Recharging Your Executive Job Search
Whether you’re job searching because of a recent layoff or because you’re being proactive in your career management, there are critical steps you can take to move your executive job search forward. If you haven’t looked for a job in more than ten years, it can be very stressful to know where to begin. Luckily, there are many resources at your disposal – you’re not alone.
Grab your pencil and start taking careful notes on how you can re-energize your network, market yourself effectively on paper and gain renewed confidence in what you offer potential employers.
Step 1: Develop a Brand-Focused Executive Resume
It’s no secret that, in today’s unpredictable economy, your executive resume can be lost in an overcrowded pile with other job seekers hoping to get attention. There are executive resumes that simply tell the employer what you have done and where you have worked, and then there are brand-focused resumes that clearly communicate your personal and leadership brand, illustrate your ROI and value proposition, and speak about the unique traits and talents that differentiate you from your peers. For example, a manufacturing executive’s personal brand on the top of the executive resume would be:
“Engaging cutting-edge technologies to advance corporate-wide initiatives that expedite manufacturing processes and achieve aggressive revenue growth, cost-cutting objectives and profitability margins.”
Step 2: Create a Concise, Branded Elevator Pitch
To effectively navigate the maze of job search activities, online and in-person networking will be an essential part of your strategy; what better way to stand out and be memorable than to have a solid elevator pitch? Use your personal brand statement as a foundation for building a pitch that you can use at networking events or in quick introductions. Be sure to practice your pitch so that it sounds natural and you’re comfortable with it. For example, the manufacturing executive could have an elevator pitch that sounds like:
“Hi, my name is Carl Brown. As an experienced Manufacturing Executive, I have enjoyed a progressive career with top companies like ABC Plastics, Newform Manufacturing and TechNec Corporation. With a reputation for engaging cutting-edge technologies that help global manufacturing companies achieve aggressive revenue growth and improve operating cost objectives, I am seeking new executive opportunities at global companies that would benefit from my strengths in P&L management, product innovation and turnaround operations.”
Step 3: Support Your Brand with Career Success Stories
It’s one thing to say that you’re a trend setter, but without specific examples of career achievements and career defining contributions to companies, it’s all just talk. Identify three to five top career achievements that support your personal brand, and create success story talking points around them. Remember to follow the Challenge-Action-Results format. Make sure that your stories demonstrate your leadership capabilities, describe the organizational, economic or market constraints you faced, and outline the quantifiable impact you made to a company’s operations. These are ideal for the leadership initiatives document.
One example of a success story for the manufacturing executive would be:
- Revamp and restructure a high-volume manufacturing facility plagued by poor health and environmental safety standards that strained operations and stalled work productivity
- Conceptualized division-wide initiatives to upgrade safety and manufacturing standards, eliminate occupational hazards, and significantly reduce excessive manufacturing waste and air emissions
- Transformed division into the company’s highest, top-performing facility while achieving $1.2 million in cost savings
- Lowered occupational hazards and further reduced operating costs by $1.4 million by integrating more than $2 million in equipment upgrades and process improvements
Step 4: Revive and Nurture Your In-Person and Virtual Network
Even if you’re guilty of neglecting your network over the years, you still have a far-reaching, expansive network that should be a key part of your job search activities. While you don’t need to literally stop people on the street to inform them of your executive job search, plan on re-connecting with former colleagues, past employers, college alumni, industry peers, and fellow association members that are already a part of your professional network.
Enhance your network by joining professional and local business associations and staying actively involved by attending meetings and volunteering for committees. Maximize sites like LinkedIn, Ziggs and ZoomInfo to search out key contacts at target companies, re-connect with lost friends, join special interest groups, and secure testimonials from valued associates.
Step 5: Build an Online Presence
Executive recruiters and potential employers are using Google to pre-screen candidates about 80 percent of the time. They use general searches to source candidates and check them out before making interview calls. Have you “Googled” yourself lately? To stay competitive in today’s job market, you need to build and maintain a strong, branded online presence. Tools like LinkedIn and VisualCV.com are free resources that allow you to develop an online portfolio and profile that ranks in the top third or fourth position in Google’s page results.
Start blogging through online forums and relevant blogs in your industry or area of expertise; choose topics that you’re passionate about and are consistent with your leadership brand. Most importantly, consider writing articles that highlight your thought leadership and industry expertise.
Step 6: Focus on Niche Job Boards and Specialty Recruiters
Don’t get lost in a maze of online career sites, especially the huge commercial sites that draw millions of members in without offering any specialties for executive job seekers. Limit your online job search activities to specialized online job boards that focus on a particular occupation, industry, job function, or type of job seeker (i.e. CEO, Sales Executives, or MBAs). In addition, only connect with specialty executive recruiters and executive search firms that are experts in your industry and job function; sources like Ladders.com provide online databases for a diverse range of specialty recruiters.
These tips are applicable if you’re new to the job search, or if you’ve been in it for a while. Take hold of the resources available to you and recharge your executive job search.