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 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.”

Job Search Focus for Success: Know What You Do NOT Want in a Job

Job Search Focus for Success: Know What You Do NOT Want in a Job

Rather than start with what you do want in a future executive position, a different tactic may be to identify all of the functions you definitely do not want in a future position. Thus, your job search excludes all of the elements of a job that you do not want to have.

Identify what you do not want in your next role to focus your job search.

Identify what you do not want in your next role to focus your job search.

In this employment economy, there is no be-all, know-all, do-all executive. While you need to be flexible about the work you will take on and certainly expand your role once you are in a position, you will not be interviewed, much less be selected for hire, if your unique selling proposition is that you can do anything. Read on to learn how to create effective parameters that efficiently focus your job search.

Think of the Venn diagram about which we all learned in junior high school math: It has three or four overlapping circles that identify sets of elements. Some elements are in all sets, and some are in just one. Think about your potential future jobs like these overlapping circles. Are the positions you have chosen very much alike? If so, your circles overlap significantly. If they do not overlap, then you have a complex process of elimination before you. You need to identify exactly what you do not want in a position, those deal-killing job functions that fit into only one of the circles. These roles are ones you can eliminate.

Now look at the positions you have left. Are all of these ideal for you? Do they overlap? By how much? The less they overlap, the more pruning you have to do to home in on your perfect role. Determine which of the remaining job characteristics, perhaps the ones that fall into two job types, you can cut from will become your short list. By this point, you should have a tightly nested or overlapping set of circles representing a very sharply focused set of job titles.

With this renewed focus, which effectively eliminated the types of roles you would never find yourself assuming, you can now write an executive resume and craft an executive job search that positions you 100% to one target. The benefits of this approach are many; the most important is that if you position yourself correctly, you will be able to market yourself so compellingly for specific job functions in specific industries/company types/geographies, and so on, that a future hiring leader cannot help but recognize the solution to his problems in your candidacy.

Need to know more about focusing your job search? Five Strengths can help.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Why Does Your Resume Drive Your Interview? (It Is Not What You Think)

Why Does Your Resume Drive Your Interview? (It Is Not What You Think)

You’re probably thinking that the relationship between your resume and your interview is obvious. A resume gets you the interview, right? Certainly, in some cases, and expertly prepared resume that a hiring leader cannot ignore will generate the interview you need. However, in every well-conceived job search strategy, your interview is actually a reflection of your resume, not the reverse. Read on to learn why your interview strategy depends on your resume strategy.

Your resume drives your interview--study up on YOU now!

Your resume drives your interview–study up on YOU now!

Let us assume that you have set up your dream interview. In your excitement , you prepare in every way you think possible:

  • You wear the right suit.
  • You read the right books on how to answer questions on your weaknesses and other tricky interview questions.
  • You learn something about the CEO’s latest initiatives, so you can ask savvy questions.

The one thing you do not do is brush up…on yourself. You have no idea how to talk about your career experiences and accomplishments. In fact, the first time you put your stories into words is at the request of the interviewer to tell something about your expertise. Because you have no preparation for the task, you fail. You are practicing when you should be performing.

Surprisingly, you can avoid this major interview pitfall by having an expert resume writer prepare your resume. On the one hand, you’re more likely to increase the number of interviews you do receive. On the other hand, the process of having your resume expertly prepared will actually increase your level of success in the interview process.

Let us examine why this is so. When you choose your expert resume writer, you will have sought a professional who will give you uninterrupted one-on-one attention. He or she will sit down with you and draw you through an extensive question and answer session, perhaps over the course of several hours, to elicit the best of your experience and accomplishments. This might be the first time you ever have verbalized your expertise, so you can feel free to take your time to explore and elaborate on your talents, history, skills, and specific achievements. Through this process, you’ll have the privilege of telling yourself the story first, then seeing a distillation of your reports in a well-crafted, professionally written executive resume.

Now let us re-imagine your interview. When the interviewing executive asks you to relate some specific expertise, you can do so confidently. At this point, you are retelling a story that you’ve told yourself, had told to you, and reviewed extensively. You will be eminently ready to walk your interviewer through your career history–moreso because you have had your resume professionally prepared.


Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / mart1n.

Stop! You Do Not Need an Executive Resume to Start Your Executive Job Search

Stop! You Do Not Need an Executive Resume to Start Your Executive Job Search

If you are ready to make an executive job change, then STOP before writing your executive resume. You do not need it, not yet. Certainly, you will find dozens of so-called resume writers willing to take on your executive resume writing project. However, if neither you nor the resume writer have the insight to realize that the problem is not your resume, you are going to be sorely disappointed with the outcome. In fact, if your resume writer suggests that you are not ready to have your resume prepared, you should listen. Read on to learn why you need to stop right now and evaluate your executive job search strategy before you have your executive resume prepared.

