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6 Important Career Lessons from the Financial Crash of 2008 and the Pandemic of 2020

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 16 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company in Las Vegas, Nevada where I’m focused on the gaming/casino and high tech industries. The business funds my true passion: Charity and Community. A portion of each placement is donated to a dozen national and local charities. To whom much is given…much is required. 

Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral – My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate. Can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met. No disrespect intended!

 Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge – That’s God’s job. My purpose is to provide career counsel based on 16 years of executive recruiting and 1,000+ placements. Hopefully it adds value for a few people.

 Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked.

The plague has made for unprecedented times, especially in the hospitality industry. Last year was amazing, and then everything came to a grinding halt in February 2020 and stayed that way for months. When the economy reopened, hiring was brisk for three months…then leveled off as round two of the Pandemic arrived in October. 

When the country was shut down, millions of executives were furloughed and humbled. The plague does not differentiate between the CEO and the $10 an hour employee. For a short time, it felt like people were kinder and wanted to help each other. Like we are all in this together. Many of my executive friends reconsidered their priorities. Maybe my job is not the most important thing in the world? Possibly I should spend more time with my family? Is that former life really worth rushing back to? Unfortunately, once business resumed, most folks went right back to their bad behavior. Interesting how differently people act once the crisis is over and they get called back from furlough.

We are entering a very dangerous phase of the Pandemic. Much worse than the last time around. A small number of people that refused to participate in safety protocols have ruined it for the rest of us. In Nevada, we are under our second “stay at home” order. There is a 50/50 chance the country will be shut down completely in 2021. So I put a few of thoughts on paper about career lessons to consider…when the pendulum swings.

The Pendulum Always Swings – The best advice I ever received about executive recruiting came from the Founder/CEO of a successful boutique recruiting company in 2004. He said, “Mark, the pendulum always swings. Right now (2004) we have 5% unemployment. Everyone has a job. No one returns your calls. People treat you poorly…because they can. They don’t need anything from you. But one day, my friend, that pendulum will swing! Those same people that kicked dirt on you will be the lighting up your cell phone.” In 2008 the pendulum swung (financial crash). In 2020 the pendulum swung (plague).  Lesson: It’s a small world. The same people you pass on the way up are the same people you will see on the way down. As my Dad used to say, “Treat the Janitor the saw as you treat the CEO. It’s the right thing to do.” Kindness is FREE.

Build the Bridge Before You Need to Cross the River – There are two rules in Executive Recruiting. First, Recruiters get people for jobs…not jobs for people. If we don’t fill our executive searches, we don’t eat. Second, the wrong time to meet a Recruiter is when you are unemployed. Make sure you have a professional relationship with one or two Executive Recruiters. If you don’t know any, ask your peers for referrals. Stay in touch with your peers and help when you can. If you see a career opportunity, forward it to someone that is on furlough. Not saying you have to be a Master Networker, but don’t be the person that only calls to ask for a favor. Lesson: Your professional network is your lifeline. Stay in touch with your peers.

Lose the Entitlement Attitude – Here is a comprehensive list of what you are entitled to in life: NOTHING! You are not entitled to a job. This is not Russia, China or North Korea. In 2019, unemployment was 4% and pretty much everyone that wanted to work…got a job. This is 2020 and the world has dramatically changed. My #1 issue with candidates is an expectation they will are entitled to 2019 compensation. Not happening. An expectation that, despite the fact they are unemployed, they are entitled to a 25% pay increase. Not happening. If you are gainfully employed, you are exceedingly blessed. There are millions of people that would love to be in your position. Lesson: Lose the attitude of privilege and entitlement.

Have an Attitude of Gratitude – You would be surprised how many people I place in high paying jobs that never offer a thank you or a cup of coffee. Yes, I am paid to get people jobs, however a little gratitude is always appreciated (and remembered!). In some cases I don’t hear from an executive that I placed for years…until the next time they are unemployed. Goes to character. The secret to happiness? Being grateful and happy right here, right now, regardless of your circumstances. Is your family healthy? Do you have a roof over your head and food on the table? Everything else is a bonus. Lesson: Be generous with your praise and gratitude in all aspects of life. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in this world.

Relationships Trump Talent – How else do you explain the knuckleheads that keep getting jobs over and over?  Some have alcohol and drug abuse issues. Others have a history of #MeToo problems, yet they get CEO jobs at publicly traded companies. Names withheld to protect the guilty. Eventually their Karma Bus arrives. My point is this: They keep getting those jobs because they have a buddy that hired them. Typically someone from the Board of Directors. Regardless of how incompetent they are, relationships trump talent. Lesson: Always play well with others. There is no upside to burning bridges. There is no upside to leaving a job on bad terms. It may feed your ego, however it’s a poor long-term career strategy.

