Does your executive job search strategic game plan need re-tooling?
Many of my C-suite clients are baffled by how to find a job today. They don’t know what to do, what not to do, what to do first, and how to focus their efforts.
So much has changed since the last time they looked for a job because the world of executive job search has changed. The rise of social media, the state of the economy, and personal branding all deeply impact landing a C-level job today.
What worked for my clients just a few years ago, may not be a reliable approach today. In the past, they alerted a few select recruiters, or were found by recruiters, or a job just fell into their laps – easily sliding into a new opportunity. They may not be in demand in the same way now.
Recruiters are feeling the same pinch as the rest of us. With fewer assignments coming their way, it could take a while for them to make a match for you. Keep your toe in the water with recruiters, but don’t put all your eggs in that one basket.
So what’s a high-performance, top executive to do these days to land a great job? Take a proactive diverse approach, embracing the new Job Search 2.0 and networking strategies. It’s important, too, to position yourself as someone who understands the current Internet-driven world of work and communications.
Here my 6 essential executive job search strategies with suggestions on how to work them:
1. Personal branding to differentiate and strategically position you.
There are so many misconceptions about what personal branding is and what it can do for you. For an understanding of the whole picture, read 10 Steps to Uncovering and Building Your Authentic Personal Brand.
In a nutshell, your brand is all about your reputation and what is authentically “you” – the passions, key personality traits, core strengths, and motivated skills everyone knows you for and relies on you to always deliver.
Incorporating all these components, you’ll create a crystal clear personal brand statement, unique to you, that differentiates your promise of value from your peers and resonates with your target audience. Another benefit of branding is that it generates chemistry for you and indicates good fit to decision makers assessing whether to hire you or do business with you.
With an understanding of your brand reputation and your personal brand statement in hand, you’re ready to move on to creating your branded personal marketing materials and positioning your unique promise of value online and offline.
2. Portfolio of career marketing communications for your personal brand toolkit.
♦ An executive resume, career bio, covering letter or email message, and reference dossier are must-haves. They should be formatted for online and offline use.
♦ Create a brand-charged e-mail signature with a concise, compelling tagline. See Power Up Your Email Signature With Personal Branding.
♦ Because your resume should be no longer than 2 pages and, like most C-level executives, you have many career success stories and achievements that evidence their brand value. You’ll need various supporting documents.
These may be a Leadership Initiatives Profile, Achievement Summary, One-page Networking Resume, Performance Milestones, M&A Chronology, Product Launch Chronology, Project Management Highlights, Technology Skills, Training & Certifications, Speaking Presentations, Publications, Patents, Commitment to Community Service, etc. Name the document to fit the content and target.
3. LinkedIn profile and strategy – find and be found by decision makers searching for top talent.
In my Q&A with Jason Alba, LinkedIn expert and author of “I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???”, he said:
If you do NOTHING else, you need to have a LinkedIn Profile and strategy … Your competition (probably younger) is participating in social environments like LinkedIn, and many recruiters depend on LinkedIn to find talent. If you aren’t there, you aren’t being found, but your competition is.
Also, doesn’t it make sense to understand the current landscape? Not having a LinkedIn profile or strategy kind of tells me you don’t really care about the current landscape … so what other current things are you going to be behind on?
♦ Create a branded profile and optimize it for hiring decision makers to find you when they’re searching for top talent.
♦ Leverage all that LinkedIn offers to tap into the hidden job market. Search for and connect directly with decision makers or their circle at companies of interest to you.
4. Tap into the hidden job market with targeted industry and company research.
Merely posting your resume to online job boards will probably get you nowhere. Do some research to track down decision makers or “warm leads” at companies of interest to you. In your research, identify some specific challenges those companies may be facing that you’re uniquely qualified to manage and turn around.
♦ The places and ways to research companies online are endless, including: Hoovers, Zoominfo, Jigsaw, and OneSource. Try Googling company names and relevant key words.
♦ Do plenty of READING: relevant blogs, newspapers, white papers, etc.
♦ Hang out (online and offline) where your target audience does so that you can learn about them and position yourself in front of them.
♦ Network into decision making circles through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other online social networks.
♦ Search LinkedIn “People”, “Companies”, and “Groups”. If you already have names of decision makers, look for their profiles. If you don’t have a person’s name, search by company for top-level people.
For more research strategies, see How to Target and Network into Hidden C-Level Executive Jobs.
5. Networking strategy – it worked for you in the past, but you may not know all you need to know about networking today.
As a top executive, you’re probably well-versed in how to network. If you’ve neglected your network for too long, need some reminders on how to do it well, or need help with online networking, read Top 10 Tactics to Build a Vibrant Executive Network.
6. Online personal branding-building and online brand identity management.
As part of healthy executive career management these days, a strong on-brand web presence is essential. Surveys show that the majority of recruiters and hiring decision makers search online when they’re vetting candidates like you. If you’re not there, they won’t find you.
Conversely, if they find digital dirt about you, they will probably skip right over you and move on to someone who is digitally pristine. Make sure there are plenty of accurate, brand-reinforcing results when they Google “your name”.
See my blog post Is Your Online Identity Sabotaging Your Executive Job Search?
Building a brand-solid online foot print is a long-term, ongoing process, but the first three strategies below yield surprisingly quick results:
♦ Create a multi-media rich VisualCV to house all your career portfolio of documents and other relevant materials. See A VisualCV Belongs in Your Personal Brand Toolkit.
♦ Comment on relevant blogs that carry good link weight. In 3 Tactics to Put Your C-Level Executive Resume to Work Building Your Online Brand Identity, the third tactic outlines how to do this well.
♦ Create a Google profile with your photo and benefit from a page-one, interest-generating search result for your name that includes your photo. More information in my post Google Profiles Powers Up Your Online Personal Brand Identity.
♦ Get busy on other social networking sites, especially Twitter. Not sure what to do with Twitter or whether it offers value? See Resources To Get the Best Out of Twitter.
♦ Start your own blog and/or guest blog on relevant blogs.
♦ Start your own website and begin building web pages showcasing your promise of value and loaded with relevant key words to help hiring decision makers find you when they’re vetting candidates.
♦ Write book reviews of relevant books for Amazon and other online sellers.
♦ Write articles and/or white papers and get them published online.
For more specifics, see The 10 Best (Mostly Free) Ways to Google Up, Expand Your Online Network, and Nurture Your Personal eBrand
If you start getting a handle on these essential tactics, you’ll be well ahead of your competition, most of whom aren’t taking advantage of best practices for today’s job search landscape.
In Executive Job Search? Don’t Call a Recruiter, Think Like One
Get the Best Out of LinkedIn for Your Personal Brand, Networking, and Executive Job Search