I see it all too often with my clients. They make too many executive job search mistakes, mostly because they don’t understand how it all works today.
Many of them have never needed a resume (or any career documents) to land jobs over their 30+ year careers.
Some haven’t been faced with job search for 5 or 10 years, or longer. In the past, jobs fell into their laps before they were even considering a career move. They were hot commodities, pursued by recruiters, and could pick and choose between opportunities. They easily slid into new jobs.
Many don’t have a vibrant network in place because, securely employed (or so they thought!), they didn’t think they needed these advocates.
Even those who have experienced proactive job search in the past, may be ill-prepared to tackle the new world of executive job search. Deeply impacted by the digital age, an effective job search campaign today doesn’t look like it did even a few years ago.
16 Deadly Executive Job Search Mistakes
1. Not getting clear on where you’re going next.
Ignoring this critical first step is one of the biggest executive job search mistakes. Know what kind of work you want to do and determine which organizations will fulfill your needs. Work from a target list of employers and key decision makers within them. Customize your career marketing communications to resonate with your target. Differentiate what makes you a good fit for them.
2. Sitting in front of your computer all day, burying your nose in the job boards.
They’re addictive and it’s easy to convince yourself that blasting your resume to every relevant opening that “pops up” is an effective way to find a job. A dismal 10% or fewer of jobs at the executive level are landed through job boards. Most jobs by far (something like 80-90%) come through networking. It’s clear which one offers the better ROI for your time.
3. Not researching your target companies and industries.
Start your search with market intelligence for due diligence, to uncover hiring decision makers, to help you write powerful content for your LinkedIn profile, resume and other job search materials, and to perform well in interviews. You need to answer questions intelligently and know which questions YOU should ask. Spend a part of each “work” day researching.
4. Failing to re-connect and engage your neglected network while proactively reaching out to fresh faces.
Give value to get value, and work on building trust to get others to feed you leads and inform you of opportunities.
5. Not treating your job search like it’s a full-time job.
Your job search is a sales and marketing campaign to promote your company of one — Brand You. Run your search like a business, with a strategic business plan, just like any company does. Your “9 to 5” job is to find a job.
6. Failing to set achievable daily goals.
Of course, the benefits are twofold – you accomplish something important to your search and you feel invigorated because of it.
7. Not developing benchmarks and metrics to measure progress.
Determine what works and what doesn’t, and adjust your approach accordingly.
8. Missing the opportunity to move to the front of the pack with personal branding and a strategic brand communications plan.
Develop on-brand career marketing communications targeting your companies/organizations of interest. Defining your brand will also build self-confidence for the unique promise of value you offer potential employers and energize you for the job search.
9. Failing to build a strong digital footprint.
On-brand online information about you needs to be easily found by recruiters and hiring decision makers who source and assess candidates by what they find (or don’t find) about them online.
Video is one of the quickest ways to push Google search results for “your name” to the top of the page. But job seekers have been hesitant to use video in their job search, perhaps because the vast majority of them are job hunting under cover. Since video resumes, the most widely used type, are very job-searchy and could “out” them, they shy away from using ANY video. Videos that use animation with kinetic typography, like CareerBrandVideos™, are the answer.
10. Neglecting social media to promote your executive brand and value proposition.
- Not fully leveraging LinkedIn. Slapping up a perfunctory LinkedIn profile and then forgetting about LinkedIn and all it has to offer.
- Not spending some time regularly posting LinkedIn updates, and commenting or otherwise reacting to others’ LinkedIn updates.
- Ignoring the power of Twitter to position yourself as a subject matter expert and get on the radar of decision makers at your target companies.
- Failing to join the blogosphere. You don’t have to start a blog, although it’s a good idea. You can post articles on LinkedIn’s long-form (or Pulse) publishing platform. Also, consistently commenting on relevant blogs can have a powerful impact on its own. Guest blogging is another viable alternative.
- Conversely, spending too much time networking online. It can be intoxicating. It’s easy to squander an hour or two flitting about Twitter, with little to show for it. Create a time-limiting plan and stick to it.
11. Not balancing Personal Branding with Personal SEO.
Both personal branding and personal SEO are critical pieces for successful job search in the digital age, and they go hand in hand.
But many people don’t know how to strike the right balance between them, as they write their personal marketing documents and online profiles – resume, biography, LinkedIn profile, etc.
More in my post, How to Balance Personal Branding With Personal SEO.
12. Not balancing virtual with real-life networking.
Online social networks are a terrific place to connect, but nothing builds trust like reaching out and sending an email, or better yet, picking up the phone from time to time. And find networking events and job search support groups you can attend in person.
13. Blatantly self-promoting when you’re networking, online or real-life.
You want to stay top of mind with people, but you don’t want to be memorable in a negative way. Networking is about giving value to your connections.
14. Being unprepared to interview well.
- Not having a personal brand positioning statement – your 30-second elevator pitch – to handle the sticky “Tell me about yourself” query.
- Not having several well-rehearsed CARs (Challenge – Actions – Results) achievement “stories” in your back pocket to get into the conversation to handle behavioral-based questions. “Describe a time when you . . .”
- Not knowing which questions you should ask.
15. Not getting real about how long executive job search can take these days.
You may land a job quickly, but don’t expect to. Be prepared for it to take several months, maybe even a year. Even though you’re bound to get discouraged, work on staying focused and persistent. Budget and cut back expenses, if necessary.
16. Being too stubborn to seek help from a career professional.
With so much going on in today’s job search, the strategy is complicated. You may not know enough about how it works to do it well. Navigating a search without professional help may prolong your search and make you miserable.