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If you’re in executive job search, I’m sure you’ve heard and read that networking plays a role in landing a good-fit gig. But do you know how to network optimally?
Most executive job-seekers understand the value of networking. They know they need to connect with the various people who can help them meet their career goals.
Even though they know this, too many invest minimal time in networking. They believe they should spend the majority of their time on job boards.
Their networking efforts consist mostly of speaking to people about the jobs they’ve seen posted somewhere.
What most of them don’t know is that:
An estimated 80-90% of executive jobs – especially at the c-suite and other senior levels – never show up on job boards or anywhere else.
They also often don’t know that they may not get to the best-fit jobs by relying on executive recruiters alone to help them.
Because the majority of executive jobs are NOT advertised, job seekers need to strategically network towards these unadvertised jobs at the companies they’re targeting.
What is the hidden executive job market?
According to an article written by Executive Talent Agent Debra Feldman, jobs that are never advertised include ones that:
- Have a budget but, for whatever reason, have not yet been announced.
- Only internal people know about because they won’t be created until internal processes are in place.
- Depend on an incumbent leaving, which the company doesn’t want the public to know about.
- Are newly-created to accommodate a specific person because of their potential value to the company.
Also according to Debra, the only way you’ll learn about and have access to these jobs is through strategic networking:
- Identify and network your way towards hiring decision makers and their inner circle at your target companies, and stay top-of-mind with them.
- Get people within the company to recommend you to hiring managers.
- Find out about and pursue good-fit opportunities early in the recruiting process.
Knowing how to network pushes you to the top of the list
People hire people they feel they know, like and trust.
If you stay top-of-mind with employees at your target companies, you’ll become at least a somewhat known entity within that organization . . . not an outsider or stranger sending their resume in response to a job posting.
Another thing to understand is the power of referral to hire. Everybody involved wins when an employee recommends a good hire. The hiring manager has done her job. Employees may get some kind of reward. You, the new hire, get a good-fit job.
When golden opportunities that are the right fit for you open up, hopefully your contacts at the company will connect you with the people who can get you into those jobs.
Don’t just look for your perfect executive job, create it
Dave Opton, founder of ExecuNet, discussed trends for executive job search in the new world of work since the pandemic:
If you are an executive who is in a job search you must understand that your perfect job actually does exist, or, more importantly, you can create it. It is either out there now or is possible to build it. Your search begins with identifying your ‘next great next’ and then taking actions to attract that role and connect with hiring managers who want what you offer.
To beat your competition in today’s competitive market you must tell your best story of what you can do and how you do it. Many executives feel like the runner-up, not the ‘winner,’ because they are always coming in second in interviews. Constructing a compelling story of your unique value and learning how to talk about yourself assertively and confidently is critical to your success.
The keys to telling that powerful value story are:
Clarity: Be clear about what you want and your highest and best use.
Control: Shape the narrative by taking your audience on a journey not through your resume, but rather, a journey through the why of what you do. Simon Sinek said it best: ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.’ Don’t leave it to your past accomplishments and titles to tell your story.
Emotion: Your new company will want a leader with vision, purpose and passion. Tell your story concisely and emotionally so that your next employer feels yours and sees the meaning you will create for them.
As for the don’ts—well, do not just point and click on any job listing you see. Do not begin the job search with the mindset that the first thing you need to do is grab recruiters’ attention.
Start instead by reclaiming your own attention—around your value and gifts, the talents, experiences, insights and other traits that make you special and the things you can do for others, as well as where and with whom you want to share those gifts next.
How to network based on company organizational charts
Career coach Sarah Johnston offered some very helpful tips in a LinkedIn post to access and use the public organizational charts of more than 140,000 companies on the website TheOrg:
Here are 4 ways she sees the site being valuable:
1. The site gives you title + an actual name of a person in the role.
You can take this insight and use it on LinkedIn for additional research. Look for common connections that you can leverage for a warm introduction for a networking meeting.
2. If you find a job posting online, you can visit TheOrg to learn who the hiring manager is so that you can use a name in your cover letter. You can also Google the hiring manager’s name to learn more about their background so that you can write a compelling cover letter that will more likely resonate.
3. The website gives you a visual of how many degrees of separation you are from the CEO or where decisions are made at the highest level. Your title may be “Head of X” but you could have two or three layers of separation between you and the decision-makers. It’s so important to understand where your role fits in an organization before you take the job.
4. The site also shows you organizational chart vacancies.
If I was interviewing for a role as a data scientist and saw that the Chief Data Officer had five unfilled positions on his team, this might be seen as a red flag (or an opportunity for growth). Information is power and gives you the knowledge to ask better questions during the interview.
More About Executive Job Search
7 Things Successful Executive Job Seekers Know
Essential LinkedIn Guide for Today’s Executive Job Search
THE Personal Branding Worksheet
3 Ways To Make Your Online Networking Count
Game-changing Executive Resume FAQs
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