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Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Smart Services to Pay for in your Job Search

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When it is time to find a new job, no matter the circumstances, it can feel like a daunting task.  Even when you are tied into career networking and know the direction in which you would like to go, you can often feel very overwhelmed. Let’s talk about some often overlooked tools that you may not be utilizing.  These tools can prove to be instrumental in directing your job search and making it nearly painless.

  1. Job Boards

There are almost too many online job boards to count. So how do you know which job boards will not prove to be a waste of time? The truth is, this will take some work on your part.  You will want to stick with the familiar, large, more established sites that have been around and successful for a significant amount of time. Also you may want to start with those that are local if you are hoping to stay in the same geographical location. You may find that there is a minimal cost for access to some of these boards; however, many of them are free to use.

Hint:  Always use the advanced search options when searching for jobs on these sites.  By doing so you will significantly narrow down extra information and jobs that do not relate to your needs. This will help your search to be much more efficient.

  1. LinkedIn

If you aren’t already a member of LinkedIn it may be time to become one.  This network can be a valuable asset in your job search.  Rather than spending countless hours doing research or pounding the pavement looking for the perfect career opportunity, let others help you! By using career networking sites such as LinkedIn, you are sending out information about your job needs to a variety of people in many different types of work environments.  It is just like having a team of job recruiters on your payroll.  Don’t forget to give as much as, or even more, than you get—the more you help others, the more likely you are to receive the help you need as well.

  1. Background Checking Services

Have you ever wondered what a former employer would say about you?  You may not even be aware of this, but there are companies that will provide discreet calls to your last boss or supervisor to determine if they will give you a good reference.  One such company is Allison and Taylor, but there are also others.  These companies will help you to feel secure in knowing what potential employers will be told about you. They can also help you with background check reports and other personal areas that may come up as you search for that perfect job.  These services are not free, of course.  However, if you are serious about landing that position that you are qualified to have and just need to be given the chance, this route may be a helpful option for you.

  1. Resume Distribution Services

Resume distribution services are another excellent option that you may be failing to take advantage of.   These distribution companies can help make the most challenging job searches easy and efficient. They help you to reduce the time you would spend on a traditional job search.  These companies are able to maximize your exposure to extraordinary opportunities across the globe by distributing your resume to recruiters and companies that are actively filling positions in your area of expertise. Do a little homework (or ask Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths), find a reputable company and get your information out there!

  1. Resume Writing Services

The final service that is definitely worth mentioning is a resume writing service.  If you aren’t familiar with exactly how these work, let me give you the details.  You submit your relevant information such as: education, previous employers and work experience, additional skills, locations and fields that you are interested in, etc. You will probably also want to submit some form of a resume that you have used in the past.  Once they have all of the information that they need, they compile it into a simply amazing resume! Obviously this saves you both time and frustration!  Let’s face it, writing an attention getting, professional looking resume that will stand out above the rest is not an easy thing to do.  We are not all equipped with the skills or the time necessary to create an exceptional resume. Call Amy L. Adler at Five Strengths Career Transition Experts to talk about your current career goals and resume writing requirements.

And Remember….

No two job searches are the same.  You must personalize your journey.  Make choices that you have completely thought through and feel good about.  Be patient, it may take time.  There are countless “tools” available to help you, let that be a comfort.  Having many options and strategies to choose from is a great thing. Move forward with confidence!

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor

Job Seekers Succeed for One Simple Reason

Job Seekers Succeed for One Simple Reason…

Job Seekers Succeed for One Simple Reason…

Networking is the best way to learn about new positions.

Even though job search networking may sound intimidating, it is one of the most successful ways to find a new job. It is more common than you realize to be offered a job or to find a contact simply due to a friend or acquaintance knowing your background and skills. If you are serious about finding the best position for your next career, move as quickly as possible, you must reach out and network.Job Seekers Succeed for One Simple Reason image 1

What are the Benefits of Networking?

To be successful as you network, you must find the hidden, unadvertised job market and use every resource available to you.

Networking, when done correctly, will lead to plentiful contacts and friendships that can help you in every aspect of your career, including job hunting and your future career endeavors. It can prove to be more important than any other facet of your search.

Before Networking – Review Your Goals

What do you want others to know about you? What do you need to learn from them?

