to be.

Chris (00:10:43) - And a lot of times I'm just not seeing that like they see where they want to be, but they don't want to put in the hard work to get there. And a lot of times they don't want to start at the bottom to get to the top. And to me, it's super important to have an attitude that says I'm willing to work at ground level and make my way toward where I want to be. Like there's a gap between the now and the not yet, and that gap needs to, you know, work needs to be put in place to get you where you want to go. And that's an attitude that you need to develop no matter what job you're looking at, no matter what career you want to develop or what industry you want to be a part of, you got to have that willingness to work your fanny off.

Josh (00:11:23) - Yeah, you know, and might be related here, but So I believe is your newest book, Jumpstart Your Career.

Chris (00:11:30) - Actually, The newer one is Tune up your career.

Josh (00:11:33) - Oh, great. Great. Yeah. So talk about like who that's for and, you know, the like, who needs to snag this book and yeah, you know, the transformation that they'll experience.

Chris (00:11:43) - Yeah. Tune up your career is geared toward people who have been in the workforce for for ten, 20, 30 years. You know, you've been maybe working your way up the corporate ladder, so to speak. You've worked for the man long enough to know you know how it is. You've been chained to your desk, so to speak. And the book really sort of elaborates on the system that you're a part of. In the first part of the book, it talks about your work world sort of being either like a maze that you're meandering through to sort of find your keys, your rewards, and then it's also like a machine, like you become part of this entity that just keeps, you know, the wheels of commerce are just churning along and you're just a cog in the wheel, so to speak.

Chris (00:12:30) - And then the second part of the book starts to talk about, well, how can you go about sort of getting the gunk out of your career engine so that you can continue to get further down the road? And I offer up suggestions like, one example is, you know, maybe you've reached a point in your career where it's time to think about being an entrepreneur. You either have an idea of a product that's better than something that's on the market, or you believe that you can offer a service that somebody else offers, but you think you could do it better. And so maybe you're reaching that point in your career where it's like, maybe it's just time for me to start doing this on my own and making my own money without reliance on an employer. So I go through a few different things to get people to think about how do you really get your career engine humming?

Josh (00:13:18) - Yeah. And I would imagine, you know, our what about our kind of our presence online, notably, you know, how we use LinkedIn.

Josh (00:13:27) - I suspect you've touched on that.

Chris (00:13:29) - Yeah, I mean, I'm a big, big fan of LinkedIn. I think out of most of the social media platforms or business platforms that are out there, that one does allow you to do a lot of what we referenced earlier from a networking standpoint. Of course, you know, with all these things you got to be careful, right? Because it's so easy to cross that line from persistence to pain in the butt. And, you know, if you're one of these people that's just constantly hounding people on any of these social networks, you're going to do yourself more of a disservice than a service. So you got to be careful with it. But it does allow for you to make those connections to see what's going on in the marketplace and try to figure out how to throw yourself into it.

Josh (00:14:13) - Yeah. And Chris, who should be reaching out like, obviously go get the books, tune up your career. That's the newest one. They're both they're all on Amazon, both Kindle and paperback, and then jumpstart your career as well.

Josh (00:14:30) - But professionally. Are you open to networking? Are you doing consulting work, speaking, that sort of thing?

Chris (00:14:38) - Yeah, I am Absolutely. Anybody who is seeking any sort of career advice or career counseling, I'm happy to speak with any employer who is trying to figure out how to address their staffing challenges and their needs related to talent acquisition. I'm happy to speak with those people. Or if you're just a person who's trying to figure out how to navigate through their career and get from point A to point B and you just need somebody to talk to or you're looking for a job and maybe I can connect you with clients that I know I'm happy to to talk to all of those people.

Josh (00:15:14) - Yeah. Chris Fontanella again, Your website's Chris Fontanella on and on Core those are both linked up to our listener who's listening right now. You click around, you find the show notes. We've got direct links to both of those sites. Chris, it's been a great conversation. Thank you so much for joining us.

Chris (00:15:34) - Thanks, Josh, I really appreciate it. Have a great day.

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