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The Godfather on crummy companies

aka why top talent is passing your company by: Mark Wayman

My name is Mark Wayman and for the last ten years my day job has been recruiting high end talent for the gaming/casino and high tech industries. Placed 600+ executives, starting Director level executives at $100,000+, and my average placement is VP or “C” level executives at $200,000.

The Executive Recruiting business funds my true passion – charity and community. A portion of my revenues is donated to a dozen local and national charity organizations, including Make-A-Wish, Opportunity Village and Olive Crest. For more information check out www.godfatherlv.com.

Originally published July 2014, my last several articles focused on tips and advice for executive candidates. Today we switch from the “sell” side (candidates) to the “buy” side (hiring companies). Ever wonder why certain companies get all the best management talent? Or why other companies can only attract mediocre talent, and in many cases, go out of business? Based on my ten years of executive recruiting, here are a few of the attributes that separate the great companies from the crummy companies. PEOPLE power the engine and are the difference between success and failure. Here we go!

Death by Due Diligence – Also known as “analysis paralysis”, the company can’t get out its own way and make a hiring decision. Recently a client called me to work on a VP search. Queued up three excellent candidates. After six weeks and three sets of interviews, the hiring manager told me, “We want to have them fly across the country and interview a fourth time.” My lead candidate took a job down the street…at their competitor! This is a REALLY important point! Not only did they not get the “A” candidate, he went to their competitor. I pulled my other two candidates. If it takes you three months and four interviews to make a decision, you won’t be hiring anyone good. This is a “talent scarcity” market, and “A” players get multiple other job offers.

Tyre Kickers – There are companies that insist on having a dozen candidates interview for every position. Notice I did not say “qualified candidates”. At the very senior level, you would be lucky to get three strong candidates. Sometimes you only get one. There is a reason we call them “A” players – they are the top 10%, all gainfully employed and rarely in the job market. While the crummy company is trying to assemble a full slate of candidates, the “A” candidate they wanted already took a job offer.

Dude, Your Hiring Process is Broken – HR is not communicating with the hiring manager (and vice versa), the hiring manager is “too busy” to interview the candidate, there are panel interviews that never get consensus and “personality tests” that pretty much disqualify everyone. Did I miss anything? Am I right? The hiring process should never be more than four weeks, and I have clients that get it done in two weeks. If you treat candidates poorly during the interview process they are going to question whether your company is a good place to work.

Poor Company Culture aka The Daily Floggings – You may be the biggest in your industry and/or you may pay the most; however, if you treat employees like dirt, you will be branded as a crummy company. Big cities can be like Mayberry RFD – everyone knows which companies treat their employees poorly. On the other hand, I had a CEO ask me two excellent questions the other day. “How is our culture viewed from the outside world; are we seen as a desirable place to work?” and “What are we doing wrong from a hiring perspective? How can we improve the process?” Really good questions!

What we Have Here is a Failure to Communicate – If a candidate invests time and effort to interview with your company, the least you can do is provide closure. Feedback would be even better, but at least the professional courtesy of a simple, “Thank you; however, we have another candidate that is a closer fit for our role.” If you treat candidates poorly or unprofessionally, they will remember you to their friends…and not in a good way.

Refusing to Pay Market Compensation Rates – In a bad economy you can do what you like and still get a thundering herd of candidates. When the market turns positive, though, compensation dictates who gets the “A” players. This is especially true with high tech executives. Companies paying well above market rate get the best talent; companies paying well below market rate get the unemployed and unemployable. Anyone that tells you money does not matter…does not have any.

Contracts – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Don’t make the contract process arduous, complicated and lengthy. We are not negotiating an aerospace missile contract. One client made so many redlines to my contract I was concerned the Attorney fees would be more than my commission. On the other hand, a new client was referred to me last week. The HR executive had a job description, knew the salary compendium and clearly articulated her business requirements. When I asked about a contract she said, “Only if you need one.” I responded, “Never sued anyone, never been sued. I’ll send you a great candidate, you send me a cheque.”

Remember What Your Mother Taught You: Play Nice – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Most human resources executives are VERY good. I have a few clients where the HR person should probably be the CEO. That stated, a few HR executives are territorial and feel recruiting is THEIR job. Rather than treat Executive Recruiters like a trusted advisor, they treat them like a vendor. If you don’t believe in Executive Recruiters, that’s fine…but play nice.

No Rabbit Holes Please – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Recently a company spent two weeks getting our contract completed, then said “Go, go, go!” So I dropped everything to work on the search, and you guessed it, they cancelled the search halfway through. I had 20 hours invested that I won’t get paid for. And this was the second time they did that to me, but make no mistake, it will be the last time. If you want to promote internally, awesome! Completely support that approach, but make those decisions PRIOR to engaging an Executive Recruiter. No rabbit holes please!

Shake Hands and Part Friends – This is specific to working with Executive Recruiters. Never alienate an Executive Recruiter. Three good reasons. First, YOU will need their help when you get terminated and need a job. Had a hundred guys tell me, “That will never happen to me”….then it did. One day you are family and the next day you are UNEMPLOYED. Second, you don’t want Executive Recruiters warning good candidates off your company. A VP, HR once emailed me his concerns that I was “advising candidates not to apply to their company.” Candidates seek my counsel all day, every day. If a company has a toxic environment, I’m not going to give them two thumbs up. Third, do you really want an Executive Recruiter making it their mission to poach your best employees? There is no value in burning bridges. Just shake hands and part friends.