Archives for July, 2014

The Godfather on Crummy Companies – aka Why Top Talent is Passing Your Company By

My name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years my day job is recruiting high end talent for the gaming/casino and high tech industries. Placed 600+ executives, starting Director level executives at $100,000+, and my average placement is VP or “C” level executives at $200,000.

The Executive Recruiting business funds my true passion – charity and community. A portion of my revenues is donated to a dozen local and national charity organizations, including Make-A-Wish, Opportunity Village and Olive Crest. For more information check out

My last several articles focused on tips and advice for executive candidates. Today we switch from the “sell” side (candidates) to the “buy” side (hiring companies). Ever wonder why certain companies get all the best management talent? Or why other companies can only attract mediocre talent, and in many cases, go out of business? Based on my ten years of executive recruiting, here are a few of the attributes that separate the great companies from the crummy companies. PEOPLE power the engine and are the difference between success and failure. Here we go!

Death by Due Diligence – Also known as “analysis paralysis”, the company can’t get out it’s own way and make a hiring decision. Recently a client called me to work on a VP search. Queued up three excellent candidates. After six weeks and three sets of interviews, the hiring manager told me, “We want to have them fly across the country and interview a fourth time.” My lead candidate took a job down the street…at their competitor! This is a REALLY important point! Not only did they not get the “A” candidate, he went to their competitor. I pulled my other two candidates. If it takes you three months and four interviews to make a decision, you won’t be hiring anyone good. This is a “talent scarcity” market, and “A” players get multiple other job offers.

Tire Kickers – There are companies that insist on having a dozen candidates interview for every position. Notice I did not say “qualified candidates”. At the very senior level, you would be lucky to get three strong candidates. Sometimes you only get one. There is a reason we call them “A” players – they are the top 10%, all gainfully employed and rarely in the job market. While the crummy company is trying to assemble a full slate of candidates, the “A” candidate they wanted already took a job offer.

Dude, Your Hiring Process is Broken – HR is not communicating with the hiring manager (and vice versa), the hiring manager is “too busy” to interview the candidate, there are panel interviews that never get consensus and “personality tests” that pretty much disqualify everyone. Did I miss anything? Am I right? The hiring process should never be more than four weeks, and I have clients that get it done in two weeks. If you treat candidates poorly during the interview process they are going to question whether your company is a good place to work.

Poor Company Culture aka The Daily Floggings – You may be the biggest in your industry and/or you may pay the most, however if you treat employees like dirt, you will be branded as a crummy company. Big cities can be like Mayberry RFD – everyone knows which companies treat their employees poorly. On the other hand, I had a CEO ask me two excellent questions the other day. “How is our culture viewed from the outside world; are we seen as a desirable place to work?” and “What are we doing wrong from a hiring perspective? How can we improve the process?” Really good questions!

What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate – If a candidate invests time and effort to interview with your company, the least you can do is provide closure. Feedback would be even better, but at least the professional courtesy of a simple, “Thank you, however we have another candidate that is a closer fit for our role.” If you treat candidates poorly or unprofessionally, they will remember you to their friends…and not in a good way.

Refusing to Pay Market Compensation Rates – In a bad economy you can do what you like and still get a thundering herd of candidates. When the market turns positive, though, compensation dictates who gets the “A” players. This is especially true with high tech executives. Companies paying well above market rate get the best talent; companies paying well below market rate get the unemployed and unemployable. Anyone that tells you money does not matter…does not have any.

ContractsThis is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Don’t make the contract process arduous, complicated and lengthy. We are not negotiating an aerospace missile contract. One client made so many redlines to my contract I was concerned the Attorney fees would be more than my commission. On the other hand, a new client was referred to me last week. The HR executive had a job description, knew the salary compendium and clearly articulated her business requirements. When I asked about a contract she said, “Only if you need one.” I responded, “Never sued anyone, never been sued. I’ll send you a great candidate, you send me a check.”

Remember What Your Mother Taught You: Play NiceThis is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Most human resources executives are VERY good. I have a few clients where the HR person should probably be the CEO. That stated, a few HR executives are territorial and feel recruiting is THEIR job. Rather than treat Executive Recruiters like a trusted advisor, they treat them like a vendor. If you don’t believe in Executive Recruiters, that’s fine…but play nice.

No Rabbit Holes Please This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Recently a company spent two weeks getting our contract completed, then said “Go, go, go!” So I dropped everything to work on the search, and you guessed it, they cancelled the search halfway through. I had 20 hours invested that I won’t get paid for. And this was the second time that did that to me, but make no mistake, it will be the last time. If you want to promote internally, awesome! Completely support that approach, but make those decisions PRIOR to engaging an Executive Recruiter. No rabbit holes please!

