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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 24, 2012 • Issue 12:09:02

Meet The Expert: Rick Slifka

In the early 1990s, while he was serving as the sales and marketing point man for new golf courses operated by the Professional Golfers' Association of America, Rick Slifka worked closely with golf legend Jack Nicklaus at a Nicklaus-designed course being built in Dearborn, Mich. What most impressed Slifka about Nicklaus was his memory and attention to detail.

When Nicklaus visited the Dearborn course under construction one day, it had been five or six months since he had last seen the course. And yet, standing on the first green, Nicklaus noticed discrepancies. Slifka said, "He's looking around and says, 'Wait a second, I'm pretty sure that tree's not supposed to be there. And I know this bunker was supposed to be a lot larger.' I've never forgotten that."

Like Nicklaus, Slifka knows every "tree" and "bunker" in the payments landscape. As a headhunter for the better part of 30 years, he has developed relationships with executives and hiring managers at companies up and down the industry, so he is comfortable placing professionals at every link in that value chain. "I don't care if you're interviewing for a $500,000 President/CEO job or a $30,000 salesperson's job, you get my time, and you get information from me that you will be able to use the rest of your life," he said.

As President and Chief Executive Officer of Exec-Links, Slifka prepares clients with detailed correspondence and coaching, from polishing resumes to preparing for interviews. Experience has taught him to refrain from making assumptions about his clients' interviewing skills. "Never assume that a candidate is prepared, knows how to handle [himself] in an interview, knows how to answer certain questions," he said.

Compete with honesty

The payments job market is active compared with other sectors of the struggling economy, according to Slifka. However, he expects more turbulence ahead - no matter which presidential candidate wins the White House this November.

Thus, he feels merchant level salespeople (MLSs) should take care when thinking of moving on to new opportunities. If an MLS is intent on making a move, he advises, "you better do it sooner than later."

Employers are seeking competent, stable employees, but Slifka said he stresses honesty above all. "I have had candidates fired within weeks of starting their jobs because the background checks came in, and it showed they had worked for one or two companies that weren't on their resumes," he said.

Slifka noted that in all his years in this business, he has never known a company to pursue a former employee over a noncompete clause in an employment contract. "It's just not worth it," he said. "I'm sure that there are some out there that do, but it's very time consuming, and it's expensive, and who wins?"

He added that this is especially true in the current economic climate. "You're going to stand in front of a judge, with 15 percent real unemployment," he said. "The judge is going to look at you, [and say,] 'You're stopping this guy from getting a job? Get the hell out of my courtroom.'"

Slifka stated another fact about the payments game: "If you are a good salesman, or saleswoman, and you have a network or you have a pipeline, and you can show somebody that you can make an impact on their bottom line, they're gonna hire you." end of article

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