Executives looking for a job should always be mindful of protecting their career brand.
From the minor errors in the resume or cover letter, to applying for jobs they do not qualify for, or stumbling badly in the interview process, there is ample opportunity for executives to damage their brand in the job search process.
Here are five guide points to help executives navigate these potentially troublesome waters.
1. Do Not Apply For A Job You Do Not Qualify For – If the job advertisement, internet posting or networking email specifically mentions in the first sentence “We are searching for a physician executive” and you are not a doctor, then why waste your time? The mentality that something might work out is not only wrongheaded but it will diminish you in the eyes of recruiters who are overwhelmed with resumes.
Here is an interesting factoid: “Job seekers self-report spending up to 10 minutes viewing a job,” according to a recent study conducted by internet recruiting site, The Ladders. On average they actually spend between 39.7 to 76.7 seconds. So look before you leap. Clicking the “submit resume” button on every ad that contains the words “leadership” or “executive” is a fool’s errand. Slow down and actually read the job requirements. Submitting a resume for a job that you do not qualify for is a red flag: Beware!! This candidate does not pay attention to details.
2. Resumes Are Preferred For Executive Searches – In an executive search, send a resume that chronicles your executive progression and value-based accomplishments, not a curriculum vitae that focuses on endless listings of appointments, committees, research and articles. The only time you use a CV is when you are applying to an academic or affiliated organization, or a research firm. A 46-page history of your research articles with no clear career path is a great way to be excluded in a competitive executive search. The only people who speed read faster than candidates are recruiting researchers who spend, on average, between 20 and 30 seconds reviewing a resume or CV.
3. Do Not Send The Same Resume For Every Job – No two jobs are alike. Pay attention to the client’s selection criteria and preferred characteristics. Use a career summary paragraph at the top of a resume to emphasize your strengths and accomplishments that match the needs of the client. The one-size-fits-all jobs resume is a thing of the past. Target your audience.
4. Proof Your Documents – We all have submitted documents in our career—resumes, letters, proposals, contracts…heck, even blogs, that contain errors. While regrettable, one or two errors will probably not change the rotation of the earth. However, if, over the course of a search, the number of minor errors increases, you are only reaffirming that you do not pay attention to details.
5. Be Prepared, Be Smart – If you have a career glitch – and I am not talking about the candidate with five felonies (that is another story), or if you fall short with one or two elements of the selection criteria, prepare in advance how you will address these issues. Only a foolish candidate will be cocky enough to devise an answer on the fly when asked. Think these issues through. Draft responses. Practice and revise. Then practice in front of a mirror. When asked, smile, and then hit the ball out of the park.
Regardless of the industry, competition for the best jobs will only intensify in this new economy. Faced with an avalanche of resumes, recruiters must eliminate candidates to get the number down to a manageable level.
Do not make it easy for them to eject you from the game.
© 2013 John Gregory Self