I Need a Resume, Right Now!

You need a resume, right? Yes, likely; and when you are ready to write one, make sure you hire an expert, certified resume writer. Do not skimp on that important investment. But before you commit to paper the thoughts in your head, take a step back and evaluate these three important questions:

Have You Hit the Wall? Stop Before Your Write Your Executive Resume.

Have You Hit the Wall? Stop Before Your Write Your Executive Resume.

1. What do you want to do next?
2. Does your future goal look like your recent career history?
3. Does your future goal look like your distant career history?

If you do not know the answer to any of these questions, you are not ready to write your executive resume. In fact, a smart resume writer will tell you that you are probably about five to eight weeks away from being ready to have your executive resume prepared by an expert.

If I Am Not Writing My Resume, What Do for the Next Five to Eight Weeks?

If you could not give a solid answer to the questions I posed about your career goals and how they relate to your future job targets, you need to stop focusing on what your resume could potentially say and start thinking about your career goals from the inside out. For this, you need an expert executive career coach.

Your Executive Career Coach Will Lead the Way

If you realize that you have hit a wall in your executive career search and do not have a good sense of what your career goals should be, an executive career coach can walk you through a highly customized yet planful process that helps you figure this out. On the front end, you will explore a variety of career paths and talk to the right people who can inform your career search.

Your Executive Resume Writer Will Follow Your New Focus

While you evaluate your options in a fairly safe environment and feed that information back into your strategy, you can start to think about the future shape of your executive resume. By the five- to eight-week point, you will see the result of your work and a natural progression that funnels into the resume writing process. You will also see that you have tremendous work yet to do, so you will want to stick with the plan your executive career coach and resume writer have established for you and let them walk the path with you to your success!

Curious about the path to winning the executive job search game? Call Five Strengths.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / onatos

Create a Financial Plan for Your Job Search

Create a Financial Plan for Your Job Search

How much have you spent on your job search? If you’re even asking this type of question, you’re missing the point: Putting smart money into your job search is an investment, not an expense. In other words, you can expect the dollars you put into finding the right position to yield exponential dividends in the form of a better job, increased compensation, and the peace of mind that comes with exceptional job satisfaction. Read on to learn the wisdom of creating a financial plan for investing in your job search.

Investment in your career search yields dividends!

Investment in your career search yields dividends!

An investment is a purchase that is believed to generate future wealth in excess of the principal. Your job search is just such an investment–of effort, time, and, yes, dollars. But where do you put those dollars, and how do you account for them? Following are the core headings under which you must plan for and record the investment of dollars into your job search.

Investment in Your Career Persona

1. Wardrobe. Make sure that you dress the part of the role you want, not the role you have. If this means approaching a better clothier than the one you’re accustomed to frequenting, do it.

2. Conservative presentation. Always dress and groom to a higher standard for your interviews and networking events, even if your target environment is relaxed and hip.

3. Clean car. Unclutter your car and get it a good vacuum. You’ll have a clear, refreshing space to organize before and after your networking events, meetings, and interviews. Rumors also circulate indicating that during your interview someone is looking at the condition of your car, so don’t let them see what you don’t want them to.

4. Reliable mobile phone. Make sure you have a phone that you can use for your job search. Invest in good service to ensure that you have consistent reception. You don’t have to have a smartphone, but know that there are many good apps that you can download for free or at low cost to help you organize your job search. Think about making sure you can dial and receive calls, send and receive text messages, and check your email regularly.

Investment in Your Career Portfolio

5. Your executive resume. It is nearly impossible to detach sufficiently from your own career history to examine it dispassionately and thoroughly. Also, resume writing strategy is a set of technical skills that, together, translate from where you’ve been in your career to where you want to go. Hire an expert who does this type of work every day of the year–it is an investment well worth the time, effort, and financial resources you put into the process.

6. Upgraded LinkedIn account. You don’t need to advertise that you’re a job seeker with a job seeker program, unless you want to, but there are good reasons to upgrade and take advantage of the benefits that LinkedIn offers.

7. Refreshed LinkedIn profile. Hire an expert to craft your universal calling card–your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is the first place people look to find out more about you.

8. Career coaching. If you have less than 100% understanding of where you fit in a company or what your target industry should be, don’t skimp on good advice. Hire a certified executive resume writer and executive career coach to help steer you in the right direction.

Overall, if you can afford to invest in yourself, don’t always go with the least expensive options, as the return might not be what you need. Judge costs accordingly, and know that every cent you wisely invest into your job search will surely give you profitable dividends in the form of a rewarding career.


