Day in the Work Life: The job search

Oscar Montano runs the Executive Search consultancy "Oscar Montano, Inc." His specialty is finding candidates to fill executive positions in Fortune 500 financial companies -- "The American Expresses of the world," as he calls them.

KAI RYSSDAL: Here's a classified ad you'll probably never see. "Wanted: Motivated self-starter to serve as vice president of major financial institution. Must have experience running a Fortune 500 company. Enormous salary and assorted perks." Am I right? Yeah, that's 'cause big companies don't seek out executives, really. They pay experts to do that for them. On this week's "Day in the Work Life," we sit down for an interview with an executive headhunter.

DIANA: Hi, it's Diana

OSCAR MONTANO: Hey Diana, thanks for calling. Listen: I had a conversation with Greg a couple hours ago. He talked to Grand, his boss. They wanted to see what else was out there. So, well I think I said I wanted you to talk to certain banks...

My name is Oscar Montano and I'm the president of Oscar Montano Inc.

One of the things that often occurs is, like doctors, I get approached at parties and saying "Oh, I hear you're a headhunter. I really am thinking about leaving my job and starting a new career, wondering if you can help me." I think the misconception is that executive search firms are placement companies and they're not. I don't try to place people in jobs that know me personally. I work for the company strictly, trying to find the right person for a specific job.

One of the things that any reputable search firm does at the very beginning is to make sure that they communicate to the candidate exactly what the perameters are from a compensation standpoint. Because a search process does take three to six months. You don't want to take someone all the way down the path just to find out that they misunderstood, for example, what the base of salary level is.

Most compensation packages are made up of a base salary, incentives or bonuses and stock. I think some of the more interesting ones are country club memberships, international travel, perks. I remember one time someone wanted to have a stable erected for their horses.

On average, after you take away business expenses, before taxes I make about $200,000 a year.

Interviewing tips, well. There are basic things about interviewing that are pretty standard and that I try to remind candidates to ask questions, be enthusiastic, be engaged in what they're doing and come in with a little bit of knowledge about who the company is and why you want the job. But - I tell candidates to just be themselves. Because the chemistry between the client and the candidate is the most important. So if you're a person who is very enthusiastic and you interview with a company who is very laid-back, they may offer you the most wonderful job you've ever heard of, but if you're not gonna fit in with the culture, you're not gonna last. I don't care how technically capable you are. It's interesting because even the clients are not the best purveyors of culture. Very often, they will fall in love with a candidate because they have a certain skill set or they came from a particular company. And no matter how often you tell them, "Well this person doesn't like to be managed," and this is a company that likes to do a lot of hands-on management, they will still discard what you say and they'll hire the person only to find out later on that it wasn't a match because of the chemistry.

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