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, my average placement is $200,000 and last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars. So although my articles are targeted at more senior executives, most points apply at all levels. And let me be crystal clear, I am not here to judge or criticize. My only purpose is to communicate what Executive Recruiters and hiring companies look for in top executive candidates.
A great CEO once told me, “Bring me candidates of integrity, because without it, I don’t care how brilliant or talented they are.” No Executive Recruiter wants to represent a candidate that is dishonest; no company wants to hire a candidate with poor morals. The best candidates, what I refer to as “A” candidates, are people of high integrity – honest, trustworthy, high morals. Want to be the “A” candidate that gets hired the majority of the time? Keep on reading!
Honesty is the Best Policy: Education – If you lie about little things, you will probably lie about big things. Make sure you are 100% honest and forthcoming during every aspect of the interview process. Unless you have a college degree, do NOT list a college on your resume. I have seen pretty much ever take on this spinning of the truth. “I attended there.” “Only need three credits to graduate.” “I plan on going back.” That is all well and good, but “A” candidates don’t try to spin the truth. If you list a college, and don’t have a college degree, it’s a big red flag. Executive Recruiters and HR executives don’t care if you have a college degree. BUT…if the hiring company REQUIRES a college degree, then they can only interview candidates with a degree.
Honesty is the Best Policy: Experience – Be 100% honest about your experience, including job titles and compensation. The hiring company is going to check it, and if you were not honest, you will be terminated. I always ask candidates for their base salary so I can make sure they are in range for the roles I’m working on. One candidate told me $90,000. He got the job and was paid $95,000. When the background check came in, he was $65,000 at the last job. His response? “Ohhhh….I thought you wanted my TOTAL compensation.” The same can be said for job titles. There was one guy who listed Microsoft as his employer and CTO as his title. Bahahahahaha! He was no CTO. He wasn’t even a VP. Another guy listed his title as Chief Marketing Officer when his real title was VP. “There is no CMO, so basically that is what I do.” No, you are a VP, and when the background check shows lied about your title, you will be terminated. One last example. Super solid VP that I placed in a great job. When his background check came back, he had lied about something on the employment application that was 15 years old. He was fired. Not for the item on the employment application. It was not a deal breaker. He was fired because he lied about it.
All You Have in Life is Your Word and Your Reputation – My Dad gave me this advice multiple times over the years. As an Executive Recruiter, my reputation rides on every resume I submit. Think I do some due diligence? You bet! This is very simple – do what you say you will do. Keep your word. I’m surprised at all the people that say, “Let’s do lunch”, but never do. Or the companies that commit to giving me searches, then reneg. Or commit to a charity event and bail out at the last minute. Or RSVP to one of my private mixers and are a “no show, no call”. Then they get fired and send me a resume. Riddle me this, do I want to represent people that don’t keep their word? I know you are thinking this is just common sense, but I see it on a daily basis. If you make a commitment – keep it!
Strong Moral Principles – Hold the hate mail. Again, I’m not here to judge, only educate and bring awareness. When I started my Executive Recruiting firm 12 years ago, candidates with financial issues were persona non grata. Mostly I work in gaming, which is a regulated space. Large sums of cash move around a casino on a daily basis. Casinos frown on candidates with bankruptcies and tax liens. If you can’t handle your personal finances, they don’t want you touching their money. These days shorts sales and foreclosures are a bit more palatable, although not much. Same with DUIs. If it happened in college twenty years ago it’s probably not a deal breaker. If it happened recently, and you have two DUIs, you are OUT. I recently had a candidate that could not understand why 3 DUIs were an issue. Companies want to hire people that make good personal and professional decisions.
Culture and Chemistry are 50% of the Decision – This is a bonus section unrelated to integrity. At senior levels, culture and chemistry can be up to 50% of the decision. Why? First, the majority of candidates are a technical or “skill set” fit. They would not be interviewing if they weren’t. Executive Recruiters and HR people are pretty good at narrowing the thundering herd. When you get down to two or three candidates, it comes down to who the hiring manager liked the most. Who they felt comfortable with. Who they feel would be a good cultural and team fit. I have seen many brilliant, super talented people lose out on job opportunities because they just can’t get the interpersonal relationship thing down. Typically their resume has five jobs in the last five years. It’s like your Mom always said, “Be nice and play well with others.”