  • What kind of job are you looking for?
  • Do you want to look for jobs in one city/state?
  • Are you focused on a certain industry?
  • Do you want to find a job at a particular company?
  • Have you attained the skills and experience required for this type of position?

Effective Networking Strategies

When starting out, remember, it’s never about blatantly asking for a job. It’s about talking things over one-on-one with someone you know (or someone who has been referred to you) about common interests and how you might be able to help them and their company.Job Seekers Succeed for One Simple Reason image 2

Before diving into a lengthy narrative about yourself, be sure to ask common questions to get warmed up. Ask about family, friends, interests—topics that you wouldn’t mind discussing yourself. Once the conversation is flowing, you can shift gears the real reason for the call.

 “I’m calling because I’m planning to make a job change soon. I am looking for a new opportunity that will both challenge and expand my skillset. Do you happen to know anyone who works within my target field who may be able to lead me in the right direction?”

Using this simple script as a guide may give you the confidence you need to open up and freely discuss options and career paths that may be available to you in the future.

Career Networking Tips

  1. Create an inventory of your educational background, accomplishments and work history. You never know when a casual interaction may lead to a contact.
  2. Your career network should include, but not be limited to family, friends, members of neighborhood associations, past or present co-workers, supervisors, and colleagues from other business connections. If you are part of an alumni club from your college or university, you may also find leads there.
  3. Use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online communities can help you get in touch with other networkers. Maybe those with college affiliations or that are in a certain geographic area. Also, keep in touch with your network often. This can be as simple as sending a quick note or email to say hello and to ask how they are doing. You want to make an impression and be remembered.
  4. Attend networking events. If you belong to any professional associations, attend a meeting or social function. Many of the attendees will have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange information.
  5. Add notes to business cards or organize electronically, so you’ll remember the details of who you have just met. Also, follow through with referrals, and always thank contacts in writing or email.

Career Networking Works!

As you can see, career networking isn’t as hard as it seems and it really does work! Knowing how to ask for, and receive, the valuable information you need is the key to finding the right job or career position. It is important to have a solid network in place throughout your career and to use your network whenever possible, when job searching or exploring career options.

Don’t forget to look for opportunities to help others along the way. Through searching for your own needs to be met you may come across a position that would be a great fit for someone else in your network. Share the love and pass it on! Others will remember your thoughtfulness.

Networking is not about you, but it certainly can help your executive job search.

5 Skills for Successful Job Search Networking

5 Skills for Successful Job Search Networking

Having the right contacts can help you get information about the company and what they really want. Building your network is important, especially during your job search. Ideally you will already have some foundation for your network, but further developing it can help you find an opportunity. The following tips will hopefully provide advice for interacting with your network during your job search.

1. Don’t ask for a job (they don’t have one for you).

While most jobs come through personal connections, like those in your network, it is not likely that everyone in your network will recommend or offer you a job. Your network should be a two-way relationship. Instead of asking for a job, work on your elevator speech.

Networking is not about you, but it certainly can help your executive job search.

Networking is not about you, but it certainly can help your executive job search.

  • Be clear about your employment goals.
  • Do some careful self-assessment so you are able to communicate pertinent information about who you are, what you want, and what you can do for them.
  • Prepare and practice.

2. Make it about them, not you.

Offer assistance to people in your network or new contacts you have made. It is much more likely that they will open to the idea of helping you later if you reach out to them first. Go out of your way for them, show interest, and make sure they remember you. The relationship needs to be built on trust. Once the foundation is stable, your contacts will think of you the next time an opportunity arises that you are fit for. Create quality relationships with people — don’t make a contact just to make a contact, actually have a relationship with them.

Make sure you don’t just reach out to people in your network when you need something. Try to contact at least two people from your network a week — check in and ask them questions in general about their well-being as well as offering to help them. Volunteer your services when appropriate.

Remember to say thank you. Write thank-you notes to any recruiters you meet with, referring to the conversation you had with them so they remember who you are. Emails, with un-abbreviated and appropriate content, are a fine way to say thank you to other people in your network. When you get the job or promotion you were working toward, don’t skimp on showing your appreciation, send flowers or a gift basket. Being thankful goes a long way.

