When you first meet a recruiter, you may think “I’m so perfect for the job. Isn’t it obvious?” But their reaction will probably be “Umm, no. Excuse me, do I know you?” It’s time to reset your executive job search, if such a chasm exists between your expectation and a recruiter’s initial reaction to you.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone of job search. “You are about to enter another dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind”, Rod Serling said at the beginning of each episode. The new galaxy you are about to enter is made of strangers who may not know you, or even know of you.
You’ve earned a stellar reputation, are held in high regard by your colleagues and spent an entire career as a decision maker, so you instinctively feel it must go “without saying” you’d be a great hire.
Complicating matters could be that your substantial tenure (while commendable) may have caused you to disconnect from today’s job market. Relaunch by taking inventory of the attributes you already possess, then use them to reset.
3 Ways to Reset Your Executive Job Search
1. Reflect and evolve
It doesn’t go without saying that you’d be the perfect choice for the job, so you’ll have to prove your value all over again. You’ve got it in you, just dig back into who you are and what got you there. Here are my top three traits in an Executive’s “power pack” needed for an effective job search.
Some may call it modesty. Simply stated, it’s that willingness to be “teachable.” You’ll need big doses of this to stay current and relevant. Accepting constructive feedback is the key to repositioning yourself in today’s market. This may prove the toughest pill to swallow, but possibly the most important one.
You’ll have to articulate your worth over and over in a variety of ways, starting with your resume, LinkedIn profile and perhaps an executive summary. Once you’ve gotten your message clear on paper and digitally, get ready to tell the story so fluidly that it becomes a sort of personal mantra.
Use your keen ability to objectively look at a situation, identify barriers and solutions, then have the courage to act decisively. This is the stuff of a real leader who’s willing to either stay the course in the face of objections or pivot because it’s the right thing to do. Executives who dig their heals in and become mired in outdated views, need to be right at all costs, or who are unwilling to negotiate substantially lengthen the time of their job search.
2. Transferable skills vs. social capital
You’ve served an employer and their stakeholders well, and take great pride in the role you played in the company’s performance. It’s now time to reclaim who YOU are by recalling and repositioning your own identity.
Effectively bridging experiences from your former employer is often referred to as using transferable skills. But what you really have to offer is social capital (i.e., people you know: vetted vendors, employee referrals, colleagues who are thought leaders). These are all assets you possess and serve to separate your professional identity from that of your employer’s identity. Time to make the shift to “You, Incorporated” by optimizing these personal assets you’ll bring.
Imagine you recently drove the implementation of an ERP. These systems are complex, and costly in time and people resources. The company with whom you are interviewing is ready to launch an ERP initiative. You can offer a vetted vendor; perhaps persuade members of the IT team to move to this new company. It’s not just what you know, it’s equally who you know. You have far more to offer than simply a skill set.
3. Social identity theory
As humans, we practice methods of both protecting and enhancing our self-esteem. Especially in times of job loss, a desire to present ourselves in the most positive light is natural but needs to be balanced. Consider these two psychological phenomena, which can sometimes be unintentional and somewhat subtle, but nonetheless tempting to engage in.
Basking in Reflected Glory
People may attempt to align themselves with a success for which they had little or no role. Give credit where credit is due. True leaders acknowledge the team who helped make the success happen.
Cutting off Reflected Failure
Conversely, people may attempt to distance or separate themselves from some failure that has a negative impact on their self-esteem, reputation or self-image. Don’t blame mistakes on others. Acknowledge when things went south and how you mitigated any loss.
To reset your executive job search, build your personal balance sheet of assets, then get ready to show just how perfect you are for the job.
More About Executive Job Search
About the Guest Author
Barbara Schultz is Principal of The Career Stager, elevating job seekers and peak performers to center stage. She has recently co-authored Adulting Made Easy(er): Navigating from Campus to Career, a book for Gen Y and Z readers. She is also a freelance writer, sharing perspectives on intergenerational dynamics in today’s workforce. Visit Barbara on LinkedIn.