Quit the Job Search Panic: Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

Quit the Job Search Panic: Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

Every week, I speak to at least one executive job seeker who is in panic mode. These executives are in job search panic, and you might be, too, for a variety of reasons:
Quit the Job Search Panic Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

  • You heard the company is restructuring and you might lose your job.
  • You know the company is laying you off soon.
  • You have been assigned to a new manager or executive.
  • You’ve been out of work for some time.
  • You’re a go-getter, and any time spent job searching is better spent actually working in your next role.
  • Or, the biggest cause of job-search panic: The wait between developing your resume and hearing back.

If you are experiencing any one of these panic-inducing scenarios, then you’re probably very concerned about when that next job offer is coming. You might even be applying like mad to every likely possibility on job boards or LinkedIn. I’ll bet money that it feels like a ton of work. I’ll bet it also feels like you’re a hamster on a wheel, exerting a ton of effort and going nowhere fast, and increasing your sense of panic all the while.

Calm the Job Search Panic: Get off the Job Search Hamster Wheel

Can you imagine a job search that fees calm, controlled, and panic free, not to mention EFFECTIVE?

Having worked with hundreds of clients throughout their job search, I’ve seen these situations come up dozens of times. In every case, an executive job seeker can shorten the time between job search panic and job search success with one or more of the following strategies:

Define your job search goal: If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there. Drive your job search forward by determining the type of company, the industry, the level, and the role you’re after.
Read voraciously: Explore industry resources, regional business journals, company web sites, and public relations pieces to inform your knowledge of the industry. You’ll learn more about the state of the employment economy by learning which companies are getting funded or are growing by reading about their goals and strategies than you will by reading their job postings.

Talk to people of influence: By “influence,” I mean people who can inform your strategy. These can be peers, industry insiders, and hiring managers. Remember: Not every conversation should start with a question about whether the person is willing to hire you.

Set up a job search project plan: As Rudy Giuliani said, “Because ‘change’ is not a destination, just as ‘hope’ is not a strategy.”

Quit the Job Search Panic: Find Your Destination and Define Your Strategy

By taking control of your job search and establishing your process and goal before you start, you will manage your job search panic, whether you’re concerned about your company’s layoffs or in the midst of an active job search now. You know the pieces of the puzzle you can control, so take action on your executive job search now to avoid that paralyzing job search panic.

Find a Mentor for Executive Job Search

Find a Mentor for Executive Job Search

Throughout your executive career, you have probably mentored several people. Now, you are looking for a mentor for your executive job search. Finding a mentor for your executive job search is not difficult if you know your specific expectations, goals and objectives. You want to look for someone who will assist you in achieving what you desire. Their knowledge and experience will provide you with different perspectives on issues, career challenges and opportunities.Mentor for Executive Job Search

To find your mentor in your executive job search, you should be willing to:

  • Look outside your field–A mentor does not have to be in the same field or industry as you. Often, you can get insight and objective opinions from someone who is not involved in your industry. This type of mentor may expand your thought processes about your career.
  • Collaborate on projects–This is a great way to get to know potential mentors. You are both invested in a common goal. Working together can deepen your relationship and provide you with common interests.
  • Make your relationship reciprocal–Your mentor will want to know how you are doing, what progress you are making, and what is working for you. Share your results. Offer your insights should you be asked for opinions on projects that your mentor is involved in.
  • Determine when and how often you will meet–You both are busy people. Predetermining this information sets the expectation that you both will be professional and prepared to work. This is not a social meeting.

Your meetings with your mentor will vary in length and topic, depending on your needs. Prepare for your meetings and the ensuing discussion. Your meeting may consist of updates on your current projects, potential opportunities, and professional development strategy.

As you develop your relationship, your interaction with your mentor may change. Your mentor may discover that your opinion is a valuable resource for his or her own endeavors, and you might have insights that can inform that person’s growth as well.

Remember, you are sharing knowledge, insights and opportunities.

Your relationship with your mentor can become a long term commitment that is beneficial for both of you.

