Executive job search is complicated and it can take a long time to land a job you covet and deserve.
It requires plenty of planning and purposeful work . . . before you even begin the proactive process of networking your way into your next great-fit gig.
Most people in executive job search don’t know what to do, what not to do, what the first steps are, whether they need help, and basically, how to stage a successful job search campaign.
Consequently, their search may take way too long, because of their missteps.
Save yourself time in the long run. Do it right from the start.
5 Reasons Your Executive Job Search is Taking Too Long
1. You Didn’t Lay the Groundwork with Targeting and Research
Without knowing which employers you’re targeting, how will you know how to determine and position the value you offer?
Which of your strengths and areas of expertise will be important to stress?
Narrow your search as much as possible to say, 10-20 or so companies or organizations that will be a mutual good fit.
Then research each one to uncover their current pressing needs that you will be able to help them with.
This is the kind of information you’ll need to communicate verbally, digitally and on paper – in your LinkedIn profile, resume, biography, etc. – as you network your way into the “hidden” job market, where most executive jobs reside. These are the jobs that are never advertised.
Targeting helps you zero in on who you need to connect with – mainly hiring decision makers and people who work at your target companies.
Researching helps you uncover what things the companies need your help with. And research helps you find the all-important relevant keywords and phrases you’ll use in your job search content to boost your personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization), making you more findable online.
2. You’re Not Communicating Your Unique Value . . . that is, Your Personal Brand
Executive recruiters and hiring professionals assessing candidates want to get a feel for their personality – and how they work, how they lead, etc. – BEFORE funneling them into the interview/hiring process.
You need to:
- Differentiate the unique value you offer specific target employers, over your competitors.
- Highlight how your personal attributes (or soft skills) impact your driving strengths and areas of expertise (or hard skills) to benefit potential employers.
- Be able to clearly and succinctly communicate what makes you the best hiring choice.
- Generate chemistry in your LinkedIn profile, resume and other career documents, AND when you verbalize your good-fit qualities when networking and in job interviews.
- Write brand-reinforcing content that is an interesting and compelling read for people tasked with reading mind-numbing same-old LinkedIn profiles and resumes.
- Make it as quick and easy as possible for people assessing you to get to the meat of your unique value proposition. Be specific with examples and metrics.
Defining your authentic personal brand will help you do all these things.
3. Your Target Niche is Too Narrow
As noted above, I normally advise executives to narrow their search as much as possible, so that they can clearly communicate their value to specific employers.
But, some job seekers take this too far.
For instance, don’t set your sights solely on the CFO role in just one specific company . . . unless you have plenty of time to wait, or an inside track, or knowledge of the current CFO’s imminent departure.
Your target audience needs to be wider than that.
Have a more expansive Plan B . . . or even Plans C and D, in terms of targeting.
4. You’re Sabotaging Your Efforts By Spending Too Much Time on Job Boards
It’s been estimated by many career experts that something like 80% of $200K+ jobs are not posted anywhere. They come through networking. Yet most executive job seekers spend 80% of their time on job boards, minimizing their networking time to next to nothing.
It may feel like you’re working hard, by responding to hundreds of job postings. But really, you’re mostly spinning your wheels and wasting time on a method that yields dismal results.
Shouldn’t you spend the vast majority of your job search time where it will have the best impact?
What’s wrong with job boards?
One of the main problems is Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – the dreaded resume black hole.
ATS were developed to deal with the overwhelming number of resumes executive recruiters and employers receive for openings posted on job boards and company websites.
Many job seekers have aggravated this situation because, even though they may be unqualified for a job posting, they’ll send out their resume to any and all job listings that are even remotely a fit for them.
How do Applicant Tracking Systems work?
Here’s what happens when you respond to a job listing online, or send your resume to a gatekeeper – an executive recruiter or human resources department:
The document is put into a database or ATS, along with thousands of other resumes, for various kinds of jobs they’re trying to fill.
To call up good-fit candidates, the database parses the content for relevant keywords pertaining to a particular job.
Resumes with enough of the right keywords, according to particular criteria, are chosen.
Resumes that are incorrectly formatted, don’t contain enough relevant keywords, or don’t fit the bill in some other way aren’t called up, at least for that particular job.
I think it would be safe to say that most job seekers don’t know how to navigate ATS successfully. Many don’t know they exist, let alone how to deal with them.
More about ATS in my post, Executive Resume ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems): What You Need To Know.
Don’t give up on job boards entirely. The job descriptions you find there are very helpful for your industry and company research.
5. You Have Little To No Social Proof To Back Up Your Personal Brand Claims
Executive recruiters and other hiring professionals have found that some job seekers bend the truth in their resumes.
They’ve also found that the same job seekers are much less likely to lie about their accomplishments in their LinkedIn profiles . . . and any other content they put online.
So they assess and judge each candidate by what they find when they Google “their name”, and find them on LinkedIn and elsewhere.
It stands to reason that the more content hiring professionals find online about candidates – that backs up claims they’ve made in their digital documents – the more attractive those candidates are to them.
They also want to be reassured that you are savvy with social media and the new world of work.
If you’re not on LinkedIn, using it proactively – to connect, network, build your personal brand, provide social proof, demonstrate your subject matter expertise – you will appear to be out of touch.
You need to keep busy on LinkedIn, just to keep pace with your job-hunting competitors who know how to use LinkedIn.
Keep building your online presence and regularly monitor the search results these people will find.