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Focus Your Executive Career Transition Strategy

Focus Your Executive Career Transition Strategy

When you’re focusing on the quotidian details of your job, you hardly have time to think about the larger issues surrounding your executive career trajectory. It might be too overwhelming, too abstract, or simply not relevant to your finishing tasks a, b, and c before deadlines 1, 2, and 3. Here are some tips to help you create simple steps to advancing your career in a way that empowers you, makes you feel successful, and, more importantly, enables to believe in your own success.

Set Manageable Goals Today

The first item on your career change agenda should be to set manageable goals today. This item really has two parts: The goals need to be manageable, and you need to set them today. So stop what you are doing, take a pen and paper, and create a wish list of all the things you wish your current executive role did for you, or all the things that it does do for you that you love. Remember, delaying your decision to make a choice is also a choice, so be sure that if you are putting off making a decision that it’s for the right reasons, not because choosing to act is simply too hard.

Now examine this list:

  • Are all of these rewards possible in your current job? If not, what executive role might you be targeting next?
  • Are all of these ideal factors achievable in a reasonable time frame, assuming you put a reasonable amount of resources toward achieving them?
  • Do you believe that you are empowered on your own to achieve these goals? If not, whom might you call on among your personal board of directors to help you reach these goals?

Devise Several Sets of Plans to Achieve Your Goals

The second item on your executive career change agenda is to look critically at the goals you just established and think, broadly, about how you will layer your plans to accomplish them. For example, if one of your goals for your own executive career satisfaction is to lead a larger team, does that mean your current company needs to hire more people (an internal business decision), or do you need to look outside your company for a role that gives you this opportunity? If the former, with whom do you need to speak to start building a business case to grow your team? If the latter, what executive job offer would be so compelling that you couldn’t ignore it? Could you define this role more clearly? If you can define it, are you ready to set that level of change in motion? Knowing how you will plan for various outcomes of your research can help you establish a series of steps that won’t overwhelm your busy schedule.

Overall, plan for your executive career change in several layers–what you can do today, what you can achieve in the medium term, and what you need to do to ensure that you reach your long-term goals. Also think about what you can do on your own to achieve your goals and what will require you to involve others who can support your goal-achievement strategy.

Find a Sounding Board to Test Your Logic and Help You Move Forward

If you’re working through this exercise, you might be finding that you don’t have answers advance your decision-making process. Don’t be afraid to call on your personal board of directors, including a career coach if necessary, to help you take your questions apart and build a plan that will help you win the executive career that supports your specific aspirations.

How to Prepare for a Volatile Executive Employment Marketplace

How to Prepare for a Volatile Executive Employment Marketplace

Executive career change, particularly for those who have not engaged in it for a decade or more, is inherently destabilizing for the individual, that person’s family, and maybe even for that person’s company. So how do you create a “career strategy emergency kit” to prepare for a time when your situation demands change?

Build Your Network Now

Do not wait another day to reach out to that person you met last week—or six months ago—but with whom you never reconnected. Start becoming more active on specific LinkedIn groups of your choice, and turn those online connections into human ones. The executive job market is still about who you know, and you need to meet the right people to advance your career. In the process, you might find the chance to help out others who are in similar situations, so the transactions are not always unidirectional. Always try to give more than you get, and you’ll develop significant goodwill that you can use when you need it.

Talk to Your Boss Today

This is critical–don’t wait for projects to land in your lap by accident. Research your company’s direction and start to feel out your executive leadership about the ways you can contribute. In this process, you’ll achieve two goals. First, you’ll start to interact with key decision makers. Rather than becoming one of those who is always asking for something, you’re communicating with them to offer your expertise and your assistance and asking for nothing but the opportunity to provide it in return.

Second, when you are put onto new projects, you’re developing significant new skills, leadership, and talents. You might find that these will power your plan to apply your talents to an advanced role, a different company, or even a different industry.

Think about What You Want Next

We often hear about executives who have separated from their companies prematurely, whether by choice or by structural change. All of a sudden, they are confronted with a world of opportunities, all of which could be viable choices, some of which are likely, and a few of which are exactly right. Identifying the types of positions, verticals, product groups, and industries ahead of time will save you time as you go through the volatility of looking for a new position.

