THE BLOG

What the Best Executives REALLY Want in a Job

06/23/2015 10:02 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last eleven years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Reviewed 20,000 resumes, represented 1,500 candidates, and successfully placed 600+. Compensation starts at $100,000; last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars. My average placement is $200,000 to $300,000.

So what do top executives REALLY want in a job? Let's start by being crystal clear - it's a SELLERS market. The executive talent market is tight, tight, tight! Tightest I have seen in my 11 years as an Executive Recruiter. All the good executives are gainfully employed and not moving. Here are my picks for the top five qualities an "A" executive looks for during a career search.

Opportunity, NOT Money - My experience is that "B" executives focus on money. They give you a line by line of their compensation right down to the gas allowance and free dry cleaning. Don't get me wrong, compensation is an important component of the overall package, but top executives are laser focused on OPPORTUNITY. Made most of my money on a company that went public and a second one that was acquired by IBM. Can you say equity and deferred compensation?

Compensation Above Market Rate - Although money is not the most important factor, it does pay the rent. Anyone that tells you money is not important...does not have any. Top executives work for companies that pay ABOVE market rate. Not at market rate or below market rate, ABOVE market rate. If you are 20% below the market, you won't be hiring anyone good.

Attractive, Promising Companies with a Future - Let's face it, some companies (and industries!) are rocket ships on the way up, and some companies are on the slippery slope to the bottom. The best executives want to ride the rocket ship, not work for financially distressed, poorly managed companies.

They Value Relationships - Top notch executives value relationships and don't apply to online ads. Who wants to work for a company that spends $100 on a CareerBuilder posting to hire a $250,000 executive? The best jobs come through professional relationships and Executive Recruiters.

Companies With a Good Recruiting/Hiring Process - It's imperative that you treat candidates with respect and courtesy during the interview process. In this TIGHT talent market HR has to be agile and decisive. Top candidates get multiple offers, so if it take you two or three months to make a job offer, you won't be hiring anyone good. And if you treat candidates poorly, it will get around the industry that you are not a good organization to work for. Two years ago I dealt with a client that practiced "death by due diligence" in their hiring process. Dropped them like a hot rock; a year later they were bankrupt.