Help When You Can – When asked why Paul McCartney was his opening band, Ringo Starr once said, “He wasn’t working. You have to help when you can.” He was kidding; however the same goes for helping your friends and peers. Today I sent out four new executive jobs to 500 people with the message, “If you know of someone that would be a good fit, kindly point them my way. Maybe you know someone on furlough or someone that lost their job completely.” I’ll be lucky to get two referrals. But let me tell you what I will get: Two dozen, “I make more money than that” and “I’m not interested” messages. You didn’t even read the email! Life is not always about YOU. Let’s be clear – my million dollar jobs go to those that that provide referrals and help their friends. Why? Goes to character. Lesson: Help out a friend. One day that friend may be you.

The Godfather’s Top Ten Career Secrets – Part 1

Here is an oldie but goody that seems especially relevant given the Pandemic. This is an excerpt from my book, “The Godfather’s Career Guide: What to Do if You Get Whacked!” Here are the first five of my top ten career secrets, in no particular order. The second half will appear next week. 

1.    Life is not Always Fair – There are many times when life does not seem fair. You get fired, someone else gets your promotion, you don’t get the job interview. There are only two alternatives to life; you believe that God has a master plan, or you believe there is no God and life is a string of random coincidences. I choose to believe in God and that everything happens for a reason. Your current situation is typically determined by your previous choices and decisions, however there will be times when life just does not seem fair. You can’t always control your circumstances, only how you react to them. Focus on what you have, and don’t obsess about things that can’t be changed. Life is not always fair, but it is always worth living!

2.    Don’t Waste People’s Time – The number one fear of executives in America today is having their time wasted. If you are going to email or call, have something important to communicate. Add value! If your calls are not getting returned it’s because your value proposition is not strong enough, whether you think so or not. When you call or email someone, get to the point; be concise and focused. Remember that landing a new career opportunity is a HIGH priority. Make yourself available to interview. Time is the great leveler. Don’t waste people’s time!

3.    Be Tigger, not Eeyore –  Are you a complainer? Whining is for kids, and it’s not attractive then either! Do you tell everyone it’s not your fault that you lost your job? My boss was a jerk, the company was screwed up, my wife was on my case, and I had an awful childhood. Your circumstances do not ruin you; your response to your circumstances ruins you. Step up and take personal responsibility for your career and your life decisions. It’s not your bosses fault or the company’s fault or your spouse’s fault. Quit complaining and move forward. As we say in Oklahoma – saddle up and ride! Be Tigger, not Eeyore!

4.    Don’t Be a Carpet Bagger – One of my least favorite phone calls goes something like this, “Yada, yada, yada, can you get me free tickets, discounted hotel rooms, introductions to important people and a new job?” Mostly from people I met once for 15 minutes at a mixer. When it comes to tickets and rooms, I don’t ask my clients for free stuff. Period. That is how they make their living, and I would not want them asking me for free Recruiting. When acquaintances ask for favors they are not entitled to, it is fairly offensive. Remember this; life is like a bank account. You have to make deposits before you can ask for withdrawals. Don’t go around asking people for things you are not entitled to, and that includes jobs. You need to foster long-term relationships so that when you need to call in a favor, it’s there for you. Don’t be a carpetbagger!

5.    It Only Takes One Phone Call – One phone call can change your life! Don’t get discouraged thinking you’ll never find a new job. You only need one job, so you only need to get one phone call. That call may come today or next week or next month. The timing is in God’s plan; not yours. The call typically comes when you are at the end of your rope and can’t take one more step. But remember this – that call WILL happen. You only need ONE phone call! 

Mark Wayman is The Godfather of Las Vegas. He owns an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming and high tech. Over the last 15 years he has placed 1,000+ executives in $100,000 to multi-million dollar jobs.

The Godfather on the Best Way to Give Referrals

“The Godfather is a master networker!” I get that all the time, however my friends know that it’s not accurate. Yes, I have 6,000 executives in my Rolodex, however I’m a pretty private person and only work with executives I know personally or by referral. Recently a good friend sent over a referral. This friend has a good heart, and thought he was helping me out. Such a great guy! But the person he sent was not someone I could give quality time…so a bit awkward. Lovely person, but I own two businesses and as my entrepreneur friend Andrea Collier says, “If I’m working on your stuff…I’m not working on my stuff.” As someone that gives and gets referrals every day, thought I would share my model. 