In conclusion, smart executives need to prepare themselves for a volatile employment marketplace. Executives in career transition seeking stability need to create a solid career change strategy long before they embark on it.

10 Common Fears that Hold Back Successful Executive Career Growth

10 Common Fears that Hold Back Successful Executive Career Growth

Executives whom I have coached through complex career changes are among the strongest, most fearless individuals I have met in my career. They lead large teams. They put innovative products to market. They guide budgets in the millions if not hundreds of millions. In a word, they are powerful, interesting individuals who overcome meaningful professional challenges every day.

Whether these executives know exactly what they are seeking in a new role, or whether they are truly exploring the many options before them, and as daring as each of these leaders are, they often share a number of fears about the career change process. If your blood pressure rises slightly at the thought of one or more of these common fears about career change, you’re certainly not alone, as unique as your career situation might be.

Fears about Getting Started in an Executive Job Search

1. Fear of having to make a choice to leave a “good enough” situation at work.

2. Fear of walking the career transition journey alone without someone with whom you can be brutally honest.

3. Fear of adding more stress to days that already have 25 hours of distractions.

4. Fear of having to network to find the right role–especially for introverts.

5. Fear of adding One. More. Thing. to today’s to-do list.

6. Fear of writing a resume (or gnawing feeling that you don’t have the right resume).

7. Fear of having the boss find out (note: Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to announce it).

Fears about Not Getting Started in an Executive Job Search

8. Fear of showing up to the same job again on Monday.

9. Fear of wasting time by inaction today.

10. Fear that the right job is out there, waiting for you, but someone else snagged it first.

Do any of these resonate with you? I would guess that if none of these strikes a chord with you that you’re not really ready to engage in a career transition, as you haven’t thought deeply about how their answers inform your wants and needs in a future career. Without that type of thinking, although you will of course continue to be successful, you won’t be as insightful about your own process as you could be. Neither will you challenge yourself to grow.

But if your blood pressure is just a little higher right now than it was when you opened this article, then there is opportunity for you to offload some of that anxiety. In fact, this expert would consider it an honor to be privileged with your trust. At the same time you can get some real clarity about your goals and fearlessly seek out and achieve the executive career opportunities that you know are right for you.

 

Write Your Own Headline to Jump Start Your Executive Career Change

Write Your Own Headline to Jump Start Your Executive Career Change

Nobody Has Time to Listen Anymore

If I am right, you barely have time to read this blog post. You’re busy, you’ve got work to do. I respect that.

Hiring executives have the same problem. They don’t have any spare time, either. So as you approach the executives who can help you throughout your job search, you’ll come up against their time crunches. You have to convince the hiring executive that you’re the one for whom they should put their calendar on hold to speak with you or meet you in person. But we know that you’re an expert with a great reputation in your industry, and you’re being tapped for a great position. Let’s assume, then, that you are meeting with this key executive.

Knowing what you do about busy executives—after all, you’re a busy executive yourself—how do you make this meeting easy for your contact? You keep it brief, at least until you’re challenged to expand on the assets you bring and the accomplishments you’ve demonstrated.

“Hello. Nice to meet you. Why don’t you tell me about yourself.”

This is the deadliest question, and your answer can make or break your interview—almost before it starts. The more succinct you are in answering this question, the more likely you will be called on for additional details. Therefore, you need to prepare this message, your mission, and your value proposition ahead of time, long before you get the question—because no doubt you will get the question.

To develop your core message or “elevator pitch,” as it so often is called (although the typical elevator ride is bound to be longer than the time you should spend delivering your speech), explore the following:

How Do You Label Yourself?

Tell me who you are in 10 seconds or less. Alternatively, tell me who you are in three bullets. I know that this is a tough exercise, particularly the first time you try it, but I’m confident that you’ll hone it to perfection in plenty of time for that important interview or networking event. Consider the answers to the following questions, which might help you uncover your core message:

  • What is your current job title?
  • What do you aspire to do?
  • In what industry do you aspire to do it?
  • What is your noble purpose?
  • What is a representative example of the type of contribution you make?

