Archives for October, 2015

The Wrong Time to Meet an Executive Recruiter is When You are Unemployed – Career Tips from a Headhunter

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last eleven years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars.

Every day I receive a dozen unsolicited resumes from executives in career transition. Translation, cold calls from folks that are unemployed. Like most Executive Recruiters, I only work with executives I know personally, or that I receive through referrals. This article outlines why the wrong time to meet an Executive Recruiter is when you are unemployed, and provides a few tips for putting your name at the top of an Executive Recruiter’s candidate list.

Relationships Trump Talent – If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember this: relationships trump talent every day of the week. Mediocre, unqualified executives get great jobs on a regular basis. Why? Because they have strong relationships, and a former boss or peer juices them into the job. People hire candidates they know and like. I recently worked on a “C” level position and submitted three excellent candidates. All three of my candidates were better than the person that was eventually hired, however the hiring manager worked with that candidate previously…so he got the job. You are correct – life is not fair, but this is how it works. On the other hand, I see highly competent, talented executives lose out on jobs they should have won. Why? They don’t play well with others. They burn bridges, and as Walt Disney once said, “It’s a small, small world.” Relationships trump talent…period!

Here is the Secret to Being on an Executive Recruiters Candidate List – If a Recruiter has three candidates, and they all have the same skill set, the Recruiter will submit the candidate they know personally. Why? Because they know and trust them. And companies expect Recruiters to personally vouch for the candidates they submit. Want to get to the top of a Recruiters candidate list? Help them out with referrals. Check in with them regularly when you DON’T need a job. Stay in touch. Be helpful, and it will get you to the top of the candidate list when you need it.

Recruiters Get People for Jobs, NOT Jobs for People – It is important to understand how the Executive Recruiter makes money. Recruiters are paid to fill jobs, and they are laser focused on it. If they don’t fill their open roles, they don’t eat. They are not career coaches; they are not in a position to figure out your personal situation and fix it. As my race horse trainer used to say, “I have jockeys, I need horses.” If this case, “I have candidates, I need hiring companies and jobs.” It’s not personal. Executive Recruiters Focus on clients (hiring companies), not candidates.

Finding a Job MUST Be a Priority – It’s shocking how many unemployed people are “too busy” to interview. Great way to get a Recruiter to drop you like a bad habit. Remember, YOU need a job, I HAVE a job. YOU need to make yourself available. Make your job search a priority.

Recruiters Don’t Like to Be Gang Tackled – A lack of planning on your part does not constitute a crisis for the Recruiter. Being aggressive with a Recruiter will get you dropped like a hot rock. Don’t call hourly or daily with “just checking in” or “any new jobs?” messages. Have a six to twelve month rainy day fund, so you don’t come across as desperate. Needy and high maintenance is not attractive.

No Cold Calls or Unsolicited Resumes Please – The best Recruiters only work with executives they know and trust. Meeting a Recruiter for the first time when you are unemployed is a terrible strategy. Possibly you can pull it off by having one of the Recruiter’s big clients refer you, but even that is a longshot. If you don’t have two or three good Recruiters in your rolodex, ask your peers who they like, and get introduced NOW. Build the bridge before you need to cross the river.

Ten Tips for College Graduates Entering the Workforce

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last eleven years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000; last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars.

The Epicurean Charitable Foundation, which provides scholarships for hospitality students, recently asked me to write and article with advice for students entering the job market.  Interesting enough, none of my input has anything to do with skill sets.  Follow your passion, whether that be F&B, marketing, finance or technology.  There are ALWAYS good jobs for good people.  Outlined below are my top ten tips for graduating students.

Without Integrity, You Have Nothing – A CEO once told me, “Mark, if an executive does not have integrity, nothing else matters.” No truer words were ever spoken. Being dishonest is a character flaw. This is the BEST advice I can give students entering the job market. Always be 100% honest and forthcoming.