Always Ask First! – Can’t stress this enough. Never, ever connect two people without approval from both sides. Why? Because if one of the people does not have interest, it’s going to get awkward. And very awkward for you since you gave the referral. Occasionally I see something that I believe will be valuable to my clients, so I reach out to see if they have interest. If they approve, I’ll connect them to the service provider. But I always, always, always ask first. 

There MUST be a Strong Value Proposition on BOTH Sides – Why? Because time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets 24 hours a day. You, me, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. In my case, most people are looking for jobs. But Executive Recruiters get people for jobs, not jobs for people. If I get a candidate referral that is an exact match for an open role…bingo! If not, they go in the stable and I’ll call them when I have a role that makes sense. I’m not in a position to chat, network or take meetings with candidates to discuss their career unless I’m actually representing them for a job. Currently have 25 executive searches, and as a one man band, I have to be efficient. Trust me, there is no romance in being an Executive Recruiter during a plague. Tip for sales executives: If someone is not calling you back, your value proposition is not strong enough. Does not matter what you think; only matters what the client thinks. Before making a referral, always think through the value proposition for BOTH parties. 

You Must Personally Vouch for Both Parties – If you can’t do that; don’t make the introduction! It’s frustrating to get a resume by referral that goes something like this, “Don’t know this guy, but he was a friend of Louie who got the resume from George’s veterinarian.” Before you send a referral, ask yourself this question: Are you willing to vouch for them personally?

Mostly Only Bad Things Happen With Referrals – I’ll give you the perfect example. Saw a product that made sense for one of my clients. Made the referral, but the CEO of the product company showed up late for his appointment with my CIO client. No bueno! Since I sent the referral, I looked like a putz. And THAT is why I’m very conservative with referrals and don’t run around connecting people. And THAT is why I’m very conservative with the candidates I represent. If the candidate gets a job offer, awesome. But if they embarrass me with the client (it happens!), it tarnishes my reputation.

LIONS and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! – There ARE master networkers on LinkedIn. They are called LIONs. They connect to everyone. As one of the first users of LinkedIn, I learned my lesson early on. Someone would want to connect, then immediately send an email, “Can you introduce me to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.” If I had $100 for every time that happened, I could retire in Panama. Everyone sells. I get that. I respect that. But we are all working twice as long for half the pay during this Pandemic. I have 100+ personal friends out of work and need to stay laser focused on helping them. If nothing else, I’m the most loyal person you ever met.  

Be a Giver – Here is the best advice I can give you: Be of service. There is a great book called The Giver that talks about this premise of helping others. And I support it 100%, however if you try to help everyone, your life will be one big long fire drill. That is not good for your physical or mental health. Pick your spots.

Top Godfather’s Top 10 Tips for Getting Hired During the Pandemic!

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 16 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mostly I work in the gaming/casino and high tech space. The business funds my true passion: Charity and Community. A portion of each placement is donated to a dozen national and local charities. 

Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral – My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate, and I can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met. No disrespect intended. Currently have a hundred friends in career transition due to the Pandemic, and if nothing else, I’m the most loyal person you ever met.

Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge or Criticize – That’s God’s job. Simply here to communicate valuable lessons I learned that might help someone else.

Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked.

Honesty is the Best Policy – First and foremost, be HONEST! As my Dad used to say, “Without integrity…nothing else matters.” If you are not 100% transparent about your previous TITLE, TENURE and COMPENSATION, it will end very badly. I actually had one (out of 1,000+) person hired, then fired, when the background showed they lied about their compensation. Be sure your resume is 100% accurate.

Kindness is Free, and Relationships Trump Talent – Always think in the long-term. Be kind to everyone, from the Janitor to the CEO. The people you pass on the way up are the same people you will pass on the way back down. Burning bridges, which I see on almost a daily basis, is not a strategy. Relationships trump talent, especially in my world of gaming/casinos and high tech. As Walt Disney once said, “It’s a small, small world.”

Always, Always, Always…Disclose – This would typically be on the employment application. If you have a criminal record, DUI or any other Compliance issue, ALWAYS disclose. Many of the items are not deal breakers unless you get caught lying about it. If asked, always disclose.

Accurate Contact Information – Common sense, yes? Yet I’m constantly seeing executive use WORK email addresses under CONTACT on LinkedIn. Unless you are retiring at your current company (trust me, you are not), use your PERSONAL email address on LinkedIn. Same for your resume – don’t use your work email address or home phone number. The correct format is: Name, Address, Cell Phone Number, Personal Email Address.

