Received a referral recently from a great “C” level executive. College degree and long-term employment at an “A” level company. Nice!

Made contact with the candidate, who had been laid off. Never a great sign, but came across as talented and articulate. Everyone gets a speed bump in their career so I’m not judging the layoff.  After about 30 minutes on the phone though, I realized she had “I Got This Syndrome.” This is when an executive has an unrealistic view of the hiring environment. Their perception is that companies will be tripping over themselves to hire them. Could be, but very rare.  And despite the fact they are unemployed, they are looking for a 25% salary increase. I have one or two career opportunities that make sense, that is actually WORSE!  Now the candidate thinks jobs grow on trees.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

This month several Las Vegas technology companies experienced layoffs.  There are very few senior level roles open, and companies want to hire executives that are gainfully employed. Hold the hate mail. I don’t make the rules, but I do have to play by them.  Additionally, the holidays are the slowest time of year for hiring.  Have a few executives that I recently placed that will have start dates of January 1, 2018.  Mostly everyone is shut down for the holidays.

I’ll take this one step further: Las Vegas has less than 20 high quality companies. Which is why 80% of my business is NOT in Nevada.  Let me extrapolate.  First, the best paying companies have the most toxic cultures. Names withheld to protect the guilty. Second, there a few companies similar to IBM: Great place to work; compensation is 20% below market rate. And if you want to hide in a hole, there is nothing wrong with that, but for “A” players with ambition and drive, that leaves maybe a dozen HIGH QUALITY companies that pay ABOVE market rate. The “A” companies.

Lessons learned.  First, getting a job above $100,000 is not trivial.  The process can take months, so have a rainy day fund. Second, make your job search a priority and never think “I got this.”  You will be thinking something else entirely six or twelve months from now when you are still unemployed.  Third, be reasonable on compensation.  Finally , if possible, work with an Executive Recruiter.  They know the good companies…and the bad ones.