FREE DOWNLOAD: Top 25 Advice from the Gurus

Mandeep – Senior Headhunter

After two years in Finance with Ernst & Young, Mandeep moved to the headhunting industry. As a Senior Vice President with HVS Executive Search, he launched the Las Vegas office. In 2013, he started his own company, Hospitality Human Capital. You can check out his LinkedIn Profile.

Nicolas: Hi, Mandeep, and thanks a lot for sharing your ‘headhunting’ experience with the readers today. I know you started in finance with E&Y, so you definitely understand the challenges of the industry. 

Mandeep: I do, yes, but, at the end of the day, I liked people more than spreadsheets, so I moved to recruiting!

Nicolas: Same here, same here! I like coaching people a lot more than analyzing P&Ls, so here we are. Let’s start with salary negotiations. Any tips on how candidates can use their headhunter to maximize their salary? 

Mandeep: When I try to fill a position, I always have a budget set by the firm, which can be stretched depending on the profile of the candidate. Before you speak about numbers, talk to your contacts in the industry and find out what someone with your experience is worth. Then, let the firm make the first offer and evaluate if it’s any good. After that, you can start negotiating through the headhunter. 

Nicolas: So far, so good, but I’m in contact with a lot of headhunters through my clients and I’m not sure they’re all your ‘ally’ in the salary negotiation process, right?

Mandeep: You need to gauge whether the headhunter is professional. For me, my interest is to obtain a fair salary for my candidates, because if they find out I’m trying to ‘con’ them, they won’t work with me or recommend me. If you’ve done solid research, you can back up your negotiation with real numbers. 

In any case, don’t try to go round the headhunter’s back, because they’ll find out, and they can pressure the company to hire someone else. There are sleazy headhunters who will make you a lowball offer to please the company and get more business from them, and I saw that happening. But that’s definitely not the majority. If you think that’s happening to you, then work with someone else!

Nicolas: Salary negotiation is a tricky subject, because it’s important, but also because people are very embarrassed when talking about it. 

Mandeep: This is really true. Actually, I got shy and a bit embarrassed when I had to negotiate my own salary, a while ago. I know it’s ridiculous, because I’ve been involved in 500+ salary negotiations, but I guess it’s different when talking about your own money.

Nicolas: I had the same issue a while back, while I was interviewing for a consulting job in finance. At that time, I had probably spent more than 100 hours on the phone, prepping clients up to Managing Director level on their interview skills, so I was probably more experienced than the interviewer! And yet I still got nervous… go figure!

Anyway… is it the same issue for headhunters recruiting for executive level positions?

Mandeep: Executive search firms for CFO or CEO positions are different. Everything is data driven and transparent, so there’s no room for deception. Candidates for those positions have a lot of experience, so you couldn’t fool them anyway… at least, not with all the lawyers looking at the contracts!

Nicolas: Let’s talk about career management. What is the best way to decide between career options once you work in finance?

Mandeep: Look for your potential ‘future self’. Someone who, ten years ago, was in your shoes, someone to whom you can reach out to for advice. Find someone who is successful, who inspires you, and have a chat with that person. They can give you tips that are not in books or forums, because it’s their own career path they are sharing with you!

Nicolas: Some of my clients struggle to create friendly relationships with their contacts. So reaching out to mentors is even more stressful for them. Any tips on that? 

Mandeep: You need to put everything out there for those kind of conversations. If you go trying to impress the mentor to get a job, nothing good will happen… and you’ll be very stressed! Tell the truth and listen. Be honest about where you are and what your different options could be. This will allow you to create a real connection with the person, especially if it’s someone you have something in common with. Same school, same cultural background… In any case, make it informal, and be brutally honest. 

Nicolas: Very well. I have one last ‘bonus’ question for you, about cover letters! Do you think cover letters are useful when applying for a job? 

Mandeep: Personally, I never read cover letters. When I read a good resume, I call the candidate and chat for 20 minutes… that’s my cover letter! But that’s just one man’s opinion; I’m sure some people out there read them!

About Nicolas

Since 2011, I’ve worked with 100+ Investment Banking and Corporate Finance professionals to help them land their dream job. Investment Banking gigs at Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Lazard. Corporate finance jobs at Google, Paypal and much more. From Analyst to Managing Directors, I’ve coached my clients on their networking technique and their LinkedIn profiles; I edited their resumes and cover letters, and grilled them during intensive interview preparation sessions. You may have originally discovered me through my work as an Associate Editor at Mergers & Inquisitions where I’ve been writing for over 200,000 readers. I also give speeches on recruiting and career performance in front of large audiences including Fortune 1000 CEOs, executives and… ambassadors! In 2014, given the amazing results we achieved with my clients I decided to quit my financial analyst job, work full time on coaching and I launched 300 Finance Gurus to dig even deeper into the art of finance recruiting. I am now going to grill 300 Managing Directors, CFOs, VPs, Associates and Analysts as well as headhunters and other coaches to give you the best of the best so you can skyrocket your finance career.