The Morgan Samuels Perspective

Should I Take an Executive Recruiter's Call?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Mon, Oct 31, 2016


The short answer, YES! As Lynn Wu, Principal at Morgan Samuels, acknowledges, when you are happy with your current job, you might feel reluctant to take an executive recruiter’s call—but you shouldn’t be.  Recruiters are incredible assets to professionals.  In fact, executive recruiters provide potential candidates with tangible benefits that go far beyond the actual role being discussed during a recruiting call.  So, if you are a professional who is not actively looking, why should you take a call from an executive search firm?

  1. It’s the Best Time to Consider Opportunities.  The time to consider new opportunities is not when you are hunting for a job. Instead, as a professional, you should evaluate your career opportunities when you have been doing well in your current organization.  It is at this time that you are the most marketable, and an outside opportunity may provide you the opportunity to leverage your current success for a career-defining position that will take you to the next level.  Being happy in your current role allows you to evaluate opportunities objectively.  The pressure is off.  And oftentimes, the fact that you are not looking for a new role makes you an even more attractive candidate. If the opportunity you are evaluating is not an attractive next step for you, you're not obligated to move forward.
  2. It’s a Great Networking Opportunity.  Networking at the executive level is vital for future career success.  When you go through the recruiting process with an elite executive search firm like Morgan Samuels, we take the time to interview you in depth and to understand what’s truly important to you.  Even if you aren’t the right fit for the current role being discussed, you may be the perfect fit for a future search.  In addition, as you learn more about the opportunity through interviewing with the client, that also represents a valuable networking opportunity with one or more senior executives at another firm.  In the Engineering & Construction industry, for example, it is not uncommon to see joint ventures and other partnerships come out of what was initially an interview.  In other cases, a candidate might end up being considered for a different opportunity within the same organization.  We have even seen a client company create a position for a candidate who doesn't quite fit the open role, but whose skills, talents, experience and cultural fit are too valuable to pass up. Even if you decide that the open position isn’t the right fit for you or the client moves forward with another candidate instead, it is still time well spent to have met top executives in your industry.   
  3. It’s the Perfect Time to Pay It Forward and Provide a Referral.  Another reason to take a search firm's call, even if you are satisfied in your current position, is that recruiters are always sincerely appreciative of referrals.  This starts a relationship between you and the recruiter (see #5 below for why that is important). At Morgan Samuels, we genuinely value and foster our relationships with candidates and sources as much as with clients. The people being referred -- your colleagues -- will also be grateful.  This fosters mutually beneficial business relationships, and well… it’s just good karma.
  4. Recruiters Are Subject Matter Experts.  Executive recruiters are excellent resources and subject matter experts about the industries they recruit for.  They have a good understanding of current compensation rates, market trends, key insights, etc.  They are industry experts in their chosen specialty.  You should take advantage of this fact.  Even if you aren’t actively seeking a new position, perhaps taking the call from that recruiter will provide you with important information on growing business trends in your area of specialty.  Recruiters are goodcontacts to have and can also provide valuable insights to help further your career.  In addition to career guidance, they can provide interview and resume feedback, and generally help you understand how you are being perceived in the marketplace.
  5. In This Economy, It’s Important to Know Recruiters.  While the economy has improved substantially, it is not what it used to be - especially for job seekers.  Now more than ever, it is critical for an executive to be on a first-name basis with a competent and knowledgeable recruiter.  You should always be building your network, in any case.  Indeed, you should know recruiters before you have to use them.  Morgan Samuels keeps in touch with our candidates over decades and we truly value the long-term relationships we’re able to establish and maintain with our candidates over the years. 


Final Words of Advice: 

  1. Return the recruiter’s call promptly.
  2. Be up front with the recruiter about your capabilities, credentials, and current compensation package.
  3. Be open to sending your resume to the recruiter for consideration for future opportunities even if the role being discussed is not a fit.  Having your resume on file enables you to be more quickly considered for new searches that launch in the future, since search firms will check their internal database and networks first.  You may also want to keep abreast of current open searches at a firm you have connected with.  That way, when you see a role that interests you, you can reach out to the recruiter you know to get the scoop and throw your hat into the ring. Morgan Samuels' list of active engagements can be viewed by clicking here.
  4. Be open-minded to exploring an opportunity even if the location is not ideal.  There are so few senior-level positions the higher up you go in your career, that to take your career to the next level, it is important to be flexible when it comes to location.
  5. Keep in mind that, even if you don't end up taking the position, going through the recruiting and interviewing process in and of itself is valuable, from the standpoint of deepening yourrelationship with the executive search firm, and networking with the client company, as well as sharpening your interviewing skills and refining your resume.