 

Build Confidence to Launch Your Executive Job Search

Build Confidence to Launch Your Executive Job Search

An executive job search is one of the hardest things that you will ever do. Going through an executive job search could leave you feeling bruised and beaten down. Your level of confidence can get hit pretty hard if you have been turned down for an executive position or haven’t been able to get an interview so far in your executive job search. Instead of focusing on the discouragement, work on changing your perspective.

Anchor shaped word cloud with text about confidence

Confidence is the key to your successful executive job search.

As you prepare to conduct your executive job search you might currently be without a job, but previously employed—or have a job and want a change. Decades ago, people would start with one company and retire from the same company. In today’s world people can change jobs or even careers many times in their career lifetime. Factors such as corporate reorganizations, mergers, technology changes, and increased performance expectations have caused a huge increase in those looking for a job. These are all external factors to your job search, whereas a change of your internal mindset truly can affect your success.

There are several approaches that you can take to adjust your attitude and raise your confidence in finding that great job opportunity.

  1. Look at the whole picture—Write down what is working well and not so well for you. Focus on what you do well and work to change what does not work well. Recently, I learned that many companies coach their employees to play to their strengths, for the greater success of the entire team. You can take this approach in your executive job search.
  2. Ask others—Reach out to those that know you well or have worked with you in the past. Ask for their perspective on skills or attributes that they have noticed in you.
  3. Use your skills—Maintain your skill set. Keep current by using your skills either through volunteering or continuing education. When you do not keep current, you take the risk doubting whether you are still “up to the job.”
  4. Practice interviewing—Research and record a list of potential interview questions and practice with a trusted person. You will find yourself more at ease during an interview if you are prepared. At the same time, review your executive resume to brush up on your own history, so you can answer interview questions with confidence.
  5. Keep involved with your network—Your network is the key to your finding a new executive position. Not only will you keep up on your industry, but you also might discover job opportunities that become available. Feeling shaky on the networking front? Contact us for guidance.

Keeping yourself in a positive frame of mind is difficult when you are faced with the challenge of a job search. You can help yourself keep a positive mindset throughout your executive job search with these 5 reminders.

For more information on building confidence in an executive job search:

Is Your Lack Of Confidence Holding Your Job Search Back?

How to Build Your Job-Search Confidence

Is Your Executive Job Search Taking Too Long?

Is Your Executive Job Search Taking Too Long?

Have you been wondering whether your executive job search has been going on too long? Do you have a sense of whether your motivation is too low–or whether you are simply overanxious? On the one hand, you might be spinning your wheels. On the other, you might be working within a very reasonable time frame, even though your executive job search seems to feel endless.

Orange hourglass tipped on angle

Why is your executive job search taking so long?

There is a rule of thumb that indicates that a reasonable job search takes the number of tens of thousands in your annual compensation and converts it to months: In other words, a $450,000 / year job should take almost 4 years to secure! If this seems irrational to you, you definitely are not alone. I do not think your job search should take that long, either. Although I cannot specifically say that X or Y months is the right length of time for your specific job search, I can definitely say that with the right strategies, often in partnership with a career transition expert, your job search will proceed much more efficiently than with a scattershot approach.

Signs You Are Wasting Time in Your Executive Job Search

Take stock of the techniques that you are using to identify, apply for, and evaluate your future role. Clear signs that you are wasting time with ineffective techniques include:

  • You have no overarching job search strategy.
  • You focus on the tools and techniques to the exclusion of identifying long- versus short-term goals.
  • You are applying for dozens of positions per week with no apparent ROI on the process.

For just a moment, imagine that your job search could be compared, loosely, to a hammer. All of these “techniques” can be likened to the steel head of that hammer. They work well, but without the handle and good aim, you are likely to miss your nail. Or, if you hit it, you probably will have to bash the nail, inefficiently, dozens of times before you succeed in pounding it in. The same will be true with an inefficient job search: You potentially, could hit the right combination of tactics, but more than likely your random successes will fall outside of a targeted, planned, strategic job search process. And, yes, that will definitely use up a great deal of your 45 months.

