If you’re embarking on a job search, or in the midst of one, it can be discouraging to feel like you’re facing an uphill climb. Take heart with the knowledge that if you apply certain fundamentals, you can stand out from the competition and speed up the time to your next executive appointment.
Here are my six key tips for executive job seekers:
1. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.
Just this week I visited someone’s profile after running into them at an event. In person, they had excitedly told me about the new role they’d taken six months ago. Yet when I looked them up online, their LinkedIn profile was woefully out of date and still listed them at their former job.
You never know who’s going to look you up on LinkedIn – including a future boss or the recruiter who could lead you to your next dream position.
2. Solicit recommendations for your LinkedIn profile.
This is a key reason to keep in touch with former colleagues – even after you’ve been terminated. Consider which skills you’re hoping to highlight in your resume and online profile, and ask your references to focus on those elements of your performance.
As well, in your LinkedIn settings, look for the link to “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.” Be sure the box is checked, which will notify everyone in your network when you add a new recommendation (or make any other changes to your profile).
3. Use your network.
Along with keeping in touch with former work colleagues, tap into your extended network of fellow alumni, people you’ve met networking, your online contacts, and your personal friends and family.
Your network is larger than you think. People often say they don’t know many people, but when we start brainstorming together they’re amazed. Don’t ever be afraid to tap into your network and let people know what you do and what you’re looking for. People want to help.
4. Interact with and use recruiters.
If you form relationships with recruiters and maintain those relationships, they can help you manage your career for the rest of your life. The trick to sustaining that is to be proactive – even when you’re gainfully employed.
Every four months or so, email that recruiter to remind them you’re always looking for your next opportunity. Share a STAR story (Situation, Task, Action, Result) that demonstrates your capabilities in the best light. Tip: Keep a “brag book” so these are always on hand.
5. Tailor and tweak both the cover letter and resume for each individual application.
You can reprioritize/reorder your resume keywords, customize the directive (title of the position you’re seeking), and reprioritize the success stories based on the STAR format.
A cover letter should never be generic, but personally addressed to the hiring decision maker. In addition, pinpoint the exact keywords used in the advert, and place them sparingly throughout your cover letter text.
6. Follow up.
After an interview, follow up with a handwritten thank you note and then a phone call or two (at that point, move on – no one likes to be pestered). Show that you’re interested in the position, and that you’re committed to your success and to helping the company meet their goals.
In a job search, patience is a virtue. A job won’t fall in your lap. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the job search process. It can be very complex and arduous, and has its ups and downs. Consider engaging a career professional for guidance and support. They can help you conquer the downs and celebrate the ups.