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 from $100,000 to $2,000,000. Although most of these tips are targeted for senior level executives, they can be applied to all jobs.

While most books focus on what TO do, my book “The Godfather’s Career Guide – What To Do If You Get Whacked” (Amazon) focuses on what NOT to do. Here are a few amusing stories with some very poignant lessons.

Being a Narcissistic Megalomaniac – The number one reason that candidates do not move forward in the interview process – ARROGANCE and EGO. No one likes a self-absorbed, self-serving elitist. Just about the worst candidate I ever represented, we’ll call him Mike, was an outstanding executive that could not get over himself. One of those guys that says, “Enough about you, let’s talk about me some more!” Met him for breakfast and told him he needed to ratchet the self-promotion down a bit to be successful. At the next interview he tells the CEO, “I wouldn’t work here. You guys are a hot mess.” He was unemployed for two years an recently got a job making 50% of his last salary. Remember, humble and genuine is attractive!

Honesty is the Best Policy – People lie about everything from education to experience to An Executive Recruiter can only present candidates that have NOT applied to the hiring company in the last 12 months. The first two questions I ask every candidate is “have you applied in any way, shape or form to the hiring company in the last 12 months?” and “do you have any compliance issues?” Recently I two situations where the candidate swore they had not applied, but in actuality had submitted a resume previously. So here is the deal Neil. First, if you applied and did not get interviewed, it’s because the company does not feel you are a fit for the job. Second, I’m not going to represent you going forward because I have a real affinity for honest people. Are you with me?

Just say NO To Drugs – Pretty straightforward, yes? Just had a $300,000 executive fail the drug test. Whaaat?? If you can’t pass the drug test, you won’t qualify for most jobs.

Bitter is NOT Attractive – The #1 reason executives don’t get the job.Companies want happy, positive, enthusiastic executives. Making negative statements about your last boss or company is a complete and total deal killer! A perfect example is Mike (again), who spent most of his time lamenting “how they could lay me off after all my years with the company.” That is why they make the windshield large and the rear view mirror small. Let go and let God.

Unrealistic Expectations – If I’m hiring for a CFO, I want candidates that have 5+ years of CFO level experience. Same with VP roles: 5+ years experience AT the VP level. I’ll get a dozen Managers and Directors with a note, “I can do this.” And they probably can, however companies don’t want to provide on the job training. They want executives that already did the job, at the level, for several years. And compensation is another challenge. Welcome to Depression 2.0. This is NOT the job market of ten years ago. Compensation has fallen drastically. Tim was an executive at $250K. Mostly because he was in the same job for ten years. Put him in for a $200K job, then after two months of interviewing he demanded $250K. Request denied. Tim remains unemployed.

Relationships Beat Talent Every Day of the Week – 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…and they all know each other. Do NOT burn bridges. If someone likes you they will tell one friend. If someone does not like you, they will tell ten friends. At least once a week I hear, “He is probably a good executive, but Bob worked with him before. Pass.”Don’t burn your bridges!

Relationships are a Two Way Street – There is a scene in the Godfather where Bonasera is asking the Godfather for help. The Godfather responds, “Bonasera, we have known each other many years, but this is the first time you ever came to me for counsel or help. I can’t remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let’s be frank here. You never wanted my friendship.” Remember, relationships are a two way street. Don’t be the person that falls off the map for five year years, and then cold calls everyone for a job. As an Executive Recruiter, I get that every day of my life. People that dismissed me and kicked dirt on me, then send me a resume when they get fired. The worst perpetrators? Human Resources executives. If I had $20 for every HR person that beat me up, then needed a job, I could retire. Always be kind to people…and stay in touch!