The Rules of the $180k + Game and How to Win

I was speaking recently with a CEO who interacts with 100+ C Suite and Senior Management executives every month and she shared the frustration that they face in dealing with recruiters. The question was, why is it that when a senior leader who has a brilliant profile with great brands, a very well written resume, a perfect LinkedIn profile, reaches out to a recruiter, more often than not they don’t ever hear back?

Yes, the truth is that there are many recruiters out there that won’t call you back or even respond to your email. There are reasons for that, and they have a lot to do with the disconnection between (1) the expectations and actions of the senior professionals, and (2) how good recruiters operate.

A very small percentage of $180k + roles are offered to applicants where they DO NOT have a pre-existing relationship with the recruiter

Let’s look at the thought process of a senior professional. In the past, they’ve had great success in getting promotions or using job boards such as to get a new job. The process was often seamless and they had multiple offers in their hand. But once they start to get into the $180k + salary bracket, the game becomes very different. What got you success in the past, doesn’t work. The stakes are higher and that makes getting access to great opportunities, more difficult. The easiest analogy that I can share is that of an intimate relationship. If you’re looking for a short term relation, you log onto an app and swipe left or right. However, if you are seeking a life partner, now, generally speaking, that is a very different process. Whenever there is a more at stake, more effort has to be put in to get things right. It’s all about the right effort not “more” effort. Securing a $180k + position works with similar rules.

So, if you are scratching your head and are possibly frustrated with why you are unable to crack through the “recruiter” wall, know that there are only 2 reasons why this is happening:

A. You are not taking responsibility for the situation that you are in;


B. You don’t understand the principals and rules of securing senior management and C-suite roles.

The longer you spend in “blame” or “frustration” mode, the more energy you expel on fueling the problem in your mind. Stop and say, “it is what it is and it’s okay”. Only once you have done that you can move into a place of creativity and start opening up to ideas and actions that will bring you closer to a solution.


So, here are some fundamental principals’ that if applied well, will help you get the right opportunity quicker:


1. Get Clear and Committed

I cannot emphasise how fundamental this is. Commitment breeds commitment. Until and unless you are clear and committed to what you want, don’t expect to be successful in getting engagement from credible recruiters. Some people may roll their eyes when they read this, but the truth is that a recruiters’ primary focus and responsibility is to successfully fill a vacancy. If they sense that you are not committed, that may explain why you may not have their attention. If you need advice from a credible recruiter, perhaps seek an introduction through a credible contact.

2. Be clear on your Brand

I’ve written another article which explains why this is important. If you are not clear on your brand, then this will show in your confidence and presentation when dealing with a recruiter.

3. Think of yourself as if you were a Business

I often hear people say, “I don’t want to connect with too many recruiters and just work with 1 or 2”. Imagine if KPMG or PwC also did the same and said that they would prospect a small handful of potential clients. How successful would they be in securing new business? You have to think of your career and job search from the same lens. There are 100’s of recruiters in any given corporate function. How on earth can 1 or 2 recruiters have access to all available and suitable opportunities for you? The reality is that you are hesitant to connect with more recruiters because you are fearful about something else. Address that fear first so that you start operating more rationally.

Remember, the basic economic principals, if you are not paying the recruiter, how can you expect them to be pounding the pavement every-day to look for opportunities for you? I am not condoning that you pay recruiters but merely wanting to get you to think rationally and logically.

If you limit yourself to 1 or 2 recruiters only you are limiting your opportunities.

4. Invest in recruiter relationships

Relationships take time to build hence you have to always have to plant the seeds in advance and fertilise regularly. Complacency is the biggest mistake that I have observed. If you are applying for a role through seek via a recruiter and the recruiter does not know you, your chances of being successful at winning that opportunity is less than 10%.

Once you get committed to taking your career successes to the next level, you will very quickly learn that without good recruiters you won’t get access to great opportunities.

And, good recruiters value their brand. This means that if you are not known to them, then you will struggle to get their attention. Unfortunately, if you have not invested in building robust relationships with credible recruiters then this may stretch your search out to over 1 year OR you may need to adjust your expectations of what role/organisation you can secure.


4 Signs that you are dealing with a good recruiter:


1. Communication

You hear back within 48 hours on any enquiry other than an application. The more direct you are with your line of enquiry, the quicker you will hear back. Keep in mind that the quality of your communication/question will determine how quickly you will hear back. Communicate with respect and make it easy for the recruiter to respond.

2. Integrity

They stick to their word. For example, if they promised feedback by Friday, you will hear by Friday. Even if the message is, “I have no news”.

3. They invest in ensuring you will succeed

There are recruiters that will send you in for interviews with nothing more than a 2 min conversation. Then there are recruiters that will help you tailor your messaging, submit a dashboard analysis to highlight your fit, and will spend 30 – 45 minutes with you in a tailored interview preparation session.

4. Feedback

This is specific and raw.

Your career is often the next most important thing after your health and family. Knowing the rules of the game will give you back the control that you deserve.

If you’re looking for guidance and support in your career, our team are here to support you at any stage. Contact us today and let us support you on your journey.