Executive Career Search – The 5 high priority targets you need to focus on

Executive Career Search – The 5 high priority targets you need to focus on

In my previous article, ‘Executive Career Coaching – 5 ways a Career Coach can help your job search‘, I talked about what to expect when you are working with an Executive Career Coach (and perhaps more importantly, what NOT to expect).

So, you’re now working with your Career Coach, what’s next on the agenda for your job search?

Creating a plan to achieve the best opportunities for you

One of the first requirements is to draw up a short list of high priority targets for focus. How can you do this efficiently?

Create a long-list, list your core capabilities and try to identify target companies matching these, which you can see offering likely opportunities. You can record it in a simple spreadsheet, ranking high to low the most relevant targeted jobs with your key parameters (e.g. CEO role / mid-sized company / international culture/metals industry / commutable / English as the working language / meets targeted compensation package etc.).

Of course, you can set up more targets in parallel; so if you speak also German and you would also be open for Regional Sales Director roles, and you have also experience in manufacturing, you should set up these targets in another spreadsheet column. Even better if you can give weighted points to each parameter, and if you summarize the points at the bottom, it will be a great reference to compare your actual job offers to these targeted “ideal” jobs.

Afterwards, you will aim at these targets, so your job-search process will be based on real parameters to increase your hit rate.

“Working with Sándor was very useful in many aspects. It helped me to define for myself what type of job I am really looking for by setting up clear criteria, and these criteria were also helpful in assessing my current job in comparison. I also learned that career-building is a hard work: you need to have a plan, dedicate time and effort, and also make choices by not pursuing those opportunistic possibilities that may arise but do not fit into the criteria that you defined.”

1. Reset your social media accounts and face-lift your CVs.

In your social media profiles you should take care about the messaging, the status ‘open for new position

Regarding your CVs: ideally you should have one ‘generic’ CV for Executive Search firms, and 1-3 specific CVs to fit to those dartboards you have created. These will emphasize the most important points, experiences and results from your career which are most likely to feature in searches related to your ‘dream job’. For refinement and fine-tuning of your CV you should use your trusted Coach to help you use the most favorable structure and content and to highlight other needs such as your country / culture flexibility or market experiences.

2. You can begin to explore these “channels”:

• Your personal network is perhaps the most valuable part of your search process, since nobody can assess you better for a certain job than those who have worked or lived with you, or have other personal experience of you (e.g.: club, sport, fishing, college contemporary etc.)

• Start building your personal brand. Everything is PR which increases your value on the job market, such as a recent picture on your CVs, an updated LinkedIn account, your ‘image’, regular media presence in social media, memberships in Commerce Chambers / Associations, publications in several media, being active in social organizations, voluntary activities…

• Visit key and relevant Executive Search firms

• Contact those Executive Search firms not present in your country (as they may also have relevant assignments they are managing remotely)

• Extend your social media network. One of the most important is LinkedIn which can provide mechanisms to widen your network for job searching, such as groups, premium subscriptions with included “In-mail packs”, and of course the opportunity to see 2nd and 3rd contacts on your radar to select the most important for your job search.

“The most beneficial part and the biggest eye-opener for me of the entire coaching program was to learn about how consciously to build my professional network. I understood how powerful a tool LinkedIn is to initiate professional contacts, and also that my current job gives me a lot of opportunities to develop my network.”

• “Build up” your next employer by visiting media and a range of events regularly, leave a personal fingerprint on those decision makers who can help you later, perhaps even offering a position you dreamed about. Each meeting may be considered an informal ‘interview’, but take care NEVER to start talking about your job search first! Talk about everyday issues, your business cases, economic issues, your sector and competitors etc. The purpose of these meetings to make good overall impressions on those who can be your further targets / allies.

“The positive experience at the very beginning was understanding my situation and position. It was a structured way to describe the present status and to determine key focus areas. It was a good fit to my personality to follow a process in a planned way. I understood what I was doing and that there was a good reason why. Sometimes I was a little impatient because we were preparing the necessary fundamentals – CVs, interview plans, professional networks to use, my primary success stories, career highlights, my lessons learnt, understanding body language, making eye contact etc. – of a successful ‘application’ without immediate application.”

3. Be smart in telephone interviews.

In these situations Search Consultants assess your skills, pace, social style, communication skills, and other aspects of your behavior. Because of this:

• never answer a call immediately. Always ask the name and the number and request a callback. On the callback you should be prepared about the company (its industry, size, main markets etc.) about the position (if it was advertised check the advert again, check key requirements for ‘fit’). At the callback:

• be structured, concise, well-informed and answer questions directly

• listen (inter)actively

• have some prepared questions about the company/job to show your interest and motivation.

4. Be prepared for your interview with information you have researched and be ready with your own life, personal stories

What might be the basis of your personal stories? All those events which can present your skills and abilities appropriately in front of the interviewer. All your “best”, “most important” personal or leadership stories, but also consider your “worst”, “most difficult” or even “failures” which might be useful in demonstrating your learning and resilience. In the interview, of course, you have limited time. A typical interview, lasting 60-90 minutes, if you include the introduction, company presentation and closing remarks / questions, leaves you perhaps 30-40 minutes for your stories. In this time you should aim to present perhaps 3-5 of your stories, meaning you may have 10-15 prepared stories in mind to present the 3-5 most appropriate for the circumstance.

For building up the stories you might consider: 1. What was the beginning of the story (who was there, in what kind of hierarchical relationship, and responsibility? 2. What did you think when you first faced the situation / problem? 3. What did you do exactly? (speak for yourself only!) 4. What was the result? 5. You could also describe the effect of your actions (on the group, company etc. from a wider perspective).

Be prepared for further questions afterwards, for example, what did you learn from this?, would you do something different now?, how can you evaluate your actions?

(If you like to learn more about this, look for more info about the Emmerling, Boyatzis, and Spencer: Critical Incident Interviewing (CII)).

“During my job- search process I applied for a concrete job, which was a bit below my ideal target level. I had my next interview with the headhunter and it went pretty well. In the final part of the interview the headhunter took a deep breath and suggested I not continue with this process but look elsewhere for a better-matched opportunity. I had to extend my search process, certainly. I lost that job opportunity but I gained a worthwhile insight which reinforced the value of the coaching I had received. And I made the right decision: I found the job most suitable for me.”

5. Never give up!

“It has been really a bumpy road with many ups and downs. Sometimes I felt very positive and close to a result, and sometimes there did not seem to be any realistic opportunity. You can’t avoid being emotionally committed. Such an objective partner as my Coach supported me in my aspirations. He didn’t allow me to concede when in a down and he challenged my requirements or conditions when that was needed.”

The job search is much more similar to a marathon than a sprint. You have to use your energy / time / money economically, and you have to face many emotional ups and downs as well. In this difficult process your career Coach is well-positioned to hold a mirror to you, to help to understand situations, and to boost you with new energy for the step!

“I highly recommend this program to senior managers. I learned to value my current company higher than before and be very selective when considering new opportunities. The professional network I built already helps me tremendously in my current job – and it will remain a big asset in my next job as well. Thank you Sándor!”

Good luck! Sándor Székely

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