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; last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars.

Executive Recruiters cringe when a candidate asks certain questions, and here are the three to avoid at all costs.

What company is this and/or how many candidates are interviewing? Confidential means CONFIDENTIAL.  There is nothing more annoying to an Executive Recruiter than nosy gossips that ask inappropriate questions.  Like a Doctor or Attorney, our work is very sensitive and confidential.  In some cases the incumbent has not been terminated yet.  In all cases the company does not want to be assaulted by unqualified candidates.  If an Executive Recruiter tells you the company is confidential, leave it at that.  The other confidentiality issue involves WHO is interviewing.  If you are fortunate enough to be on the slate, never ask how many candidates are interviewing, or who those candidates are.  Does not matter if you are the only candidate or one of ten.  Focus on nailing the interview, not trying to game the system.  Candidates that ask about confidential information are quickly disposed of.

Will they pay for my dry cleaning?  The only people that say money does not matter…don’t have any!  That stated, companies want to hire executives that focus on opportunity.  If you start giving a line by line of your last compensation package, you come across as greedy and self-serving. And make sure you are aware of your market value.  What are your peers making?  I just had an unemployed candidate whose last salary was $82,000 ask me for $150,000.  Companies rarely hire unemployed people at the senior level.  And they certainly are not going to double your salary.  Focus on opportunity, not money.

Can you put in a good word for me? Executive Recruiters can only discuss candidates they are representing.  Never ask the Recruiter to “put in a good word for you”.  Mostly this happens because candidates apply online, then find out the Recruiter has the search.  The Recruiter is paid to submit the best candidates, and strong senior level executives don’t apply online.  This is what the Executive Recruiter does for a living. It’s how they put food on the table and pay for their kids tuition.  Do you want to work for free?  No?  Then don’t ask them to do their job for free.

90% of senior level jobs come from your network or an Executive Recruiter (Bonus Tip) – The subtitle is “meeting an Executive Recruiter when you are unemployed is a terrible career strategy.” Every day I get 20 cold calls from candidates.  Like most Executive Recruiters I only work with executives I know personally, or those referred to me by my network.  Why?  Because due diligence on someone you don’t know is too daunting.  Companies expect the Recruiter to know the candidates personally, and to provide background on their skill sets.  It is essential that you keep in touch with two or three Recruiters, as well as your industry peers.  Those peers get calls for jobs, so when you are ready to make a move, you can check with them for opportunities.  You don’t have a professional network?  You better get one.  Fully 90% of the GOOD jobs come from your network or an Executive Recruiter.