Archives for June, 2015

Executive Recruiters: The Value Proposition

One of the most common questions I get from both hiring companies and candidates is, “Why should I use an Executive Recruiter?” GREAT question! There is a Recruiter on every corner. Would love to tell you they are all lovely people. They are not. That stated, there are very valid reasons to partner with an Executive Recruiter. One disclaimer – keep in mind that Executive Recruiters get people for jobs, not jobs for people.

Value Proposition for the Hiring Company – Why would you spend money on an Executive Recruiter? Well, there are two things I know for certain. First, the person you want to hire is not going to apply online. Second, if you hire the wrong person and they leave in six months, THAT…is expensive. Outlined below are several benefits to using an Executive Recruiter. Would love to take credit for these, however most of them were provided by my clients.

  • Hire the Best People the First Time – Want the best person for the job? Either identify someone in your professional network (a great idea!) or engage an Executive Recruiter. I don’t care how many HR people tell you, “We got this.” They do not. They don’t have the connections; they don’t have the access. Again, I’m talking about $100,000+ executives. They are all gainfully employed, NOT applying for online jobs, and NOT taking cold calls from an HR person. For the record, there are some top notch HR executives, however most are overwhelmed with personnel issues and not equipped to do executive search. There are just not enough hours in the day. So I’ll say it again – ACCESS. Executive Recruiters have access to the best executives on the planet.
  • Identify the Good Guys; Avoid the Bad Guys – Many companies ignore this completely. Big mistake. Candidates don’t put their alcohol, drug and gambling addictions on their resumes. DUIs, foreclosures, bankruptcies, embezzlement, inappropriate relationships and litigation happy employees. We are not talking about one or two people. I can rattle off the names of a dozen million dollar executives with major personal issues. Executive Recruiters have intimate knowledge of their candidates. In my case, I have known most of my executives for ten to twenty years. I know their families, their hobbies, their positive and negative qualities. Can quote the hiring company scripture and verse on each one.
  • “A” Executives Don’t Apply Online – Anyone that tells you “great” candidates apply online is…wrong. Been in the business for eleven years and I have 5,000 executives in my rolodex. I assure you that million dollar “C” level executives don’t cruise LinkedIn looking for a job. They are gainfully employed. Inaccessible. Unobtainable. The Executive Recruiter has access and can make the phone calls to the right candidates.
  • Stop Getting Gang Tackled by Candidates – When you post a senior level job, get ready to be gang tackled by 200 unqualified candidates. They will email you, ping you on LinkedIn, and call your office. They may even show up in person to hand you a resume. And they all share one attribute – they are not qualified for the job. The Executive Recruiter thins the herd, keeps your valuable time protected, and only submits the best two or three candidates.
  • Save Time, Save Money – You may think it’s cheaper to let HR place ads, but remember one thing – you can get more of everything in life except TIME. Would you rather run the business or sort through the resumes of unqualified candidates? Is it worth it to have an Executive Recruiter save you a hundred hours of interview time by providing the three best candidates? If you hire the wrong person on your own and they leave after six months, how much does that cost? In the long run, it is more cost-effective to hire the right person the first time around.
  • One Day You Will Need That Bridge – Always build the bridge before you need to cross the river. Some will say this is self-serving, but there will come a day when you need an Executive Recruiter. They seem REAL expensive…until you are unemployed and need one. Lord, send me $100 for every guy that told me he would never need me, then got fired and sent me a resume. Make it $200 for the HR executives please. It never hurts to be friendly with one or two good Executive Recruiters. If nothing else, they can keep you apprised of marketing conditions.

Value Proposition for the Candidate – Keep in mind that at $100,000+, 90% of all jobs come from your professional network or an Executive Recruiter. Applying online is a 1% proposition. For every senior level job, there are 500 applicants. Only one can be selected. Top executives never, ever apply online. Here is the value proposition for working with an Executive Recruiter.