Realistic Compensation Expectations – This is where the rubber meets the road, and the #1 reason I disqualify candidates. If a candidate was making $100,000 and is looking for a bump to $150,000 going forward…I am OUT. Salaries have dropped 15% to 30% since the plague hit, and it is not a productive use of my time to work on things that will never happen. Looking for a lateral on money makes sense, although some highly compensated may have to take a significant drop in compensation to find work. During Depression 2.0 (2008) I dealt with candidates that wanted $200,000, but ended up taking $125,000 after they were unemployed for a year and their COBRA ran out. This is the new normal – be reasonable.

The Wrong Time to Meet an Executive Recruiter is When You are Unemployed – Rule #1 with Executive Recruiters. Most executives wait until they are unemployed to start a relationship with an Executive Recruiter. But here’s the thing, the best Executive Recruiters don’t take cold calls. I spend at least one hour every day sending courteous, “No thank you” messages to candidates that send unsolicited resumes. With 100+ candidates already in the queue, I’m not able to take on people I don’t know and have never met. If you don’t know a good Recruiter, ask your peers for a referral and establish the relationship TODAY…not when you are unemployed. Build the bridge before you need to cross the river!

Executive Recruiters Get People for Jobs, Not Jobs for People – Executive Recruiter Rule #2. If Recruiters don’t fill their executive searches and get people placed…they don’t eat. They are laser focused on filling their existing roles. Every time they stop working on a search to engage with a new candidate, they are losing money. If they are unresponsive, it’s not because they want to offend you. They don’t know you well enough to hate you. It’s because they are running a “for profit” business, and trust me, recruiting is no fun during a plague. YES, there are arrogant, self-focused Recruiters that only call you for a favor. On the other hand, there are some very good Executive Recruiters. Again, ask your peers who they like.

When You Can’t Relocate – Given the Pandemic, mostly you have to follow your career. If you are not in a position to relocate, your best strategy is to engage one or two LOCAL Executive Recruiters. They will have the local listings. Unfortunately, this will result in a limited number of career opportunities. On the other hand, if you can relocate nationwide, you get more opportunities. And remember, talking to five Recruiters does not get you five times the jobs, it just smells like desperation. No more than three; one or two is better.

Don’t Make Me Chase You – I’m constantly frustrated with candidates that ask for my assistance, and then are either unavailable and/or unresponsive to messages. Listen, I don’t need a job, you do. If you are asking me to donate my time and effort for something I may or may not get paid for, be responsive. Trust, me, if you don’t make yourself available, Recruiters will drop you like a bad habit. We have jockeys…we need horses. 

Help a Friend, Because One Day…That Friend May Be You! – This is one that has really been weighing on me lately. One of my favorite sayings is the House of Blues motto, “Help ever; hurt never.” When I send a CFO search to 200 contacts I’m lucky to get three referrals. It’s really disappointing that so many people are self-focused and won’t help any of their peers out. Really thought the Pandemic would be a wake up call that we all in this together. If you can help a peer by referring them for a job, DO IT! Anyone that gives me a referral gets a line pass when they require assistance.

Two Valuable Career Lessons from Losing Your Job During the Pandemic

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 15 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mostly I work in the gaming/casino and high tech industries. The business funds my true passion: Charity and Community. A portion of each placement is donated to a dozen national and local charities.

 Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral – My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate, and I can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met. No disrespect intended. Currently have a hundred friends in career transition due to the Pandemic, and if nothing else, I’m the most loyal person you ever met.

 Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge or Criticize – That’s God’s job. Simply here to communicate valuable lessons I learned that might help someone else.

 Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked.

Today’s topic is TWO VALUABLE LESSONS FROM LOSING YOUR JOB DURING THE PANDEMIC. Yes, I high work at very senior levels, however these lessons apply to everyone. And regardless of why you left, I hope you find these lessons of value. Being furloughed, laid off or terminated is difficult under any conditions, however for millions that lost their jobs through no fault of their own during the shutdown, it’s especially challenging. How will I pay the bills? How will I find another job? I deal with an average of 100+ executives in career transition every day. Here are two concepts I stress to my candidates to keep in mind as they undertake a career search.

Concept #1: The company ALWAYS takes care of the company. The days of 30 years, a gold watch and a pension are over. No matter how loyal you are, no matter how many hours you work, when they are done with you…they are done with you. Learned this lesson frist hand when I worked for the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. They started laying off people with 30 and 40 years of tenure. When I asked the CFO how he could do that to people his response was, “Because the company always takes care of the company.” The company will always take actions to protect the company, including layoffs. 

