What to Do about Your Executive Job Search if You Have Been Fired (or Consciously Uncoupled) from Your Company

What to Do about Your Executive Job Search if You Have Been Fired (or Consciously Uncoupled) from Your Company

Fired from your job? Follow these 5 steps to start your executive job search.

Fired from your job? Follow these 5 steps to start your executive job search.

Let’s face it–there is very little that is good about being fired. Executives experiencing this type of crisis often believe that the best thing for them to do is to get right back in the saddle and go search for a new job. Instead of forcing yourself into a job search situation for which you are not fully prepared and to which you are not fully committed, take a step back and follow these five steps to preparing to start an executive job search.

1. Take time to heal from the job loss.

It has been said that job loss and the ensuing loss of income is one of life’s biggest stressors. If you recently lost your job, you should take the time you need to process what happened without the compounding pressure of engaging in job search. You need to clear your head, read a dime store novel, and spend time with your family–to the extent that the financial pressures bearing down on you are not dire.

2. Evaluate your position in your industry.

If you have been terminated from a position, either terminated for cause or let go as part of a reduction in force, take some time to rethink your career trajectory. Consider the following questions:

  • Is this industry expanding or contracting?
  • Does your function within your industry have future viability?
  • Do you like your work well enough to return to something just like it in another organization?

If you are not entirely sure that the industry from which you came is the one you want to continue in, then perhaps this is a time to make a radical change in career direction.

3. Re-engage your network.

Once you have taken time to heal and evaluate your situation, start to talk to people inside and outside of your industry. Be a great conversationalist by being a great listener, and learn what drives them, professionally speaking. Do not go casting about asking anyone who crosses your path for a job–that is not networking. Rather, advance your knowledge of others’ careers and industries. You might learn something valuable to add to your own executive job search strategy.

4. Write your resume.

By this time, you will have had time to recover from your job loss plus taken the time to discover what is really important to your executive career strategy. Use this information to craft a resume directed toward a particular role in a particular industry. If you are unable to pull this information out on your own, do not hesitate to ask for help; there are career experts who walk this path every day. In any case, make sure that you include your current volunteer work or education as a current role, so that future hiring executives know that you are keeping your industry skills sharp.

5. Start applying for positions–via your network

You have developed quite a lot of information about the direction you want your career to go, and you have validated this information with your network. Now continue to work within your network and those your first-degree connections (think: LinkedIn) suggest you should meet to become top of mind before positions are posted publicly. You will find this to be a much stronger strategy than scouring the job boards for open positions and posting into the void. If you must use job boards, set up alerts to email you with appropriately filtered lists, so that you can review them quickly and decide to apply through the job board or approach the company from a networking connection.

Image courtesy of Freeimages.com / marzie

Three Networking Myths that Hurt Your Career Growth

Three Networking Myths that Hurt Your Career Growth

When it comes to networking, executives tend to fall into two camps. The either love to network, or they . . . ignore it. Those executive who do not consciously maintaining their networks might believe one of the three top myths about networking that can negatively affect their career growth.

Myth #1: Networking is for job search only

Certainly, when executives are looking for a job, it is wise for them to actively reach out to connections. However, the most common error executives make when they do transition to new roles is that they forget to maintain the connections they have built.

Your network is your lifeline to executive career strategy. Don't let your network run cold!

Your network is your lifeline to executive career strategy. Don’t let your network run cold!

Executives–job seekers at every level, actually–must remember that the network they have built over the course of their job search need nurturing even after they get the job. These are the people whom executives can ask for advice, meet at industry conferences, and recommend for future roles within their own companies.

Myth #2: Networking is for extraverts only

Introverts are often given short shrift on the issue of networking. Extraverts paint these introverts as shy, retiring, or even misanthropic, when, in fact, the opposite is most likely true. These individuals are thoughtful, and they are known to enjoy one-on-one conversations, which is what meaningful networking truly is. Introverted executives can capitalize on their strengths of engaging in intensive listening, learning, and advising in the context of small-group conversation and count these as components of a powerful networking strategy that has nothing to do with sharing what they perceive to be insipid small talk over the punch bowl at a large business event.

