The Godfather's Career Guide: What to do if you get whacked
May 15, 2008
The Godfather of Las Vegas is in the house! This month we discuss a very timely topic: executive career transition. Translation: what to do if you get terminated, fired, laid off or RIFed (reduction in force). This will be a three-part series. This month, we focus on how to find a new job, in June we’ll look at resumes, and July will conclude with interview tips.
You're fired!So you were one of the layoffs on the Strip? But unlike those property level line workers, you were a senior level executive at $200,000 a year. How could they do this to you? You are important … indispensible! On a recent Monday morning at 7 a.m., my phone started ringing off the hook. VP and director level executives were just caught in one of the largest mass management layoffs in Las Vegas history. Every person that called had one thing in common: they were shocked, stunned and surprised. Not a single one could understand how this could happen to them. They were indispensible. Apparently not. Let me give you a Godfather theorem.
The company is all about the companyThat is neither good nor bad; it’s just business. Sorry if that offends you, but the company always takes care of the company. The company will do whatever is necessary to bring numbers in line with Wall Street expectations. All those people at the top are working for “deferred compensation.” In other words, most of their pay is in stock options. They only make money if the stock goes up. If this is news to you, then wake up and smell the coffee. You are not indispensible. America has become a “free agent nation.” Let me give you another huge tip.
Don't define your identity through your jobThe average executive career is four years. The average “C” Level career is two years. A full 50 percent of people are unhappy with their current job, and 75 percent would change jobs if given a chance. The number one complaint of men in their 50s? “I wish I had spent more time with my family.” Do you really think any of your employees will be showing up at your death bed? It is a job; it is not your purpose.
Help wantedListen carefully: There are always jobs for talented people. Period. I am in the talent business, and sometimes there are even jobs for less-than-talented people. You know a few of those, right? So, here comes the best career advice of all time.
Dig the well before you need a drinkIf you just got fired, joining LinkedIn and calling all the people you ignored the last two years will not work. No one will call you back. Don’t believe me? Try it. About 95 percent of the people in this world will only call you back when they need something, and I have news for you: The fact you got fired is not a priority in their life. Executive placement people are constantly amazed at this business model. If you did not return our calls the last five years, and did not stay in touch, what makes you think we want to represent you for a $300,000 job? Failure to return phone calls and e-mail messages is a character flaw in my book, and I’m blessed to pick only the candidates I am comfortable representing. Unless you built those bridges when you were employed, you will find yourself in a real spot when you are unemployed.
So, the number one question I get is, “How do I get back in the game?” Approximately 80 percent of all jobs are filled through personal relationships. Your friends and family know you the best, so they are the best to vouch for you. Let everyone know you are looking for a new career opportunity. For the $75,000 and under crowd, scan the job boards: CareerBuilder, Monster, Yahoo, all the corporate sites. It’s a numbers game, but you actually have a pretty good shot at an interview. For my clients, the $100,000+ crowd works exclusively through an executive talent agent. We get paid big dollars to identify the top candidates, and we only work for the best companies in town.
We’ll conclude this article with a few Godfather “tried and true” business life lessons. Follow these and you will be in the top 5 percent of the candidates, and someone I would love to personally represent!
Honor thy commitmentsWhen you honor your commitments, you build relationships, enhance credibility and confirm your integrity. When you don’t, you are perceived as unreliable and unattractive. Recently I had an executive cancel three times – twice for events and once for an appointment. Yes, sometimes emergencies come up. In this specific case, I’m seeing a pattern. Moliere said, “Men are alike in their promises. It is only in their deeds that they differ.” Want to be successful? Successful executives honor their commitments!
Don't give up!This is the best advice my dad ever gave me. He was a paratrooper in the war, and participated in D-Day at Normandy. Not a good place to throw in the towel. He was dropped on the wrong side of the enemy lines, and it took him days to catch up to the good guys. That, my friends, is perseverance. C.S. Lewis states, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Even if ten people tell you no, the next one may say yes. Successful executives don’t ever give up.
Life is a savings accountYou have to make deposits before you can make withdrawals. Does the bank let you withdraw $1,000 when you have a balance of $500? I am constantly amazed at the people that call me to ask for free hotel rooms and free tickets. First, friends don’t ask friends for free stuff. Secondly, all of the major casinos in Las Vegas are my clients, and last time I looked, they are all for profit. I can’t ask my clients for free stuff. Selling hotel rooms and tickets is how they make a living. Successful executives make deposits before they ask for withdrawals.
Follow up and follow throughIf you say “let’s do lunch,” then you actually need to do lunch. One of the primary perceptions people have of you is whether you follow up and follow through on your commitments. If you volunteer a referral or introduction, be sure to follow through on that referral. Executives that don’t follow up and follow through are perceived as lacking character and integrity. Successful executives follow up and follow through!
Pay it forwardIf you saw the movie, you understand the premise. If someone does you a favor, you are now obligated to help three people in your life. Some people call this karma. As I have loved you, so must you love one another: one of the most powerful statements of all time. The best part is that if you are focused on helping others, you will not have time to worry about your own problems, or complain about what you don’t have. Successful executives pay it forward!
Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotations from Martin Luther King Jr.: “If a man called a street cleaner, he should sweep the streets as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts in heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lives a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”
Mark Wayman is “The Godfather of Las Vegas.” He owns The Foundation, an executive talent agency in Las Vegas specializing in gaming/casino and technology executives. His passions are charity, horse racing and private networking events. He can be reached at email@example.com. Find out more at www.godfatherlv.com.