My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last twelve years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $200,000, and last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars. My articles are targeted at senior executives; however most of the points apply to all levels. The only purpose of my blogs is to communicate what Executive Recruiters and hiring companies look for in top executive candidates.
Integrity – A CEO once told me, “If they don’t have integrity, I don’t care how brilliant or talented they are.” I deal with dishonest executives on a regular basis. They lie about their education. They lie about their experience. They lie about their compensation. They lie about whether they already applied for the job already. These are not low level hourly employees – these are executives making hundreds of thousands of dollars. All you have in life is your word and reputation. Integrity is the number one deal breaker with candidates. Be honest.
Ego – This would rank #2 for me. No company wants to hire a narcissistic megalomaniac (look it up). Don’t insist on being the smartest person in the room. News flash – you are not. If you were, you would not be unemployed. After six to twelve months on the bench, you will feel much differently. HUMBLE and GENUINE is attractive.
Greed – I call this “fighting about nickels.” Too many candidates take a short term view of the world. All they care about is money. Now don’t get me wrong, the only people that don’t care about money….don’t have any. That stated, companies want to hire executives focused on OPPORTUNITY. Had a candidate at $65,000 that wanted $90,000. Sorry, no company is going to give you a 33% raise. Another candidate told me, “Well, I used to make way more money.” Again, hiring companies care about the NOW, not what you made 10 years ago. Finally, compensation is based on education, experience and skill set, not your mortgage payments, your kid’s college tuition or your lifestyle. I know y’all are laughing, but this is a common problem – executives with a great education…and no common sense.
Selfishness – We live in the instant gratification generation. Everybody wants their Big Mac, and they want it NOW. Gone are the days of the greatest generation where my Dad fought in World War II, then came back and worked two jobs to put food on our table. Self-serving and self-absorbed is not on the desired attribute list of any hiring company. Here is the SECRET. Hard work and perseverance pay off.
Pessimism – Bitter and angry does not sell. I have heard it all. It’s my boss’s fault, the company’s fault, my kids fault, my spouse’s fault, my dog’s veterinarian’s fault. If you are carrying around that rock known as bitterness/anger, you will never get another job. Interviewers can sense it; Executive Recruiters sense it. Let go and let God.
Laziness – Yoda said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” I’m constantly amazed at how many candidates don’t event TRY. They are “too busy” to interview. They don’t return phone calls or emails promptly. They get fired, then expect an Executive Recruiter to drop everything for their career crisis. Remember, YOU need a job, so give it 110% effort.
Ungrateful – Everyone likes to be appreciated, even Executive Recruiters. It’s interesting that half the executives I place don’t bother to say “thank you.” Be sure to thank everyone in the interview process, even if you don’t land the job. An attitude of gratitude will take you a long way in life.
Relationships Trump Talent (Bonus Tip) – If there is one piece of advice I could give you above all else, it’s that relationships trump talent. All things being equal, Executive Recruiters submit candidates they know and like. Companies hire candidates they know and like. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of highly competent executives get run out of town because they alienated everyone. It’s not a talent issue; they are brilliant. It’s a “does not play well with others” issue. Don’t burn bridges, and as your Mother said, “Play nice.”