It may seem obvious that the first thing to do, when you’re about to start a job search, is locate, dust off, and update your executive resume. Branding and targeting are probably not on your mind.
In my experience, many executive job seekers do just that. They dive headlong into their resumes first.
They often neglect targeting and narrowing their search to several select companies, because they want to keep their options wide open.
And they often misunderstand the importance of personal branding. They dismiss it as unnecessary and frivolous.
Writing or updating your executive resume first may have worked the last time you looked for a job, but things don’t work the same way now.
Today’s Executive Job Search Is Different
Today’s executive job seekers face a brand new world of job search, deeply impacted by the digital age.
If it’s been some time since you changed jobs, you’re now facing new challenges that didn’t exist before, and a much more complicated process.
If you’re not working from research you’ve done on the needs and challenges of particular employers, you can’t possibly create an executive resume and other career marketing materials that will contain the right keywords and other information to hit home with them.
And without knowing who you’re targeting and what makes you a good-fit for their current needs, you can’t build your personal brand around what differentiates your unique ROI over your competitors.
The (Somewhat) Linear Path for Today’s Executive Job Search Preparation
1. Targeting and Research
- Make a list of, say, 10-15 (or more) companies that will be a mutual good-fit. This will be your target list.
- Research each one’s current challenges and needs.
- Determine how you are uniquely qualified to help them overcome certain challenges and meet specific needs.
2. Personal Branding
With an understanding of your target companies’ corporate culture and what makes you a good fit for them, define your personal brand and ROI (return on investment). Differentiate your unique promise of value.
3. Executive Resume Development
Now you’re ready to write or update your resume.
Build your resume content to position you as the best hiring choice for your target companies.
Show them the money using branded, metrics-driven accomplishment statements. Drive home your promise of value with tangible evidence of how you turned things around for past companies and solved the kinds of problems your target companies are facing.
Storytelling, using the Challenge – Action – Results framework, helps hiring decision makers picture you in the jobs they’re trying to fill.
What Happens If You Don’t Follow the 3 Steps Above, In Order?
If you don’t do the 3 things above, you’ll end up with generic personal marketing content – trying to cover too many bases and failing at differentiating your value.
In all likelihood, you’ll be facing a protracted job search.
Knowing your target employers means you’ll know who you’re writing your resume (and LinkedIn profile, etc.) for, and what content will hit home with them.
Doesn’t it make sense that your resume (and any other supporting job search materials) should position you as a “fixer” for your target employers?
This is a much better approach than guessing at what needs to be in your resume and including every possible qualification, relevant or not.
Start with the 3 steps above, then you’re ready to:
- Build your brand communications plan across various channels (online and off-line),
- Network your way into your target companies,
- Land the interviews you want, and
- Land a great-fit new job.