Write Your Own Headline to Jump Start Your Executive Career Change

Write Your Own Headline to Jump Start Your Executive Career Change

Nobody Has Time to Listen Anymore

If I am right, you barely have time to read this blog post. You’re busy, you’ve got work to do. I respect that.

Hiring executives have the same problem. They don’t have any spare time, either. So as you approach the executives who can help you throughout your job search, you’ll come up against their time crunches. You have to convince the hiring executive that you’re the one for whom they should put their calendar on hold to speak with you or meet you in person. But we know that you’re an expert with a great reputation in your industry, and you’re being tapped for a great position. Let’s assume, then, that you are meeting with this key executive.

Knowing what you do about busy executives—after all, you’re a busy executive yourself—how do you make this meeting easy for your contact? You keep it brief, at least until you’re challenged to expand on the assets you bring and the accomplishments you’ve demonstrated.

“Hello. Nice to meet you. Why don’t you tell me about yourself.”

This is the deadliest question, and your answer can make or break your interview—almost before it starts. The more succinct you are in answering this question, the more likely you will be called on for additional details. Therefore, you need to prepare this message, your mission, and your value proposition ahead of time, long before you get the question—because no doubt you will get the question.

To develop your core message or “elevator pitch,” as it so often is called (although the typical elevator ride is bound to be longer than the time you should spend delivering your speech), explore the following:

How Do You Label Yourself?

Tell me who you are in 10 seconds or less. Alternatively, tell me who you are in three bullets. I know that this is a tough exercise, particularly the first time you try it, but I’m confident that you’ll hone it to perfection in plenty of time for that important interview or networking event. Consider the answers to the following questions, which might help you uncover your core message:

  • What is your current job title?
  • What do you aspire to do?
  • In what industry do you aspire to do it?
  • What is your noble purpose?
  • What is a representative example of the type of contribution you make?

Are you getting closer to the 10-second mark? I will bet that you are.

How Would Others Label You?

If you’re still stuck for a self-description, imagine what your executive leader, your co-workers, or your subordinates might say about you. For example, are you:

  • Compassionate?
  • Visionary?
  • Technologically savvy?

Have you reached the 10-second mark? If so, job well done. Now you need to practice it. I heard one theatre coach suggest that an actor doesn’t really remember his lines until he can recite them while doing jumping jacks. While I don’t suggest that you either play a part or prepare yourself in a cardiovascular sense, the premise remains a logical one. You should be able to recite your 10-second pitch in any context, under any circumstances, with confidence, strong inflection, and a smile.

Take some time to practice. If you’re still struggling about what to say or how to say it, you can always ask for help. After all, “I’m a career search strategist who markets executives for choice positions better than they do.”