Being an executive in the job market can be a long and harrowing journey, especially if you’re dealing with a non-compete clause keeping you from certain positions for up to a year. Competition for the jobs you want is high, the supply of these jobs is low, and it can quickly become difficult to gauge the effectiveness of your job-hunting efforts.
In an effort to identify and correct negative job-hunting behaviors so you can put your best foot forward, here is a brief list of some of the most common mistakes high-level executive job-hunters make when presenting themselves in the job market:
1. You’re Too Hard to Find
It seems obvious that you would want to make recruiters’ and employers’ jobs easier by making all of your information as simple to access as possible, but I often run across executive job-seekers whose online information makes them difficult to find.
Make sure your information is available on:
- Key social media platforms―such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Recruiters’ databases―most search firms have a website and you can usually add your résumé/key information by using the candidate link in the website.
- Job search sites―such as Indeed.
Also, it is important that that all of your work-related material (email address, cell phone number, résumé, portfolio) has an identical first and last name structure to guarantee that you’re easy to find both in emails when you are in the job market.
2. You’re Overly Dependent on Executive Recruiters
While the service that executive recruiters provide continues to be valuable and important, our services are increasingly being used in very specialized and mission-critical situations, not for broad-scale, general, rank and file recruiting. In a recent study, LinkedIn estimates that over 85% of available positions are filled via networking. Granted, this includes networking among recruiters (and recruiters’ use of LinkedIn), but the fact is a large percentage of positions are filled without the assistance of an outside executive recruiter.
There are several key reasons for this trend including the growth of social media, the increased use of in-house recruiters, the general tightening of SG&A and HR budgets, and a greater reliance on networking as an everyday part of most people’s professional lives.
3. You’re Not Taking Advantage of Your Personal Network
Develop a list of twenty-five to fifty names (may be more) of people you know. This can include former colleagues at a company, suppliers, customers, and just plain friends and family. While I would not include any strangers, this list does not need to be limited to just your “A” relationships, people you are frequently in touch with. We’ve all let relationships lapse, but there is never a bad time to try and revive an old connection with a friend or colleague.
4. You’re Too Narrowly Focused for the Job Market
It’s completely reasonable to be selective about what you want and don’t want in a position, especially as you’re just beginning your search in the job market. After all, you know your strengths and you’ve worked hard to refine them over the years, so why compromise?
But, as the months drag on and there appears to be little interest in your candidacy, it may be time to consider broadening your search requirements. This is a surefire way to unearth more job market opportunities, and once you’re placed in a new role, there is almost always flexibility for you to shape it around your particular strengths.
5. You’re Selling Your Experience Instead of Yourself
Often those in the executive job market get too fixated on their extensive experience and impressive CV and forget that at this level they should be selling who they are just as much as what they’ve accomplished.
Companies hire executive recruiters to inspect a candidate from all angles, so always maintain a positive attitude, have a solid understanding of work-life balance, and never let negative feelings for past employers find their way into communications with companies or recruiters.