Your Job Search Might Get You Fired

Your Job Search Might Get You Fired

Recently, I was speaking with a terrified job seeker. She wants to leave her current role ethically, with a new role secured. However, she’s terrified that word might get out she’s looking–in the past, a few of her co-workers were fired when the executive team learned they were on the market.

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Could you get fired for looking for a new executive job?

Can They Fire You Merely for Looking for a New Job?

Your Job Search Might Get You Fired
Utah in particular is an at-will employment state. In other words, according to the Labor Commission of the State of Utah, the employee can quit a job at any time, and an employer can terminate the employment, at any time, without giving notice. The exceptions to this at-will rule include “(1) when the termination violates clear and substantial Utah public policy; (2) when an implied or express contractual term requires dismissal only for cause; or (3) a statute or regulation restricts the employer’s right to terminate.”

Do any of these exceptions cover “employee is exploring other options outside the organization to further his or her career”? The answer is murky.

The Employee’s Position

Your possible position, as a potential job seeker:

  • Your current company is not supporting you the way you need to be, so you might need to explore other options.
  • Your career is important, so advancement outside your current company might be essential.
  • What you do on your own time, outside of work hours, is your own business.

The Employer’s Position

Possible outcomes, if your current employer finds out you are looking for a new position:

  • It might begin planning for your departure, a structural change that might legally force you out of your current role.
  • Your co-workers might no longer regard you as a team player.
  • Your executive leader might choose to assign plum project to other personnel, in case you choose to leave your current role.

The Confidential Job Search

Your company culture, irrespective of your state’s employment laws, might support an employee’s termination if he or she is engaged in a public job search. Here are a few tips to keep your job search confidential:

  • Do not post your resume to job boards.
  • Apply only for positions that you would accept if the job was offered to you.
  • Tell recruiters you are working with that your job search is highly confidential.
  • Do not use your work email and/or work computer for your job search (under any circumstances).
  • Turn off your activity notifications on LinkedIn so your contacts won’t get emails when you update your profile.
  • Do not mention that you are looking for a new position in your LinkedIn profile. Instead, make sure it meets LinkedIn’s guidelines for “profile completeness” and you will be more findable.

Need more strategies for a confidential executive job search? Reach out to me; I’ll keep our conversations in the strictest of confidence.

The Dreaded Informational Interview: What It Is, What It Is Not, How to Do It

The Dreaded Informational Interview: What It Is, What It Is Not, How to Do It

People hire people, not resumes. So you need to be a person before you’re a resume–to engage with individuals who can support your candidacy. You need to do informational interviews. Even if you’re a senior executive with 20+ years’ experience in your field and industry, you need to set up, strategize for, and do informational interviews. Your job search might fail without this critical job search strategy.

Informational Interviews: Not Your Grandfather’s Job Search

If you’re frustrated with your job search, I’d be willing to bet that your strategy included at least one of the following:

  • Reading job boards, tailoring your resume to each position, and sending it out.
  • Skimming companies’ career web sites, and uploading your resume.
  • Generating a list of companies, and sending it out to “Dear Sir or Madam.”

Dreaded Informational InterviewThere is a better way, and you can do it: The informational interview.

This Is Not an Informational Interview

“Hi, thanks for speaking with me today/having me here today. I’d like to tell you about my experience, assets, and abilities, because I’m looking for a job. Do you have a job for me? If not, do you know who is hiring? And furthermore, if you look at my resume [hands over resume], where do you think I fit in your company?”

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Tone: Desperate.

Content: Me-centered.

Only possible outcome: “Sorry, I am not hiring now.”

Subtext: I’m looking for a job.

This Is an Informational Interview

“Hi, thanks for speaking with me today/having me here today. I have heard so much about your company/product/service, and I’m truly curious about the processes and people that go into producing it. How did you get into the role you currently have?”

Tone: Curious and interested.

Content: Outwardly focused.

Only possible outcome: “Sure, let me tell you how I was hired here” / “I originally went to school for X, but I wound up doing Y” / “I’ve been in this company 15 years…”

Subtext: I’m looking for a job.

That’s a good start to an informational interview. It focuses on what the audience can offer about his or her experience and asks open-ended questions, none of which are “Will you hire me?” Of course, the subtext in any informational interview is that the candidate is in a job search, but that’s not really the focus of the discussion; it hovers in the background, but it’s not at the center of the discussion. The center of the discussion, then, is the person with whom you’re speaking. Give them the platform, be authentically curious, and learn from them.

How to Engage in an Effective Informational Interview

Overall, Informational interviews are not actually interviews. They are not about you, the candidate. Informational interviews are opportunities for you to ask questions and learn. Informational interviews are not only for new college grads; they can be useful for senior executives as well. They might be formal in-office conversations, or they might be brief phone calls. Either way, any way, they are targeted discussions about the individual with whom you’re speaking and the company.