Are you getting closer to the 10-second mark? I will bet that you are.

How Would Others Label You?

If you’re still stuck for a self-description, imagine what your executive leader, your co-workers, or your subordinates might say about you. For example, are you:

  • Compassionate?
  • Visionary?
  • Technologically savvy?

Have you reached the 10-second mark? If so, job well done. Now you need to practice it. I heard one theatre coach suggest that an actor doesn’t really remember his lines until he can recite them while doing jumping jacks. While I don’t suggest that you either play a part or prepare yourself in a cardiovascular sense, the premise remains a logical one. You should be able to recite your 10-second pitch in any context, under any circumstances, with confidence, strong inflection, and a smile.

Take some time to practice. If you’re still struggling about what to say or how to say it, you can always ask for help. After all, “I’m a career search strategist who markets executives for choice positions better than they do.”

For Immediate Release: Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters e-Book

For Immediate Release

Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters e-Book

Now Available on Kindle

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (February 25, 2013). Five Strengths Career Transition Experts, Salt Lake City, UT, is proud to announce that Amy L. Adler, CEO, published Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters on Amazon.com in Kindle format.

Amy L. Adler, first-place winner of the Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) Award for Best Executive Resume, announced today that she has published Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters. This concise, inexpensive, and accessible e-book contains Adler’s top-secret techniques for determining your next job and writing the resume that gets you there. This new e-book promotes the best career transition strategies and the most powerful resume writing techniques available.

Six interactive worksheets give every reader the chance to implement Adler’s strategy right away. Job seekers who need to identify the right job titles, the right resume formats, and the right cover letters to win interviews need to read this book. Says Adler, “The economy is tough. If job seekers are unemployed, or underemployed, they need access to the right techniques that will give them the same chance to achieve the interviews they need. This e-book levels the playing field.”

Easy Job Search Strategies for Resumes and Cover Letters
Only $0.99 at
http://bit.ly/easyjobsearchstrategiesforresumesandcoverletters

Bloggers: Ask for a free review copy.

About Amy L. Adler

Amy L. Adler, MBA, MA, CARW is the founder and CEO of Five Strengths Career Transition Experts, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. She won first place in the TORI Awards 2012 for Best Executive Resume. Amy is one of the most experienced career transitions experts in the nation and frequently writes and speaks on career advancement, executive résumé writing and interview strategies. Having written hundreds of job search documents, several examples of her work have been published in Gallery of Best Cover Letters, 4th Ed. (David F. Noble, JIST Publishing, 2012).

 

# # #
For interviews and media appearances, contact Amy L. Adler
2180 East 4500 South, Suite 150 | Holladay, UT 84117 | +1 (801) 810-JOBS | www.fivestrengths.com

Get to the Heart of Your Fear of Career Change

Get to the Heart of Your Fear of Career Change

Recently, I posted about fear in the executive job search. I was extremely surprised by the level of interest in this blog post (What Do You Fear Most About Your Career Change–search for it on my web site). I could not have predicted the response that this topic received. I think that means that more people are afraid of changing jobs or changing careers then meets the eye. Likely, fear is not an acceptable or common topic of conversation among extremely well-positioned executive leaders; the executive team is supposed to be, evidently, stoic, proud, and fearless. But behind every executive title is a real human being, with his or her own attitudes—and fears.

You know that as an executive you should portray fearlessness every day, so you might quietly stew about your executive job search. You may have many reasons for delaying action on it. For example, the holidays are coming, and you need to maintain some stability. Your spouse is also in transition. You’re in the middle of an exciting—or draining—series of projects at work. Your team is counting on you. Your boss is counting on you. Your company is counting on you. On the other hand, perhaps you have made tentative overtures into exploring the market. Either way, you’re probably in a relatively balanced state of ambivalence—not enough pressure from either side to force a decision.

thinking man

Perhaps this ambivalence comes from the fact that your reasons for staying in your current role have nothing to do with your specific needs. Does that mean you think (or I think) that you are a fearful person, or that you treat every challenge to improve your situation as an opportunity to retreat? Of course not. You wouldn’t be in the position you are in right now if you rejected chances to grow and change and lead in your industry. Based on the profiles of the executives I have worked with in the past, I would venture to say that you are extremely good at what you do; ready to fight for what your company, your industry, your team needs; and well-known as an excellent leader and mentor, not to mention humble and willing to give your team credit rather than take it yourself. Moreover, you probably don’t want to rock the boat in which you are standing. But you have to think about your career in terms of your individual needs and requirements for growth.