Image courtesy of http://all-free-download.com / anna langova

Updated July 2018.

Not Getting Interviews? Apply for Only 6 Jobs in Your Executive Job Search

“Why am I not getting interviews?” you’re wondering? “I’m sending out dozens of resumes, but the calls aren’t coming in.”

Not Getting Interviews? Hint: There are only 6 executive jobs that are right for you.

When job search candidates tell me that they have applied for hundreds of positions and received no interviews, they usually sound panicked and angry. After all, with all that effort they are putting into their job searches, why aren’t they getting any interviews? They are baffled, frustrated, and worried about their chances for success. They don’t see that there are only perhaps six jobs that are right for them.

The first thing I advise these frustrated executive job search candidates is to stop applying right away. Clearly, the strategy they have chosen is not working–they’re not getting positive responses to their resumes, and they are not getting interviews that match their expertise. There is something very wrong with their approach, and doing more of it will result only in more frustration and fewer calls for interviews.Not getting interviews? Narrow your career focus, and you'll get calls for interviews for the right jobs.

Now I’m Wondering, “Why Are there only 6 Jobs in My Executive job Search?”

Then, I ask what positions they are targeting. The wide range of responses is staggering. And there is the problem. There are no “hundreds of positions” that are right for any one person–no wonder there are no calls for interviews. I would posit that there are only 6 (or thereabouts) positions that are right for any single executive. So when executives are frustrated because they are not getting interviews, I tell them it’s because they’re casting a net that is by far too wide.

By eliminating all positions and companies that are not directly in the bulls-eye of your job search, paradoxically your job search will become more fruitful. You’ll target your entire job search process to this set of positions, which you have taken time to identify, focus on, and target your messaging toward. Yes, it might feel like you’re eliminating hundreds of possibilities, but instead your message is becoming more authentic and more believable to your hiring entity. You’ll start to sound like the executive they have been looking for all along.

So how do you focus on your 6 ideal jobs? You leave out everything not in your ideal executive job search zone. If the executive job is not targeting

  • Your values
  • Your corporate culture
  • Your function
  • Your growth
  • Your aptitude
  • Your skill set

Then do not apply, and have zero regrets about leaving it off your list.

Updated January 2017.

How to Avoid Job Search-Killing Frustration

How to Avoid Job Search-Killing Frustration

Frustration is anger plus disappointment that results from a perceived lack of control. If you’re frustrated in your executive job search, it means that you think hiring executives hold all the cards–and you have nothing but a list of open positions and an executive resume.

Person walking down narrowing path

Focus your job search, eliminate frustration, and find success.

So it’s no wonder that armed with only these two tools you feel jaded, cynical, angry, or frustrated about your executive job search. When you do something once or twice or three times in your life, you’re not likely to know the ropes let alone be an expert. Here are some tips on how to avoid Sisyphean but certainly avoidable job-search frustration.

To eliminate your frustration, cut out the practices that result in anger and disappointment and replace them with high-impact strategies.

Identify your unique brand and deliver the same message consistently

Stop all job search activity until you’ve figured this one out. You need to identify what you want the world to know about you as an executive, so you can promote your message clearly, confidently, and consistently. Wavering on the presentation of your brand will confuse and frustrate your audience, resulting in their lack of interest in your experience.

Stop looking on job boards

How much time do you spend looking on the Internet for job postings? How many job postings that were right for you did you find in all of that searching? Of those few you found, how many of your applications resulted in interviews? Maybe some, but was your result enough to justify your effort?

Rewrite your LinkedIn profile

If you’re not getting profile views or connections from your LinkedIn profile, it’s not working for you. Recraft your LinkedIn profile according to your brand to include searchable, long-tail phrases that will attract the right audience for your unique executive job search.

Revise your resume

Eliminate all versions of your resume but one, and focus it on your unique brand and proven expertise. Don’t confuse your audience with multiple flavors of your experience.

Apply only for positions that are right for you

There are only a certain number of jobs that are right for you. The number is certainly less than the dozens or perhaps hundreds that you’ve applied to in the past. Paradoxically, if you focus on the very few positions that are 100% right (or nearly so) for you, you’ll experience a greater return on your effort. Don’t waste time spreading your resume around for positions in companies that don’t meet your discerning criteria.

Start getting interviews

The more you hone your branded message, and the more you eliminate the noise, the more likely your specific audience will recognize you for the one or two things for which you need to be recognized. With more effort on the front end, the execution becomes much easier and more fruitful. In fact, your frustration with your executive job search is likely to diminish because you’ll start seeing a great deal more reward for the powerful effort you’ll be putting into your executive job search.

Do you have trouble focusing your job search? Call Five Strengths for a free evaluation of your unique executive job search situation.