Get ready for your informational interviews:

Prepare: Learn as much as you can about a handful of individuals with whom you wish to speak.

Secure meetings: Ask for 10 minutes on their calendars; follow up in a week if you do not receive a response. Move on from those clearly unwilling or unable to fit you into their busy schedules.

Ask open-ended questions: How do these people interest you? What do they know that you don’t? What drives them to go to work every day?

Capitalize on the connection: Who do they know that you might benefit from knowing (and vice versa)? Are they willing to make an introduction?

Follow up: Thank the individual at the end of the call or meeting. Send a follow-up thank you, expressing gratitude and referring to the action steps the person agreed to take on your behalf, if any.

Reach out to recommended connections: Start the process over; fairly soon, you’ll have added dozens of people to your personal informational interview pipeline.

Service Orientation for Your Informational Interviews

Remember, informational interviews are two-way streets. Be service-focused, and give as much as you take (or ask for). Be a helpful resource in any way you can for the individual with whom you’re speaking.

Feeling Overwhelmed in Your Job Search?

Still daunted by the prospect of developing and executing a strategy for executive job search? Not sure why informational interviews will help your specific executive job search? No idea what you can offer in return for someone’s assistance in your job search? Reach out to me; I will help you construct your executive job search plan and coach you/teach you to execute it.

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.

 

Job Search Research on Target Companies: Prepare for Your Interview Success

Job Search Research on Target Companies: Prepare for Your Interview Success

You’ve done a lot of work preparing and searching for a job and now it is time to research the company prior to the interview. Researching a company is critical to having a successful encounter with the hiring agent. You want to be able to walk into the interview with confidence.

Research the Company BroadlyResearch Your Target Companies for Interview Success

  • Check the website-you can discover a tremendous about of useful information about a company’s financial health, recent news and community involvement.
  • Check with your network-see what your partners know about the company-both pros and cons.
  • If possible talk to current and past employees-check out the work environment.
  • Learn who the competitors are and what impact they have on the company.
  • Research local business journals, national news, databases, and more. Learn whether the company is growing or contracting, if it has recently launched new products, or if it has received an influx of investment money—this can tell you a great deal about the company’s current trajectory.
  • Research the company’s top employees on LinkedIn.

As you prepare for the interview, keep in mind that you are not just learning about the company and its culture, you are learning about the type of people that they hire. Through this type of research you are developing your own presentation plan on how to handle the interview itself.

Narrow Your Research to Prepare for Your Interview

  • Review your information and target key areas that you may want to discuss during the interview.
  • Determine how your strengths can help the company move forward and achieve its goals.
  • Create talking points that you will be able to use to discuss the company’s unique values.
  • Be prepared to explain how hiring you will benefit the company.
  • Develop questions to ask during the interview. Show your interest in the company. Don’t be afraid to ask about future goals of the company.
  • Use LinkedIn and Google to look up the name of the interviewer. Learning names and titles can help you feel more comfortable during the interview. Check to see if you have any common interests.

The more that you learn about a company prior to an interview, the more confident you will be going into the interview itself. You will have an idea ahead of time if you are a good fit for the company culture.

Resume versus Job Application: What’s the Difference?

Resume versus Job Application: What’s the Difference?

. . . and why does it matter?

Many companies require that you fill out a job application even though a resume is already in the hands of the hiring manager. While this may seem to be unnecessary repetition on your part, there are several reasons that companies want both the resume and the job application–reasons that benefit both the candidate and the hiring company. But if the information you provide on these two important career documents do not match, proceed only at the peril of your interview, and possibly your career.

Your Resume

Your resume is different from your job application.

Think of your resume as an advertising vehicle on your background. It provides the branding that you want to bring to your interviewer and makes you shine in the interview process.  It develops your branding and details the assets you bring to a future employer.

A resume provides a job candidate with an organized and structured method to present work experiences and achievements, educational background, membership in professional organizations and pertinent community involvement. Continuing education courses should be added to the resume especially if they are aligned with the prospective company’s interests.

Your Job Application

The job application offers a company a legal document that states that all information provided is true and allows the interviewer to look further into your background. Well-designed employment applications often will ask for more complete details as to why a person left a position or compensation history.

Applications are part of your official record with a company. Making sure that your resume and application information aligns is important. An interviewer will catch discrepancies even if done in error.

Both the resume and job application need to be complete and written honestly. Lying on either is an issue, especially since the job application is considered a legal document. Most applications have wording that states that all information provided is true, complete and accurate. Should a company discover that information was falsely stated, could result. It is wise to be completely honest on both the resume and the job application.