Myth #3: Networking means constantly finding new people to talk to

Networking is not only about increasing the number of people you know. In fact, effective networking is more about deepening the good relationships executives already have, if those relationships are the right ones to solve the particular question. Therefore, rather than seek to expand the breadth of the network, executives might choose to start with the people they know best, and keep those relationships warm over the course of months to years. These professional friendships are extremely valuable when executives do find that they have job search or career advancement questions and needs–these people are part of a trusted network that now has very deep roots and is based on time-tested mutual trust.

If your executive career needs a valuable networking strategy, call Five Strengths.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / graphican

When Is Ok to Reset Your Executive Career?

When Is Ok to Reset Your Executive Career?

If you are struggling with whether resetting your career right now is a good idea, then read on. In fact, even individuals with 10, 20, or more years of experience feel at some point that they are standing at crossroads in their careers. Read on for the top reasons to reset your career–and a reason not to reset your career.

It is time to reevaluate whether you should continue on your existing career path if:

You I don’t know what I want to do next; I just know that it’s not what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years.have earned a new degree or valuable certification

If you are midway or more into your professional career, and you have just finished a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree–or even a specialized certification–you might want to change careers to best take advantage of your newfound expertise. It definitely might seem that it is time to leave your old career and industry behind and move forward with the new.

You are bored with your industry, not just your company

There is a huge difference between being bored in a specific company and being bored with an industry overall. There is always another company to explore if your current company is not providing you with the right challenges. Hence, it is wise to tease apart the sense of ennui you feel related to your current company and the opportunities in it and the sense that you have maxed out your industry.

You are discouraged by the lack of growth projected for your industry

Growth patterns in every industry change, and some industries even die out in favor of those offering better technology or improved solutions. Yours might be experiencing a period of contraction, much as the housing and construction market did in the early 2000s and as health care has been projected to. If you can see the handwriting on the wall, and the future of your current industry appears dismal, then take some time to evaluate your role in it. If you cannot see yourself in a viable industry two, five, or ten years down the road, then perhaps it is time for you to explore new industry options.

You are at the logical end of a career progression

I have worked with a number of individuals who reached the senior executive level in their industry and realized that they did not have much else in them to add to their current role. As one executive put it, “I don’t know what I want to do next; I just know that it’s not what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years.” If this sounds like something you might say, perhaps it is time to explore a lesser role in a completely different industry.

When you should not change careers or industries

If you are having a rough time of it in your current company, you might feel compelled to toss the baby out with the bathwater and escape your industry altogether. While I never would suggest that you should stay in a toxic environment, you might find that it is not the industry that you cannot abide but rather your current company. If you know you truly appreciate so much of what your industry has to offer, then take time to evaluate your options and explore other companies in your industry. You might find, as one of my clients did, that the work powers you, but you need a fresh environment in which to do it.

Are you considering an industry change? Call Five Strengths.

Unlocking the Secret about Recruiters: Recruiters Do Not Work with Job Seekers

Unlocking the Secret about Recruiters: Recruiters Do Not Work with Job Seekers

Have you been considering sending your resume to one or more recruiters, whom you believe will help find you a job? Recruiters are exceptional professionals who know their markets well. They know how to research a company, identify its needs, and present several candidates whom they believe have the right assets and approach to fulfill a company’s expectations–and then to be paid by the company doing the hiring. You, as the executive job seeker, do not hire the recruiter to work for you, and you do not pay the recruiter. Thus, your needs, wants, and expectations do not play strongly into the way a recruiter does his or her work until you are a powerfully viable candidate. Read on to learn more about the ways recruiters can help executive job seekers like yourself succeed–and the many ways they are not invested in any one job seeker, until the company offers the position to the candidate.

