A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 5 of 5
Step 5: Apply for the subset of positions that match your goals, your needs, and company demands
There are three key ways you can start to apply for executive positions that are right for you. You can apply directly on a company’s career web site or via a job board. You can work through recruiters. Last, and most effectively, you can network into the right role. Each of these strategies can be effective, if you use them the right way.
Your plan: Explore career web sites and job boards, recruiter needs, and your network’s capability to develop an executive job application strategy.
Step 1. Apply online for executive jobs: 10% of your job search effort.
First, you must know that using job boards and career sites is the least effective job search strategy, particular for senior executives, although it certainly is one of the easiest. You should spend only about 10% of your job search effort using this strategy.
To make this strategy work for you while not eating into the time you should be spending on more effective techniques, take advantage of alerts. Google alerts are easy to set up, as are alerts from Indeed.com and some of the other major job boards; LinkedIn also has a great alert system.
First, develop a Boolean query that returns the results you are seeking. You can use the query in all of your alerts, so you do not miss a critical opportunity. Note that not all systems use strict Boolean techniques, so you might need to test the minus sign or NOT (to eliminate incidental results that do not relate to your desired results). In fact, you might need to test your queries multiple times to make sure they are returning the results you want. In the end, the alerts will run in the background and email on the schedule you determine. You will be able to review the results of your job search queries quickly and easily without your having to run individual queries every day. Considering, again, that job boards and online applications are the least effective use of your energies, alerts simplify the process for you.
One note: Some companies with large online application systems will require applicants at every level to apply through their online application systems, regardless of their networking strategies. Make sure that you follow the policies of each company that you are targeting.
Your Plan: Step 2. Work with recruiters. 20% of your job search effort.
Strictly speaking, you, as an executive in job search, do not work with recruiters. Recruiters work with companies, which hire them to fill key positions. The “talent,” in this case, you as the applicant, is almost tangential to the process, which is dictated by the flow of dollars.
Roughly speaking, from a cash flow perspective, the recruiting process looks like this:
1. The company uses a recruiter (either contract or contingent, and more on that below) to determine an ideal pool of candidates.
2. The company evaluates these career portfolios and chooses several to interview. The company might also choose to interview candidates whom they source internally or who apply outside of the recruiting process.
3. The career portfolios do not become valuable as individuals until the individual candidates are brought in to the company for interviews with the executive hiring team.
4. The company decides to hire a candidate presented by the recruiter or sourced by some other means.
5. The selected candidate chooses–or does not choose–to accept the position. If the candidate selected and hired was initially presented by a recruiter, the recruiter (more likely, the recruiting agency) receives a finder’s commission of as much as 30% of the candidate’s first year’s salary.
What you as the executive in job search mode need to know is that when you are presented by a recruiter to a company, you automatically come with a fairly expensive price tag–commissions can range from 10% to 30% of your first year’s salary–perhaps $30,000 or more. Thus, hiring through a recruiter is an exceptionally expensive proposition, and some companies categorically refuse to hire with recruiters.
Therefore, you need to do two things. First, you need to apply first to your target list. If you present yourself first, regardless of whether a recruiter presents you later, you do not come with a price tag. So you need to know your target list, and you need to apply first, before the recruiter does.
Second, to know the status of a recruiter who wishes to present you to a company. Recruiters are either “contingent” or “contract.” Contingent recruiters are not in formal relationships with companies, meaning that they are sourcing candidates in competition with other similar contingency recruiters to source and place candidates. Contract recruiters will get paid regardless of whether they source and place for a particular position, although their reputations certainly demand results of the highest quality. Know the type of relationship a recruiter has with a company, and you will know more about the flow of dollars and your position as a candidate in that flow. In no case should you let a recruiter present you to a company without your expressed permission, as you might not want a recruiter to present you to a company that is on your target list.
The one instance in which you absolutely should let a recruiter present you is when he or she has insider knowledge of a confidential search that you would never learn about through other means. This type of situation is ideal for you and the recruiter, and you both have a real stake in the outcome.
Your Plan: Step 3. Network into the right role before it becomes available: 70% of your job search effort.
Your networking efforts should focus on developing relationships early in your executive job search, so that you are uniquely top of mind when positions become available. This is a time-consuming process, and certainly not one that will necessarily bear fruit as you begin the process. Nevertheless, it is extremely effective as an executive job search strategy over the long term, if you do it consistently and correctly.
To network effectively, you need to be prepared to listen, learn, and communicate so that your audience believes that the conversation is a two-way street. You need to truly want to build relationships while you are still in your current role, while you are in job search mode, and when you secure your next role. Keep contacts warm throughout your career, and you will be able to capitalize on them when you need to.
Are you planning an executive job search? Five Strengths will support you with resume writing and more.
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