Lynn Wu, Principal

To learn how you can work with Lynn or any of our recruiting professionals 

on finding your next great recruit, visit us here today. 


For career guidance as well as Morgan Samuels’ candidate tools and resources, click here.


Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, executive search firms, compensation, executive search, executive search consultants, resume tips, interview tips, talent

The Compensation Question: To Share or Not to Share?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Oct 12, 2016


 That icon of etiquette, Emily Post, once said a very well-bred person never speaks of money except during business dealings.  Times change, etiquette evolves, but even now people are skittish about the dreaded Compensation Conversation.  It becomes the elephant in the room – the monster under the bed – but it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, when it comes to retained executive search, it is a two-minute conversation that should be viewed as an opportunity to show not what you make, but what you’re made of.

Senior Client Partner Alison Woodhead and Director, Recruiting Ali Brainard two of Morgan Samuels' most experienced recruiters point out that the compensation question is only one data point.  It’s analyzed with a whole host of other factors to determine the candidate’s fit.  “We want to get an understanding of the candidate’s compensation just to get an idea of their experience and expectations, and to assess opportunities,” Brainard said.  “If they’re way over or under the mark we don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

“Be confident about your value and what you bring to the table.” - Alison Woodhead

That being said, there may be a huge range the client is willing to pay for the best talent, and someone below the mark could reap the benefits.  Woodhead has seen up to 75 percent increases in compensation, for example.  And Brainard points out that if a candidate is being paid way above or below the market, it can mean any number of things.  Someone getting three or four times market rates may be extraordinary, but someone way below the mark may be just as talented. Perhaps there are other variables, like cost of living, staying with one company too long, or working at a start-up where the compensation structure is different.  In that case, they just need the right opportunity to take the next step up.

AlisonWoodhead.jpgSome people believe that if they share their compensation right off the bat, they lose bargaining power in the negotiation stage.  But a candidate for a senior executive position isn’t a dime a dozen.  He or she has a very unique set of qualifications, and clients will pay for top talent.  In fact, Brainard and Woodhead have found that the strongest candidates, people who have been successful in their career, don't think twice about throwing out that number.

“When you’re exploring an opportunity, your focus as a candidate needs to be on your fit with the opportunity and what you bring to the table,” says Woodhead.  “If you’re too focused on compensation, either hiding your compensation or positioning yourself for a good negotiation later on down the road, you’re going to come off as insecure.  You also waste time and energy too early in the process.  The recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t even know if you’re valuable yet, so why would they spend time thinking about what to pay you?”

Senior Client Partner Alison Woodhead

AliBrainard.jpgWhat people don’t realize is that a recruiter can be a treasure trove of information and data.  They can tell a candidate if they really are undercompensated compared to their peers, and a candidate should feel comfortable asking that question.  It’s not only more than acceptable; it shows honesty, transparency, and trust in the recruiter.

So remember, when it comes to negotiation the most critical thing is to come across as capable and confident.  Regardless of what you’re making today, have a clear sense of your worth, and trust that the people on the other side of the table will see that value.  Companies are willing to pay for that.  VISIT US HERE!

Director, Recruiting Ali Brainard 

Topics: morgan samuels, retained search firms, compensation, executive search, talent

Executive Leadership - CEO Pay & What It Means for Your Company

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, May 2, 2013

Executive compensation has been a hot-button political issue since the 2008 economic collapse, the resulting bailouts, and following that, the Occupy Wall Street movement. You can find varied and conflicting viewpoints on income inequality and its impact on political and economic systems. But as a human capital consulting firm, the question for us is whether the methods for establishing CEO pay are effective for companies.

A new study from the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance offers some interesting insights and caused a bit of a stir. (It's been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Business Review.)

The authors argue that CEO compensation models are flawed. The basic system is that companies want to pay their chief executive above the average in their market -- both to draw the best talent in the market and to signal to their investors and competition that their talent is better than the rest. The effect is that the average compensation keeps increasing, faster than inflation, profits and worker's wages.