Lesson #1: You are a consulting company of one that just happens to be on someone’s payroll. Watch out for your own best interests, and always have a six to twelve month rainy day fund for the downturns. Also, never fall into the trap of “I’m indispensable.” I assure you – you are not. This is not about you. This is not personal. It’s about companies trying to stay out of bankruptcy so there are jobs to go back to.

Concept #2: When you lose your job, mostly no one returns your calls. A close personal friend lost his Casino President job. This is a guy that did a thousand favors for a thousand people, yet he told me, “Mark, you are the only person that would return my phone call. I thought these guys were my friends, but no one calls me back.” I replied, “You are no longer the Casino President that can get them free rooms and show tickets. Now you are just one more unemployed guy that can’t do them favors, buy their products and services and/or get them jobs.” As my friend Charlie says, “Most people only call you when they need something.” 

Lesson #2: Accept the fact that most people are self-focused and self-serving. You are blessed if you have 5 true friends in life. And you get to find out who they are when you lose your job! Most people are not your friends – they are acquaintances. They have busy lives and other priorities. Your job search does not make their radar. I was an alcoholic for years because I expected everyone to be like me. I stopped drinking the day I realized everyone is on a hard journey, and someone not returning my call does not make them a per person, they just have other priorities. Don’t take it personally, and don’t place high expectations on others. That way you are never disappointed.

Too Much Time on My Hands: Being Productive During the Zombie Apocalypse

I don’t have an opinion on the zombie apocalypse. Not qualified to comment on whether this is Revelations and the end of the world, or just a total overreaction by media that want to keep the sheep glued to their TV screens. Nevada is completely locked down for 30 days…but NYC is not. And tens of thousands of college students are partying in Texas and Florida for Spring Break. Huh? Regardless of your opinion, here are a few ways for overachievers (me included!) to keep our minds occupied in a positive manner.

Take a Vacation – No better time than the present. All your worry, stress and anxiety is not going to change anything. Las Vegas is locked down, so take a week or two off and decompress. Soon enough we will be back in the game.
Spend Time with Your Family – You remember them. The folks you used to know before you started working 70 hour weeks. Your kids. Your parents. Your siblings. Great time to reconnect.
Get Healthy! – The gyms will eventually reopen. In the meantime, there are endless trails and parks. Or go biking. Or lift weights at home. No excuses!
Pick Up a Musical Instrument – Played guitar as a teen, and recently picked it back up along with a lifelong goal: Piano.
Learn a Foreign Language – My personal favorites are Spanish and Mandarin, but I might take a shot at German. It’s fun to overhear conversations when people don’t think you understand their language…but you do.
Read a Book – Whether it’s continuous education, self-improvement or the latest novel, reading quiets the mind. Personally, I like biographies and historical education. Here are 3 must reads: Half Time (Bob Buford), Your Best Life Now (Joel Osteen) and Ego is the Enemy (Ryan Hanson).
Binge Watch – Not a huge fan of TV, however with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and AppleTV, there is no shortage of choices. And there are plenty of great series to binge watch. From Stranger Things to Big Little Lies to Handmaids Tale…to an infinite number of documentaries.
Be of Service to Others – It takes a pandemic for some folks to understand what the rest of us knew all along: Whatever you did for the least of My Brothers you did for Me. “But Godfather, you don’t understand – I don’t have money and can’t donate to charity.” Forget the money part! Volunteer your time – those are the real heroes. Help a neighbor. Let someone go in front of you in traffic or at the supermarket. Be kind.

The Godfather’s Career Strategy for the Zombie Apocalypse

Was getting an avalanche of requests for career advice, so I put this together for my active candidate list, roughly 100 executives. Hope it helps!

This is NOT the End of the World – First and foremost: You WILL get another job. I was fired once. L.A. Gear fired me in the 80s for being a whistle blower. I carpooled that day, so I sat on the curb with a cardboard box of my belongings thinking, “OMG, I’ll never find a job.” But I did. And so will you. For now, if you are gainfully employed, keep your head down and make the best of it. If you are on the street, keep working your network. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Hiring Update – Of my 22 executive searches, 20 were placed on HOLD or CANCELLED. Nearly 100% of companies have instituted a HIRING FREEZE. We don’t know how or when this ends. So in the meantime, I have assembled a few recommendations for you, based on my 15 years as an Executive Recruiter that lived through 9/11, the bank crash of 2008, October 1…and now this. You don’t have to agree with me. That’s what I love about America, we can agree to disagree and still be friends.

