Stop Writing Your Executive Resume Right Now: Create Your Strategic Career Plan

Stop Writing Your Executive Resume Right Now:

Create Your Strategic Career Plan

If you want to shorten your job search, do not start with your executive resume. You will save time in the long run by being strategic early on. In fact, if you do not follow this advice, you are likely to stretch your job search from a few months to years. Avoid falling prey to the most unfortunate myth about your executive job search with this one strategic tip.

Your Executive Job Search Does Not Start with an Executive Resume

Yes, the title of this post says it all. Stop writing your executive resume right now. If you are writing your own executive resume, you need to put down your pencil, turn off your computer, and stop capturing your voice into your smartphone. This probably goes against everything you have ever been taught about executive job search, but it is true. If the first thing you are doing in your executive job search is writing your resume, you are bound to lengthen your job search, if not fail altogether.

The five top pitfalls of starting a job search by writing your own resume first are clear:

1. You have not yet identified the industry within which you want to work.

2. You have not yet selected a job level, whether it is individual contributor, manager, director, vice president, COO, or CEO.

3. You do not know how to temper your entrepreneurial roots to fit into a thriving organization.

4. You do not know which jobs you should apply for, but you think you will find them on job boards.

5. You believe you can pull out, capture, and write about exactly what a future hiring executive needs to know about you, on your own.

Turn Your Executive Job Search into Success with these 5 Steps

I know you want to get started, now that you have decided it is time to get a new executive job. But, clearly, starting with your resume is a bad plan. Here is a quick plan you can follow. Note that these steps all precede your writing your own resume.

Stop writing that executive resume and focus on strategy first. You will go faster and farther.

Stop writing that executive resume and focus on strategy first. You will go faster and farther.

1. Pick an industry. You will not fit into every industry, but you will fit squarely into one or two.

2. Select the right job level for you, knowing that in some cases, the authority of a given title will vary by industry, company, and company size.

3. If you have most recently been an entrepreneur, start to think about your role as an executive leader rather than a start-up type. Keep the hunger, lose the lone cowboy approach.

4. Select a category of jobs; then use LinkedIn, your existing network, and strategic networking techniques to meet the right decision makers–or those who can effectively introduce you.

5. Hire an executive resume writer. If you are an executive leader, add a key member to your strategic team. Doing so indicates you are willing to include another type of expert whose knowledge does not mirror yours.

These steps might go against what you believe is conventional wisdom. However, if you have completed these steps, you will see immediately how your executive job search will go faster–all because you chose to stop writing and start strategizing.

Do you need to refocus, retarget, or rebuild your executive job search? Call Five Strengths.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / fcl1971

A Sneaky Way to Connect with Second-Degree Targets on LinkedIn

A Sneaky Way to Connect with Second-Degree Targets on LinkedIn

One of the safeguards that LinkedIn imposes on its platform is the inability of users to connect with people they do not know. If your connection is not part of one of your groups, and if you do not have a valid email address for them, and if you do not have a mutual connection who is willing to introduce you, LinkedIn will prevent you from connecting. Clearly, this precaution exists to prevent individuals from spamming the platform with connection requests. However, you can get around this precaution using a targeted strategy that enables you to connect with the right people. Read on to learn how you can expand your first-degree connections to include people you do not know.

Step 1: Identify the Characteristics of the People Whom You Are Targeting

You first need to think about the type of person with whom you wish to connect. These criteria might include industry, position level, company name, and so on. This list might have several elements; in fact the more you use, the more refined your search results will be. Note: The NOT (or minus sign) does not seem to work.

Step 2: Set Up an Advanced Search to Create the Right Results List

Locate the search bar at the top of your LinkedIn screen. Next to it, you will see a link called “Advanced Search.” Click on it.

Step 3: Input Your Search Criteria from Step 1

Write a search query in the text box. LinkedIn does not use standard Boolean search principles, so focus on including all of the search terms that you believe are relevant.

Use the Advance Search Interface to Connect with Second Degree LinkedIn Connections

Use the Advance Search Interface to Connect with Second Degree LinkedIn Connections

Then, uncheck all relationship statuses except “2nd connections.” This will ensure that your sorted list will include only those with whom you are second-degree connections. Now click the “Search” button at the bottom left of your screen.

Step 4: Evaluate Your Results

Is this the right list? If not, refine your search criteria and try again. If this list does look right, start looking at the blurbs or profiles of the people in your results list to verify whether they are the right ones with whom you might connect.

