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7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know

Many executive job seekers — especially at the c-suite and senior level — don’t understand that job search doesn’t look or work quite the way it used to. The digital age greatly impacts today’s job hunt, but the new ways are not always the best ways. In some cases, the tried and true old ways to land a job are the way to go. Whether you’re getting ready for a career move or stuck in a protracted, daunting job search, getting on the right track is critical.

Want to know what executive job seekers who land faster know and do? 1. Writing or updating your executive resume is NOT step one. The biggest mistake executive job seekers make is writing their resume with no clear career targeting. That is to say, they don’t determine at the start of their job search which companies offer them a good mutual fit. Think about the purpose of a resume. It serves to qualify you as a potential candidate – both in personal character and in skill sets. Your resume should make people reading about you feel compelled to want to meet you and learn more. Recruiters and hiring decision makers assessing you through your resume (or LinkedIn profile and other career marketing materials) don’t have time to sift through irrelevant information. They need to quickly and clearly see your ROI and good-fit qualities for them. How can you write about what makes you a good fit for a company, if you haven’t chosen target companies, don’t know what challenges they’re facing right now, and can’t align your qualifications with their pressing needs? Step one in executive job search is targeting several companies and researching what you can do for them right now to meet their needs.

2. Relying entirely on executive recruiters limits your possibilities. Yes, you should source and work with several recruiters in your niche, and position yourself online to be found by them when they’re sourcing candidates. They may be recruiting for your target companies or know about opportunities that will be a good fit for you. However, remember that recruiters work for the client companies that pay them, not job seekers. They don’t match opportunities to your qualifications. They match job seekers to job opportunities. Don’t wait for recruiters to reach out to you.

3. Personal branding helps you land. By digging deep and defining your unique combination of key personal attributes, passions, strengths, talents and values, personal branding helps you communicate your good fit BEYOND your target employers’ requisite qualifications. Employers likely have their pick of the cream of the crop. So many others like you may fit all their requirements. Communicating only how you offer the same, full range of expertise as everyone else doesn’t distinguish you and give you an advantage. Sameness doesn’t sell you. Differentiating the value you offer OVER your competitors is an imperative in today’s job search. Branding helps you differentiate yourself. Moreover, branding helps you communicate your good-fit qualities for your target companies, when you network and interview.

4. LinkedIn, social networking, social media and online presence are no longer optional. To be part of today’s global marketplace, you need to be at least somewhat active with social media. Being social media savvy can be a qualifying skill set, especially if you’re trying to overcome age bias. Social recruiting is the now the norm. Recruiters and hiring decision makers at your target companies use social media to connect with their network and source candidates. They’re hanging out on sites like LinkedIn (most especially), Twitter and Facebook. If you’re not there, you may not connect with them. And your activity on social media provides them social proof that you are who you say you are. People will Google your name to assess your fit as a candidate. If they find little to no search results for you, they may pass you over in favor of those with a stronger online footprint. Job search success means showing up . . . on Google. Get visible online to be found. Work on creating a realistic social media routine, that includes regularly self-Googling, to monitor the search results the world is finding for “your name”.

5. Job boards are mostly a waste of time. Networking gets the job. Trolling the job boards, and posting your resume to as many as possible is not a very successful job search tactic. Only an estimated 5-10% of job seekers − especially those at the senior and top executive level − land jobs through the job boards. Networking is one evergreen job search strategy that still gets the job better than anything else. Something like 80-90% of executive jobs come through networking. Networking to connect with hiring decision makers at your target companies, leads you into the “hidden” job market. These jobs are never advertised, and are only accessed by networking your way into the company. It’s all about becoming at least somewhat known within the companies you’re targeting. Hiring managers are more likely to hire people they know, even if only a little, over complete strangers.

6. Treat your job search like you’re running a company of one. Whether or not you actually set up a consulting business to hire yourself out — which may be a great option for you — your job search is a full time sales and marketing job for BRAND YOU. You need to create a solid game plan to promote your business (that is, BRAND YOU) in the digital age, and hold yourself accountable to carry out daily goals. Part of your job, in finding a job, is to learn about the new job search itself, so you’re prepared to understand all that needs to be done.

7. Avoid employment gaps by volunteering. Executive job search at the c-suite and senior level can take a long time. Close gaps in your LinkedIn profile and resume by showing that you’ve been actively engaged in relevant work. Work is work . . . whether or not you’re paid for it. Make it a career-long habit to volunteer and stay involved with your favorite non-profits and charities, providing support in your areas of expertise. Everyone wins!

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