No One Likes a Narcissistic Megalomaniac – No one likes a self-absorbed, self-serving elitist. There is no shortage of self-centered people. And for every job opening, there are hundreds of candidates. If you think it is an honor and privilege for a company to hire you, think again. Be humble, be genuine. Humble and genuine is attractive!

Relationships Trump Talent – There is no shortage of talented people, but what separates the good from the great…is relationships. I regularly see talented executives that can’t get a job, and mediocre executives that land on their feet despite a history of poor performance. Why? Because they are well networked and have friends like the Colonel has chicken. Build a strong professional network and keep in touch.

Today’s Choices Become Tomorrow’s Circumstances – Make good life choices. This is HUGE! For most companies, a criminal record, DUI, or tax lien is a deal breaker. If you make bad life choices, you are likely to make bad work choices, and you will struggle to find employment. Make good life choices.

Long-Term Thinking Improves Short-Term Decisions – Successful people have a clear future orientation. They delay gratification in the short-term so they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long-term. Attending college is the perfect example. You can attend college now to ensure a better long-term career path, or not attend college and find it challenging to get promotions. Make decisions based on your long-term goals.

The Grass is NOT Always Greener – When you enter the job market, all jobs are good jobs. Focus on finding a company that will invest in you with training and coaching. Do NOT get focused on money. Yes, money is important. Anyone that tells you it’s not…does not have any. That stated, early in your career you need to focus on developing your skill set. Don’t bounce from job to job. Don’t chase the money. The grass is not always greener!

Don’t Burn Bridges – Most big cities are more like small towns. In Las Vegas, there are two million people, however only two hundred people make most of the decisions, and they all know each other. 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. Don’t burn your bridges!

An Attitude of Gratitude – If you want to stand out from the thundering herd, show gratitude and appreciation every step of the way. Saying “thank you!” is the right thing to do, and places you in a class by yourself. The same can be said of giving versus taking. The world is full of takers. Be a giver…and be grateful!

Remember the Golden Rule – No matter how cool and impressive you think you are, ultimately what people will remember is how you treated them. As my Dad used to say, “Treat the Janitor the same as the CEO.” Why? Because you will be passing the same people on the way down that you saw on the way up. Always treat people with kindness, courtesy and respect.

Work Was Never Meant to Be the Center of Our Lives – Family, friends and career, in that order. I’m not saying your career is unimportant. I am saying the company is all about the company, which you will find out the first time you are terminated. They don’t care about your student loans or your rent. Don’t be married to your job.

Poaching vs. Recruiting: You Can’t Recruit Away Happy Employees

You Can’t Recruit Away Happy Employees – First and foremost, you can’t recruit away happy employees. Surveys show that 50% to 70% of executives would make a move for the right job offer. After eleven years in the Recruiting business, my experience is that most people think they are underpaid and undervalued. In some cases they are correct; in many they are not. Most executives are actually being paid their market value based on their education and experience. So if a company has a beef, my recommendation is they should examine their culture and compensation packages. There is usually a valid reason the employees are leaving.

Top Reasons Why Executives Move On – The company is poorly managed, in financial distress, or has a poor company culture. Yep, totally get it! If the company is not well run and/or treats employees poorly, there is going to be employee churn. I have an “excluded” list of companies that I won’t work with for exactly that reason – they are not a good place to work.

Personal Situations Can be an Exception – In several cases, I have helped friends make a move that has nothing to do with their current role. They were happy, but needed to move for personal reasons. A family member, usually a parent, has health issues and they need to relocate to help out. Or one of their children is off to college, and they want to be close to them. Maybe they five years before they retire and are looking for a nice sunny location.

You Can’t Begrudge People for Moving Forward with Their Career – If someone is a Director at $125,000 and being offered a VP level role at $175,000, you can’t begrudge them for progressing onward and upward. Yes, I know it’s frustrating; however we all want to better our situation in life.

If You are Not a Client, You are a Sourcing Pool – Let me address “poaching.” Executive Recruiters treat companies in one of two ways. If you are a CLIENT and sending a Recruiter business, they should NOT be poaching your employees unless there is a valid reason (see personal situations above). My contract specifically says that I am “hands off” of client employees and won’t represent them for jobs. On the other hand, if you are not a CLIENT, then Recruiters are going to accept resumes from your executives and represent them. Why? Because they are paid to fill positions, and if you are not a client, you are in the sourcing pool.