Step 5: Choose a Few Profiles with Whom You Wish to Connect

Choose several people with whom you would like to connect. Do not choose too many, or your connection requests will appear to be spam to the LinkedIn interface. Write them down in a list for your records (this is important). Now look on the right of the screen to where the “Connect” buttons are located, and click to make the appropriate connections.

You will notice that these send out automated connection requests that you cannot modify or customize. Because of this, you will not have a record in your profile of your request to connect, which makes having a list of those to whom you reached out very important.

Step 6: Wait for Your Requests to Be Accepted

Now wait for those with whom you attempted to connect to accept your connection. In many cases, they will do so. In others, you might risk being flagged as attempting to spam or given the dreaded “I do not know” response. This is why I recommend that you try this strategy with only a few targeted people only every few days to weeks. It is definitely effective, and it can result in your being able to connect with specific targets that you need to advance your executive job search, but using this strategy wrong could potentially harm your LinkedIn presence if used inappropriately.

Mindful Career Change: Your Long-Term Executive Career Success versus Instant Gratification

Mindful Career Change: Your Long-Term Executive Career Success versus Instant Gratification

By its very nature, the term career reflects the series of jobs you hold over a period of time. In the cases of most executives, these positions are going to be linked by your industry, promotions, network, and drive. I posit that this vision for the long term will serve a savvy executive better than a scatter-shot approach of moving whimsically from position to position.

Your executive career path: Instant gratification or steady growth?

Your executive career path: Instant gratification or steady growth?

In an employment marketplace that allows you as an executive job seeker to focus on any goal you can imagine, are you going to be the rat in the Skinner box and focus on only short-term indulgence, or are you going to be “the millionaire next door”? The choice is yours, so choose a path that suits your long-term goals while creating essential career satisfaction.

B.F. Skinner’s Rat in the Box

We all recall the Skinner box with the rat–the rat presses a bar, and at various intervals the behavior produces a treat for the rat. The process ultimately trains the rat to press the bar frantically when the reward is delivered only infrequently. Your executive job search can do the same for you, if you are of the mindset that the next new career move could theoretically be better than the one you have now. In fact, sometimes it is better, but not always, which keeps you moving from job to job, from career target to career target. If this instability matched with excitement and inconsistent reward is exactly the type of stimulation your career path needs, then you can certainly make it happen. The downside, of course, is that eventually, the process will burn out, and you’ll only have a resume with a clear history of job hopping to support you when you decide to get serious about your career.

“The Millionaire Next Door”

On the other hand, you might have read The Millionaire Next Door. The author of this book posits that the unassuming millionaire drives an older car, dresses normally, spends little, and stays on the same career path–if not the same job–for decades. The successful executive in this scenario might not always be the flashiest on the outside, but he or she is going to be the solid, trustworthy, promotable leader on whom the executive board can always rely. The path to this type of success doesn’t necessarily have to be boring or staid, but it is likely to be established on a steady, gradual incline rather than a series of bumps, jiggles, and jumps. This executive is likely to have a solid resume with a number of related positions over the course of years to decades.

Mindful Career Change

But what if you have been on the slow and steadily rising for years to decades, and you are absolutely ready for a change? Will your network or a potential hiring executive see you as flighty and inconsistent? How can you manage a career change in industry, functional area, or, even harder, both? You absolutely can make this sort of switch–but perhaps only once or twice in your career. If you’re considering making a radical switch of industry or function, you might consider working with an expert executive career coach who can walk you through the process and help you avoid the many pitfalls and errors of executive career search while helping you transition in to the—long-term—career of your dreams.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / 7rains

P.S.: Here’s a link to buy the book on Amazon (affiliate link), if you’re interested: The Millionaire Next Door.

You Should Be Thankful You Didn’t Take that Job Offer

You Should Be Thankful You Didn’t Take that Job Offer

In the career management field, we measure our success by how well our clients succeed in the employment marketplace. This means we talk about and celebrate the number of interviews and job offers you, as an executive, receives. There are cases, however, in which we also value not accepting the job offer. Read on to learn more about why not taking the job can be a boon to your job search.

Is it time to walk away from an executive job offer?

Is it time to walk away from an executive job offer?

When executives are working steadily toward advancing their careers, they often view the job search as a numbers game–the more resumes they send out, the more interviews they theoretically should get, and the more competing offers they should receive. However, this thought process is faulty and doesn’t take into account the executive’s brand or corporate need. Nor does it account for the simple fact that not every job is right for a particular executive, and a particular executive isn’t right for every job.