Recruiters Are Paid by the Company Seeking to Hire

Recruiters receive their fees from companies when they agree to hire a candidate. This means that they do not work for you, the job seeker, and they have no obligation to help any single individual who is considering a job change. Rather, recruiters are more likely to follow the money and attempt to position candidates whom they believe have a strong likelihood of being hired, which then translates into their earning a fee for placement faster. That means, according to Lisa Rangel, former recruiter and current managing director of Chameleon Resumes, that candidates need to demonstrate that they can uniquely fulfill a hiring executive’s needs. And this is the rub if your skills and assets are marketable but, frankly, fairly common.

Unique versus “Fabulously Average”

Rangel goes on to differentiate between the working candidates who have scarce, unique skills –and those who do not. Translation: The best candidates are at the top of their game, currently working, and have a skill set that is uncommon in the marketplace. These candidates are more difficult to find, and they certainly are not throwing their resume around to every company and every recruiter in the industry. If they are looking for a new role at all, they are doing so discreetly and privately. These candidates are extremely valuable to companies; hence, they are extremely valuable to recruiters, who could receive fees for placing candidates in roles with highly specialized requirements.

As an executive job seeker, your key to working with recruiters successfully is to realize who pays them and how they benefit from placing unique and unusual candidates.

As an executive job seeker, your key to working with recruiters successfully is to fully understand who pays them and how they benefit from placing unique and unusual candidates in specialized roles.

The rest of the candidate pool fall into what Rangel calls “fabulously average.” She maintains that there is no shame in being fabulously average, but it does mean that candidates who have fairly common skills are not likely to be the candidates whom companies are willing to pay fees to hire. In terms of simple economics, the supply of these types of individuals meets or exceeds the demand, driving the price (the recruiter’s fee) downward, perhaps asymptotic to zero.

You Can Win Either Way

Whether your skill set is entirely unique or the work you do is more common, you can take advantage of this knowledge about the way recruiters think and work.

First, know that a smart recruiter will find you if your skills are sufficiently out of the ordinary, and they need to fill a company position requiring someone just like you. So if you are approached out of the blue by a recruiter who knows of a role to be filled, absolutely take him or her up on the opportunity to learn more about the position.

On the other hand, if you are considering simply giving your resume to recruiters in hopes that they will find you a job, stop right there. Recruiters are not likely to take the time or energy to position candidates for roles for which there are hundreds of viable candidates–companies simply will not pay the fee for talent they could easily scoop up on their own. Moreover, remember, if a company initially rejects your candidacy because you presented via a recruiter, whose fee would be owed several months beyond the initial introduction if the company hired you, the company might not have the privilege of hiring you without the attendant fee for quite some time. Therefore, you must take control of your own job search and not assume that a recruiter will do your heavy lifting for you. Create a target list of companies you want to investigate and become the first point of contact on your own. When the company sees that your candidacy does not come with a 15% to 30% price tag, they might be willing to look twice at your highly marketable assets.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / debsch

Manage Your Career Proactively with Executive Career Lifecycle

Manage Your Career Proactively with Executive Career Lifecycle

Have you ever been blindsided by a re-org and suddenly found yourself without a job?

Have you been frustrated by a job, executive leader, or company direction, but felt you had no choice but to stick it out?

Have you found yourself on executive career autopilot with no serious consideration for your next step?

If you answered “no” to all of these questions, then our new LinkedIn group is not for you.

On the other hand, you’re likely so focused on the demands of your job that you have little bandwidth for proactive executive career management. If you have ever worried about the direction and momentum of your executive career, read on.

Executive Career Lifecycle, a new LinkedIn group is for you.

Executive Career Lifecycle is not about executing a job search, although you’ll certainly find valuable tips and strategies if that’s your goal.

Join Executive Career Success, a New Group on LinkedIn

Join Executive Career Success, a New Group on LinkedIn

It’s about empowering you with the resources, support, and confidence you need to manage your executive career for long-term success. This group offers tools, tips, and expert information to help you:

  • Clarify your next step.
  • Promote your value to your current organization–or a future one.
  • Maximize your executive network.
  • And much more.