Give Yourself Some Thought

Your feelings about going to work every day in your executive role may range from true excitement to straight-up dread. But the job is yours to love or hate, and you may feel very protective of it. You would never let anyone else disparage you or your company, so you prevent yourself from the close examination of it that might reveal that it is not perfect for you. Because you know how to do your job better than anyone else does, and you’ve proven that, you might think that moving on to another position would diminish your level of comfort in your role. I venture to guess that you have not shrunk from other types of challenges, so I strongly urge you to consider the fact that simply because something is not familiar that it is bad. And simply because something is familiar it is not necessarily universally good for you, as you progress through your career.

I would encourage you to ask yourself some of the following questions. They are not easy questions to answer, but your responses might surprise you– either in a good or frustrating way.

  • Do you answer every one of my challenges above with “Yes, but…”?
  • Are you sure that what you have in your current executive role is the best situation for you? (It might be, but you have to evaluate it to be certain.)
  • Are you afraid that change necessarily means failure?
  • Are you afraid that you might not have the experience or know how to succeed outside of your current organization?

Overall, this article is an attempt to help you identify and perhaps confront what might be holding you back in changing your mindset about your executive job search. In no way is it an indictment of your capability or your willingness to rise to every challenge that confronts you on a professional level. But I hope it does meet you where you are in your thought process about any fears related to career change.

A Thanksgiving Day Treat: The Turkey, and Sweet Gratitude

A Thanksgiving Day Treat: The Turkey, and Sweet Gratitude

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and everyone I know is scrambling to fill their larders with staples and treats that remind us of how grateful we ought to be for what we have and what our futures promise. In this post I want to remind my executive job seekers to fill their own larders with the staples they need to succeed in what promises to be a very busy job search season. I’ll wrap up by reminding everyone out there to take a moment and express their gratitude to those who have helped them throughout the year as they build their job search strategy.

The Basics that Support Your Executive Job Search

Just as we are all scrambling to the grocery store, the butcher, and the bakery to buy all the things that we need to make this Thanksgiving holiday the happiest ever, you also need to build up your stores as you continue your executive job search. Overall, you will need a smart strategy, a rich executive portfolio, and your own go-to-market strategy for impressing your interview board. These are non-negotiables. You wouldn’t think of having a family Thanksgiving without turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, and apple pie. Don’t leave any of the critical elements of your job search strategy out, thinking that you will have the same experience as those who have prepared effectively. Don’t know where to go for these necessaries? There are so many professionals out there who can help you create the portfolio you need. Some of them are executive resume writers. Some are executive career coaches. And some are your personal Board of Directors – those individuals on whom you rely for expert advice on all things professional. Overall, don’t forget the essentials, and you won’t go wrong.

How to Give Thanks

Have you ever opened your e-mail to discover that one of your colleagues wrote you simply to say “thank you” for something you have done for them? It’s a rare and gratifying experience. Make it a point this season to send that kind of message to those in your personal and professional lives who have offered you something valuable.

These kinds of overtures can have two resounding effects. First, a wisely timed thank you letter reminds the addressee that you are truly grateful for what they did or how they helped you. Remember, this doesn’t just mean a letter to your interview board telling them about your value and how you can fix their pain. It means that in the day-to-day, you have people in your circle of influence who need to hear that you are grateful for the ways they have helped you achieve your goals. There is no payback for this kind of letter—except the good karma and goodwill that real gratitude demonstrates.