We find that those executives who don’t know themselves well are willing to run away from what they are doing (or, realistically, their unemployment status) into any role that presents itself that isn’t, well, perfectly awful. As long as it’s reasonably good, the offer seems to be as good as any and certainly better than no offer at all.

However, those executives who take the time to explore their professional needs, wants, and goals have the fortitude and discernment to know when a role is wrong for them. Yes, it’s very hard to walk away from a process during which you’ve pursued a company and the company has pursued you. Being wanted is a heady thing. But when you reject a seemingly well-placed offer, you telegraph that you value your brand. You refuse to compromise on the value you can offer a company. You don’t let yourself be drawn into a role that predicts the wrong future for your career. You don’t eliminate the mental space or time in your calendar that will enable you to seek and achieve the executive role that is appropriate to your needs and aspirations.

In other words, you can be thankful, for once, that you didn’t take the job offer.

Are you not sure whether your offer is right for you? Call Five Strengths to discuss the value of this offer.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / gundolf.

Take the Long Way Around to Shorten Your Job Search

Take the Long Way Around to Shorten Your Job Search

If you believe you need a new resume right away to turn your job search around, you might be right. You might need a new resume to start getting interviews, but will your resume get you the right interviews? If you’ve never explored your deep motivations for seeking a particular job function, job level, industry, company size, and more, you might get interviews, but they’ll be wrong for you. Thus, taking the longer, more exploratory, path to job search strategy might actually improve your chances for getting the right job, as opposed to just any job.

At the outset, taking a step or two back to strategize about what the right job or industry is for you seems like going miles out of your way, when you know if you had the right resume, you could start your job search today. Let’s dissect this plan. First, you build a resume that is necessarily very general, or, worse, based on your most recent role, which was the type of role you never want to have again. Both strategies would result in a great resume that reads well, is visually appealing, and has great keywords. Now let’s say you start applying for positions, and somewhere between the completion of your resume and the fact that you’re not getting the right job interviews, you realize that the resume is targeted to a position you would never take. You’re blaming your resume, but it’s really your strategy that is at issue.

Set your compass early in your job search to save time and effort later.

Set your compass early in your job search to save time and effort later.

Now, let’s take another look at your plan. Let’s say you know you need a new resume, as most executive job seekers do, but you want to start by taking a hard look at the work you’ve done, the professional goals you have for yourself, your network, your industry knowledge, and so on. You engage in an exploration over weeks to months to learn what the market or industry has to offer. You craft your resume in response to these professional and environmental cues. You have been learning about potential positions and companies along the way, so when it comes time to apply for roles, you’re clearly the perfect fit–and the roles you’ve applied for are perfect fits for you.

This scenario can take place only when you’re willing to take what seems to be the longer path. In practice, you’re putting a lot of effort up front, essentially measuring twice and cutting once. As a job search strategy, this process will help you connect your needs with those of the employment marketplace efficiently and give you the greatest chances of success.


Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / Oeildenuit

How You Can Control Overwhelm in Your Job Search: The 80 / 20 Rule for Executive Job Search

How You Can Control Overwhelm in Your Job Search: The 80 / 20 Rule for Executive Job Search

Job search, particularly executive job search, can become a full-time job on top of your existing full-time job. Add in family, hobbies, eating, and sleeping, and soon you’re filling a 24-hour day with 29 hours of effort. Certainly, you should not minimize the time you spend recharging, so how can you control the overwhelm that often attends a complex job search, especially when you’re leading multiple teams and dividing your work responsibilities across multiple domains? Read on for three strategic choices that will cut down on your job search overwhelm.

80% Information Gathering / 20% Asking about Your Job Search

Balance your job search effort with job search results with the 80 / 20 rule.

Balance your job search effort with job search results with the 80 / 20 rule.

You’re conducting a private search, so you think that everything you do for it has to be 100% private. True, you probably don’t want to let your current boss or co-workers know that you are thinking about a move outside the company. However, these are not your only resources, and your approach doesn’t have to “out” you as a job seeker. Take advantage of the relationships you have to learn about other job functions or industries. In doing so, you build your knowledge base with honest curiosity. Over time, you’ll learn a great deal about what type of role, company, or industry fits you, and vice-versa. Thus, when you are truly ready to put concentrated effort toward your job search, you’ll be armed with the right information.

