My name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming/casinos and high tech. Placed 600+ executives, typically at compensation of $100,000+. Although most of these tips are aimed at the $100,000+ executive, they pretty much apply to all jobs.
These are my top ten reasons why Executive Recruiters won’t represent a specific candidate. There are a hundred reasons, however for me personally, these are the big ones…especially the first three. Before you tear into these, let me tell you the most important thing about an Executive Recruiter – they find executives for jobs, NOT jobs for executives. They are paid by the hiring company, NOT the candidate. So they spend most of their time with hiring companies, and rarely represent an executive candidate unless they are AN EXACT MATCH FOR AN EXISTING JOB. It has nothing to do with how talented you are, where you went to school or how old you are. They don’t know you well enough to not like you! They get paid to fill their existing open jobs. If they don’t focus on that…they don’t eat. Don’t take it personally!
Being a Narcissistic Megalomaniac – The number one reason that candidates do not move forward in the interview process – ARROGANCE and EGO. No matter how talented you are, no matter how smart you are, if the hiring manager does not LIKE you, forget about getting a job offer. No one likes a self-absorbed, self-serving elitist. For every “C” level search, the hiring company may have 200+ volunteers and twenty strong candidates. If you think it is an honor and privilege to have you on payroll, you will soon find out…it is not. Humble and genuine is attractive!
Spinning the Truth – Integrity is a HUGE deal breaker. Seems simple and straightforward, however I had a dozen bad experiences last year with executives that were dishonest. These are people that make $500,000 to $1,000,000. Be completely honest about job titles, compensation, job tenure and education. Even after you sign the offer, pass the drug screen, fly through the background check and start work, you can (and will) be fired if you were anything less than 100% straightforward on your resume or employment application. Always be completely honest!
Gloomy Gus or Debbie Downer – Companies want to hire happy, positive, enthusiastic executives. Making negative statements about former supervisors or companies during an interview is a major faux pas. Had a CTO candidate interview with the CEO of a large publicly traded company. When asked why he left his job in Dallas his response was, “I went through this nasty divorce; let me tell you about it.” End of interview. NEVER talk about your personal life during an interview. Positive and enthusiastic is attractive!
Not Pricing Your House to Sell – This is another common error. Have you ever listed your house at the price you wanted despite the fact the comps showed it was worth $100,000 less? If you price yourself out of the market by making unreasonable compensation demands, you better have a huge rainy day fund. The world has changed, and so have compensation packages. Depends on the skill set, however most executive compensation packages have dropped about 25%. I get a lot of this, “Back in 2004 I was making $500,000 a year.” That was then, this is now. Price your house to sell!
Being TOO BUSY to Get a Job – Finding a new career opportunity is hard, painstaking work. You need to make yourself available to Recruiters and hiring managers throughout the interview process. If you don’t, they will drop you like a hot rock. Executive Recruiters has no shortage of candidates. Remember, the Executive Recruiter does not need a job…you do. Make yourself available – never be too busy to get a job!
Don’t Burn your Bridges – Believe it or not, most big cities are more like Mayberry RFD. In Las Vegas, there are two million people, however only two hundred people make most of the decisions. They all know each other; they all exchange referrals. There is no upside to burning bridges. If someone likes you they will tell one friend. If someone does not like you, they will tell ten friends. Relationships trump talent every day of the week. Don’t burn your bridges!
Burning the BIG Bridge – About 80% of $100,000+ jobs come from your network and the other 20% come from Executive Recruiters. If you decide to part ways with a Recruiter, shake hands and walk away friends. Never, ever burn a Recruiter! They all know each other. If you get a reputation as a bad actor, you are setting yourself up for failure. Never burn a Recruiter!
What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate – If you are being represented by an Executive Recruiter, it is critical that you stay in constant contact. If you interview, provide feedback. If the client company contacts you directly, let the Recruiter know. Never end run the process. If you have other irons in the fire, let the Recruiter know so no one gets caught off guard. Most importantly, if you accept a job offer, let the Recruiter know you are off the market AND thank them profusely for the time and effort they expended on your behalf. If there is one thing an Executive Recruiter despises, it’s getting caught off guard because the candidate did not communicate. Maintain constant communication with your Recruiter!
Spamming Your Resume – Distributing your resume to a dozen Recruiters and two dozen online job postings is a dreadful approach. Aside from smelling like desperation, applying to online ads is a 1% proposition. Do you really want to work for a company that advertises a $200,000 job on CareerBuilder for $100? Really? Keep in mind that an Executive Recruiter can only present you to companies where you have not applied in the last 12 months. I routinely have candidates tell me they have applied to most of the companies in Las Vegas. Well…how am I supposed to help you then? Use your personal and professional network to find opportunities. Beyond that, develop a strong relationship with one or two recruiters. Don’t spray your resume!
Confidentiality – All placement work is extremely sensitive in nature. In many cases the incumbent has not been terminated yet. Confidential means CONFIDENTIAL. Don’t discuss it with anyone – not your peers, not your friends. I have dropped a number of candidates that could not keep things on the TQ. Keep sensitive information confidential!
The Lost Art of Gratitude (Bonus Tip) – If you want to stand out from the masses, show gratitude and appreciation every step of the way. With the hiring company and the Recruiter. They will remember you for saying “thank you!”; they will definitely remember if you don’t. The first time it happened to me was a CIO that I placed in a great job. She never said thank you. Not a phone call. Not an email. Five years later when she was out of work I declined to represent her. Yes, I get paid to do this, however a an attitude of gratitude never goes out of style. Be grateful!