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Stop Looking for Executive Jobs on Online Job Boards

Stop Looking for Executive Jobs on Online Job Boards

If you’re looking for your next executive job on online job boards such as Monster and Indeed, you’ve got a lot of searching, reading, filtering, and applying to do. Every day, you have to log in, search, read, filter, and apply … and then do it all again the next day. Have you done this? Have you felt the frustration that comes with doing all of this for perhaps hours per day with few positive results?


Are you wasting time on online job boards for your executive job search?

The reason you’re feeling like you’re getting small bang for your buck is that online job boards, particularly for executives, are not effective for job search strategy–in isolation. Of course, you might feel like you’re doing a lot–all that search/read/filter/apply can take hours of your day. But the return you can expect from doing all of this will continue to be slender.

How You Should Use Online Job Boards for Your Executive Job Search

First, stop applying (if you are) to hundreds, or even dozens of jobs. Of course, this will require a significant shift in your thinking if this has been your sole strategy to date. Instead, use the big job boards and the specialty job boards to get a sense of what hiring executives typically want candidates to address when they apply for positions. Think about the skills, knowledge, and abilities that these types of positions require, and start mapping your resume strategy to them.

Second, set up job search alerts on each job board and on Google Alerts. Alerts send you daily updates of positions that match the criteria you specify directly to your email. Now all you need to do is check your email one time per day to see whether any of the positions mentioned are good prospects for your executive job search. You’ll save hours of time that you can now use more strategically.

What to Do Instead of Scouring the Job Search Boards

You might feel like you’re “not doing anything” if you give up your daily scouring of the online job boards. It’s going to feel very different from your prior practice, but you’ll start to see the benefits of your efficiency. Use the time you’ve opened up to start to build the relationships that will get you into target companies before positions are even posted. For example, if you know that Smith, Inc. is a company of interest, and you believe you’d make a great General Manager there, then start researching the company. Read its web site. Google its press releases. Learn about its products or services. Then, look on LinkedIn to see whether you know anyone who works there, or whether you have a second-degree connection who works there. Now take that connection to the next level and see about getting the right introduction for an informational interview. You’ll be surprised at how successful your in-person, humanized executive job search strategy can be.

Do you need some guidance on how to get the right informational interviews? Five Strengths can help.


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Top 10 Social Media Management Tips for Job Seekers

Top 10 Social Media Management Tips for Job Seekers

We all know the conventional wisdom that if you’re a job seeker it’s great to be on social media. But what does that mean for the busy job seeker, particularly the executive, who might not know how to position himself/herself on a social media platform? Does it mean that you have to keep your Twitter account up all the time? Which is the right social media platform for you? Do you need to engage every day? Read on for the top 10 social media management tips for job seekers.

What social media platforms should I be on as a job seeker?

Social media management stylized abbreviation

Social media management is essential for successful job seekers.

  1. Have a presence on social media in a way that suits your job search and personality. You don’t have to engage more than you want to, as long as you’re consistent in your approach.
  2. Choose one or two social media platforms and stick with them. Don’t feel like you have to have a huge presence on every social media platform, so choose the ones on which you will be consistent and develop an engaging brand with those who might seek to hire an executive like you.
  3. Make sure that if you’re an executive job seeker, one of the social media platforms on which you engage is LinkedIn.

How should I present myself on social media as a job seeker?

  1. Be authentic. People want to know that what they see in your profile is who you really are, say, in a phone interview or face-to-face job search. This also means be kind and refrain from flaming.
  2. Demonstrate your expertise by posting essential, perhaps newsworthy industry information.
  3. Determine the position you wish to take on issues relevant to your industry or executive level, then stick with them–or create subtle controversy by explaining why you’re switching sides.

How do I manage to engage on social media, because as a job seeker I’m busy and don’t have time to waste? What tools can I use?

  1. Use the social media tools themselves. By working within, say, LinkedIn, every day, you’ll get a good sense of what others are doing and saying in your space.
  2. Get a HootSuite or SocialOomph account for an efficient, dashboard-like approach.
  3. Remember that the rule of reciprocity matters as much in social media as it does in real life. Repost and comment on others’ posts in greater proportion than you do send original microblog posts. Interestingly, this consistent practice makes engaging with social media simple and efficient.

What’s the single best way to promote myself online?

  1. Write a blog, and write it consistently. WordPress is an easy, free platform for you to use–all you need is a URL and hosting company (your investment is less than $50 annually, typically).

Thanks for reading these top 10 social media management tips for job seekers. I welcome your comments. If you are a job seeker and need solid advice on developing your social media presence, contact Five Strengths Career Transition Experts. We will help you develop the platform and social media presence you need to get ahead in your career.


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