Transitioning military leaders need to understand and follow a solid roadmap for job search success.
Those transitioning from the military face a particular issue similar to that of an executive transitioning to a different industry. That is, translating their experience and unique value in terms that potential employers can understand.
Beyond that aspect of job search communications, transitioning military leaders are pretty much in the same boat as any executive job seeker.
A few years ago Vera Steiner Blore interviewed me for her Military Leaders in Transition forum. You’ll see in my answers (slightly updated here) how and why job search is basically the same for any senior executive or leader.
Tips to Help Transitioning Military Leaders Land the Jobs They Deserve
1. Why is it so vital for senior executives to use social media as part of their executive job search?
Senior executives need a robust online presence because recruiters and hiring professionals will Google “their name” if they’re being considered. Those with a strong online footprint are viewed as more desirable than those with limited or non-existent online presence.
Networking is the best way to land a job. First, identify the right people to network with – recruiters and employees at the companies you’re targeting. Then “meet” them where they hang out. These days, most of them are active on social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – so you need to be there, too.
Most hiring professionals go to LinkedIn first, to search for and assess candidates, based on relevant keywords. If you have no LinkedIn profile, or a skimpy one, you may be invisible to them.
But also, these people are looking online for “social proof”. They want information that backs up the claims you’ve made about yourself in your resume. A diverse online presence will provide them with the information about you they need. And, it’s important to self-google regularly. Monitor the search results for “your name” so you can deal with digital dirt, if necessary.
2. What are some of the most effective strategies to build a personal brand to differentiate transitioning military leaders?
Personal branding for executive job search is all about identifying and communicating the things about you that your target companies are looking for. They include your personal attributes, motivating strengths, values, areas of expertise, skill sets, and other qualifications. Knowing this “insider” information is critical. It helps you create brand-reinforcing content that generates chemistry for you and will resonate with your target employers.
So, before you can define and develop your personal brand, you need to start with targeting and research. Identify a good list of companies or organizations (say, 15-20) that will be a good mutual fit. Then research each one to find out what makes you potentially valuable to them. Why do they need you?
“Differentiation” is the key with branding. Too many job seekers create personal marketing content (resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.) that reads pretty much the same as their competitors. Sameness won’t distinguish you and position you as the best hiring choice. Differentiation is what makes you stand out over and above your competitors. Differentiation sells you to your target employers.
3. What differentiates an executive resume from the resume of a mid-level manager?
No matter what your professional level, your resume is a document designed to market you as a good hire. The content in anyone’s resume should position them as someone who is uniquely qualified to help certain employers meet certain pressing needs.
At the senior executive level, qualifications that are important to include in the resume lean more towards leadership capability. These may include motivating teams to excel and build revenue, managing global operations, and turning around failing businesses. But these things may also be important for lower level executives and managers.
4. What are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen executives make throughout the job search process?
One of the biggest mistakes is trying to circumvent the targeting process and going straight to writing their resume. This results in content that’s too generic and doesn’t hit home with anyone.
Another very common mistake is spending the majority of job search time on various job boards, responding to job postings. Only about 5-10% of executive jobs are landed through job boards. Doesn’t it make more sense to limit your time there? You should spend most of your time on the method that yields something like an 80-90% success rate . . . that is, networking.
5. How can transitioning military leaders accelerate their executive job search?
My best advise: Spend some time learning about today’s job search and understanding the linear path it takes, so you can avoid missteps.
Follow this checklist to get on board with best practices for today’s executive job search:
- Get clear on what kind of job you want. Identify who your target employers are. Determine what their needs are right now, how you can help them, and who their key hiring decision makers are.
- Define your executive brand and differentiate your unique value from your competition.
- Get your resume, bio and other personal marketing materials together. They form the foundation for all your brand communications.
- Move your brand communications online with LinkedIn and other social media. Start building a diverse, vibrant online presence.
- Put your online and offline brand communications to work in all your networking efforts.
- Work on circumventing the gatekeepers at your target companies. Connect directly with key hiring decision makers and other employees. Go where they hang out online and offline.
- Cultivate relationships with several executive recruiters who specialize in your niche.
- Prepare to excel in job interviews.