Depression 3.0 – We have seen this movie before. In August 2008 I had about 30 active executive searches. A week later I had zero. So from my side of the table I know how to navigate this. My clients are grumpy, and for good reason. I’m not going to pressure them for work. For me, that is poor form. I was on the other side of the desk for 20 years and feel their pain. When we come out the other side, and we will, hiring will pick up. Best guess? There is absolutely no way to know. We don’t know how bad or long this takes until we emerge on the other side. I do not have any confidence that we will reopen on April 16 in Las Vegas. Someone far smarter to me said Memorial Day May 25. I pray that he is right.

What Companies are Looking For – When we get to the other side, companies will be looking for the same things they have for the last 20 years, so maybe now is the right time to rethink your career strategy. First, education. Although I have an MBA from Texas A&M, I’m not here to debate the value of an education. If the clients wants a four year college degree, I can only submit candidates with a four year degree. Period. Never too late to go back to school. Second, stable work history. Again, this is not a Mark Wayman decision. If the hiring company requires three to five years in your current role, I can only submit candidates that meet the requirement. If you have moved around, find a home…and stay there!

Stay Connected – Even in these hard times, there are many people that don’t get back to me. I totally don’t get it. Then years later they send me a resume and want me to drop everything to help. Stay connected! Double check your LinkedIn profile and make your PERSONAL email is on there. Update your LinkedIn profile. Review your LinkedIn connections. You might trip over someone that can help you.

Be a Giver – At the end of the day, no one likes a taker. You know those people. You see their name come up your cell phone and you just know they are calling for a favor. Don’t be that person! When someone asks how I became so successful my answer is always the same, “They call me Godfather because I helped a thousand people get jobs and probably did another 10,000 favors knowing full well those people would never be able to pay me back.” Kindness costs zero.

85% of Career Opportunities Come from Your Network – Most of your career opportunities will come from people you know. For instance, if you are a CFO, who do think is getting the Executive Recruiter calls for CFO jobs? That is correct – your peers. First thing you want to do if you get RIFd is check with all your peers for opportunities. Work your network! Mostly online job postings are for companies that can’t hire quality executives. And you will be one of 200 people applying for that job today. If you are $60,000, applying online makes great sense. Once you reach $100,000, you have a better shot at winning the lottery. Every day of my life I get good candidates that have applied to a spreadsheet of companies and five Recruiters. It handcuffs me and I can’t add value for them.

10% of Career Opportunities Come from Executive Recruiters – Most of the BIG jobs go to Executive Recruiters. Why? Because top performing companies don’t want to spend hours and hours shuffling resumes and trying to qualify people. My clients hire me for two reasons. First, I have access to 6,000 executives. No cold calling; no trying to figure it out. Second, I know where all the skeletons are buried. People that were terminated for drugs, alcohol and sexual harassment. For most of my candidates, I can quote scripture and verse, tell you their strengths and weaknesses, and whether they are a fit for the company culture. THAT…is why companies use Executive Recruiters. Source the best people; eliminate the bad actors.

The Two Rules of Executive Recruiting – First, the wrong time to meet a Recruiter is when you are unemployed. For me, when we hit the hard times like 2008, I had 50 personal friends out of work. They all get a line pass. Why? Because I’m the most loyal person you ever met. Because I know them all personally and can vouch for them. Because they have supported my business and charity work for 25 years. I don’t apologize for that. Second rule: Recruiters get people for jobs, not jobs for people. If we don’t place executives…we don’t eat. Personally, I would love to help every single person that approaches me. That would be millions of dollars! But I’m realistic, and I would rather be stellar on a handful of searches than mediocre on a high number of searches.

Relationships Trump Transactions – During hard times, or when you lose your job, you get to find out who your five real friends are. I can’t count the number of people I got a job and never heard from again…until they were unemployed. Not a thank you; not a cup of coffee. That is a transaction. And yes, I’m Executive Recruiter and got paid to place all those people so I’m not complaining. But I will tell you this after 15 years and 1,000 placements: Relationships trump transactions; relationships trump talent.

Establish a Rainy Day Fund – There is a story that goes, “The monkeys all got together during a rainstorm and decided they absolutely MUST build a roof once the sun came out. Getting poured on every time is rains was dreadful. But when the sun came out, the monkeys all went back to playing and forgot about the roof.” Fact: 40% of Americans can’t afford an out of the ordinary $400 expense. When I got clobbered after 9/11 I set aside three months’ pay. Then when the banks failed in 2008 I set aside 12 months’ pay. Unfortunately, America has become a nation of consumerism. Our media says you must have all this “stuff” to be happy. Don’t buy the hype! If you are healthy, have family and friends, you are already rich. And if you did not put away money for a rainy day, once we get through this…do it.