80% Research Online / 20% Applying Online

You might feel that you are not doing anything to further your job search goals if you are not consistently applying for jobs. You call up the job boards every night, tailor your resume, rewrite your cover letter, upload them both, and hit send. Perhaps this leads to you apply for 5, 10, or even 20 jobs per week. Do you really believe that there are upwards of 100 jobs per month that are right for you, or that you’re right for 100 positions? Not likely. If this has been your strategy, spend less time applying and more time researching the right positions. You might set up online alerts on the job boards or Google alerts, which will email you the positions you target every day. You can decide in a moment whether any of these are right for you–and you can spend the time you save making the human connections that will inevitably become more powerful in your executive job search.

80% With Help / 20% On Your Own

Asking for help might be the hardest thing you do in your job search. Because you’re so used to doing everything yourself and you’ve built a reputation for being the go-to person, asking for help might not be part of your persona or brand. If you can change that mindset, you’ll cut down on overwhelm, because you’ll start to focus on the elements of your job search that only you can do. For example, only you can reach out to a former MBA classmate. Only you can call the woman who knows a lot about X whom your colleague once mentioned. Nobody can create those personal connections but you. On the other hand, there are so many ways you can build a personal board of directors and/or job search team who can help you achieve your goals. Examples of this team can include a mentor, a challenger, a protégé, an all-out supporter, and a job search strategist or career coach. All of these will support you and help you cut the fluff from your job search.

Do you need to cut out the 80% of your job search that isn’t working? Call Five Strengths.


Image courtesy of Stock.Xchng / jazz4ev

Fix the Worst Mistake in Your LinkedIn Headline in 120 Characters or Less

Fix the Worst Mistake in Your LinkedIn Headline in 120 Characters or Less

If you could stack rank the best LinkedIn profile headlines, the 120 characters that show up next to your photo in searches, would the worst one be:

A) A well-honed description of your job title, industry, and value-add?
B) Your job title alone?
C) Something on your “results-driven” attitude?
D) Your employment status?

If you’re a savvy LinkedIn user, then your only choice would be D, or including your employment status in the most important element of your LinkedIn profile, the one that convinces readers to click through to your profile. Of course, anything other than choice A will not likely get your profile the degree of play you hope, but let’s focus here on the biggest error that I see in LinkedIn profiles all the time.

Expect your LinkedIn profile to crash and burn if you present yourself as a job seeker.

Expect your LinkedIn profile to crash and burn if you present yourself as a job seeker.

Let’s think critically about what your LinkedIn profile is really telegraphing if you state outright that you are an executive searching for a new opportunity. You’ll fall into one of two categories. If you’re employed, then you’re likely sending the wrong message to your current employer. Doing so will probably hurt your chances for success with your current company, and for obvious reasons.

If you’re truly unemployed, you don’t want the world to believe that this is the brand you wish to promote. Shouting from the rooftops that you’re unemployed is leaving you open for bias at the worst and benign neglect at best. Don’t stonewall a potential lead with a sign that says, “do not enter.”

Next, and most important, people get hired due to their accomplishments and skill sets. Being unemployed or engaged in a new job search is never going to be a skill. In fact, if you are engaged in a job search, what you want (said new opportunity) is essentially irrelevant to a future hiring leader–until they know you better. You should be concentrating on building a social media presence that future hiring executives simply cannot ignore, because your brand is compelling and essential to that executive’s company future success.

Last, and most importantly, “searching for new opportunity” is wasting what is widely acknowledged to be the most important real estate in your profile. Those 120 characters provide your profile’s billboard to the world, not to mention critical opportunity to improve your profile’s chances for being found on the words that describe your brand best. In the world of the Internet, this is called search engine optimization (SEO), and many of the long-tail keyword strategies prevail on LinkedIn as well.

To conclude, if your profile promotes you as a job seeker, you might be hurting your chances for success with an unhealthy mix of desperation and lack of insight into how you can create a compelling profile that demands  interest from the right people.

Does your LinkedIn profile not achieve the impact you need? Call Five Strengths.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / guitargoa

5 Tips to Update Your Entrepreneur Resume for Executive Jobs

5 Tips to Update Your Entrepreneur Resume for Executive Jobs

Let’s face it. In the entrepreneurial space: No guts, no glory. So what happens when you find yourself considering moving into the corporate world after a few years–or even a few decades. What do you need to include on your resume to bring it up to date historically and strategically? Strategies for resume writing have changed dramatically since you last looked for a job. Thus, the resume that got you your first position is not likely going to support your latest job search. Read on for 5 key tips to update your entrepreneur resume for the executive job you want.

