Marketing Yourself for Your Executive Job Search

Marketing Yourself for Your Executive Job Search

The key to marketing yourself for your executive job search is balancing self-promotion and humility. But when it comes to personal branding and messaging, many executives downplay their strengths and successes and find active expression of individual achievements somewhat awkward and unnatural. They are more comfortable including basic facts and figures on their resumes, yet employers need a cohesive narrative to connect the dots and recognize value.

Compounding the aversion to self-promotion is a respected character trait on the leadership spectrum — humility — which can seem at odds with tooting one’s own horn too vigorously. While projecting humility is an admirable quality — employees who perceive altruism from their managers tend to be more engaged and innovative — effectively translating business value into words is paramount when positioning yourself for your next role. The job market is far too fast-moving and competitive for hiring executives to interpret a candidate’s restraint as anything other than a direct reflection of leadership ability and performance.

In my latest article for Forbes—“How to Balance Hype and Humility in Your Job Search”—I examine the reasons many senior leaders struggle to promote themselves, including:

  • They are focused on the aggregate effort
  • They are cautious in the delivery of their communications
  • They are already at the top of the pyramid

I also provide examples of how to self-promote without broadcasting arrogance. Marketing yourself both effectively and authentically is an exercise in balance. If you are too self-aggrandizing, you run the risk of transmitting arrogance and a contrived narrative. On the other hand, if you’re too reticent, you potentially engage in self-sabotage, underselling yourself and downplaying your stature, influence and worth.

Gravitas can be portrayed in career marketing documents when done correctly through discerning content selection, word choice, writing style and voice. The key is to remain fact-based while expressing leadership strengths and impact.

Read more about how to strike the right balance of self-promotion and humility by visiting Forbes, or contact me to discuss your executive job search strategy.

Company Loyalty: Does It Carry Weight in the Job Search?

Company Loyalty: Does It Carry Weight in the Job Search?

It used to be that company loyalty was a valued attribute and considered a major asset. It implied commitment. Ten years with a company? Great. Twenty years? Even better. Today the tables have turned — now a diversity of experience trumps longevity.

Recruiters and hiring managers like to see that candidates, especially executives, have operated and flourished in a variety of environments, alongside different colleagues, leaders and circumstances.

Whether people leave for a bump in pay, career advancement, or a new experience, a one- or two-year stint at a company is no longer considered a blemish on a resume. Rather, it’s increasingly becoming the norm — even valued.

In my latest article for Forbes—”Company Loyalty: Does It Carry Weight In The Job Search?“— I lay out the implications of a long stint at a company on your career and I recommend what you should focus on when seeking a new job after a long term at your current job, including:

Highlight Diversity of Experience and Impact

Provide a career snapshot that illustrates how you progressed, remained engaged, were challenged by new leadership experiences, solved problems and — crucially — made an impact.

Demonstrate Ability to Lead Change

Focus on the aspects of the job that demonstrate a direct influence on driving change, since it is a highly coveted and transferable skill set. That can mean how you:

  • Led your team and organization through significant periods of growth, ownership changes, corporate restructuring  and strategic business shifts
  • Reinvented the business as a response to changing market conditions, consumer demands or the competitive landscape
  • Shepherded a new business start-up or turnaround

Avoid Company-Specific Language

The acronyms, phrases, and overall jargon some have been using for decades are not always transferable to other companies and may imply that one is too steeped in another corporate culture to succeed elsewhere.

To read more about the effect of company loyalty on your job search, visit Forbes.

If you are looking for a partner to help you prepare for your executive job search, contact me to learn more about how we can work together.

Candidate Relationship Management: Is Neglect The New Normal?

Candidate Relationship Management: Is Neglect The New Normal?

A brand president shared a story with me about his recent interviewing experience. After receiving an interview confirmation with the CEO of a multibillion-dollar global apparel company, he arrived at the corporate headquarters only to be informed that there had been a mix-up: The CEO was traveling for business on the West Coast and would not be available. The SVP of HR met with him instead and—for the next 60 minutes—proceeded to bash the company’s internal communication practices. There was no follow-up from anyone at the company, including the CEO.

This anecdote—about poor candidate relationship management—inspired my latest article for Forbes, “Candidate Relationship Management: Is Neglect The New Normal?”

A simple Google search for “bad job interviews” returns more than 15 million results. Whether it is being stood up, being treated rudely, or receiving no feedback, poor candidate relationship management is on the rise.

Most of us—regardless of our age—can still vividly recall our worst experiences as a candidate. Prior to social media, we may have shared our experiences with a few friends and family members and then dropped it. But today? Remember that old adage “bad news travels fast?” Well, “fast” has been replaced by “warp speed,” as social media has enabled anything to become viral and remain a few clicks away for eternity.

Why does this happen? The Talent Board, specializing in candidate experience research, identifies many factors that can derail candidate relationship management. The following three rise to the surface:

  1. Communication.Whether internal (human resources and department hiring manager) or external (recruitment firm), information is not being shared consistently and who owns what part of the process is unclear.
  2. Training. Oftentimes individuals have not been trained in how to conduct an interview.
  3. Culture. A workplace may be understaffed and the time needed for an employee’s own work will supersede his or her ability to participate constructively in the candidate recruitment process.

To read more about how you can improve candidate relationship management, visit Forbes.

If you are looking for a partner to help you prepare for your executive job search, contact me to learn more about how we can work together.

Executive Interviews: The All-Important Fit Conversation

Executive Interviews: The All-Important Fit Conversation

Executive interviews are not only about determining if you can do the job — and do it well — but also if you’ll fit in with the people and the environment. Hiring decision makers want to know you’ll be able to operate effectively up, down and across the organization and be able to get your job done through your teams and together with your colleagues. “Poor culture fit” is often one of the reasons why executives don’t succeed in positions (usually observed and addressed quickly), and make their exits — either voluntarily or involuntarily. We see this play out time and time again in the business world. In a 2015 Fortune interview, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, reflects on his hiring — and swift firing — of European retail executive John Browett. “That was a reminder to me of the critical importance of cultural fit,” Cook said about his executive hiring misstep and Browett’s poor fit with Apple’s culture.

Assessing fit in executive interviews is often a challenge for both companies and candidates alike, as it is often difficult to determine if there is full alignment on all value points. I was networking recently with the Head of Talent Acquisition at a NYC-based PR firm and asked her to describe the company’s culture, to which she responded, “scrappy, lean, open-office environment, shared business line P&Ls, very collaborative, casual and non-corporate.” These words conjure up different feelings for people and do not have the same appeal for all individuals. Therefore, during the executive interview, it’s just as important for the candidate to get a true sense of what it would be like working at the company as it is for the company to understand what it would be like working with the individual.

Here are some questions that will help in preparing for the “fit conversation” in executive interviews:

Questions to anticipate:

  • How do others describe your leadership style?
  • What do you value most as a leader?
  • What type of culture do you foster among your team as well as the broader organization?
  • How would you describe your decision making/conflict management/communication style?
  • What factors are most important to you in considering your next role?
  • What factors are most appealing to you about this opportunity?
  • What career successes are you most proud of and why?
  • What was your biggest career mistake and what did you learn from it?
  • What motivates you?

Questions to ask:

  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • What does the organization value?
  • What’s kept you working here?
  • What do you view as the organization’s/team’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What makes leaders successful here?
  • What has caused leaders to fail?
  • How does the organization keep teams engaged and motivated to perform?

If you are looking for a partner to help prepare for your next round of executive interviews, contact me today to learn more about how we can work together.