Not My Fault! Stop Deflecting, and Start OWNING It

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 15 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming/casinos and high tech. Probably most famous for my client newsletter that goes out to 6,500 executives. Who got hired, who got fired, and all the latest industry news.

Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral, and Only Connect to People I Know Personally – No disrespect intended. My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate, and I can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met.

Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge People: That’s God’s Job – My examples are intentionally vague, because I’m not here to embarrass anyone, just highlight the behavior.

Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked.

Several recent incidents reminded me of an epidemic that has been sweeping the country for years: Not My Fault Flu. As my Dad drilled into me, “Son, when you are wrong, say you are wrong. Make it right, take it as a learning experience, and don’t do it again.” Using a few real-life examples, let’s review the right (and wrong!) way to acknowledge a mistake or misstep.

Want to Hear a HUGE Candidate Mistake? – Do you know how many candidates told me they were fired? None. As an Executive Recruiter, it’s really annoying. Be forthcoming about why you left your last employer. Don’t blame it on the company, your Boss, your parents, your spouse, your kids, your dog’s Veterinarian. Take personal responsibility for your actions. Honesty is the best policy. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “MGM2020”, “I got sideways with the wrong guy”, “I was terminated for cause. Here is my explanation.”

Your Boss Calls You Out at Work – You are in a meeting with the management team when one of the top people gives you constructive feedback on your department. Gulp! You have two choices. You can deflect (not my fault!) or you can “own” it. Owning it means accepting full responsibility for the situation and a commitment to make it right. Everyone in that meeting already knows your department has issues, so when you deflect or choose “not my fault”…you become part of the problem. And eventually you will be gone. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “You make a good point, and I would like to get together after the meeting to hear your concerns and address them with my team. We will make this right.”

The Sales Weasel – You work on a big sales deal with a colleague. When it looks like the deal is in the bag, you cut your partner out of the deal and take 100% of the commissions. Yeah buddy! Except everyone knows that partner was instrumental in securing the deal, no matter how much you deflect. So you go from hero to zero, and like Bill Clinton and the blue dress, your legacy will be that you poach deals and screw people. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “Let’s get together and work through this. You definitely added value to the deal, and I want to be fair with the commissions. Relationships are far more important than any one sales deal.”

CEOs Don’t Get to Deflect – Had a client that was incredibly high maintenance. My friends, not all business is good business, however I considered the CEO a personal friend and did my best to help him out. When I heard they were moving to another Recruiter, I was not real disappointed. The CEO called to let me know, but tried to deflect and blame it on one is direct reports. My response was, “You don’t get to do that. You are the CEO – the buck stops here. There is a Recruiter on every corner, and I’m not offended that you want to make the switch, but don’t blame it on someone else. At the end of the day, YOU make those decisions.” THE CORRECT ANSWER: “My VP has a Recruiter friend that lives across the street, and she wants to try him out. Let’s see how that goes, and we may come back to you in the future.”

The Charity Circuit – My wife and I are Philanthropists. We support a dozen national and local charities, and I donate a portion of each executive placement to making the world a little bit better place. One time I asked a charity why we were not invited to a particular event. Rather than own it, the Director deflected, giving me a handful of excuses. I never did get to the bottom of that, however there are 3,500 registered charities in Nevada, so we simply moved on to someone that valued our participation. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “We greatly value both your financial contributions and the way you promote our cause in your newsletter. I apologize for the oversight. We will always have room for you as one of our top Donors.”

The Artful Dodger – In addition the Executive Recruiting company, I own an entertainment company that books bands and shows. One of the groups met a client at my quarterly client mixer and booked a gig directly. Next time around the company told me they would be more comfortable booking the band through me. Long story short, the band did an end around and booked directly again. They got $9,000. I was going to get them $12,500. To this day they continue to deflect and have never taken responsibility. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “We met the client through you Godfather. We value our relationship with you and would never risk it to save $1,000 on a commission.”

The Godfather OWNS It – This last example is how I personally own my mistakes. One of my Artists overpaid me on a commission last year. We decided to true up on the next show – he would just keep my commission to make us even. Booked him recently, but I forgot about the commission situation. When he graciously reminded me, I quickly replied, “So sorry, 100% my fault. Keep the commission, and I’ll do a better job of tracking this in the future.” We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle those missteps that defines our character and how people perceive us. Take personal responsibility for your actions and decisions, own it, apologize, and then communicate that it won’t happen again in the future.

The Best 3 Books to Read if You Get Laid Off!

