You may be very, very lucky. You may land the executive job of your dreams without having to suffer through a stressful job search.
But if you’re like most executives, that’s not happening.
You’ll need to dive into the work required to set yourself up to job search well.
Here’s your road map to launch and run a job search that will lead you to a great-fit new gig. Each of these steps interconnect and support each other:
- Personal Branding
- LinkedIn and Other Social Media
- Online Presence
- Job Interview Preparation
If your job search has stalled or things aren’t working as you’d hoped, follow these guidelines.
The Road Map for Executive Job Search Success
Let’s look at each one of these more closely.
Get straight on what kind of work you want to do and which companies will provide it.
You may resist targeting select employers because you don’t want to limit your search. You want to be open to any and all opportunities.
Here’s one of the problems with this approach. When you’re writing your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. you won’t know who you’re writing for and what specific experience, strengths, qualities and qualifications they will want candidates to have.
Being generic in these personal marketing materials, trying to cover too many bases (or job opportunities), will probably lead to a very prolonged job search.
Targeting is also important for due diligence. You need to assess target employers to be sure they’re the right kind of company for you.
Overall, think of it this way: If you can’t clearly express (verbally when you network and in your marketing materials) what you want to do and for which company, how will people know how to help you reach your career goals?
More in my post, How to Build Your Executive Job Search Target Companies List.
Determine what things about you (accomplishments, skills, personal strengths, etc.) your target employers need right now.
As I noted above, your resume, LinkedIn profile and other job search materials are marketing communications. Marketing campaigns begin with knowing your target audience and addressing their pain points. Then you can position yourself as their problem solver.
It may seem counter-intuitive to narrow your search to specific employers, but the more you do, the more precisely you’ll be able to pinpoint the unique value you offer. And the more your personal marketing materials and networking efforts will position you as the best hiring choice for the companies and organizations you want to work for.
More in my post, Best Ways and Places to Research Your Target Employers.
Spruce up or refine your personal brand messaging to better resonate with your target employers.
Personal branding is the personality part of your marketing materials and communications. The stuff that generates chemistry and interest, and influences people to reach out to you, to learn more about you.
What are the character traits, passions and strengths you possess that define who you are, what you’re like to work with, and how you accomplish great things? All of this, and more, goes into defining your personal brand.
There are still plenty of executive job seekers, including those you’ll be competing against, who haven’t embraced personal branding. If you do then you, your resume, LinkedIn profile and all the rest will make you stand out in the best way.
More in my post, THE Personal Branding Worksheet.
Charge up your resume with the kind of information that positions you as the right fit for the employers you want to work for.
Put yourself in the shoes of the people reading your resume. Make it easy for them to get to the meat right away. Don’t hide things on the second page that will wow them. Put your best stuff above the fold on the first page. That is, in the top third or half of the page.
Use storytelling to better connect people to the value you offer and more vividly indicate what you’re like to work with, how you get things done, and what great results you’ve gotten for past employers.
More in my post, How to Write An Irresistible Executive Resume in 10 Steps.
LinkedIn and Other Social Media
Get busy on LinkedIn (especially) with both passive and proactive strategies, and other social channels.
If you can only carve out time for one social networking platform, make it LinkedIn. LinkedIn is THE place where social meets job search, career and hiring. It’s where most recruiters and other hiring professionals source candidates like you.
Create a robust LinkedIn profile by fully populating every applicable profile section. Here are a few things to work on:
- Get plenty of the right keywords into your profile content for the LinkedIn search engine, but make sure it’s still a good read for human beings.
- Pay special attention to customizing your profile headline. It is one of the first things people will see about you on LinkedIn.
- Upload a professional-looking headshot. This and your headline follow you everywhere on LinkedIn.
- Use the Featured section of your profile to post videos and other visuals to catch people’s eyes and express your brand messaging.
- Post updates regularly and comment/react to other people’s updates.
Google “your name” right now and see what recruiters and hiring professionals will see when they’re assessing you as a candidate.
Many job seekers still don’t understand that these people search online to source and assess candidates.
Candidates who have a more vibrant, diverse online footprint are typically viewed as more desirable.
Savvy job seekers know they want to have at least some relevant search results for “their name” on the first page of results. Your LinkedIn profile, if it’s robust, could be one of them. But you’ll need to work on building up more search results. The more things people find about you through search, in the early stages of hiring, the easier you make it for them to see your good-fit qualities.
Make it a practice to self-Google regularly, so you can run damage control if you find negative search results about you.
Connect more deeply with the people you already know and relied on in the past – friends, colleagues, various associates, current and former customers/clients, vendors, fellow members of professional associations, etc.
Think of all the people you know, across various aspects of your personal and professional lives. Zero in on the ones who will most likely be able to help you.
Circle back to them and briefly apologize for not re-connecting sooner. Find out what they’re up to and update them on what you’ve been doing. But don’t rudely burst into a request for them to help you get a job. Reconnect first and revive the relationship.
Practice “give to get” networking. Don’t expect favors without giving something in return. Do something nice for them first. Networking (online and in-person) that works for everyone is all about helping, sharing, finding common ground, and being a good listener.
You should also make a habit of reaching out to new people to expand your connections and open yourself to more opportunities.
More in my post, How To Network Better.
Although you shouldn’t rely entirely on recruiters to get you into a job, you do need to form relationships with a number of recruiters and work well with them.
- Re-connect with the recruiters you’ve used in the past
- Ask your network for recommendations
- Search LinkedIn for executive recruiters
- Check your trade or industry associations for referrals
Job Interview Preparation
Start by reviewing your initial targeting and research work so you’ll be at-the-ready with plenty of details about the company you’re interviewing with.
Find out what issues and challenges your industry is facing. Determine who the subject matter experts and key thought leaders are.
Prepare to intelligently answer questions like “What do you know about our company?” and “Why do you want to work here?”.
You also want to be prepared to ASK intelligent questions about the company. Beyond the intelligence you’ll gain with your questions, many interviewers are not very proficient at interviewing. Be ready to fill in awkward gaps in the conversation with information you really need them to know about you.
Learn about the company’s past performance and future plans so your interview will be more interactive.
More in my post, Prepare to Ace & Brand Your Executive Job Interviews.
Even More Executive Job Search Strategies
To round things out, job search strategist Hannah Morgan posted a list of job search activities on LinkedIn that will help you get a handle on things you should be doing:
- Research and explore new career opportunities
- Read industry publications and newsletters
- Research industry and occupation information
- Create a personal marketing plan
- Set up networking meetings
- Join professional association groups and attend meetings
- Contact your college/university for job search resources and alumni groups
- Contact people in target jobs and at target companies
- Online networking (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- Create interviewing preparation folder
- Draft templates for Thank You letters and Cover letters
- Attend a Job Club or networking group for job seekers
- Set alerts on “job posting boards” and career pages
- Conduct research on companies
- Arrange informational meetings
- Contact search firms, contract houses, agencies
- Look for new companies to add to target list
- Roleplay for interviews
- Attend seminars and workshops
- Enroll in online training classes
- Attend virtual job fairs
- Attend virtual networking events
She suggests that you create a realistic weekly plan including these activities.