The Biggest Mistakes C-Level Candidates Make When Seeking A New Job

After interviewing a string of unprepared senior level executives for various jobs, I started wondering what was going on.”  


Building a relationship with a top notch recruiter should be looked upon as a long-term “investment.”  For sure, the time to build these relationships is when you DON’T need a job.  As a good friend of mine once said, “It’s hard to get insurance when your house is burning down!” The benefits are endless, not to mention those off-grid introductions to hiring execs and boards that may have a need, even though no formal position has been publicly launched.  Hence, with the right timing and connections (aka your recruiter buddy), such opportunities often equate to no competition, less negotiations, and better chemistry with the boss.  Although the author of this article accurate assesses the risk of c-level folks reaching out to recruiters unprepared (outdated resume, inconsistent social media profile, lack of research, etc.), I would add that such deficiencies could be mitigated by building that relationship early on.  A good recruiter can also become a friend and act as that intimate sounding board for helping you design your personal pitch, branding/messaging, and accompanying online support strategy.  Look at it as a down payment on future therapy sessions for figuring out your next move and the most optimal path for success.  Remember, there really isn’t much security in any role with any company – you’re in one day and out the next.  This is a hard reality we’ve seen countless times over and over.  So next time that irritating recruiter floods your email inbox, perhaps a quick, cordial, honey coated response would be a valuable 5-minute use of your time?  Who knows; tomorrow your home may be on fire!

Potential Dangers of Applying Direct (and Bypassing Recruiters)

A lot of thought goes into searching for a new job. And if it doesn’t, it should. Apart from deciphering what career direction you want to take, updating y


Hey, if a recruiter rejects me for an opportunity, maybe I should just go direct, right?  This blog posting by Phoebe Spinks hints at a frequently asked question: “Is the recruiter my friend or foe?”  I’ll start off by unequivocally stating:  “Yes, we are ALWAYS a friend, always looking to help, and always willing to keep an open door (well, almost always . . . more on that to come).  Remember, retained search firms, like mine, are conducting exclusive searches for a reason – the client is PAYING US to take on the burden of the search (time, prep, research, resume spam, and so forth) out of his/her hands.  We are provided a level of information about the need, company, culture, chemistry, and other critical attributes that no interested candidate could ever obtain independently.  So if WE cannot present a particular candidate, it’s because that person is either significantly off-target with the requirements or our existing bench is far more qualified.  Hence, if a candidate doesn’t make muster with us, then he/she almost certainly will not with the client.  On the other hand, working with a recruiter can provide you valuable non-public insights about the opportunity, help you change your resume and other positioning docs to be in better alignment, and even sell you to the client.  All of that stacks the deck far far better than the rogue approach of trying to go direct.  However, diverting the recruiter’s process – when discovered (and it’s usually discovered) – pretty much guarantees a lost valuable relationship.  Such folks may find themselves black listed not only to future public opportunities but non-publically available ones as well . . . while permanently cutting ties with a “future coach” who spends 24/7/365 in the field.  It’s the candidate’s call, but perhaps the best approach for future success is to simply ask the recruiter for an honest assessment of where he or she fell short, and then just move on to the next opportunity.  Consider this:  A bridge not burned is one you can still cross!

How to Handle Candidates’ Salary Questions at Every Hiring Stage

Talking about compensation can be awkward.  The key is to shelve the conversation until both parties are excited about the opportunity. 


Steering the conversation away from compensation – always a fun challenge. Lou Adler provides some good “down in the weeds” responses for handling early compensation deal killers.  As a C-level executive search firm, we try to very quickly just remove the issue altogether by simple saying that “the CEO and Board are willing to put together the right package for the right candidate.”  As recruiters, we want to find out what key drivers would motivate a candidate to consider something new.  Money is important, but that’s not the vision that will ignite the imagination of a candidate.  If you can help the candidate envision their “new life” (and an actual day in that new life), then a deal could be in the works.  Remember, there’s a reason why you smell those fresh baked cookies when you step into the kitchen of that prospective model home for sale!