01/21/2015 12:04 pm ET Updated Mar 23, 2015

The Great Million-Dollar Candidate: Part 1

My name is Mark Wayman, and my 15 minutes of fame was two software companies.

One went public on the NASDAQ and the other (counter-terrorism software) was acquired by IBM. For the last 10 years I have owned an executive recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000, and last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars.

A question that comes up frequently is, "What makes a great million dollar candidate?" So here are three attributes that hiring companies and Executive Recruiters look for in "A" (the best) candidates.

Integrity -- As one CEO profoundly stated, "Show me executives of integrity. Without integrity, I don't care how talented or smart they are." Translated, be honest and up front about your education, experience, recent compensation... everything! For hiring companies and executive recruiters, INTEGRITY is the number one attribute. Placed a candidate several years ago, and when we checked on his last compensation package, it was much lower than he disclosed. Not good. Honesty is the best policy. Right about now you are saying, "Hard to believe in a million dollar executive." I completely agree with you, however probably have this issue a dozen times a year.

Confidentiality -- This one boggles my mind. I tell candidates a position is CONFIDENTIAL and send them a PDF of "candidate etiquette" that clearly states, "If you don't keep all information 100 percent confidential, you will be removed from consideration." Yet it's an issue over and over. In many cases the incumbent has not been terminated yet, and the last thing the hiring company needs if for that person to hear about it through the grapevine. Most candidates that violate confidentiality figure it's no big deal because they will never talk to the hiring company or Executive Recruiter again. But always remember what Walt Disney said, "It's a small, small world." Keep your trap shut!

Focus on Opportunity -- If you start out asking about the bonus, benefits and if they will cover dry cleaning, you are setting yourself up for failure. YES, compensation is important. Anyone that tells you money is not important... does not have any. That stated, top executives focus on OPPORTUNITY. Is the company financially stable? Is there upward mobility? Is their skill set aligned with the need? Are they a strong cultural fit. These questions are far more important than whether you get a car allowance. Two side notes. First, if you are interviewing for a million dollar job, you DO want to discuss the base salary up front to ensure you are "in range." I know a guy that interviewed multiple times, then received an offer below his expectation. I asked him, "So let me get this straight, you flew across the United States to interview and never asked what the job paid?" Second, don't think you are going to interview for something at $200,000, then when you get the offer say, "I want $250,000." Really bad idea. Kind of goes back to the issue of integrity. If you agreed to $200,000 up front, that is what you get. Had a candidate do this a few years back. Hiring company dropped him like a hot rock and I'm lucky they did not bury me in a hole in the desert.