Shake Hands and Part FriendsThis is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Never alienate an Executive Recruiter. Three good reasons. First, YOU will need their help when you get terminated and need a job. Had a hundred guys tell me, “That will never happen to me”….then it did. One day you are family and the next day you are UNEMPLOYED. Second, you don’t want Executive Recruiters warning good candidates off your company. A VP, HR once emailed me his concerns that I was “advising candidates not to apply to their company.” Candidates seek my counsel all day, ever day. If a company has a toxic environment, I’m not going to give them two thumbs up. Third, do you really want an Executive Recruiter making it their mission to poach your best employees? There is no value in burning bridges. Just shake hands and part friends.

Top 10 Reasons Executive Recruiters ($100,000+ Compensation) Won’t Represent You

My name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming/casinos and high tech. Placed 600+ executives, typically at compensation of $100,000+. Although most of these tips are aimed at the $100,000+ executive, they pretty much apply to all jobs.

These are my top ten reasons why Executive Recruiters won’t represent a specific candidate. There are a hundred reasons, however for me personally, these are the big ones…especially the first three. Before you tear into these, let me tell you the most important thing about an Executive Recruiter – they find executives for jobs, NOT jobs for executives. They are paid by the hiring company, NOT the candidate. So they spend most of their time with hiring companies, and rarely represent an executive candidate unless they are AN EXACT MATCH FOR AN EXISTING JOB. It has nothing to do with how talented you are, where you went to school or how old you are. They don’t know you well enough to not like you! They get paid to fill their existing open jobs. If they don’t focus on that…they don’t eat. Don’t take it personally!

Being a Narcissistic Megalomaniac – The number one reason that candidates do not move forward in the interview process – ARROGANCE and EGO. No matter how talented you are, no matter how smart you are, if the hiring manager does not LIKE you, forget about getting a job offer. No one likes a self-absorbed, self-serving elitist. For every “C” level search, the hiring company may have 200+ volunteers and twenty strong candidates. If you think it is an honor and privilege to have you on payroll, you will soon find out…it is not. Humble and genuine is attractive!

Spinning the Truth – Integrity is a HUGE deal breaker. Seems simple and straightforward, however I had a dozen bad experiences last year with executives that were dishonest. These are people that make $500,000 to $1,000,000. Be completely honest about job titles, compensation, job tenure and education. Even after you sign the offer, pass the drug screen, fly through the background check and start work, you can (and will) be fired if you were anything less than 100% straightforward on your resume or employment application. Always be completely honest!

Gloomy Gus or Debbie Downer – Companies want to hire happy, positive, enthusiastic executives. Making negative statements about former supervisors or companies during an interview is a major faux pas. Had a CTO candidate interview with the CEO of a large publicly traded company. When asked why he left his job in Dallas his response was, “I went through this nasty divorce; let me tell you about it.” End of interview. NEVER talk about your personal life during an interview. Positive and enthusiastic is attractive!

Not Pricing Your House to Sell – This is another common error. Have you ever listed your house at the price you wanted despite the fact the comps showed it was worth $100,000 less? If you price yourself out of the market by making unreasonable compensation demands, you better have a huge rainy day fund. The world has changed, and so have compensation packages. Depends on the skill set, however most executive compensation packages have dropped about 25%. I get a lot of this, “Back in 2004 I was making $500,000 a year.” That was then, this is now. Price your house to sell!

Being TOO BUSY to Get a Job – Finding a new career opportunity is hard, painstaking work. You need to make yourself available to Recruiters and hiring managers throughout the interview process. If you don’t, they will drop you like a hot rock. Executive Recruiters has no shortage of candidates. Remember, the Executive Recruiter does not need a job…you do. Make yourself available – never be too busy to get a job!

Don’t Burn your Bridges – Believe it or not, most big cities are more like Mayberry RFD. In Las Vegas, there are two million people, however only two hundred people make most of the decisions. They all know each other; they all exchange referrals. There is no upside to burning bridges. If someone likes you they will tell one friend. If someone does not like you, they will tell ten friends. Relationships trump talent every day of the week. Don’t burn your bridges!

Burning the BIG Bridge – About 80% of $100,000+ jobs come from your network and the other 20% come from Executive Recruiters. If you decide to part ways with a Recruiter, shake hands and walk away friends. Never, ever burn a Recruiter! They all know each other. If you get a reputation as a bad actor, you are setting yourself up for failure. Never burn a Recruiter!

What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate – If you are being represented by an Executive Recruiter, it is critical that you stay in constant contact. If you interview, provide feedback. If the client company contacts you directly, let the Recruiter know. Never end run the process. If you have other irons in the fire, let the Recruiter know so no one gets caught off guard. Most importantly, if you accept a job offer, let the Recruiter know you are off the market AND thank them profusely for the time and effort they expended on your behalf. If there is one thing an Executive Recruiter despises, it’s getting caught off guard because the candidate did not communicate. Maintain constant communication with your Recruiter!

