Why Getting a Job Is Like Selling a House

My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last twelve years I have owned an Executive Recruiting firm focused on gaming and high tech. Compensation starts at $100,000, my average placement is $200,000 and last year I placed eight executives north of a million dollars. Although my articles are targeted at more senior executives, most of these points apply to all levels. Not here to judge or criticize. The only purpose is to communicate what Executive Recruiters and hiring companies look for in top executive candidates.

The Economy is a Major Factor - House prices go up and down depending on the economy. They peaked in 2008, and then dropped like a rock until 2012. Salaries and hiring follow the same trend. They move up and down with the economy. When Depression 2.0 hit in 2008 I went from 120 job openings to 10 in less than 30 days. Slowly, but surely, hiring has made a comeback, but during a down economy...you can't ignore it.

You Don't Live in the Same House Your Whole Life - Well, most people don't. Maybe 2% of folks live in the same house for a lifetime and the same number work in the same job for 30 years and retire. For the other 98%, they will change jobs multiple times. The company takes care of the company. You need to take care of you. Be a consulting company of one that just happens to be on someone's payroll.

You Need to Listen to Your Real Estate Agent - Your Real Estate Agent is the expert. They know the "comps" and what you can reasonable expect to get for your house. For executive candidates lucky enough to be represented by an Executive Recruiter (they have all the good jobs!), listen to the Recruiters advice. Occasionally I get candidates that want to be the smartest guy in the room. Recruiters know the economy, the hiring market and the compensation ranges. Listen to their counsel.

You Have to Be Reasonable About Price - Most people are emotionally attached to their home and price it way above market value. The Real Estate agent tries to explain that pricing the house too high will result in the house going stale on the market, and no offers. This is probably the number issue with candidates -- they are unreasonable about compensation. For example, I recently received a resume of a Director making $125,000. Market rate for that job is $100,000, so they were already above market rate. The candidate wanted...wait for it...$175,000. That is never going to happen. Which results in the next issue...

If the House Sits on the Market Too Long, Buyers Lose Interest - If a house does not sell the first couple of months it's listed, buyers start to wonder what's wrong. Does the roof leak? Are there cracks in the foundation? For those in transition, keep in mind that companies want to hire gainfully employed executives. The next most attractive candidate is just leaving their current employer. Once a candidate is unemployed for six months, it's a big red flag for hiring companies. Trust me on this! Mostly this situation is related to the candidate being unrealistic about compensation (see above). I know executives that NEVER found another job because they were trying to get back to their glory days. Compensation packages are not what they used to be.

How Badly Do You Want to Sell It? - Of course quite a bit depends on how badly you want to sell your house. Are you in escrow on a new place and have 30 days to get your old house sold? Or are you just "testing the waters" to see how much you can get? If a candidate is gainfully employed, typically they want a better title, increased base salary and/or equity. A bigger and better OPPORTUNITY. And they have the luxury of being gainfully employed and being choosey. For the unemployed, the clock is running. I don't recommend anyone go from one bad employment situation to another, but on the other hand, you don't want to end up unemployed for two years.

Don't Negotiate Your Way Out of a Sell - If someone makes an offer for your house, it's pretty common to negotiate certain things. Who will do repairs; who handles the closing costs. When a candidate gets a job offer, I'm astounded at some of the silly things they do. After interviewing for three months, they want to fight about car allowances and who pays for dry cleaning. What? That makes you look trivial. And occasionally I have someone that agreed to $200,000 prior to interviewing, and then says, "I want $225,000." The worst part is they usually justify it with "I have a big mortgage" or "I have to put my kid through college." Let's be crystal clear: Your expenses and lifestyle have zero to do with your compensation package. And holding the hiring company hostage for more money at the eleventh hour is the worst strategy ever.

Don't Overreach - Many people purchase homes they can't afford, and the first time they have a financial hiccup, they are foreclosed on or bankrupt. The grass is not always greener, and sometimes you need to be exactly where you are. I have seen great Directors flounder as VPs. Great VPs that failed as Presidents. It's sad because they were highly successful in their previous role and company, but lured by big titles and salary, they make a change...and don't make it. Not everyone can be the CEO.

This Father's Day... Drop the Rock (Bonus Tip) - My Dad jumped out of an airplane on D-Day in Normandy at the age of 18. He was my hero, and although he passed away while I was fairly young, he instilled two traits in me above all else - honesty and integrity. When it came to revenge, his advice was, "Son, you don't need to get them back, they will get what's coming to them." Great advice! Not everyone lives by the Lord's prayer (forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those the trespass against us) or John 13:34 (love one another as I have loved you). Everyone is on a different journey. Maybe they are fighting a drug or alcohol addiction. Maybe they recently lost a parent or child. Maybe they are going through a tough divorce. Maybe they hate their job. Regardless... drop the rock! Don't take it personally, and never seek revenge. As Mother Teresa said, "In the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."