My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Over the last thirteen years I have placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $250,000, and last year I placed several executives north of a million dollars.
This article is about FULL EMPLOYMENT. The most common question I get from clients these days is,”Why can’t I get good candidates.” There is a reason for that – they are all gainfully employed and not moving. The article is specifically targeted at Human Resources executives and Hiring Managers. Executives tasked with attracting the most important resource in business: PEOPLE. I don’t care how good your product or service is, without an “A” management team…you will be an also ran.
When I started my Executive Recruiting business in 2004, the economy was at full employment, defined as an unemployment rate of 5% or less. Pretty much everyone that wanted a job…had a job. In 2008 Depression 2.0 hit. Talk about a dramatic shift in the tide! The announced unemployment rate in Nevada was 10%. In reality it was closer to 20%. After a long tenuous climb, we find ourselves at 5% unemployment in 2017: full employment.
So if everyone is working, how can companies attract “A” players? Well, I have been pretty successful: 23 placements in Q416 and 12 in Q117. Here are a few of my tips for attracting the best of the best.
It’s Not an Honor and Privilege to Work Here – This is my #1 piece of advice. At full employment, “A” candidates own the market, not hiring companies. They have their choice of opportunities and commonly get multiple offers. The best and most attractive candidates are getting calls each week from Executive Recruiters. On the other side of the coin, there are very few “A” companies these days. An “A” company is defined as GREAT culture, strong management team, financially sound, excellent location (great place to live) and outstanding compensation. Your company may have one or two of these attributes, but all of them? I remember when the casino industry had 20 or 30 “A” companies, however due to consolidation and other factors there are now about a dozen. You have a couple companies that pay way above market rate, however the culture (and employee turnover!) is dreadful. Then you have you have a couple with great culture, however their compensation packages are well below market rate. And the landscape can change quickly. A company that was on top of the world might be bankrupt tomorrow. My advice to hiring companies? Lose the ego and arrogance – it’s not an honor and privilege to work here.
You MUST Have an Efficient Hiring Process – If you get a strong candidate…MOVE! I’m shocked by the number of fairly good companies that just can’t get this right. Their hiring process is broken. Sometimes I call it “death by due diligence.” If you can’t get someone hired in four weeks or less, you have little chance of landing an “A” player for two reasons. First and foremost, they will have multiple offers and be long gone. Second, they will lose confidence in your company and think, “If they treat me this poorly during the interview, is it really a place I want to work?” If you get a good one hooked, you gotta go!
Money, Title or Equity: Nobody Rides for Free – For the “A” candidates, prepare to ante up. No one takes a lateral during full employment unless they hate their job, and in that case, you have to wonder if they are really an “A” candidate. To be competitive you will need to offer a 15% to 25% compensation increase, a better title (moving up from Director to VP) and/or stock options. If you can’t offer some combination of these components, you will be challenged to hire great talent. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger!
Nobody Wants to Work for You – This is a BIG issue in the casino world. Once you get a reputation as a terrible place to work, you will never attract quality employees. It can take years, or even decades, to fix. Typically this is a cultural issue, as in, your culture is TERRIBLE. You treat employees poorly, and when they quit for greener pastures, they throw your company under the bus to anyone that will listen. How do you think I know so much about every gaming company in the universe? After reviewing 50,000 resumes, interviewing 5,000 executives and making 800+ placements, I can tell you which companies are in the “A” and “B” categories, and which ones are off the charts…bad. And I can quote scripture and verse on why those companies rank that way. Treat your employees with respect and professionalism.
Stop With Your Sour Grapes Already – This is the, “It’s not me, it’s you” syndrome. I’ll give you a great example. Placed a “C” level executive at what appeared to be an “A” company. His background was a Master’s Degree, 5 years at an “A” company and another 5 years at a second “A” company. That, my friends, is an “A” player. He quit after eight months and commented, “Worst company and culture ever.” So I fill the role a second time. Candidate is coming off a ten year gig at a major casino. Same result. She quits after nine months with the comment “Terrible place to work.” Meanwhile, the company is lobbing rocks at the two executives. “They are not talented.” “They were not very good.” Well, I don’t know much, but I know those two executives are top notch. The only common thread in all your dysfunctional relationships…is YOU. I stopped placing executives for that hiring company. Not a good place to work. Second example. Spent two months on a COO search and identified THE guy. Impeccable pedigree. Despite the fact I told the hiring company multiple times he was looking for a 20% increase in base salary, they offer him 25% LESS than his current salary. He declines the offer. Then they start throwing rocks at the candidate, saying he was not that great. Wait, you just made him and offer, right? Sour grapes is unattractive and paints your company in a bad light. NO WHINING!
We Have 10 Great Candidates for that Position – I’ll never forget the GM that told me he had 10 great candidates for a particular role. My response was, “There are not 10 great candidates on the planet. Maybe 5? Love you like a Brother, but that is just not possible.” Over the years I have figured this one out. YOUR idea of “A” candidate and my idea of “A” candidate may be vastly different. I only represent the best of the best, the top 2%, and they aren’t out applying to your online job postings. They are gainfully employed at “A” companies with outstanding pedigrees that other “A” companies salivate over. And another tip, candidates don’t list their alcohol, drug and gambling problems on their resume. They don’t tell you why they got terminated. Translation: A good looking resume does not always ensure success. Due diligence required.
Treat EVERYONE Courtesy and Respect – Always, always, always treat candidates with professionalism and respect. If a candidate invests the time to interview, for the love of Jesus, Joseph and Mary, give them closure. Don’t leave them hanging! If you treat a candidate poorly, they will tell 10 of their friends. Pretty quickly all you get is “B” candidates and the unemployed. That goes for Executive Recruiters as well. Don’t believe in them? Fine, but play nice. Do you know how many HR people kicked dirt on me, then got fired six months later and sent me a resume with their tail between their legs? Dozens. There is no downside to the Golden Rule. As my Daddy always said, “Treat everyone with kindness. It’s the right thing to do.”
Don’t Spam Your Job Postings – If one Executive Recruiter is good, that does not mean spamming your job posting to five Recruiters is even better. Much like the candidate that spams their resume, it is unattractive. Personally, I have no interest in working with companies that use more than two Recruiters on a search. Not only does it NOT produce more quality candidates, it shows a lack of loyalty and smells like desperation.
Pay Your Bills! – This is common sense, right? Even after I get an executive placed, I still need to get paid. Believe it or not, there are companies that slow roll invoice, and in some cases, don’t pay at all. Slow roll means to “late pay.” The invoice is due 30 days after the candidate start date. Most Recruiters don’t mind the check coming a week late, however if it’s a month late it paints the hiring company in a bad light. Then you have a certain casino company that stiffed me completely on a GM placement. Not to give it away, but the CEO is a narcissistic megalomaniac that just loves to sue people. Be sure to pay your bills in a timely manner.
Paint a Picasso! – During full employment, you want to paint a picture of an organization that is a GREAT place to work. That starts with CULTURE. Culture is far and away the #1 attribute of great companies. If you don’t have a strong culture, nothing else matters. You just become that casino company that has to pay 30% above market compensation because they have the highest turnover rate in the industry. Everybody wants to work there…for about a day. Pay at or above market rate, move quickly and efficiently during the hiring process, and treat candidates courteously and professionally. Paint your company as a Picasso.