Be Wary of HR Territorialism – There was once a Director, Recruiting that did everything in his power to keep me from working with his company. Unfortunately, he was not sourcing good candidates, and the “C” level executives above kept end running him and calling me directly. He was not happy, but is that my fault? This is a for-profit business that supports a dozen charities. It’s what I do for a living. I’m not going to tell a CEO “no thank you” when he asks me for help. The Director, Recruiting was eventually terminated…and sent me a resume. Tip for HR executives. If you don’t like external Recruiters, that is absolutely your prerogative. I’m not offended. But remember this; Executive Recruiters are going to give the big HR jobs to executives they know and trust. Why? First and foremost, because they know and trust them. Second, because they have supported the Recruiter, and the world runs on relationships.

The Proper Strategy for Recruiting – When I have a job, the first phase is to check my stable. Do I have someone queued up that is an exact match for the job description? Phase two is to put the job “on the wire” meaning I email 200 professional contacts for REFERALS. My specific verbiage is, “I have a CFO role at $300,000 in Las Vegas. I realize this is not a fit for you personally, however if you know of someone that would be a good fit, please point them my way.” That is asking for referrals, NOT poaching. Had one executive send me a nasty email that I was poaching his employees. My response was, “First, I was looking for referrals. Second, and not to be disrespectful, but you don’t have anyone on payroll that would make sense anyway.”

There is no Upside to Getting Sideways with Executive Recruiters – Don’t get nasty with Recruiters! The last thing you need is them targeting your company as a sourcing pool. They can, and will, recruit away your top employees. Personally, not my model, however not everyone is as kind as me. Like your Mom always told you…play nice!

Top 10 Candidate Questions aka Why Executive Recruiters “Qualify” You

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last eleven years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000; last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars.

This article explains the types of questions you can expect when engaging an Executive Recruiter, and why we ask those questions. I focus on executives in the $100,000 to $1,000,000 compensation category, however these answers are relevant at all levels. Every time a Recruiter submits a candidate for a job, their reputation is on the line, so there is due diligence to ensure the candidate is a strong match for the open position. Three important points to remember about Executive Recruiters.

  1. Executive Recruiters Get People for Jobs, NOT Jobs for People – If we don’t stay focused on filling our open searches…we don’t eat. We don’t have the time to play career coach or figure out how to get a candidate placed. Our focus is on the clients, and filling open jobs.
  2. The Wrong Time to Meet a Recruiters is When You are Unemployed – The best Executive Recruiters only work with executives they know personally, or were that were referred from their professional network. Our clients expect us to have a strong knowledge of the candidates, so we can’t accept cold calls or unsolicited resumes. Make sure you have a good relationship with at least one Recruiter while you are gainfully employed. Recruiters rarely represent unemployed executives.
  3. I Have Jockeys, I Need Horses – My horse trainer used to tell me this. Horses pay the bills, not jockeys. In Recruiting, hiring companies (clients) pay the bills, not candidates. Yes, Recruiters need high quality candidates, but make no mistake; the focus is on the searches. Recruiters can get 10 more candidates, however replacing even a single client because a candidate was unprofessional during an interview…is a major challenge.

OK, on to those ten questions. You are probably wondering, “What if a candidate refuses to answer the questions?” Then I won’t represent them. I only want to work with executives of integrity that realize this is a partnership. No Recruiter needs a candidate that wants to be secretive or play coy. So here are the questions, and a translation of what they mean.

What is your current (or most recent) base salary?

The company is going to get this information, period. They can ask your last employer for title, compensation and tenure.  The Recruiter needs to ensure you are “in range” for the position. If you are $100,000 and the job is $300,000, you are probably not senior enough. If you are $200,000 and the job pays $100,000 the Recruiter won’t be able to meet your compensation requirements. Do not lie!  Give your base salary and total compensation.  Do not spin.  Do not embellish.  I guarantee you this…you will get caught.