Signs You Are Efficient in Your Executive Job Search

Let us imagine a different scenario, one in which you are planning and strategizing to make your job search targeted, focused, clear, and tuned to the expectations of your executive audience. In this type of strategic job search, you might be engaging in any number of the following:

  • Broad networking to slake your curiosity about what people do in their roles and/or industries.
  • Focused networking to build credibility and authenticity, especially if you are changing roles and industries at the same time.
  • Developing a highly tuned career portfolio (executive resume, LinkedIn profile, and more) that speaks to what you know to be the needs of your executive audience.

Clearly, if you are able to match your strategic goals with the strategic needs of companies actually engaged in the recruitment process, your likelihood of success is much greater. Moreover, the time it takes to complete a successful executive job search is minimized, according to your clear focus and efficient strategy.

 

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Who Are Your Advocates in Your Executive Job Search?

Who Are Your Advocates in Your Executive Job Search?

When you’re looking down the double barrels of a complex job search, you might be feeling isolated. In most cases, you can’t talk to your immediate colleagues, your suppliers, or your customers. What do you do when you want to move on from your current role, but you have no idea to whom you will turn for help? Who are your advocates in your executive job search?

Your Existing Network

Desert with rock towers

Who are your advocates in your job search?

Certainly, speaking to your current employees or executive team about your plans to make a career move is tricky–or professionally suicidal. However, you likely have a “professional board of directors” who can serve as your sounding board. If you’re planning to change companies or careers, these individuals can advise you on the status of their companies, industries, and more.

Where to look: Start with your close contacts, such as relatives or close former colleagues–these will be your safest audience.

Recruiters

Recruiters can be your best confidential advocates–if they have identified you as a unique resource to pitch to their clients. Of necessity, recruiters follow the needs of their clients, which are the companies that hire them to find unique talent. So while your job search should never start with the premise that you will “work with recruiters.” They know how to find you if they need you, and spreading yourself thinly across a pool of recruiters dilutes your uniqueness. If a recruiter finds you and asks you about your interest in a particular position, that’s a call for which you should always make time.

Where to look: Don’t look at all. Let them find you.

Executive Career Coach and Executive Resume Writer

Your executive career coach and resume writer can be your best advocate throughout your career transition. This professional is always on your side, helping you to develop clarity for your:

  • Target executive title
  • Target industry
  • Target company
  • Messaging and story telling
  • Marketing portfolio, e.g., your executive resume and cover letter
  • Social media presence, including but not limited to LinkedIn profile development

Where to look: Call me to identify whether we are a good fit.

 

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How to Find Joy in Your Executive Career

How to Find Joy in Your Executive Career

How to Find Joy in Your Executive Career

How to Find Joy in Your Executive Career

To misquote Simon and Garfunkel’s “Kodachrome,” I don’t remember a lot of what I learned in high school specifically. Significantly, however, I do remember learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and this concept has always resonated with me. Particularly now in my practice as an executive resume writer and career coach, I think about what pushes executives to stay on their existing career paths—and what induces them to push harder to find joy in their careers.

Briefly, Maslow demonstrated that at the most basic level we need food, clothing, shelter, and all of the fundamental things that enable our bodies to survive. At the highest level, we self-actualize, which has been interpreted as reaching our full potential. In the realm of your executive career, your joy in your work is your self-actualization.

The idea that you’re at your best when you love what you do should not come as a complete surprise. I’m sure there have been many moments in your career that sparked a smile on your face, not to mention accolades from your team or boss. In aggregate, that’s your personal definition of career-related joy.

The harder question is this: How do you make those moments happen more often and more predictably. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you dissatisfied with your company’s trajectory?
  2. Do you wish you could earn a promotion or better compensation faster?
  3. Are you sure your industry the right one for you?
  4. If you had no obstacles to a career change, would you immediately change industries or job functions to ones you’ve already thought about?
  5. Do you dread Monday mornings?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you might not be finding the joy every executive deserves in his or her career. Give me a call—we can talk about your specific situation and develop a strategy to identify the ways you can recover the joy you felt when you first started down this career path.