Spamming Your Resume – Distributing your resume to a dozen Recruiters and two dozen online job postings is a dreadful approach. Aside from smelling like desperation, applying to online ads is a 1% proposition. Do you really want to work for a company that advertises a $200,000 job on CareerBuilder for $100? Really? Keep in mind that an Executive Recruiter can only present you to companies where you have not applied in the last 12 months. I routinely have candidates tell me they have applied to most of the companies in Las Vegas. Well…how am I supposed to help you then? Use your personal and professional network to find opportunities. Beyond that, develop a strong relationship with one or two recruiters. Don’t spray your resume!

Confidentiality – All placement work is extremely sensitive in nature. In many cases the incumbent has not been terminated yet. Confidential means CONFIDENTIAL. Don’t discuss it with anyone – not your peers, not your friends. I have dropped a number of candidates that could not keep things on the TQ. Keep sensitive information confidential!

The Lost Art of Gratitude (Bonus Tip) – If you want to stand out from the masses, show gratitude and appreciation every step of the way. With the hiring company and the Recruiter. They will remember you for saying “thank you!”; they will definitely remember if you don’t. The first time it happened to me was a CIO that I placed in a great job. She never said thank you. Not a phone call. Not an email. Five years later when she was out of work I declined to represent her. Yes, I get paid to do this, however a an attitude of gratitude never goes out of style. Be grateful!

Your Career at 50, Part 2 – Job Search Tips

The first article I authored on mid-life career strategy got 38,000 views in 24 hours, so here are a few more tips. If you want all of my career advice, you can buy my book “The Godfather’s Career Guide: What To Do If you Get Whacked!” on Amazon. For the record, every penny from the book sales goes to charity.

HUGE disclaimer – I only represent a handful of executive candidates. People I know personally. The last article generated several hundred resumes, however as a one man show, I’m not able to represent candidates that I don’t know personally. No disrespect intended! For the record, I’m in my 50s, so no hate mail about ageism. Hopefully these tips are helpful!

Background– My name is Mark Wayman and my 15 minutes of fame was two software companies – one went public on the NASDAQ and the other (counter-terrorism software) was acquired by IBM. For the last ten years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming/casinos and high tech. Placed 600+ executives, typically at compensation of $100,000+. Although most of these tips are aimed at more senior level executives, they pretty much apply to all jobs. And away we go!

The Company is All About the Company – OK haters, I will give you exactly one good long…whine. The company is all about the company. Always and forever. Decisions are made in the best interest of the company – NOT you. They could care less about your mortgage or that you have a kid in college. Yes, your career is important, but your family and passions are MORE important. Your job does NOT define you or your purpose in life. Going forward, consider yourself a consulting company of one that just happens to be on someone’s payroll, because when their done with ya…they are done with ya.

There are no Second Changes for First Impressions – Multiple HR professionals told me last time around that I missed a big one…how a candidate presents in person. There are candidates that come off as “old” ((lack of energy, somewhat bitter, etc.) and others that come off as “young” (enthusiastic, always learning, optimistic). Companies prefer to take a chance on high talent/positive attitude/minimal experience verses a seasoned professional who is disgruntled and feels that they know it all (and have nothing else to learn).

We Like Happy, Smiley People – This was in the last article, however it is so important I just had to mention it again. Number one reason you did not get the job? They don’t like you! No one wants to hire a bitter, angry executive that is still obsessing about being laid off from their last job.

Relationships Trump Talent – Another repeat from part one. Why do so many mediocre executives get great jobs while talented people sit on the sidelines? Because relationships trump talent every day of the week. If you burn your bridges, you reduce your opportunities. As Walt Disney said, “It’s a small, small world.”

Show Up – I have a saying: “You can stay ahead of 90% of the people just by showing up.” Many people in this world make no effort to get ahead. I see unemployed executives that are “too busy” to interview. Others take a week to respond to my questions. That is very good news for you, because YOU are going to make your job search a priority and put in the effort necessary to be successful.

YOU are Responsible for Your Success – Not your boss, not your spouse, not your kids, not your parents. Your success and happiness are completely up to you. Only 10% of your life is based on circumstances; the other 90% is based on how your react to your circumstances. Be a victor…not a victim. Yes, we are right back on the attitude thing. I’ll get a dozen emails that “this is pretty straightforward”, however I see million dollar executives with bad attitudes on a regular basis.

Success = Hard Work – One of life’s certainties is that the foolish always want what the wise worked hard to get. News flash! There is no return without investment. Who came up with the ridiculous idea that life is easy and that you don’t have to work hard to be successful? Let me tell you something – they are WRONG. Success is hard work.

Spend Time with GOOD People – Some people jump on your bandwagon; some don’t. Spend time with those who want to be on your journey – family, friends, peers, and business partners. The world is full of toxic, negative people. You can’t solve their problems, and they will just drag you down to their level if you try. You are not General Manager of the universe. Let go and let God. Focus on the good people in your life!