3. Get outside your industry (your job function might be transferable).

Schedule and attend two or three networking events per month to find groups you want to join. Use those meetings to make network connections and build relationships. You should have business cards ready to hand out, but don’t be racing around to collect them. Be ready to exchange cards after a conversation. Make the connection, but don’t appear desperate. You want to be genuine, ask questions, and remember that you are trying to help them first. Stay positive and be aware of your body language to create a memorable conversation and to appear more approachable.

4. Ask for more contacts to reach out to.

Contacts within your network have a network of their own. If they mention people in the industry you are pursuing a position in, ask your contact to introduce you to them. After developing a good relationship with your contacts, you will be able to ask them things like:

“I would like to land the marketing manager job at XYZ company. Would you please introduce me to the VP of marketing and follow up with a recommendation phone call telling them why I am qualified for the position?”

You can also utilize social media — sites like Twitter and Facebook — to stay in touch with people after meeting in person. Social media can also be used to start networking with others, like people who currently work for a company you’re interested in being part of. As you grow your network, keep track of who you talk to, what you talk about, when you talked, and what the outcome of that conversation was. If you hold on to that list, you won’t run into any issues of confusion or forgetting communication with that contact.

5. Have a resume, but wait until you build a relationship before sending it.

This goes along with not asking for a job. People in your network don’t need your resume unless they have asked for it. Giving it to them without being prompted to can appear rude. You want to make sure your resume is up-to-date for job opportunities that arise, but don’t force it on people in your network. Presenting your contacts with a resume without being asked can also make you look desperate.

Networking can be a great way to find your perfect job. In general, you want to think long term regarding your network. Relationships don’t develop overnight – it takes time, patience, and dedication. Make a point to consistently meet with new people and people already in your network to start and develop those relationships. You should work on networking skills throughout your professional career and while job searching. Through your network, you can learn from others about the industry, profession, and the companies you are interested in. You shouldn’t discount the connections and opportunities that can come with building your network.

Image by supahkit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Man holding sign reading "unemployed."

How to Proceed after a Layoff: 5 Practical Strategies

How to Proceed after a Layoff: 5 Practical Strategies

Companies have ups and downs with the changes in the economy, and your employment status depends on the company’s stability. Being laid off is not the end of your career, as the layoff is not for cause—the job simply ceases to exist. Consider the following strategies to help you after a “separation,” an umbrella term for the various reasons you and your company part ways:

Take care of you.

Whatever the reason for the separation, it is never a pleasant experience. Allow time to heal; don’t waste your time being angry at your previous employer. Think about where you might have the ambition to work next, and prepare for your future rather than dwell on your past. You will find another job in your career field, provided it may take time. The best course of action, in the meantime, would be to work on yourself. This means you can allow yourself to grieve the loss of your former role while focusing on your future.

Reconnect with or build your network.

Man holding sign reading "unemployed."

Unemployment isn’t the end of your career. Start rebuilding with these 5 practical strategies for recovering after a layoff.

When you are ready to return to your career field, you will want that network to build on and rely on for opportunities. Branch out with contacts via LinkedIn or other business social media, and turn those online connections into phone calls and meetings to support your new job search.

Building your network:

  • Enhances skills you can bring to a business
  • Supports fresh ideas for your current or new organization
  • Develops an improved understanding of the business environment

—all helping you become a stronger leader and finer follower. It takes time to build a successful network, especially if you have not used this strategy before, yet it will be worth the effort.

One caveat: Don’t assume they understand your immediate needs or ask those contacts for a job. This is a binary, dead-end question that only can be answered “yes” or “no.” Instead of asking this closed question, use your networking opportunities to generate deeper, broader insights into your contact’s experience and expertise.

Volunteer in your career field or in your community.

Volunteer work adds skills to your personal knowledge bank and meat to your resume. It can also provide you with an activity to fill your time while you are in job limbo. Volunteering supports your current passions or demonstrates work you aren’t fit for. There are plenty of reasons to volunteer: to benefit others, to make a difference, to develop additional skills, to feel better about yourself, to explore other areas of interest, and numerous others. And, this volunteer experience can become a line item on your resume, which explains fruitfully what you have been doing since the time you separated from your company.

Learn a new skill.