What is your desired base salary?

This is used to weed out unrealistic expectations. I routinely have executives at $100,000 ask for $150,000 to $200,000. That is just not going to happen. Even if I believe you are worth that number, Human Resources is going to shoot me down. Companies do not give fifty to one hundred percent salary increases. 20% to 25% is reasonable.  I drop a significant number of candidates due to their unrealistic expectations.  They are good, solid people, however they have an inflated opinion of their abilities.  Kind of like when people sell a house – they typically price it way too high.

If you are in transition, please give me a one or two line synopsis of why you left the last company.

You know how many people told me they got fired? Out of 20,000, maybe two? It is REALLY important that you are honest with the Recruiter on why you left. If it comes out later that you lied, you are going to be dropped from consideration.  If you are already on payroll, you WILL be fired.  I have a Casino President that would not tell me why he left. Finally he said, “I did not make my numbers” and I replied, “Maybe your number were not realistic.” There are plenty of good reasons to leave a company. Don’t be shy – be honest!

If you are gainfully employed, please give me a one or two line synopsis on why you are looking for a new career opportunity.

Career advancement is the best answer. Worst answer? Complaining about your company or your boss. You will be dropped like a bad habit. A lateral is OK, but most executives are looking for a bigger title and/or a bump in compensation. Remember to stay focused on the OPPORTUNITY. There is nothing worse than a candidate that provides a line by line breakdown of their compensation. Recruiters don’t like it; hiring companies don’t like it.

To which companies have you applied to in the last 12 months?

Be honest! If you have applied to the hiring company in the last 12 months, the Recruiter CAN NOT REPRESENT YOU. And don’t ask them to “do you a favor” and recommend you. At the end of the day, this is a for-profit business. Another big tip – if you are applying to online job postings, don’t contact a Recruiter. We get paid very well to find the best of the best, not executives that spam their resume. If you are applying to a $50 LinkedIn ad, the hiring company has no reason to pay a Recruiter.

To which recruiters have you submitted your resume in the last 12 months?

Again, be honest! If you are using one or two Recruiters you know personally, perfect. More than two is spamming, and smells like desperation. Personally, I look at which Recruiters the candidate is using as well. I’m 25%, so if they are being represented by a 15% Recruiter, I am out. Not judging. I like Costco, but I get my suits at Sak’s and Nordrsom’s. You are trusting your career with the Recruiter; don’t use a discounter.

Can you relocate nationwide?

If you can relocate, you will have more opportunities. If not, focus locally. Keep in mind the Recruiter probably has a specific role that he is filling, and if that is not in your city, you will need to relocate. When someone says they need a job in a specific city other than the West Coast, I recommend they find a Recruiter in that city to represent them.

Do you have any contingencies (have to sell your house, spouse needs to find a job)?

This is not IBM in the 1960s. No one is going to buy your house off you. And it’s not the Recruiters responsibility to find your spouse a job. Contingencies translate to you performing the job search on your own.  Recruiters like flexible executives that will do whatever it takes to move their career forward.

Do you have a non-compete?

If I have one more guy tell me his Brother is an Attorney and his non-compete is not valid…I’m going to cry. There is exactly one thing a Recruiter can get sued for – knowingly placing an executive that is in violation of a non-compete. We don’t do it, ever. If your non-compete is geographic (Nevada or Las Vegas for example), you will be relocating if you want to make a career change. If there is any ambiguity, I let the hiring company General Counsel review the verbiage and make the call.

All positions require a Compliance check (criminal record, tax lien, DUI, bankruptcy, foreclosure) and drug test.  Do you have ANYTHING in your background that will show up on a background check?

Most of my companies are in regulated industries, so criminal record or a failed drug test is a deal breaker. Companies don’t want to hire people that make bad personal decisions. Again, I’m not judging.  These are the rules, and Recruiters have to play by them.  More recently, bankruptcies, foreclosures and short sales are subjective.