I remember getting laid off many years ago. Actually, I was terminated for being a whistle blower. Company and knucklehead Boss omitted to protect the guilty. Because I was in a carpool, I had to sit out on the curb with a box of my personal belongings until I could get a ride home. But I learned three important lessons from that experience.

Never Work a Day in a Job You Don’t Like – I absolutely hated that job. And as I sat on the curb humiliated I decided to never work for a company or in a role that was not enjoyable. It’s true: If you love your job you will never work a day in your life. A friend called me one day complaining about his job. I inquired, “Are you unhappy?” He said, “I am.” My advice was to walk directly over to the CEOs office and work out a “walk away” package (resignation with severance). He did, and he is light years ahead with his career now. And…happy!

Everything Happens for a Reason – Mostly I don’t understand God’s plan or timing, however I have come to the conclusion that everything does indeed happen for a reason. You are right where you need to be, and there is a reason you lost your job. You may not see it today or tomorrow, however years from now you will say, “That was one of the best things that ever happened to me – it changed my life.” Don’t try to make sense of everything!

Losing Your Job is a Phenomenal Opportunity – You WILL get another job! It’s challenging. It’s depressing. It’s stressful. Bu it’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of jobs for smart, hard-working people. Being laid off is the perfect time to examine your life. AND…detox and decompress. Recently a senior executive asked for my counsel on taking an early out retirement package. Call it what you will, but it’s a RIF (reduction in force). My response was, “Oh my God, take the package! Use your one year non-compete to travel the world. Or spend time with your grand-kids. Or volunteer at the Women’s Shelter. Live life!” Anything but working 80 hours for a company that does not care about you. You think your Boss is going to give your eulogy? You think your peers will be at your funeral? The company always takes care of…THE COMPANY. Don’t ever forget it.

And since you have some time on your hands, I’d like to recommend three great books for the RIF. Other than the Bible, probably my favorite three books on the shelf.

  • Half Time by Bob Buford – When we sold our software company 15 years ago someone gave me this book. It literally changed my life. Most executives spend the first half of their life on houses and cars and jobs, however at “half time” they ask the big questions. Why am I here? What is my legacy? How will I be remembered? Am I leaving the world a better place? The book highlighted something that was quite embarrassing: I was a “taker.” So I made a commitment to be a “giver” the second half of my life. My way of giving back is to help people get jobs, then donate a portion of each placement to a dozen local and national charities. THANK YOU Bob Buford!
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – This is a major challenge for executives laid off or in the RIF. Ego, arrogance and hubris. Bitter, disgruntled executives obsessed with their former employer or Boss. Guess what folks? He/she could care less about you. They forgot your name the day you left! Let go and let God. Lose the ego. Move on.
  • Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen – Ah yes, the Pastor of Hope! You don’t have to be a religious type to enjoy Joel’s books. He has this amazing, positive, hopeful approach to life. It’s hard to be depressed when you are reading Joel!

God, family and friends. Everything beyond that is a bonus. Do you have a place to live? Food on the table? Your health? Yes? Then you are ahead of 98% of the people on this planet. Jobs and careers are important, however don’t sacrifice God, family and friends for them. And always remember this, if God is for us, who can be against us!

Stop Yelling at the Recruiter, Part 2

Thank you to everyone that read Part 1: 40,000 views in two days.

Here is a second major issue for Executive Recruiters: Candidates that ask for feedback, but don’t really want to hear it. As Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth!”

The most surprising part of this particular story is that the candidate, we’ll call him Joe, is a Human Resources executive. HR folks are in the business of hiring and firing, so they really should understand the mechanics of how the process works. Joe sends me a resume and I ask him the requisite questions about compensation, relocation and compliance (background). Joe has already applied to several jobs online. Translation to Recruiter: He is highly motivated to move. Some might say…desperate. For round numbers he is making $100,000 and is seeking $200,000, Translation to Recruiter: Not a reasonable expectation. Joe, you are IN Human Resources, have you ever doubled someone’s salary?

Finally, Joe has boundaries around relocation. “I would go to Tucson, but not LA. I like Sacramento, but not Reno.” Translation to Recruiter: I am never, ever, ever, ever going to get this guy a job. Joe asked for my feedback, so I was candid, “I can’t represent you to any company you have applied to in the last 12 months, so all the those companies you applied to online…are out. And given your compensation and specific geographical boundaries, your career opportunities will be limited. My recommendation would be to take a job at $110,000 at large organization and work your way up.” And of course the response from Joe was the standard, “Mark, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Look, you asked for my professional opinion and I gave it to you. Joe…I’ll be rooting for you!