Does Your Resume Match Your Job Application?

Recent news, including notable cases at major media companies, suggests that a mismatch between your resume and job search is cause for immediate rejection by a target company (or termination, if you’re already employed). Don’t risk it. The more honest you can be about your career history, the more authentic your career story is. If you are having trouble telling your career history, due to some complexities in your career timeline (terminations, job hopping, and so on), then find an expert career coach and resume writer who can help you message that story appropriately.

Learn about Career Paths with LinkedIn’s “Past Company”

Learn about Career Paths with LinkedIn’s “Past Company”

Have you ever wondered where you could go from your current job? Are you concerned that your career path is unclear, and you do not know what your next position might be? Use LinkedIn’s “Past Company” built-in search feature to learn where your company’s former employees landed to help you craft your own path.

Your Colleagues' Career Paths Can Inform Your Own

Your Colleagues’ Career Paths Can Inform Your Own

Start by logging into LinkedIn. Now click on the “Advanced” link, to the right of the search bar at the top of your screen. A number of search options beyond the simple search become visible. The one you need to look at is called “Past Company,” and there is an “+Add” icon that you can click to add your current company’s name. You can add your own title, a different title, or prospective title. You also can select the degree of connection (you might not specify this at this point). Now scroll down and click the blue “Search” button in the left sidebar.

The list that results from this type of search yields profiles of your connections — first through third, depending on your choices — who used to work at your company. Explore these profiles to see what types of roles they had, what they did after that, and what their most recent positions are. From a selected sample of these profiles, you might be getting a better picture of the career paths your former colleagues have taken.

To take this exercise a notch up, select for only first-degree connections. Now do the search again. This list can serve as a starting point for your networking and informational interview strategy. You definitely will have something in common with these individuals, which makes for a great conversation starter. You also have a goal in mind for your informational interview: “Could you please tell me how you chose to leave [former role at former company] for [next role at next company]? What led you to that choice? What skills did you need to acquire to make that jump? How do you feel about your decision now?”

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5 Ways to Measure Your Job Search Networking Success

5 Ways to Measure Your Job Search Networking Success

Do you wonder whether you are really getting anywhere with your job search networking strategy? While you are in the midst of networking, the process can seem thankless. Did that connection you made a month ago turn into something? How do you know whether the presentation you attended was worth going to from a networking perspective? Although it is hard to pin job search success onto any one networking event, overall, you can measure your networking success with a few simple metrics.

Where is the bottleneck in your job search networking strategy?

Where is the bottleneck in your job search networking strategy?

1. New Connections on LinkedIn

When you collect business cards at a networking event, do you turn them into LinkedIn connections? If not, you are missing a huge opportunity to broaden your network. Measure the growth of your first-degree connections–those you have met in person and those you “meet” virtually–to see whether your networking efforts are bearing fruit.

2. Telephone Meetings

Often, first-degree connections on LinkedIn linger in purgatory, never becoming real-world connections with whom you have conversations. How many of these first-degree connections result in telephone conversations, during which you can ask your new contact a variety of questions about their experiences, positions, companies, and industries? If your number is small, you might need to open this bottleneck in the networking process.

3. Face-to-Face Meetings

How many of your telephone conversations turn into real-world meetings? Granted, the face-to-face meeting is likely to be a more rare event than the telephone meeting, but this makes in-person conversations that much more important. Stack the deck in your favor, and ASK for the meeting. Your connection might be too busy, but chances are that he or she will feel flattered, particularly if you are seeking expertise from a position of genuine curiosity about this person’s experience.

4. Introductions to Hiring Executives

Now recall the number of times you have been introduced by a connection, personally, to a hiring manager. More rare still, these opportunities to meet actual hiring executives are precious chances for you to demonstrate the value you could bring to a company or an industry. Prepare for these meetings wisely–they are not likely to be frequent, so make the most of the chance to make that special first impression.

5. Job Interviews

Interview offers can come in cold, from the submission of your resume to an indifferent web site or email, but they are more likely to develop as a result of your ongoing, powerful, and planned networking strategy. Therefore, this is the metric that matters most in your networking efforts. Bring your best game, and use this opportunity to show how you are the right fit for the company.

Conclusion: Identify the Bottleneck

Where in this process did your numbers drop off? Was it at step 1? Maybe you are not putting yourself out there sufficiently at the broadest level to create as many new connections as you can. Was it at step 4? Why do you think hiring managers–those with the power to extend critical interview offers–are not following through? Not getting a second interview? Then you must examine your interviewing strategy for step 5. Wherever the bottleneck seems to reside, you have to figure out why your experience has followed this pattern. Not sure why your job search networking strategy is not working? We can help.

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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 firstnamelastname@gmail.com, 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.