On the other hand, there are subtle benefits that come along with these expressions of true thanks. They reopen lines of communication, especially if your letter of thanks inquires about their situation or needs. These renewed conversations often have unanticipated future benefits, not the least of which is simply keeping your network open and available. Of course, this is not your primary motivation in reaching out to someone who has helped you over the course of the year, but it is a nice side benefit, and doing it early in the holiday season avoids having your message get lost in the upcoming holiday rush.

A Personal Note of Thanks from Me

Now, a personal message from me. I have had the most amazing 2012. I completely rebranded my business, worked with the most amazing clients I have ever had the chance to meet, wrote a lot of resumes and cover letters for them, and won first place in a national resume writing competition. I am grateful for all of these.

The sweet gratitude I feel during this season also is for each of the like-minded career management professionals with whom I have worked over the year. Some I met through Career Directors International, and some I met through The National Resume Writers Association, and some in this industry have been my friends in other contexts for decades. You all know who you are. You enrich my life personally and professionally every single day. I wouldn’t be “right” without you, and I am grateful and thankful to know each and every one of you.

 

More on the Thanksgiving theme:

Dawn Rasmussen of Pathfinder Writing and Career Resources, “Don’t Be a Job Search Turkey!”

Rosa Vargas of Career Steering, “The Perfect Holiday Job Search Recipe”

What Do You Fear Most About Your Career Change

What Do You Fear Most About Your Career Change

Updated February 2017

Fans of Dune by Frank Herbert will remember two famous bits from the book:

“Fear is the mindkiller.”

and

“A beginning is a very delicate time.”

Executive job seekers may let fear cloud their judgement on moving forward with a job search, but knowing how to leave those fears aside and create a new beginning is crucial to job search success.

“When is the right time for me to make a career change?”  There is no easy answer to this question. If you are scared to change your job, then clearly this is not the right time. But if you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some thoughts about how to evaluate what is holding you back.

executive job search fears

Executive job search fears will get in your way.

One of the clearest markers that you are ready to leave your current company and join a new one, is simply the knowledge that you can do more or to better in another environment. Once you have come to this decision, however, you might struggle with understanding your motivations, your need to elevate your income, or your commitment to the incredible team you have created. These fears are natural, because we all fear change. The status quo is a known quantity, whereas moving toward something new, even if it’s what you really want, can provoke some anxiety even in the most accomplished of executives.

If you are looking for a clear reason to leave, you can always find one. But if you’re looking for a smart reason to leave, you need to face a few key fears that all people in career transition experience at one time or another:

  1. Fear of change away from the familiar. What you have now in your current role, even if it is not ideal, is familiar—even comfortable in its frustration. We often fear making changes because we don’t know what we will find on the other side of our decision. If you are considering making an executive career change, you need to believe in your ability to make good decisions, just the way you do in your executive role.
  2. Fear of disappointing the team. As much as you may love the team you are working on, you have to look out for yourself in your career. As deep as your commitment to your team may be, you have to make a decision about your career that is best for you.
  3. Fear of killing a relationship trusted mentor or boss. The relationships you have built with mentors and superiors in your current company are still going to be important, even if you leave your current company. As you decide to make a move to a new organization, or even to a new executive role, you need to preserve the good relationships you’ve built. Your current network will continue to be important in your new company; you never know when you will need the help from or support of your network in the future. Also, people in your network may reach out to you as well, and you need to give back to as much as you have ever taken from these people who have helped you.

In conclusion, fears of job change, especially for executives, are not insurmountable, but neither are they trivial. You need to be mindful of your underlying self-talk to understand what about career change makes you fearful. You may ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I mentally ready to leave my organization?
  • Will I have no regrets if I leave my organization?
  • Will I truly be happy in a new role that challenges me and elevate my professional game?

If you are able to answer “yes” to all three of these questions you can feel confident that you are ready to leave your fears behind as you move to a new executive position.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Executive Job Seekers Over 40

If you haven’t written a resume in the last decade or more, that’s a good thing.