Don’t just pass time — build on your abilities and enhance your skills. Maybe there is a computer program you’ve always longed to learn or a communication skill you recognize you need to improve on. Consider this time now available to build new skills and complete that course or certification you have been thinking about. Work on that new skill and add it to your knowledge bank.

Prepare your resume.

A resume is not just for earning your next job. It allows you to highlight your accomplishments and the skills you earned from those accomplishments. You can either use the time to reflect on your career and the skills you have and prepare a sparkling resume yourself or, as recommended, you can hire a professional resume writer to give your resume that extra polished feel.

Remember, a layoff reflects no fault of your own. The majority of layoffs involve mass groups of the company’s employees, not just one, not just you. Employers take the time to consider each individual they layoff, your being on the list is chalked up to crummy luck. Who is laid off has little to do with work ethic and competence and more to do with the budget or politics of the company’s situation. Dust yourself off and strive toward getting back out in your field.

By Kaley Buck, Five Strengths Contributor

Image by winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

Image courtesy of freeimages.com / cobrasoft

Keyword Strategy for Your LinkedIn Profile

Keyword Strategy for Your LinkedIn Profile

Do you know how to choose the right keywords for your LinkedIn profile? Start with your goal in mind: For what do you want to be known? What executive job are you seeking? With a few smart tweaks to your LinkedIn profile, you will see the number of your profile views grow.

Start with Knowing What You Stand For

Your brand will dictate most of what goes into your profile. Certainly, your LinkedIn profile will contain your career history. But the way you craft it and the keywords you choose can help propel your profile to the top of the search results for the phrases on which you want to be found.

Let us examine an example of a senior vice president and chief operating officer. This SVO/COO is known for his turnaround strategy as well as for his financial leadership. In fact, he functions more like the CFO of the company than the COO. So his LinkedIn profile keywords are going to reflect his expertise. They might include:

√ Senior vice president
√ Chief operating officer
√ Turnaround management
√ Financial strategy

Of course, the details of what this person has done in his career are going to be much more extensive, but these are, broadly speaking, the categories of his expertise. So he would be wise to include these phrases in his headline, his summary, and in his experience sections.

Continue with What Hiring Executives in Target Companies Need to See

At the same time, he might be targeting a COO role. So he might collect several job descriptions of the COO role in his industry. These might require specific experience and expertise; his experience and branding should reflect exactly what the hiring executives in his target companies are seeking in their next hire. Although the LinkedIn profile is not a direct copy of the executive resume, elements of key experiences (less private corporate data that should never be publicized on LinkedIn) should be evident.

Wrap Up with a Quick Word Cloud View of Your Profile

If you are not sure whether your profile is promoting the right keywords, create a word cloud as a visual map of your LinkedIn profile. In the example above, the word cloud of the profile should show words like “financial” and “strategy” more prominently than, say, marketing or sales, words that are not in our keyword list. If you find that your keyword strategy has failed, you will need to rewrite or edit your profile until you are confident that the keywords you have chosen for yourself are the ones that LinkedIn will understand to be your branding.

The Five People You Need to Know on LinkedIn for Your Executive Job Search

The Five People You Need to Know on LinkedIn for Your Executive Job Search

There are five people you need to know on LinkedIn to advance your executive job search. These are the people whose insights you will find helpful when you are in the process of exploring new roles, interviewing, and evaluating job offers–but they are not who you think.

1. A Peer in another Industry

Connect with these five people on LinkedIn for your executive job search.

Connect with these five people on LinkedIn for your executive job search.

So often, we connect on LinkedIn with our colleagues in our own company or in companies similar to ours. LinkedIn loves that we are part of a peer group, and the platform judges our relevance by the company we keep. However, as you search for a new role, you should consider exploring outside your company and your industry to learn what others at your level do and believe. At a minimum, you’ll uncover the parallels between your job and your peer’s job. More likely, you will discover the gaps between what you currently do in your job function and what a day in another industry might look like for exactly the job function. This sort of analysis will help you evaluate your own skill set and perhaps help you set your job search strategy if you do not necessarily want to stay in your current industry.