  • The BEST Jobs – Plain and simple. Anyone that tells you otherwise…is wrong. For this reason alone, if you are at a senior level, you should have relationships with two or three Executive Recruiters. Most of the jobs they work on ARE NOT POSTED. Companies keep them off the radar. Maybe the company wants to make discrete changes or the incumbent has not been fired yet. Most of the best jobs are never posted.
  • Less Competition – If you are selected, mostly likely you will be one of three candidates competing, as opposed to the 500 that apply online. Your odds of landing the position are much better.
  • No Lousy Companies – Executive Recruiters only work with the best companies. Riddle me this, which company would you rather work for? One that spends $100 on a CareerBuilder ad, or one that pays an Executive Recruiter $50,000 to find the best candidate? Do you know why they place online jobs? They are CHEAP! An Executive Recruiter can tell you which companies are “hot” and which ones …are a lousy place to work.
  • Market Conditions – Executive Recruiters do this 24×7. They know the market conditions. Back in 2008, there was a flood of candidates, and most of them were under the mistaken impression they would find a job in 30 days…AND get a raise. Many never worked again. The Executive Recruiter can tell you how strong the hiring market is, and where you need to be on compensation.
  • Compensation – Most common mistake by candidates? Not pricing their house to sell. They are making $100,000, but believe they are worth $200,000. An Executive Recruiter can assess your education and experience, then give you your “market value.” And trust me; they will be pretty darn close.
  • Executive Recruiters are Great Negotiators – Since they are your Agent, they can negotiate your compensation package. The last thing you want is to fight about nickels and start the job on the wrong foot. The Executive Recruiter will know exactly where the company wants to be on compensation, so you are assured of getting an equitable offer.

The GREAT Million Dollar Candidate, Part 3

This is the last and final article in my series about what makes a GREAT million dollar candidate. Given that most senior level executives are placed through Executive Recruiters, we’ll focus this last article on how to interact with them.

The Executive Recruiter is your Agent – When an Executive Recruiter submits you for a job, it is NOT a referral or introduction. They are your agent of record for twelve months. If you get hired, they get paid. Let the Executive Recruiter manage the process, and follow their directives. If you end run the process, there is a good chance you will be withdrawn from consideration. I regularly get candidates that try to brush me aside once the interview process commences with, “Thanks for the introduction.” No, I’m your Agent. Just as an Actor or Actress has an agent, the Executive Recruiter is your Agent to the hiring company. Never, ever burn the bridge with the Recruiter. It’s a small, small world.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate – You want to communicate the RIGHT amount. Not too much; not too little. Be sure to keep the Executive Recruiter in the loop when you receive communication from the hiring company. When you are scheduled to interview. When you have feedback after the interview. If I had $20 for every candidate that failed to keep me in the loop, and then asked me to set their apple card back up after the interview process fell apart…I would be very wealthy. The only way an Executive Recruiter can property represent you is if you communicate. On the other hand, candidates that over communicate and ask for hourly/daily updates will soon find themselves persona non grata. The Recruiter may have 50 to 100 executives interviewing. Trust me; they don’t get paid unless you get the job, so they are on the case. Emailing them every morning just paints you as desperate.

When You are Unemployed, All Jobs are Good Jobs – Most Executive Recruiters will ask you some preliminary questions about compensation, relocation and background. Be HONEST. They don’t care if you made $20,000 or $2,000,000, they are simply trying to match you to a job. Unemployed candidates are a special situation. At the million dollar level, no company wants to interview unemployed executives. Sorry, not being rude or disrespectful, just honest. Recently asked an unemployed executive for his base salary. He said $400,000. I responded, “No, you are making ZERO. You don’t have a job.” Surprisingly, I was able to get him interviewed for a $600,000 job. He told me that was not enough money. I kid you not. True story! I dropped him like a hot rock. So my point is this – if you are not gainfully employed, you need to consider all reasonable offers.

The GREAT Million Dollar Candidate, Part 2

This is Part 2 in my series about what makes a great million dollar candidate. It’s funny how so many candidates say, “Oh, I don’t need that. I’m a great candidate.” My response is, “No disrespect, then why are you unemployed?” The truth is that 80% of candidates don’t get hired because of the exact situations I describe in this series. Wonderful, highly talented executives that either don’t understand the hiring process or make rookie mistakes. Here we go!