That means you’ve been working in jobs that loved you as much as you have loved them. However, if you’re reading this, you’re probably in an executive job search, and you’re probably of an age where you wonder whether your years of experience is going to hurt or help. Your new resume won’t be anything like the resume you used to get your first (or perhaps your most recent) job. Times have changed for executive job seekers, and so have resume strategies. Read on, so you don’t make these top 10 executive resume mistakes:

  1. Writing “Resume” at the top of the first page. On the one hand, that’s overstating the completely obvious, and you’re wasting important resume real estate that could be used  more strategically (see #10 below). On the other, if you ever upload your resume to apply for jobs, that is to an electronic applicant tracking system (ATS), you’ll forever be known in the database as Resume No Last Name, which won’t  help you when a recruiter is looking for you.
  2. Including an I-want objective rather than a statement of value, (personal branding statement). Objectives are passé, as they focus on the candidate’s needs rather than the hiring manager’s requirements. Job seekers over 40 need to remember that until they are offered the position, everything they do or say in the job search process has to focus on solving the hiring manager’s pain, not their own.
  3. Including the dates of your college or university education. We can all subtract 22 from that year and get a sense of the applicant’s vintage. To avoid potential age discrimination, a job candidate should not telegraph her age on the resume.
  4. Not including an e-mail address. Older workers need to have a professional e-mail (not their company’s) for job search purposes. Including an e-mail shows that the candidate is not technology-averse and is available for communication at any time of day.
  5. Using a home telephone line. When a job hunter uses a home telephone number that is likely to be answered by children, it indicates to the hiring manager that the candidate might have certain liabilities, for example, insurance requirements or need for impromptu time off. As mobile phones are so prevalent and inexpensive, a job seeker over 40 should maintain mobile phone service, using a professional voice mail recording, that only she or he will be answering. For that matter, you don’t have to mention on your resume that the number you’re giving is your mobile number. People likely will expect you to use your mobile number, especially for direct accessibility but also for texting. Don’t have a mobile number? You can simulate having one, or add a separate number just for your job search at ZERO cost to you (this is my favorite job search hack—ask me about it. I’ve been using this hack for myself for almost a decade.).
  6. Writing a resume that is only 1 page when you have 3 pages’ worth of good, relevant experience. Let’s face it–hiring managers are likely to stop reading your resume after one or two pages if you are giving them boring details that don’t relate to their needs. But what if you have a lifetime’s worth of great, relevant experience? You absolutely should tell your future hiring manager about your great accomplishments, so they can see the answer to their problems in your professional history.
  7. Writing about more than 10 years’ worth of job roles (and balancing your breadth and depth of experience with #5 above). Hiring managers are focusing on what a candidate can do for them today—not what they were expected to do 20 years ago. Professionals over 40 should use resume real estate wisely and hit their most recent (or their most relevant) positions the hardest and give a fair amount of attention to 3–4 additional prior roles. If the candidate has a critical, relevant element of experience that is older than 10 years, he can include a line or two about it at the end of his executive experience section—without dates of employment.
  8. Not including a personalized (vanity) LinkedIn profile link. LinkedIn is the social medium most likely to be utilized by hiring managers and recruiters in the job search process. Candidates over 40 should take advantage of this free service and create a profile that makes a hiring manager want to pick up the phone. With that in mind, someone in the job market must create a vanity URL (available in the profile options) and put that link in the header of his resume.
  9. Writing about only soft skills and not about accomplishments. Soft skills are critical in any job, but would “great team player” be anything but an expectation for a hiring executive’s new employee? Job seekers over 40 must remember that reporting on accomplishments—the successes they’ve demonstrated for each job—is what gets hiring managers’ attention.
  10. Writing about only accomplishments and no soft skills (see #9 above). Challenge yourself to include the best of your experience by showing rather than telling your future hiring executive the half dozen reasons you’re the right choice to solve their problems right now.

“I’m an experienced executive—how do I prove it and avoid these critical resume mistakes as I go through my executive job search?”

Updated January 2017

New Resume Services for the Savvy Jobseeker and the Recruiters and Coaches Who Help Them Succeed

In case you haven’t visited Five Strength’s main site, I hope you’ll take a minute to look around now. We’ve revamped our service offerings to include a lot more than just cover letters and resumes. Learn more about our executive resume writing services, or message Amy L. Adler at aadler at fivestrengths.com.