The supporters of ever-escalating pay argue that handsome compensation packages are necessary to keep CEOs from straying to greener pastures at other companies. But new research by a University of Delaware professor and student suggests fears of CEOs jumping ship are fiction.... [Researchers] compiled data on the CEOs of 1,500 companies over the last 30 years. What they found was surprising: Top executives almost never leave for other companies. Among the thousands of CEOs included in the study, only 27 left for another position, and most failed in their new positions.

You can read the whole study here.

There are some tidbits in there that we at Morgan Samuels have known for a while, both intuitively and from experience. You can't plug and play different executives and hope their profits come along with them to their new office. Fit and culture matter significantly. (It's something we place a big emphasis on with our executive search practice.) So why offer big compensation packages? This might seem obvious, but just because your competition shouldn't steal your rockstar executive doesn't mean they won't. You can't blame the executive for taking the better deal. And even if they aren't likely to leave, morale is important, even among high-powered executives. You don't just want your leadership in place, you want them happy.

But on the flip side, part of delivering maximum value to shareholders is ensuring they aren't overpaying for any commodity, and that includes human capital. So what's the solution?

Morgan Samuels is of the view that almost any problem can be eliminated or ameliorated with better information. Which is why one of the human capital consulting services we focus on is market intelligence. We like to know who in our target market is earning what compensation, how they're performing, who is happy in their jobs, and who is looking to move. Knowing all this gives our clients a leg up. It gets them closer to finding that perfect dollar amount where executives are excited to come to work and shareholders are happy with the balance sheet.

Topics: executive recruiters, leadership, human capital consultants, retained executive search firm, compensation, executive search, ceo pay

"Show Me the Money" Is Not Always the Answer

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Thu, Jul 5, 2012

Here’s a sticky situation for an executive recruiter: you’ve attracted an all-star who is a great fit for a role.  They’ve engaged with you, so you know you’ve piqued their interest, but they’re not quite convinced.  You need something besides compensation to bring them on board.  Luckily, there are a lot of other tools in your kit.

Compensation is always a big factor when an executive is exploring a move, but the right executives view it as only a piece of the pie when considering whether to make a move from their current role.  When faced with a situation where a client may not be able to give the perfect candidate a big jump in their current compensation, Mary Lees, senior consultant at executive search firm Morgan Samuels, asks herself a couple of key questions about a great candidate: “What are the driving factors making this person look at a new opportunity?  Are they unhappy in their current role?  Have they hit a plateau?  What is it about the new role that spiked their interest?”

The answers are all about vision.  That is, how people envision themselves and their future.

Think strategically

This isn’t about the recruiter’s strategy, but about the strategic influence the candidate might have in their new role.  Again, Lees throws out questions that can change a candidate’s whole perspective: “Can they develop the growth strategies for the new organization?  Say it’s marketing…Could they develop the go-to-market strategies for a new product?  Is this an opportunity to be a key driver of the company’s new initiatives?” If so, that’s an appealing picture.

Then there’s the question of influence and recognition.  Someone who is currently two or three steps away from the most senior levels of the organization, for example, would be very attracted by the chance to interface directly with the CEO or board.  Interfacing at high levels means being more influential within a company, and being influential leads to a lot more recognition—not just internally, but in the market.  And recognition is worth more than money in a lot of cases, especially if a candidate is bogged down.  No one envisions themselves as a cog.

Synergistically speaking

Here’s another question you should ask: how much synergy does someone have with their potential new boss and team versus their old?

Blog QuoteLees says, “Connection between parties is important.  I’ve seen people leave their roles for less money because they felt like they could do some amazing things with their potential new boss.”  So consider the company culture.  An entrepreneurial culture versus a static, flat one can be pretty exciting, and someone who’s languishing often just needs a fresh start in a culture they see as a better fit.

Location, location, location.

“It’s interesting for me to see how location can make a new role extremely attractive,” Lees says.  “Maybe it’s about family members, or this person grew up in the Midwest and wants to get back there, or they’ve always seen themselves ending up in a certain area.” There’s that vision thing again.  (Although a low cost of living doesn’t hurt.)

Low compensation can also be made up for by great benefits, including vacation, insurance, tuition reimbursement and retirement packages.  Or it might be balanced by more promotion opportunities and faster career advancement.  So look far beyond that one number, because for people with vision those non-financial incentives can go a very long way.

Topics: top executive search firm, morgan samuels, compensation