Join Executive Career Lifecycle on LinkedIn! Whether you’re actively in career transition, or not ready to make a change yet, we’ll help you proactively manage your career so that you’re prepared for the unexpected.

Executive Career Lifecycle. We welcome your participation at any level you choose! And when you join, you’ll get a complimentary copy of our report, “How to Give and Receive LinkedIn Recommendations,” the first step to building a powerful executive network.

P. S. We value your privacy. If you are not ready to make a career change yet, join the group and reach out to us confidentially with your questions, so that you’re ready to make a change when the time comes.

P. P. S. We value your success. If you are actively seeking a new job and want support navigating an overwhelming process, join Executive Career Lifecycle and engage with the group to expand your network and learn best practices for maximizing your search.

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 5 of 5

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.

1. Apply online for executive jobs: 5% 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 5% of your job search effort using this strategy.

Follow this simple plan to execute a successful executive job search.

Follow this simple plan to execute a successful executive job search.

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.

2. Engage 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.

3. Network into the right role before it becomes available: 75% 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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A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 4 of 5

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 4 of 5

Step 4: Start Looking at the Right Positions

Congratulations! You’ve spent a great deal learning about the type of work you find fulfilling, the type of industry in which you want to do it, and a list of jobs that make sense for you. Now you need to get very specific, so you can start the process of applying for positions that are best for you.

Your Plan: For this phase of your job search, you need to develop, minimally, a three-point strategy:

1. Learn more about the specific role you want to play by learning about the needs of the companies you have targeted.

Start by looking at the blogs, public relations efforts, and news reports about the companies you have targeted. Learn about their pain points, and develop a narrative about your own history that directly explains how you can serve companies to improve their situations. For example, if you are a CFO and your target company is expanding, you might talk about the ways you can improve daily cash flow to support rapid growth. If you are a real estate analyst, you might talk about your experience in site selection. If you are a vice president of sales and marketing, you might speak to a company’s need to grow business steadily so that the infrastructure can manage the growth well.

Now identify the specific opportunities within those companies through which you can address those needs, perhaps on the company web sites or in one of the major job engines. Do not neglect to review the company’s Facebook page, LinkedIn company profile, or Craigslist listings. Keep a record of what you learn that you can follow and review.

Start to identify the right executive positions for your executive job search.

Start to identify the right executive positions for your executive job search.

2. Speak more deeply and broadly to your network about available positions.

You likely know someone, or know someone who knows someone, at your target company. If not, go back to LinkedIn and build the relationships that will get you closer to the hiring executive. Once you have these key connections, talk to the hiring executive directly if you can. People hire people, so the relationships you build early on will support your application for the roles you want in the future.

3. Develop a career portfolio that speaks to these positions directly, compelling your audience to understand the value that you will deliver to them.

Construct a resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter suite that directly speak to the types of roles you are targeting. Generally speaking, your executive resume should target a category of positions within a particular industry, so that tweaking your executive resume for each position applied to is simple and straightforward. Know that a resume not targeted to a given role in a particular industry is not going to get you the interviews you want; moreover, a resume targeted to a different role or different industry will compel a hiring executive to reach out to you, either.

At this point, you will have a solid understanding of the positions that are right for you and likely to be available, the right network that will help you get an insider’s connection to the hiring executive, and an executive career portfolio (resume, LinkedIn profile, and more) that addresses your career history in light of a future hiring executive’s needs.

Your next step is to apply. See Part 5 of this series for some tips and tricks to get your resume in front of the hiring executive quickly and efficiently.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / csongor

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 3 of 5

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 3 of 5

Step 3. Target the Right Companies

Now that you have a good sense of the industry landscape, it is time to narrow down your list of company targets. Start to make a list of the companies on which you want to focus. These companies should hire for the type of work you want to do, in the industry in which you want to do it.

Choose the right company for your executive career change.

Choose the right company for your executive career change.

Your Plan: Look across your target industry, then narrow your set of company targets.

