If you are tired of your application to interview ratio being 100:1 or you are just downright frustrated with the traditional methods of the job search, it’s time you elevated your search to another level and start thinking like an executive.
Have you ever seen an executive desperately sending out resumes or begging for an interview? Probably not and there’s good reason for that. Great (and even good) leadership and management is always in demand and sought after. So you may not be upper management (yet) or you’re starting over in your career—that doesn’t mean you can’t take control of your job search and become an in-demand candidate.
Think like a Boss.
First things, first, get rid of the quiver in your voice and push your mindset into determination and drive mode. Oh, and don’t forget to smile. Executives are pros at the one thing job seekers must have in their search: Confidence. Even executives who may not feel confident 100% of the time have learned to fake it when necessary because they have to lead their teams even when there is doubt or trouble ahead.
They are the voice that everyone follows. And, you need to have a voice and presence that others want to follow to. You don’t have to be outspoken or authoritative, you just need a radiating confidence that says, “I can do anything, handle anything, and be anything I need to in order to succeed.”
If you want someone to believe in you, you have to believe in yourself first. And, confidence can be a great motivator to push you to try things you’ve never done before, think outside of the box, or approach people you didn’t think you could. It can make all the difference in your job search.
Develop a strategic Personal Brand.
Most executives don’t have to go in search of jobs; jobs come to them because they have a reputation that precedes them. And, even those that do hop into the job fray don’t search for too long because they have a personal brand that speaks for itself.
Make sure your great work doesn’t go unnoticed. As you go day to day in your work, make sure you are receiving the appropriate recognition from management and clients. You may be the type to stand back and let others take credit for your work, but this passiveness doesn’t help you in the long term. Share the credit, recognize what you’ve accomplished, and document it.
If you’re an expert in something or have great industry insights start a blog and build up your social following and get noticed! Even if you’re not the most outgoing person face to face, that doesn’t mean you can showcase your knowledge online where the entire world has access to learning about you and your personal brand.
Don’t forget to optimize your online brand. Pay attention to keywords, SEO, social networks, etc. Head hunters can’t find what you don’t put it out there. Do not be afraid to spell things out and say who you are and what you want. Remember, people can’t read your mind and won’t take the time to read between the lines. Make it easy on those looking for your talent and yourself and be strategic about where and how you position yourself.
Ask for help.
Guess what, despite what you might think, great executives didn’t get to the top on their own; they got there because they knew when to ask for help or seek advice from others (whether they chose to take it or not,) and, because they know their weaknesses and don’t hide behind them.
In the job search, you can’t be afraid to reach out and be a little vulnerable. Even the best leaders have mentors or coaches to help them prepare for big presentations, job interviews, or even understanding more about working with their teams.
Realize that you do not know everything and reach out to others who can help your job search. Find a mentor to help you focus on what your next move should be so you can outline the appropriate opportunities to focus on and stop wasting your time on things that don’t matter.
If your resume needs help, hire a professional to re-write it, or at the very least have a friend proofread it. Get a career coach to aid you in seeing parts of the process that you haven’t exposed yourself to or to brush up on presentation skills or refining your personal brand.
Research some of the best and most solid recruiters & head hunters in your industry and make sure they not only have your resume on file, but know why you’re a great candidate. While sending your resume to recruiters is usually a very fruitless effort, if you target your approach to those recruiters who fill positions like the ones you are looking for and make sure you stand out as a stellar candidate, you can increase the odds of their remembering you when they have a requisition to fill.
Outside help can help you stay on track and focused and take some of the burden of the search off your shoulders by knowing you have other people on your side looking out for you. Executives don’t go it alone, and you don’t have to either, build your team of support.
Identify and target opportunities.
Great leaders and business executives see everyone they meet as a potential opportunity, whether it is as a customer, a potential hire, personal inspiration, a sales leads, or even potential job leads. This is why networking is key to business and key to a job search.
But, it’s not all about you when you network. Ever meet a seasoned C-level executive at an event? While they might introduce who they are and what they do, you rarely hear a direct sales pitch, and you usually find yourself in interesting conversations where you want to stay connected with that individual.
To identify opportunities, first you have to put yourself in the places to make them happen, and networking is one of the first steps to that. This can be online or face to face, but figure out what you can do for others or what makes you interesting and worth knowing before you put yourself out there.
Be intentional in your approach and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want from the appropriate people. Executives have learned over their careers when to use discretion and when to be bold. When networking be pleasant and approachable and don’t ask for too much up front. Wait for the appropriate time when you establish a richer connection to ask for what you want, whether it’s a referral, an introduction, or just to keep you in mind. And, know that with each person, that amount of time may be different.
Great leaders focus not only on the short-term, but the long-term. Never dismiss someone just because they can’t help you today because you never know how they might be able to help you tomorrow. And, don’t burn bridges if you can help it; build relationships that will last beyond your career.
Many smart executives who know the career path they want to take will network within the circles they want to move up in, whether that’s internal or external. Have a company you want to work for? Connect with as many employees (and recruiters) there as you can and get to know them and build a relationship to let them get to know you. When an opening comes up, be a name they remember and refer.
And, while making an online introduction is great, be bold and take the conversation beyond the keyboard. Coffee may be for closers, but in the job hunt, use a coffee date to secure a relationship with someone who can help you. If geographically meeting face to face doesn’t work pick up the phone, Skype, or chat on Google hangouts.
The more personal a connection you make and the more people like you, the more you will be remembered and the more likely others are to help you (and want to work with you.)
Learn from those who have already shaped successful careers. Listen to the stories of your bosses and other leaders to see how they got to the top and what you can learn. And, while you might be in the middle of a job search now, don’t forget these basic principles once you secure a role.
Build on your successes and keep communication going with others because you may need them to secure your next position. And, always know what you’re working towards. With no direction you can’t choose the appropriate path to move forward.