1. Don’t write an “objective statement.”

8 ball

Feeling behind the 8-ball about your entrepreneur resume? Use these tips to ace your job search!

As a job seeker, you’re at somewhat of a disadvantage in the power structure between you and your future hiring manager, so now is not the time to demand anything of someone whose support you need very badly. Replace this objective statement with a powerful description of your entrepreneurial / professional brand. Make your reader want to meet you, the wise, experienced entrepreneur.

2. Don’t hold yourself to the one-page rule for your entrepreneur resume.

If you have been working for 20 years, much of those in senior positions, you’re going to have good stories to tell. Amplify those accomplishments, and feel confident that two or even three pages is acceptable for resume length now, as long as you use your resume real estate wisely.

3. Eliminate the line that tells your reader that references are available on request.

Your future hiring leader knows this–all good candidates have a list of people on whom they can call to vouch for their professional excellence. Having references is a given, so use your resume real estate to promote your expertise instead. Remember to print out a list of your references on a separate page, however, so you can offer it during an interview.

4. Don’t worry about your formal education–or lack of it.

If you chose the entrepreneurship route rather than pursuit of higher education, stop worrying about its absence on your resume. You can’t change the past, and you don’t have to. Your experience, properly conveyed on paper with strong accomplishment statements about your expertise, will tell a much better story. Certainly, if it’s always been your lifelong goal to complete college, don’t let time stand in your way. But know that your resume will soar when you describe the amazing work you’ve done as a successful entrepreneur.

5. Brush up your word processing skills to create your new resume.

If you’re not sure how to use Word, which is the word processing gold standard, take a community education class–or hire a virtual assistant to do the typing. Alternatively, hire a professional resume writer to write a strategic document from scratch, according to the current best practices that will get your entrepreneur resume noticed.

If you have questions about how to prepare your resume for entrepreneurs, call Five Strengths.


Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / ZoofyTheJi

Acknowledging Your Fear in Your Executive Career Change

Acknowledging Your Fear in Your Executive Career Change

There is nothing easy about executive career change. The path can have some surprising turns, but almost always, these new explorations can lead to real insight. As executive career coaches, we see how with self-exploration, executives in career change identify truths about their needs, goals, and career targets.

However, we also see those individuals who are clearly afraid of seeing something new inside themselves. They are most often blustery, willing to take all the credit, and unlikely to peel back the layers to their own fears to uncover what is really worrying them about the career change process.

Who remembers “Broadcast News,” a movie from the late 1980s? Jane’s the quintessential brilliant Type A reporter, Tom is a pretty face for TV news, and Paul Moore is the station executive. If you remember the movie, you might also remember this quote from it:

Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.
Jane Craig: No. It’s awful.

And Jane certainly means it. The character is “right” so often that she forgets how to be wrong. She’s so afraid of being overlooked, even though she’s clearly brilliant by any definition, she’s abrasive.

What if the movie went a different way? What if Jane openly agreed that her path to growth was difficult–and she acknowledged that she had real concerns about her ability to be successful? When executives in career transition face the fact that they might have to be vulnerable — in conversations with their coaches, in interviews, in career contract negotiations — they are likely to find that people are more than willing to help them. They’ll also find that being open about their fears doesn’t define them as incompetent or unlikeable. In fact, they might find just the opposite–that acknowledging their fears about their executive career change makes them seem more open to learning new things and more personable.

Do you think about the fears that hold you back from smart job search? Download our special report “3 Simple Steps to Clear Your Career Change Fear.” It’s free, and I want to share it with you. Thanks!

Five Strengths Attended Career Directors International’s 2013 Annual Summit

Five Strengths Attended Career Directors International’s 2013 Annual Summit

Amy L. Adler and Kim Meninger show off their awards and honors at the Career Directors International 2013 Annual Summit.

Amy L. Adler and Kim Meninger

Amy L. Adler and Kim Meninger

A Better Look at Amy’s Award

Amy L. Adler is the proud to have been honored at the CDI 2013 Summit with her second TORI Award for Best Executive Resume in two years!

Amy L. Adler wins 2013 Global TORI Award

Amy L. Adler wins 2013 Global TORI Award