 

 

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Treat Your Executive Career the Way You Run Your Company

Treat Your Executive Career the Way You Run Your Company

Recently, I read on several social media outlets a meme that reads, roughly:

Executive #1: “What if we invest in our workforce and they choose to leave?”
Executive #2: “What if we don’t, and they stay?”

Of course this meme was designed to incite executives to invest in their company’s talent. I don’t believe that there is an executive out there who thinks that ignoring the needs of his or her workforce is wise.

Despite the axiomatic value of investing in the talent and expertise of their company, so many executives refuse to do the same for themselves. These executives adamantly refuse to treat their own career growth with the same care and insightfulness.

Executive board room with chairs and table.

Do you refuse to treat your own career growth with care and insightfulness?

Examples of this lack of preparation and investment appear in a number of ways. These executives:

  • Lose their former passion for their work but keep trudging along the same paths on which they have been successful in the past.
  • Fail to create a thoughtful business plan for the success of their careers.
  • Neglect to build a career plan “inventory” in the form of a compelling current resume, recognizable branding, engaging social media presence, and so on.
  • Abandon their warm contacts when they secured the position that was right at the time, treating networking as a goal-specific strategy whose value dropped the moment the ink dried on their contracts.
  • Decline to budget to hire the right consultants to guide them in making complex career decisions.

These executives are smart and insightful, so, probably, they didn’t forget these key steps on purpose. What started as benign neglect quickly turned to outright apathy. The pattern disintegrates into painful lack of motivation and career subsistence. In other words, they are unhappy in their roles, know they can do better, but choose to do nothing, simply because change is too daunting. Fortunately, mastering the enterprise known as your career is not as complicated as running your company–although the personal stakes are infinitely greater.

The broad plan is simple. The expert consultant you need to engage knows the way your career is supposed to work. And the sooner you start, the less time you lose to indifference or fear, and the sooner you can tackle each step of the process, with support, one piece at a time. You simply need to choose to master your career.

 

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Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Working with Recruiters

Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Working with Recruiters

One of the biggest questions I frequently receive is how best to work with recruiters. As part of a well-rounded career search strategy, working with recruiters can be extremely valuable. If you choose to work with a recruiter, or a recruiter seeks you out, follow these top etiquette tips to ensure that you have a smooth, positive, mutually rewarding relationship with your recruiter.

1. Be Responsive to Recruiter Inquiries

Speed is one of the most critical factors when working with a recruiting firm, especially contingency recruiters. If a recruiter is trying to reach you to discuss an opportunity, he or she will want to talk to you right away and will likely move on to someone else if you are hard to reach. You might consider getting a second phone line that you use only during your job search and an email that you use only for your job search. If you have a standard gmail address of , you also can sign up for a Google Voice number, a free redirecting phone number that rings to an existing number of your choosing, such as your mobile phone.

2. Be Respectful of the Recruiter’s Time

Remember too that recruiters are often working on numerous search assignments simultaneously. Many recruiting firms require a minimum number of successful placements each month for the recruiter to keep his or her job. Consequently, be mindful of the recruiter’s time when you make contact.

3. Build a Relationship with a Recruiter.

As a general rule, you should always take a recruiter’s call, even if you are not looking for a new position. A recruiter in your industry can provide valuable industry information and help you shape your own career path. Moreover, don’t treat conversations with recruiters as transactions. You’d hate being treated that way, and so do recruiters.

4. Be Findable on LinkedIn

Recruiters and sourcers know how to find candidates, even the ones who are working in jobs they love. However, you can make their jobs easier by publishing a robust LinkedIn profile, joining relevant industry or function-related groups, building a strong LinkedIn network, and ensuring your profile is set to public viewing. LinkedIn also has a number of premium job seeker features that can help you be more visible. In 2015, LinkedIn rolled out a new feature that lets recruiters know you’re open to inquiries. To turn this feature on, go to Jobs in the black bar at the top of the screen, then choose Preferences in the menu below.