Everyone Loves Happy, Smiley People – Only children whine…and even then it’s not attractive. A significant percentage of executive candidates that approach me are angry and bitter. Mostly because they got fired or laid off. They blame it on their old boss, the company, their parents, their spouse, their kids, their dogs. Let’s make something perfectly clear – bitter is not attractive. And interviewers will pick up on your bad attitude in 60 seconds and the interview will be over. Had a candidate that was a great fit for a CIO role. During the interview process the CEO said, “How did end up here when you were in Dallas for so many years?” The candidate responded, “I was involved in a nasty divorce. Let me tell you about it.” I kid you not. You can’t make this stuff up. Let it go! The day you left your company and boss stopped caring about you. They don’t care about you. Why should you obsess about it? Million dollar candidates have happy, well-adjusted attitudes.

Don’t Be The Smartest Guy in the Room – Hubris is not attractive, and make no mistake, big egos are a major challenge with million dollar candidates. The interview is not a competition where you convince the interviewer you are smarter than Bill Gates. Your intent should be to help the company understand how your education and experience relates to their job role. If you alienate the interviewer, even if they are an HR Generalist, they won’t move you forward in the interview process. I remember one candidate that was one of three finalists for a huge job. He emailed the CEO of the company, “As you know, I’m much smarter than the other two guys, so I know you will pick me and I look forward to working with you.” True story. Million dollar candidates are humble and genuine.

The World Has Changed: Be Realistic on Compensation – Top candidates are realistic about compensation. Every once in a while I hear, “You know, I used to make a million dollars back in the day.” Guess what? That was then, this is now…the world changed. I regularly see executives chasing compensation and end up unemployed for a year. Some never worked again. I had one candidate at $400K that ended up out of work for two years, then took a job for $200K. Remember this, when you are unemployed…all jobs are good jobs. Companies want to hire gainfully employed executives. Be realistic about compensation or you could end up on the beach for a very long time.

The GREAT Million Dollar Candidate, Part 1

A question that comes up frequently is, “What makes a great million dollar candidate?” So here are three attributes that hiring companies and Executive Recruiters look for in “A” (the best) candidates.

Integrity – As one CEO profoundly stated, “Show me executives of integrity. Without integrity, I don’t care how talented or smart they are.” Translated, be honest and up front about your education, experience, recent compensation…everything! For hiring companies and Executive Recruiters, INTEGITY is the number one attribute. Placed a candidate several years ago, and when we checked on his last compensation package, it was much lower than he disclosed. Not good. Honesty is the best policy. Right about now you are saying, “Hard to believe in a million dollar executive.” I completely agree with you, however probably have this issue a dozen times a year.

Confidentiality – This one boggles my mind. I tell candidates a position is CONFIDENTIAL and send them a PDF of “Candidate Etiquette” that clearly states, “If you don’t keep all information 100% confidential, you will be removed from consideration.” Yet it’s an issue over and over. In many cases the incumbent has not been terminated yet, and the last thing the hiring company needs if for that person to hear about it through the grapevine. Most candidates that violate confidentiality figure it’s no big deal because they will never talk to the hiring company or Executive Recruiter again. But always remember what Walt Disney said, “It’s a small, small world.” Keep your trap shut!

Focus on Opportunity – If you start out asking about the bonus, benefits and if they will cover dry cleaning, you are setting yourself up for failure. YES, compensation is important. Anyone that tells you money is not important…does not have any. That stated, top executives focus on OPPORTUNITY. Is the company financially stable? Is there upward mobility? Is their skill set aligned with the need? Are they a strong cultural fit. These questions are far more important than whether you get a car allowance. Two side notes. First, if you are interviewing for a million dollar job, you DO want to discuss the base salary up front to ensure you are “in range.” I know a guy that interviewed multiple times, then received an offer below his expectation. I asked him, “So let me get this straight, you flew across the United States to interview and never asked what the job paid?” Second, don’t think you are going to interview for something at $200,000, then when you get the offer say, “I want $250,000.” Really bad idea. Kind of goes back to the issue of integrity. If you agreed to $200,000 up front, that is what you get. Had a candidate do this a few years back. Hiring company dropped him like a hot rock and I’m lucky they did not bury me in a hole in the desert.