My name is Mark Wayman, and I’m an Executive Recruiter focused on gaming and high tech. Or as some people call me: a Headhunter. Don’t care what you call me, as long as you call me for dinner. Over the last thirteen years I have reviewed 13,000 resumes, represented 1,500 candidates and placed 800+ executives. Compensation starts at $100,000, average placement is $200,000+, and last year I placed several executives north of $1,000,000. So I work at the high end, however these tips are a good review for executives at all levels.

Today’s topic is five things Recruiters look for in top talent: “A” candidates.  This is the top 2% of all executives.  And I mean both Executive Recruiters and internal Recruiters at major companies.  So here comes $20,000 of career advice…pro bono.

Integrity: Honesty is ALWAYS the Best Policy – I know I beat this into the ground in my articles, but without integrity, nothing else matters.  It is amazing how many executives are not honest or forthcoming. They lie about their college degree, their title, their tenure and most commonly, their compensation. The hiring company can easily verify all of these items…and they will.  If you lied about any of them, you are gone.  Once placed a VP, Human Resources, and something minor came up on the background check, however since he did not DISCLOSE it, he was terminated.  It was not a deal breaker, however he did not disclose.  No good. As my Dad used to say, “Honesty is the best policy. That way you never have to remember what you told anybody.”

Personal Responsibility – Of the 3,000 candidates I interviewed over the last 13 years, do you know how many told me they got fired? Zero. Not one. Taking personal responsibility for your actions, behavior and choices is the sign of an “A” executive. And let’s throw in “making good choices.” Don’t blame the company, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your dog’s veterinarian. Sometimes things don’t work out.  Everything happens for a reason. Stop making excuses.

Ego is the Enemy – There is actually a book called “Ego is the Enemy” that should be required reading for all executives. Had a CEO candidate that was brilliant and talented, however he spent most of his time telling everyone that. “Hey, enough about you, let’s talk about me some more.”  Confident we love; narcissistic megalomaniac…not so much.  Trust me, humble and genuine is far more attractive.

Build the Bridge BEFORE You Need to Cross the River – So where do “A” players get their jobs?  The best executives get 80% of their jobs from professional PEERS.  The next 15% are from Executive Recruiters, and less than 5% from other sources.  Recruiters get 50 to 100 cold calls. The good Executive Recruiters only represent executives they know personally, and in some instances by referral.  We don’t have time to vet and validate people we don’t know. My advice to you: STAY CONNECTED. To your professional peers, and one or two good Executive Recruiters. Dig the well before you need a drink.

Relationships Trump Talent – If you remember nothing else from this article, REMEMBER THIS.  How else do you explain all the Bozos that get jobs while highly talented executives sit on the beach?  I’ll tell you why: Bozos have buddies.  Their friends continue to hire them…over and over.  I’m not here to judge; just giving it to you straight.  If you burn your bridges all over town, start packing the car. Your Mom gave you the best advice ever, “Play nice.”