5. Be a Valuable Networking Contact for the Recruiter

You can be a good source of information for the recruiter as well. Be a good contact for an industry/sector recruiter — keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and candidates and share that information with the recruiter. If you are not a fit for an opportunity you are contacted about, but you can recommend someone else, share that information. A recruiter will remember that you provided a new contact for him or her when the opportunity was not exactly right for you and will think of you the next time.

6. Be Specific about Your Career Requirements

If you are looking for a position, be up front with the recruiter about the type of work, type of company, salary expectations, and so on that you need to have to explore opportunities further. The recruiter’s goal is to fill open positions, so the more information you can provide about your non-negotiables and on what you are willing to compromise, the less likely you will be to frustrate a recruiter who has worked very hard on your behalf in positioning you to the wrong company.

7. Know that You Are Not the Right Candidate for Every Recruiter

Don’t contact too many recruiters — especially at the same firm. Recruiters often have access to an internal candidate management system that allows them to see what contact you’ve had with other recruiters within the firm, and other positions you’ve applied for.

8. Be Up Front about Your Recruiter Relationships

Let your recruiter know when you are working with another recruiter. If two contingency recruiters submit you as a candidate to the same firm, you may not be considered by the client company at all, even if you are a perfect match. Companies don’t want to mediate an argument between recruiters about who “owns” the candidate (and, consequently, who would receive the commission if the successful placement is made).

9. Recall How Recruiters Earn Their Fees

If you are working with a recruiter, don’t apply for the same positions you are being submitted to as a candidate. You may end up inadvertently disqualifying yourself because the employer does not want to risk having a recruiter claim a commission if you are hired directly. If you see a position advertised and are contacted by a recruiter for the same opportunity, you can decide whether you want to apply directly or be submitted as a candidate by the recruiter. If you have a networking contact at the company, you may decide to apply directly or determine that a good recruiter can get you in front of a hiring manager more easily than you could get noticed yourself. (This is particularly true if the employer uses an applicant tracking system to screen resumes. Recruiters can often reach hiring managers directly.)

10. Be a Compelling Candidate

Last, but certainly not least, develop a compelling professional brand that appeals to hiring executives–and thus to recruiters. Demonstrate in your executive resume and your LinkedIn profile that you are rarely and uniquely suited for hard-to-fill roles to ensure that recruiters find you for the unusual skill set you bring to the employment marketplace. While you will not automatically fall off recruiters’ radar for being fabulously average, you are more likely to capture a busy recruiter’s attention if you can demonstrate the scarce skills and assets that a hiring executive is demanding.

Updated January 2017.

 

Image courtesy of suphkit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Your Inside Connection to Your Next Executive Job

Your Inside Connection to Your Next Executive Job

What do you think the key to savvy executive job search is? Could it be your resume, your interview, or your LinkedIn profile? The answer might surprise you. The key to your executive job search is your recommendation by a current employee of the company you are targeting.

Connections Inside the Company Give You the Advantage

Ask an influential current employee of your target company to recommend you to the hiring executive.

Ask an influential current employee of your target company to recommend you to the hiring executive.

The inside connection will make or break your executive job search. In fact, if you do not have an advocate from inside the company, you might as well not apply for the position at all, said leading recruiting expert Gerry Crispin, at Career Thought Leaders Conference 2014. Crispin suggested that the resume gets you only so far in the applicant tracking system, because hiring executives do not want to make choices among the hundreds to thousands of resumes they receive for each open role

How the Referral Process Works

Let us examine Crispin’s scenario, in which he used some realistic figures. Let us say that a position is posted, and the applicant tracking system, or web application site, receives 150 resumes. Automatically, we can assume that half of those are not qualified for the role.

As an aside, recruiters regularly lament the fact that they receive resumes all the time from candidates who match only some of the qualifications. The moral of this story is that executives need to read the job description carefully to make sure they fit all of the qualifications and requirements for the role. Remember, the interview is about fit, not about qualifications, so do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the idea that you are smart (you are), experienced (you have years), and a quick learner (that is not a qualification for anything). You need to demonstrate right from the start that you have experience in all facets of the role.