That ONE GUY aka Don’t Fight Battles that Don’t Matter

My monthly newsletter goes out to 6,000 friends, clients and business partners.  You can’t “subscribe” to it or buy it.  It’s my way of staying in touch with friends.  For my clients, it’s a benefit of doing business with me.  My way of saying thank you for their business and support.  My day job is top Headhunter in the gaming industry, where I place about 50 top executives each year.

Each month I get a dozen wonderful emails thanking me for the newsletter, and for all the time I dedicate to creating and distributing it.  Industry executives enjoy reading about the latest industry news and what’s going on with their peers.  It’s a small world, and everybody knows everybody.  Life is grand…except for that ONE GUY.

You know him, the guy that only calls you when he wants something.  Never adds value; he is a taker.  In my case, that ONE GUY has come to me multiple times for a job over the years.  Because he has a new job every two years.  The one time he actually gave me a search, he wasted 40 hours of my time, treated the candidates poorly, and never hired anyone.  Could not get him to return a phone call or email.

So I made a business decision not to work with him.  Not angry or bitter.  Not judging or complaining.  Moving on!  As Joel Osteen states, “You only have so much emotional energy each day. Don’t fight battles that don’t matter.”  It took that ONE GUY a year to figure out he was off the newsletter and off my client list, at which point he sent me a nasty email explaining how important he is.  I chose not to respond.  Some battles are just not worth fighting.  Here are several lessons we can learn from that ONE GUY.

Always Get Back to People – My Daddy used to say, “Return all your calls and messages.  It’s the professional, respectful and right thing to do.”  I return every phone call and email (500+ per day), even if my answer is a simple, “no thank you.”

Never Burn Bridges – His hate mail may sooth his bruised ego, but why would you want to get sideways with the top Headhunter in your industry?  Better to shake hands and part friends.

Focus on the People That WANT to be on Your Bus – Not everyone is going to like you or want to work with you.  Focus on the people that WANT to be your friend, that want to be your client, that want to be on your bus.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Spend them with the right people.

The Golden Rule – The people you pass on the way up are the same ones you will pass on the way down.  No matter how brilliant, talented and cool you THINK you are, the only thing people will remember…is how you treated them.

What American Pharoah’s Loss in the Travers Can Teach Us

American Pharoah was the prohibitive 1/5 favorite to win the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last weekend.  He was the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, then crushed the $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational field last month.  He looked like an absolute lock to win the Travers.

Then something unusual happened…he lost.  One hundred yards from the finish line, Keen Ice ran by American Pharoah, and he finished second.  Complete silence and disbelief from the 50,000 fans, most of which came to see AP run away from the Travers field.  Shock and disappointment, however in the aftermath of the race, there were two important lessons.

No Excuses – America has an epidemic of “not my fault.”  As an Executive Recruiter I hear a never ending list of excuses from candidates that were recently fired.  And they never admit to being fired; it was always “their decision to leave.”  The Trainer and Owners of AP had many excuses.  Most importantly, Frosted pushed AP every step of the way, thus softening him up for Keen Ice to come from way back and win the race.  AP had previously beaten Keen Ice three times by a total of 18 lengths.  Pace makes the race, and when they go fast early, they slow down at the end.  Additionally, AP was obviously tired from all the travel.  He flew to Saratoga just three days prior to the Travers from California.  But rather than make excuses, Trainer Bob Baffert and Owners Ahmed and Justin Zayat said, “He did not bring his A game today and we got beat by a better horse today.”  No whining.  No complaining. No excuses.

Be Gracious in Defeat – When people lose, they typically cry sour grapes.  In my world of Executive Recruiting, I get “that was a bad company anyway” and my favorite – “their loss.”  Always remember, anyone can win.  The true test of a person’s character is how they react to defeat.  Do they whine and complain, or do they accept that they were second best and move on?  In the case of Baffert and Zayat, they graciously complimented Keen Ice (and his connections) on the win, and said it was just a privilege to be in the race.  You know they were hugely disappointed, but they are a classy group of folks, and were gracious in defeat.