2. A Superior in another Industry

If you have ever wished you had a “fairy godmother” who could advise you on something sensitive yet specifically related to your career, this is your opportunity to find that mentor or trusted advisor. Perhaps an executive in another industry will not know exactly how your particular company or division works, but this person, a trusted expert in his or her own industry, is likely to have some insight into the way things generally work. As you will make it eminently clear in your request for ten minutes of this person’s valuable time that you are not trying to take advantage of their position to get yourself a job in their company. Then, with this ethical approach in mind, you can use this ten minutes of their time to ask the questions that are important to you about your career advancement strategy and get the advice from an impartial observer.

3. A Recruiter Specializing in Your Industry

Although your LinkedIn profile might not advertise that you are seeking a new executive role, perhaps to protect the position you currently have, you might want to connect with a specialized recruiter or two before you go into job search mode fully. First, do some research to identify which recruiters regularly place candidates in your industry and in your job function. Remember, the recruiters who place candidates in your company likely will not try to place you in another company, as this is a breach of ethics. Instead, with some discreet inquiries or even a quick Google search, find the right recruiting firm and the right recruiter within that firm. Then send a brief, polite invitation via LinkedIn to connect with these one or two individuals. Remember, however, that recruiters do not work with you–they work for the companies that pay them their fees for placing executives like yourself with unique and rare skill sets, so you might want to mention in your introductory note exactly what your unique selling proposition is.

4. An Peer in a Company that Interests You

Your first thought in connecting with someone in a company that you are targeting might be the hiring executive himself/herself. Rather than initiating a relationship with a company with an implied request for a position, start by connecting with people at your level. They might have some unique insights into the way the company works, and it is likely easier to make a friend with someone at your own level than with someone who sits at a level far above yours. Down the road, this person might be willing to advocate for you with his or her own manager or the manager of another department simply on the basis of the good relationship you have built over time.

5. The “Connector” in Any Industry

It might help you to get to know with and connect with on LinkedIn a few LinkedIn LIONs, or “connectors.” These are people who seem to know everyone and have connections across industries and companies. They tend to be outgoing and willing to make introductions. It might be wise to set up a few minutes to talk to someone with these qualities, once you have made that connection on LinkedIn, to ask whether this connector knows someone who can help you (you specify the criteria) and would be willing to make an introduction, on LinkedIn, via email, or in person.

Conclusion

Remember, LinkedIn is only the tool. Set up the relationships on LinkedIn long before you need them for your particular executive job search. When you are ready to start looking for a new job actively, these credible connections that you have already established will be extremely helpful and valuable to you.

Image courtesy of freeimages.com / svilen001

3 Career Change Strategies for Former Entrepreneurs

3 Career Change Strategies for Former Entrepreneurs

As the economy fluctuates, many entrepreneurs consider their long careers and successes in the companies they built. We hear of high-tech leaders who built companies from their basements, and we hear of manufacturing leaders who built product suites appealing to the mass market. If you are an entrepreneur with a company that has potentially maxed it out its life cycle or that is about to be sold, you might be considering entering the paid workforce as an employee in another company. Read on for three career advancement strategies for former entrepreneurs that you can use right now to build a smart plan for your career transition.

1. Define your network.

Of course, as an entrepreneur, you know lots of people. You meet them in business meetings, in your Chamber of Commerce, through friends, and through friends of friends. However, have you ever approach any of them with critical business questions? It is even less likely that you have approached this network with questions about your own career advancement. Now is the time to revive old relationships. Building out the number of people on whom you can call to ask about opportunities in other industries or other companies is going to be an essential if difficult part of this process.

2. Assess your own skill set.

As an entrepreneur, you likely wear many hats. Depending on the type of fire you are putting out, you might be CFO, CEO, or CIO on any given day. You might also be sales executive, human resources executive, or the guy who has to run to the hardware store to pick up a new light switch. Other entrepreneurs would sympathize with how thinly you have been stretched. They would also understand that you might find it hard to identify the skills you want to build on in a new role. Thus, it would be wise for you to take an hour or two and inventory what you love about your job, what you hate about it, and where your skills fit in to what you want to be doing next. If you have no idea where your assets might be of value in a corporate environment, now is the time to speak with an expert, such as an executive career consultant, who can help you make that determination.