So of our 150 applicants, 75 are not qualified, and 75 are. At the same time that resumes are rolling in through the online application system, five smart executives have been making connections within the company, and they each have been speaking to influential employees. These five current employees have passed these five resumes to the executive decision maker. Now, all bets are off for the 75, because the same half of these recommended candidates are also employed (let us say 2 of the 5).

The applicant tracking system and the internal recruiter choose the top several of the resumes that come through the online job site; however, the executive receiving referrals from trusted employees pushes the two resumes he or she received to the top of the list. Thus, the former five top resumes that came in through the system are now three, because the two from referrals edged out the bottom two from the original list.

Why Recommendations Matter for Your Executive Job Search and What You Need to Do

There is no question but that referrals and recommendations from existing employees truly count. Those qualified candidates from the list of referrals now have a 20% chance of receiving an offer, which far outpaces the 1 in 75 of fundamentally qualified candidates. The math prevails, and referrals now truly count.

You can become one of the top five by engaging in a concentrated networking strategy that makes you into a name with a face, qualifications, personality, and experience. By creating trustworthy connections within your targeted company list, you can increase your chances of being selected for an executive role from 1/150 to 1/5.

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Top Tips for Executive Resume Writing

Top Tips for Executive Resume Writing

Top tips for executive resume writing from Five Strengths. Change your strategy now!

Top tips for executive resume writing from Five Strengths. Change your strategy now!

If you are thinking about developing your executive resume right now, take a look at my most popular blog posts from the last several years. These are the ones that executive job seekers like yourself review again and again for top tips on how to prepare your executive resume.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

The right length of your resume is based on your unique job search needs.

The right length of your resume is based on your unique job search needs.

Job seekers with long careers tend to have had . . . long careers. When they are ready to write their resumes, they want to include the best and the greatest experience. Instead, they choose to start with their very first job, making their resume span multiple decades. The result is a long, directionless document. Read How Long Should Your Resume Be? for expert tips to choose the optimal length for your resume.

5 Keys to Resume Bullet Bliss: Resume Accomplishments Versus Duties

On your resume, for each position you have held in the last 10 years or so, you’ll need to include two key components: The description of your duties as well as your accomplishments. These two components are really quite different, and they serve completely different functions. Duties tell what you did; accomplishments tell why what you did was useful, valuable, and important. Do you know the difference? If not, read 5 Keys to Resume Bullet Bliss: Resume Accomplishments Versus Duties.

What if You Failed as an Entrepreneur? Where Does *that Go on Your Resume?

You can turn entrepreneurial failure into a successful resume.

You can turn entrepreneurial failure into a successful resume.

What if you were part of a failed start-up, and there is nothing that is clearly representative of your accomplishments to report on your resume? This can be an extraordinarily difficult situation for former entrepreneurs to negotiate. The trick to creating a successful entrepreneur resume is to focus on the key contributions that you made, even if they did not ultimately result in a profitable conclusion. In other words, the accomplishment is in initiating and succeeding through the process, not its result. Read What if You Failed as an Entrepreneur? Where Does *that Go on Your Resume? to retool your executive resume writing strategy to compel future hiring executives to look more closely at the assets you do bring to a future company.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40

If you are still typing “Resume” at the top of your resume, or if you are mistakenly writing an objective statement about what YOU want from a future position, read Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40 to learn about the executive resume writing mistakes you are probably making right now.

7 Secret but Powerful Resume Hacks that Get Interviews

Old-style computer screen reading "Hack Alert!"

Can you hack your resume to get more interviews?

How can you tell the difference between a ho-hum, reasonably good resume and a powerful, attention-getting, interview-winning resume? You’ll know, because the rules that govern excellent resume writing will have been hacked. Here is the countdown of my most secret hacks to writing a resume that breaks the rules and gets the right interviews. These 7 Secret but Powerful Resume Hacks that Get Interviews will tell you how to improve your own executive resume.

 

 

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