With the crushing recession and today’s highly competitive top-level executive job market, differentiating your unique brand-value promise online and offline has become the best way to position yourself above the rest.
Here’s what every top-level executive needs to be working on just to keep pace with their competition, in job search and overall healthy career management:
1. Personal branding linked with your value proposition. One of the many benefits of going through personal brand development is that it revitalizes and reminds you of all the valuable contributions you’ve made to companies in the past.
- Do a self-assessment of your top brand attributes and skills.
- Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats), based on where you’re heading next in your career.
- Ask those who know you best (peers, colleagues, friends, family, clients) for their assessment of you, in the above areas. The true measure of your personal brand is revealed in what they have to say about you.
- Craft your personal brand statement and brand-charged tagline for your email signature.
2. Executive career portfolio. With your brand value identified, you’ll need a suite of brand-driven career marketing documents for various purposes – Executive Resume, Cover Letter, Career Bio, Reference Dossier, Achievement Summary, Leadership Initiatives Profile.
House all your career marketing communications and personal brand toolkit in one online location – VisualCV. Recruiters and hiring decision makers will easily access with one click everything they need to know about you, plus your VisualCV pumps up your Google search results.
3. LinkedIn. According to Jason Alba, networking expert and author of “I’m on LinkedIn – Now What??, in a Q&A I did with him here:
“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?”
4. Blog in some way. Build your own blog, or if that isn’t realistic, certainly guest blogging and commenting on relevant, high-traffic blogs are a must-do. Along with networking benefits, blogging helps position you as a niche expert and thought leader.
5. Online brand identity management. Recruiters and hiring decision makers routinely Google and search the Internet when vetting top-level candidates like you. These days, an executive resume that you send to them is not always their first introduction to you. If you’re invisible online to the very people you need to be in front of, or if your online footprint discredits you, you may be missing out on golden opportunities. You need to build a solid, compelling, brand-consistent online presence.
6. Real-life networking balanced with online efforts. Get out there and shake hands and deliver your tightly crafted 30-second brand-driven pitch face-to-face. Nothing beats personal contact for building top of mind evangelism for your promise of value. Invest most of your job search efforts in networking, because the payoff is an estimated 80-85% success rate, compared to about 5% for posting to job boards. People hire people they know. Along with LinkedIn, consider joining other online business/social networks like Twitter.
See job-hunt.org’s networking resources to connect with people who network with hiring decision makers:
- Over 800 Local Networking and Job Search Support groups by state
- Over 250 Company, Military, & Government Alumni Networks
- Over 600 Professional Associations and Societies
7. Tap into the hidden job market. Research companies of interest to you at sites like Hoovers, Zoominfo, Jigsaw, OneSource, etc. to identify key decision makers and those who are likely to be in their networks. LinkedIn is an invaluable tool to search companies too. You can circumvent the gatekeepers and make direct contact with the decision makers. And 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. Your company research will also benefit you in interviews. You’ll be armed with the kind of inside information you need to speak to their needs and challenges.
8. The 3R’s of executive job search 2.0., according to David Perry, Guerrilla Job-Hunting Expert:
- Research and determine: what are your marketable skills; which industries/companies you should target that use those skills; what are the specific needs of each company in your target market; who’s in a key position to hire you in those companies; and what’s the best way to approach them?
- Relevancy. Do you offer value to your next employer? Will you: make them money; save them money; and increase efficiency?
- Resiliency. Adopt a positive mindset to spring back from disappointment and keep moving forward. If you’re getting nowhere with your target job, you may need to make a career transition to a more viable industry and/or type of position.
9. Storytelling. Craft several compelling career success stories using the Challenge – Actions – Results strategy. Pop one or two tightly written examples in your executive resume; expand 2 or 3 for a Leadership Initiatives Profile document; and keep a few in your back pocket for interviewing and networking.
10. Volunteer your leadership expertise. This will not only help others and make you feel really good about yourself, but will likely gain the attention of decision makers or those who know them. There are many, many non-profits right in your backyard that can benefit from your broad experience.
And a bonus tip:
11. Say “thank you” . . . a lot. Buy some good quality note cards, plenty of postage stamps, and start writing personalized, hand-written notes to anyone who has made introductions for you or helped you, and of course, everyone involved in interviewing you. Keep your brand value top of mind.
If you’re not already doing these things, begin adding them to your executive job search toolkit. Make 2009 your best year ever!