 

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LinkedIn’s Gamification of Profile Views: More Harm than Good?

LinkedIn’s Gamification of Profile Views: More Harm than Good?

The gamification of LinkedIn?

The gamification of LinkedIn?

LinkedIn’s new “How You Rank Among Your Connection” function stacks your profile against those of all of your first-degree connections, according to the number of profile views yours is receiving compared to all of theirs. I described this new feature in detail in “Compete with Your LinkedIn Network for Profile Rank.” I was astonished by the overwhelming response to this post. Therefore, I am digging deeper now into the value of LinkedIn’s gamification of your profile. My initial impression of the new metric is that it can do more harm than good for legitimate job seekers.

See Compete with Your LinkedIn Network for Profile Rank for my initial thoughts on LinkedIn profile view rankings.

You Are a Job Seeker, Not a Gamer

First and foremost, you are a job seeker, not a gamer trying to “win” in any arena other than the employment marketplace. To reduce your very real job search to a game is uncivil at best. Correct use of LinkedIn is essential, but for you to be focusing on an artificial competition imposed on you by the platform detracts from your true purpose in using it–building essential connections that drive your career transition. The new metric of how you compete with your network for page rank engages you to focus on the unnatural competition between you and the very people who are likely to be your most precious asset in your job search.

The Profile Rank Metric Measures Your Position but Tells You Nothing

Second, just because LinkedIn can measure something does not mean that the measurement has inherent value. Let us assume that your network is composed of one of three types of connections. On the one hand, you have those who can help you in your career transition but who could gain nothing otherwise from being your connection, such as senior executive leadership if you are a newer entrant to the employment marketplace. (Or you might be that leader who enjoys connecting with more junior players because you value the process of unearthing exceptional talent.) Next, you have those who can only gain from including you in their network, such as recruiters and those seeking to hire someone like you. Last, you have people professionally similar to you in industry and job function.“The new metric of how you compete with your network for page rank engages you to focus on the unnatural competition between you and the very people who are likely to be your most precious asset in your job search.”

In slightly different terms, the first category is composed of people similar to you but to whom you pose no competition in the employment marketplace. The second category is composed of people who need your connection on some level (or vice-versa). The last category is composed entirely of connections with career histories, job functions, and experiences substantively similar to your own.

Unless your profile is actually composed 100% of people in the third category, the idea of ranking yourself against your every single one of your first-degree connections is baseless. There is truly no point in comparing your rank for profile views with, let us say, that of your grad school professor’s, that of your accountant’s, or that of your company’s CEO. The comparison measures two like things–the number of profile views you each receive–but relationship might be more apples-to-oranges than apples-to-apples than is immediately obvious.

Let us take a step back and look at this a different way: If we construct an artificial environment in which your first-degree connections are 100% like you, then the comparison metric makes sense. Theoretically, at one time or another, or even right now, you will be competing with this group for the scarce resources of informational interviews, knowledge of job opportunities, job interviews, and job offers. Of course, savvy job seekers connect with people across the three types, because all can influence and improve his or her success in the employment marketplace.

Your LinkedIn Profile Is Not Your Resume

Another critical problem with the gamification of your LinkedIn profile is that the comparison of profile views across your network encourages you to tweak your profile the way you might tweak your resume. Of course, there are very good reasons to consistently build a robust LinkedIn profile, and every participant on the platform should work hard to ensure that the profile represents the professional brand. However, tweaking for the sake of “beating” the competition has no value, given the fact that despite LinkedIn’s best efforts, your profile will never replace your resume.

There are going to be those who disagree with me; perhaps those in LinkedIn’s leadership will argue to the contrary, given the recent emphasis on applying for jobs posted on the platform (a revenue source for LinkedIn, clearly). However, smart job seekers know that not all job postings within an industry or job function are the same, so some tweaking is essential. LinkedIn has pitted savvy job seeking strategy against rank for page views.

LinkedIn, the Latest in Popularity Contests?

In conclusion, you need to decide for yourself how much you want to play the popularity game. Do you want more profile views, or do you want BETTER profile views? The best card you can play in this game is delivering top-flight content that accurately portrays your career history, accomplishments, and overall professional brand. I maintain that it is better to get 10 appropriate views by those

  • In your industry or job function
  • Connected to people who might be able to influence your career direction at some point
  • Needing your help to improve their career prospects
  • Positioned to influence the hiring people with your skills and expertise.

than 100 profile views from individuals unrelated to your area of expertise, whom you cannot help, or who cannot help you. If you focus on quality over mere popularity and cultivate meaningful connections, you inevitably will create real value out of your LinkedIn profile views. You will not be satisfied with the metric of LinkedIn profile view ranking as an end in and of itself.

 

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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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