3. Prepare your resume and career portfolio.

If you know exactly what you want to be doing in a new company, now is the time to have your executive resume prepared. (If you are still in decision-making mode, go back to number 2 on this list. Preparing yourself for a new career but taking the steps out of order will result only in your mounting frustration.) If you have done the research, then you know what goes into writing a resume for a former entrepreneur that resonates with hiring executives in the current market. You’ll know how to enhance your marketability to somebody who is scanning your document in perhaps 20 seconds or less. You can find many resources in the library or on the Internet that will explain how to write, organize, and design the modern executive resume. At the same time, do not neglect to prepare an effective LinkedIn profile that will get you found by the hiring executives and recruiters who are looking for experts like yourself. For certain, if you find the resume and career portfolio writing process daunting, as many executives in your situation do, then engaging a career management consultant who knows how to do this might be a wise choice for you.

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.

Executives, There Is No Such Thing as “Not Part of the Interview”

Executives, “There is no such thing as ‘not part of the interview’.”

In just the last week, we heard on the news two stories about high-profile people and their inadvertent publicizing of more or less private information. In the case of Duchess Kate Middleton, compromising photos of her were leaked to the media. Clearly she must have thought she was completely alone when these photos were shot. She could not have believed that her very public persona would go unnoticed no matter where she was or what she was doing. Similarly, the campaign of presidential candidate Mitt Romney discovered that a speech he gave was recorded when it should not have been. Whether you agree with his conservative approach or not does not discount the fact that as a public person, he should have been aware that he is always under scrutiny. And whether you believe that a newlywed can or should behave any way she wants privately doesn’t discount the fact that the Duchess should be aware of what she’s doing all the time due to her high profile.

The same is true in the executive interview. Let me tell you another story, a very personal one. Two decades ago, when I had just finished a master’s degree program, I was in job search mode. I had achieved an interview for a job that I was interested in, and was sitting before the hiring executive. He asked me all of the usual interview questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. He also asked me something tangential, I believe about my thesis and the way I did the data analysis. He post-scripted this question with “This is not part of the interview.” Without thinking I knee-jerk responded with, “There is no such thing as ‘not part of the interview.'” I suppose I also answered the question about the data analysis. I didn’t get that job–in fact I got another one that I was much better suited for. But I never did forget, and I have repeated many times, that there is no such thing as not part of the interview.

When you are applying for an executive position, you will have to go through many interviews. You’ll interview with executive boards, CEOs, CTOs, CMOs, potential colleagues, and even subordinates. You walk through the company’s hallways, you’ll sit at desks, in conference rooms, in lobbies, and maybe even in restaurants. None of these locations are private, and none of the people with whom you interview are obligated to remain quiet about your conversations. Even if your executive interviewer suggests that your conversation will remain private, he or she has no obligation to remain circumspect about what you say. In fact, the more inflammatory your comments are the more likely someone will repeat them in the form of gossip about your level of professionalism or in the form of a polite letter declining to evaluate your candidacy further.

Thus, it makes sense for you to measure every word and sentence that you utter not only from the perspective of your executive accomplishments and your executive role, but also by the dimensions of whether you are comfortable with your words being repeated by people you don’t know well to people you don’t know at all. Here are a few guidelines for you as you move through your executive interview:

  • Treat everyone you meet professionally, including administrative personnel. You might even earn some goodwill points by writing a quick e-mail to the receptionist to thank him or her for the kindness shown to you on the day of your interview.
  • Do not let your guard down during your interview, no matter how comfortable you feel with the interviewer. This might be especially true if you know one of the panel members well. That person is not your friend in this context: That person is evaluating you the same way he or she is evaluating every other candidate that walks into similar interviews.
  • If you are asked and uncomfortable for even the legal question, be prepared either a) to answer the question as asked, or b) respectfully decline to answer it based on its level of appropriateness. Do know, that if you answer an illegal question you open up a tremendous can of worms and the opportunity for your interviewer to probe the issue more deeply.

In conclusion, remember that as an executive in an executive interview you are as famous as Mitt Romney and Kate Middleton. You are on stage and being evaluated at every turn. Anything you do can and certainly will be used against you. By monitoring your behavior and behaving like the professional executive that you are, you can avoid being caught saying something you can’t defend or doing something you wish you hadn’t. Remember: There is no such thing as “not part of the interview.”