  • Start by evaluating the market in which you want to work and live. If you live in Salt Lake City, UT, and you want to stay there, limit your searches to this geography to start.
  • Use Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, and the many specialty job boards just to get a sense of who is hiring for what positions, but DO NOT apply online for these positions (yet).
  • Rather than apply for 10 jobs per week online, reach out to a few key people per week. These people should work in the companies you’ve targeted or know people who do. Make appointments with them for informational interviews.
  • Use local business journals and newspapers as resources to learn about companies in your industry, particularly if they are receiving funding or moving to larger space–both indicate corporate growth and, potentially, intent to hire new personnel.
  • Read company blogs to learn whether you are interested in their missions, goals, activities, products, and more.
  • Do not let recruiters coax you into applying to positions in your target company through them. Present yourself to the right companies first, before you let recruiters present you with a 25%-30% markup to your salary.

Some notes:

Do not be discouraged if a particular company is not posting the job you want to do on its career site. Your strategies need to be focused and include building your network of people inside or related to those companies.

Do not just focus on large companies in your job search. Small and mid-size companies — including start-up companies — are a significant source of new job opportunities. Do not discount a company just on its size; think about its growth potential or life cycle stage.

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 2 of 5

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 2 of 5

Step 2. Identify the Right Industry

Your job function might have correlates across multiple industries, so you might believe you can fit almost anywhere. This might be true, but that is a hard sell and nearly impossible to convey in a properly constructed resume or during an interview. Your resume needs to target your assets relative to a particular industry. Your interview needs to convey your experience so that a hiring executive sees the solution to his or her problems in your experience. Thus, you need to determine which industry, or which sub-industry, into which you will best fit and in which you will feel most rewarded.

Explicitly describe the industry into which you best fit to advance your executive career.

Explicitly describe the industry into which you best fit to advance your executive career.

Your Plan: Look at your current industry broadly to evaluate whether you still fit into it. Then determine whether additional industries might be more compelling to you as well.

  • Does your current industry provide sufficient interest for you to continue in it?
  • Are you finding the right challenges on a broad level?
  • Are there interesting problems that you can solve?
  • Are your ethics aligned with the success of your industry?
  • Do you believe that you can contribute over the long term to the success of your industry?
  • Have you explored other industries that might capture your interest? If so, you need to figure out what is interesting about them. Do some research online, or, better yet, build out your network to include people in those industries, so you can get an insider’s view of the way the industry works.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / amcmillan

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 1 of 5

A Simple Research Plan for Executive Job Search Success, Part 1 of 5

If you have been in the executive job search market a while, you might be wondering what it takes to get noticed and get hired by the right company. In fact, the longer you have been searching, the more frustrated you probably are becoming. One reason you might be failing to earn recognition in the executive job marketplace is that you cannot clearly articulate what you want to do and in which industry you want to do it. Read on to build a simple plan that focuses you and makes you memorable.

Step 1. Figure Out What You Want to Do

On the face of it, this is obvious. You want an executive job, probably related to your prior experience. Yes, you might be at the point where any job looks good, as long as it is not what you are doing now (or delivers a reliable paycheck).

Brainstorm on what you want to contribute in your next executive role.

Brainstorm on what you want to contribute in your next executive role.

But the answer is going to be much more complicated than that. Remember, you need to be realistic about your goals and understand that neither industries nor companies are going to bend to your wants and needs until you prove your value to them.

Your Plan: Do some free writing or some unfettered speculation about the solutions you want to contribute.

  • Create an “ideal job” description for the type of job you want. Describe the job title, type of company, location, responsibilities, compensation/benefits, and so on.
  • Identify which of your skills are most marketable to a prospective employer. Make a list of your skills: customer service, sales, technology, communication, etc. Clarifying your skills will not only help in your job search, but will also help you identify which skills, training/education, and experience you emphasize on your resume.
  • Answer these questions: What am I good at? What am I not so good at? What do I like doing? What skills do I need to update in order to stay current?

Check back for tomorrow’s installment of your executive job search plan, “Identify the Right Industry.”