Something like 80-85% of my clients have jobs. About half of those feel their jobs are secure and the other half are fairly certain their days are numbered.
One recent client, the COO of a family-owned (not his family) apparel company, who began working with me several months ago, had no concerns about being laid off.
“Steve” had been with the company for 15 years and had propelled it from an outdated, mostly manually-operating dinosaur with no planning and control system in place to a well-oiled, technology-driven operation with 7 satellite offices across the U.S., doubling revenue each year.
He was happy in his job and had no thoughts of looking elsewhere. The company was so dependent on his management, he wasn’t worried. But, like so many top-level executives, Steve didn’t have a resume because he never needed one. To play it safe, he knew it was time to get his resume together.
But just having a great resume isn’t enough. Through discussions we had, Steve came to understand how important it was for him to start building an online presence and that it would take time to gain traction. He knew he had to go from invisible online to digitally distinct.
So we extended the value of his executive resume by transforming it into a branded LinkedIn profile and started building his online footprint elsewhere, as part of healthy career management.
You know what’s coming next.
A few days after we got everything done, Steve was laid off with only a month’s severance and no health insurance. He never saw it coming. Adding to his stress was the very recent loss of 2 family members, his own sudden serious health issues, and the ongoing challenges of having a child with a debilitating illness.
Although still in shock when he told me about the layoff, he was comforted knowing he had the tools he needed to move forward immediately. It was a great relief to him that he already had a plan and was ready to dive in right away.
If he hadn’t decided months earlier to get these things done, he certainly wouldn’t have been in the right frame of mind to get his head around doing the work needed to pull everything together for job search. He would have lost precious time he couldn’t afford, trying to gain momentum.
Steve’s story is fairly common. These days it seems there’s no such thing as a permanent job.
Here are the essentials to be at-the-ready to accelerate job search, along with some valuable (mostly free) resources:
Define your executive brand to express your unique promise of value to employers.
The buzz you’ve been reading and hearing that personal or executive branding is THE best tool to differentiate and strategically position your value proposition is well-founded.
One of the powerful things about 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.
Expect the process of uncovering and defining your executive brand to take some time, so get started on it.
Create a portfolio of paper and digital career documents to use in-person and to build online identity.
Start with your executive resume and career biography, which form the foundation for all your career marketing communications, online and offline.
Supplement your resume and bio with other documents as needed — 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.
Get visible online. Build a strong e-brand.
Surveys show that the majority of recruiters and hiring decision makers search online when they’re sourcing and assessing top talent. Position yourself directly in front of them. It takes time to become “sticky” and build credibility and visibility online.
If you have little or no brand-reinforcing presence online and you’re suddenly thrown into job search, you’ll have a hard time catching up with your competition who have already worked on establishing themselves online.
♦ Create your LinkedIn profile and build a strategy.
For tips on branding your profile, download my FREE E-BOOK: Executive Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile: How to Transform Your Executive Brand, Resume, and Career Biography Into a Winning LinkedIn Profile.
Get busy re-connecting with your network and making new connections. Leverage all that LinkedIn offers to tap into the hidden job market. Search for and connect directly with decision makers at companies of interest.
♦ Consider joining other social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
♦ Create a Google profile.
♦ Build a personal website, VisualCV and/or online profile to extend the value of your digital career marketing documents.
♦ Start a blog, guest blog on relevant blogs with good link weight, and/or comment on strong blogs.
For plenty of tips and strategies, see my Best of Online Brand Identity and Social Media posts.
Don’t forget real-life networking.
Re-connect with and revive your existing network. If you’re like many executives, you’ve let this slide while you were employed because you didn’t think you needed them. Reach out to former clients and vendors, professional associations, community groups and lifestyle groups.
Check in with people and find out what they’re up to and update them on what you’ve been doing. Practice “give to get” networking and start building new mutually beneficial relationships.
Prepare for interviewing.
♦ Download Job-Hunt’s FREE E-book Successful Job Interviewing
Develop relationships with several executive recruiters who specialize in your industry and niche.
It takes time to build strategic relationships. Stay in touch with your circle of recruiters so you’ll be top of mind with them when a good fit comes their way.
♦ Ask people in your network which recruiters they’ve worked with.
♦ Buy Kennedy Information’s Directory of Executive Recruiters, the famous “Red Book” which lists over 10,000 recruiters at thousands of search firms, with all the contact information you need to start networking immediately with them.
♦ See the Riley Guide’s short list of quality recruiters and how to work with them.
♦ For advice on recruiting the recruiter, see my Interview with Executive Recruiter Jeff Lipschultz and his article for Job-Hunt.org, How Recruiters Pick YOU.
Dig into targeted industry and company research.
Keep an eye on market trends and opportunities. Do some research and search, beyond what LinkedIn offers, 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.
For more research strategies, see How to Target and Network into Hidden C-Level Executive Jobs.
Related series of posts: