Tried and true methods still apply, but the impact of the Internet and our recovering job market require building a different kind of job search strategy and becoming much more proactive.
In a nutshell, what you need to do along with real-life networking, is embrace and leverage personal branding, social networking at sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, and social media, while building a strong, brand-evident online presence . . . or get left behind.
Your peers who finesse the new tactics already have a competitive advantage over people who don’t. They’re strategically positioned to accelerate their job searches.
Here’s how things are stacking up for executive job search in 2010 – some new rules, some old rules:
1. Be flexible.
Don’t assume that your next job will be a full-time position with one company. Temp to perm and portfolio careers (a mix of part-time employment, temporary jobs, freelancing, interim consulting, self-employment), especially for boomer executives, have become viable strategies.
Creating income security, instead of job security, is the new wave.
2. Get clear on what job you seek and target the companies where you’ll find it.
Frame your entire job search strategy around your target audience so that everything you put out there will resonate with them. Realize that in job search, you’re in the middle of a sales and marketing campaign for your company (i.e., YOU) in which you’re pitching your value proposition.
Keep an eye on market trends and opportunities. Dig into targeted industry and company research for due diligence, market intelligence, and to position yourself as an informed, engaged candidate in interviews.
Compile a list of at least 10 companies that will fulfill your needs and the key decision makers within each one.
Google the decision makers’ names to find out where they hang out online and offline and how you can connect with them. Here’s your chance to circumvent the gatekeepers by identifying and connecting directly with top decision makers and tap into the hidden job market of unadvertised positions and possible newly created opportunities tailor-made for you.
In your research, learn about the culture of each company, and determine what their issues and problems are so you can develop your pitch around their needs.
Set up Google Alerts to have Google email you up-to-the-minute news on your industry plus companies, people, and relevant keywords of your choice. See my Job-Hunt article, Power Your Personal Brand Using Google Alerts.
More details in my post How to Target and Network into Hidden C-Level Executive Jobs.
3. Define your personal brand and amplify it in your personal marketing communications.
Personal branding is all about defining the unique set of strengths, personal attributes, passions, and drivers that differentiate you from your peers, aligned to resonate with your target audience.
Branding generates chemistry and makes it easier for recruiters and hiring decision makers to visualize you at work making things happen. It helps them determine whether you’re a good fit for their organization and whether to hire you or do business with you.
And because the brand development process identifies your vision, purpose, values and passions, it also helps invigorate you and gain a keener understanding of what kind of work is a best fit for you. Branding helps you position yourself to move toward career fulfillment and to work your passion.
Expect the process of defining your executive brand to take some time, so get started on it. For more specifics, see my post The Executive Personal Brand Worksheet: 10 Steps to an Authentic, Magnetic Personal Brand.
And to dispel the misinformation you may be hearing and reading about personal branding, read my post What Personal Branding is NOT.
Once you’ve defined your brand, design your paper/digital executive resume, career biography and other personal marketing documents to resonate with your target audience.
Just as the executive job search landscape has changed, so have these documents. They don’t read and look the way they used to, based in large part on the fact that more and more hiring professionals will be reviewing your digital documents on their PDAs or netbooks (think tiny screens).
Make their job easier and entice them to scroll down through the whole document by writing concise statements of value (no more than 3 or 4 lines) surrounded by enough white space for each one to stand out. Tightly packed dense information doesn’t attract the reader well.
Pay special attention to what lands above the fold or on the top of the screen. This prime real estate can make or break your chance to be considered. Since many hiring professionals have limited time and may read no further, assume that this part of your resume should stand on its own to showcase your value proposition.
Remember that these are marketing documents, not career histories. Include just enough information to capture attention and compel people to contact you. Precision writing and strategy are key – everything in these documents should align with what your target audience will be looking for in them – nothing included should be arbitrary.
See samples of executive resumes, career bios and other documents I’ve created for actual clients, to get an idea of how they should look and read.
4. Create a fully-fleshed out and searchable LinkedIn profile and develop a strategy.
Did you know that recruiters and hiring decision makers use special applications to search LinkedIn for viable candidates?
Use your executive resume and some of your career bio as the foundation for your profile. As always, capture attention with what lands above the fold (in this case, whatever lands at the top of the screen).
Pack searchability and a powerful brand punch into your professional headline.
Make inroads connecting with your list of key decision makers within your companies of interest. Check their LinkedIn profiles and join the LI Groups they belong to.
You may be sitting on a lead right now that you haven’t leveraged. Make a list of everyone you know at work and in your personal life. See if they’re on LI and connect with them. Let them know what kind of job you want and who your target employers are.
Download my free e-book for more details, Executive Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile: How to Transform Your Executive Brand, Resume, and Career Biography Into a Winning LinkedIn Profile.
5. Get visible elsewhere online. Build a strong e-brand and brand equity.
Surveys show that the majority of recruiters and hiring decision makers search online when they’re sourcing and assessing top talent. See my post, Does Your Online Identity Scream “Hire Me”?
Design a far-reaching personal marketing strategy to consistently communicate your unique promise of value across multiple channels, online and offline.
Position yourself directly in front of your target key decision makers:
♦ Establish presence where they’re hanging out online searching for people like you.
♦ Get published online to showcase your subject matter expertise.
♦ Make sure you have plenty of brand-supporting search results on the first several pages of results when you Google “your name” and that absolutely no “digital dirt” exists related to your name. If it does, start building up positive results to push the bad ones further down.
It takes time to become “sticky” and build credibility and visibility online. If you have little or no brand-reinforcing presence online when you’re job-hunting, you’ll have a hard time catching up with your competition who have already worked on establishing themselves online.
Here are a few places to build presence online and increase the number of positive search results associated with you:
♦ Create a VisualCV to house your portfolio of your personal marketing documents.
♦ Create a Google Profile.
♦ Clean up your ZoomInfo profile, if one exists. Otherwise create a fully fleshed out one.
♦ Blog in some way – your own blog and/or guest blog and comment on other relevant blogs. Keep building up keyword-rich content so you’re more likely to be found when people search relevant topics. See my post, Executive Job Search and Blogging: Perfect Together.
♦ Create a key word-rich profile on Facebook and other social networking sites.
♦ Build a website using the domain “yourname.com”.
♦ Write book reviews on Amazon and other online book sellers.
♦ Publish articles and/or white papers online. Your professional affiliations and organizations would probably love to have you contribute content to their websites.
6. Don’t underestimate the strategic positioning value of Twitter.
I know, I know. You’re probably skeptical. But hiring professionals leverage the networking power of Twitter to find leads. Since that’s where they are, that’s where you should be, too.
On Twitter you can get under the radar of recruiters, hiring decision makers, and industry thought leaders and subject matter experts. Identify the right people to connect with, follow them on Twitter, support them with frequent re-tweets, and position yourself as a person of interest.
Once you get active on Twitter, take advantage of the cross-branding power of LinkedIn’s Twitter application, which displays your most recent tweets on your LI profile and gives you instant access to the updates of people you follow on Twitter, along with the power to tweet, reply, and re-tweet from your LinkedIn home page.
Take it further by getting active on other networking sites like Facebook, Ecademy, Plaxo, Ryze, etc.
7. Develop relationships with several executive recruiters who specialize in your industry and niche.
It takes time to build strategic relationships. Stay in touch with your circle of recruiters so you’ll be top of mind with them when a good fit comes their way.
Ask people in your network which recruiters they’ve worked with.
Buy Kennedy Information’s Directory of Executive Recruiters, the famous “Red Book” which lists over 10,000 recruiters at thousands of search firms, with all the contact information you need to start networking immediately with them.
See the Riley Guide’s short list of quality recruiters and how to work with them.
For advice on recruiting the recruiter, see my Interview with Executive Recruiter Jeff Lipschultz and his article for Job-Hunt.org, How Recruiters Pick YOU.
8. Don’t forget real-life networking.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve touched base with your network, circle back and re-connect with them. You may have more insights and support to offer them and they may have some fresh leads for you.
Reach out to former clients and vendors, professional associations, community groups and lifestyle groups. Check in with people and find out what they’re up to and update them on what you’ve been doing. Practice “give to get” networking and start building new mutually beneficial relationships.
Check out Job-Hunt’s networking & job search support groups. Join these groups to share strategies, keep up with industry trends, and build mutually beneficial relationships.
Volunteering is a win-win strategy on so many levels. You’ll be helping others, but at the same time getting many benefits:
♦ Thinking about and helping others keeps you from feeling sorry for yourself and dwelling on how miserable you may be dealing with job search.
♦ Thrust yourself into terrific networking opportunities. This what “give to get” networking is all about.
♦ Develop and improve your networking skills, gain confidence in forming new relationships, and feel positive about yourself.
♦ Feel instant gratification. People are very kind to those who give of themselves and their time.
♦ Feel useful and needed by those who can truly use your help.
♦ Pump up your executive resume and bio. Meaningful volunteering makes for some powerful content to fuel your personal marketing communications.
♦ Uncover new career opportunities. You never know who you may be working shoulder to shoulder with, or who they’re talking to about you.
Some places and ways to volunteer:
- Local non-profit/community outreach organizations and/or their Boards of Directors.
- Job search support groups (once again, check out Job-Hunt’s networking & job search support groups).
- Meetings and conventions of your professional organizations.
- Church or religious affiliation activities.
- Organizations like The Red Cross, Habitat For Humanity, United Way, The Salvation Army and many others.
- Local companies fundraising efforts for non-profits.
- For just about anything that interests you, there is a group that needs your help.
10. Keep your job search work/life equation in balance.
Take time every day, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes, for a mini-retreat from the noise. Step away from your email, voicemail, social networks, or any communications devices.
Take a walk, do a crossword puzzle, cook, read, meditate – whatever works for you. Getting away from the work of job search can help you find clarity.
Get a gym membership. This helps you establish a routine and gets you exercising, exhilarated, and feeling better about yourself.
If the stress of being unemployed and worrying about paying the bills is hitting you hard, download and read Leo Babauta’s free e-book Thriving on Less: Simplifying in a Tough Economy.
His advice will help you focus on the essentials, change your spending habits, and shoulder through.
And a bonus tip:
11. Try something different in your job search.
Stand out and capture attention by innovating a different approach. Zig when everyone else is zagging. To spur some new ideas, check out my post Resume Lingerie and 10 Other Guerrilla Job Search Strategies.