Successful Job Search Strategies and Techniques for Executives UK
Executive Job Hunting Advice: Forming the basis behind any executive job hunting strategy are certain core elements or key success factors likely to influence executive employment search / career development outcomes. ExecutiveCV.net seeks to incorporate many of these aspects into an A to Z framework as a useful and simple guide. The idea being to consider what executive headhunters and recruiters look for in candidates, ideas on establishing an effective job hunting strategy and exploring ways of differentiating executives and CEOs at the very highest level. This covers many areas likely to yield ‘quick wins’ and quickly improve effectiveness.
This is not an exhaustive list, but nonetheless forms the basis of an executive employment search. It is also useful to remember that such elements will be of lesser or greater importance based on the individual, plus 70% of opportunities are never advertised, so exploring the ‘hidden job market’ is critically important.
Part 1: Executive Job Hunting UK (A to F)
Achievements: Candidates must clearly showcase main achievements, outcomes and where they have influenced the wider organisation. Fully justify with examples and quantify figures where possible. Identifying and selling achievements is difficult (using an executive CV achievements section can help).
Be Specific when talking about achievements, examples and outcomes on the CV and at interview as it gives credibility, conveys clear understanding and shows confidence in own abilities. Being vague when presenting information only adds to uncertainty for the recruiter, so increasing the risk of not being selected.
CV: A clearly targeted, well-marketed and effective CV will make an impression with recruiters. Most initial recruitment decisions are made based entirely on the CV alone, so having a well-presented, up-to-date and focused CV always works best (quickly responding to opportunities is crucial and follow top 10 tips writing an executive CV from employers and headhunters to help).
Development: A longstanding track record and continued professional development is very important for executives. Having an MBA, specialist (relevant) degree or professional qualifications all give added credibility as do professional memberships, associations, certifications and non-executive director positions.
Examples: Executives must provide strong evidence of suitability using examples of how they influenced the wider organisation, applied specialist knowledge (expertise) and shown top level strategic / leadership credentials. Recruiters always dig deeper and interrogate decision-making rationale at interview.
Feedback is critically important as it helps shape future performance. Recruiters may give constructive feedback regarding CVs, interviews, assessments and overall performance. Experienced at selecting and matching executives to opportunities, means recruiters are a wealth of expert information and advice.
Post 2: CEO Job Hunting (G to L)
Guidance: Sometimes it is necessary to seek guidance, advice and support from fellow executives, career management companies or an influential person in developing a career (i.e. mentor). The idea is to promote good practice, reconcile key issues, eliminate uncertainties and establish a fully integrated career plan.
Housekeeping: This relates to documenting ALL job search activities, details of contacts, target companies and networking prospects for tracking purposes. Another aspect is to continually document career history, achievements and executive recognition, essential for updating CVs and providing evidence of suitability.
Interviews: Being shortlisted shows an obvious interest, so why waste this opportunity? Preparation is the key to strong interview performance – i.e. research the company, refine skills / techniques, identify robust examples/achievements, develop sales pitch/USPs, structure answers, ask good questions and know CV.
Job Market: Use market intelligence to identify key success factors (i.e. experience, skills and expertise requirements), monitor sector trends (i.e. salaries and business developments), follow companies (i.e. knowing which one’s are recruiting), build relationships with headhunters and establish contacts networks.
Knowledge: Possessing specialist knowledge, skills and expertise is a key differentiator, especially at the top level where executives have accumulated strategic, leadership and decision-making acumen over a number of years. Always give credible examples (and evidence) of how this knowledge has been applied.
Long-Term Strategy: Often the most successful CEOs execute a well-defined plan. Thinking long-term focuses the mind, sets priorities and gives a framework for identifying professional development needs, setting targets and achieving goals. Set 1, 3 and 5 year plans to cover short, medium and long-term targets.
Part 3: Director Job Hunting Advice (M to R)
Motivations: Having compelling reasons for doing something improves motivation, gives direction and ultimately becomes more enjoyable. Applied to a career setting – do some soul searching, identify strengths (and weaknesses), research the job market or even read an autobiography or career book for inspiration.
Networking: With 70% of opportunities never advertised, the ‘hidden job market’ becomes critically important. Use existing contacts, establish relevant networks, build relationships with headhunters and use dedicated networking tools like LinkedIn to increase networking potential. LinkedIn Profile Writing Services.
Objectives: Planning ahead should be an integral part of any executive career strategy. Always define SMART Objectives – Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant and Time-Focused. Continually review, refine and update objectives to maintain focus, identify gaps (gap analysis) and monitor ongoing progress.
Presentation: Initial impressions count significantly, so impeccable presentation, professionalism and accomplished delivery at interview are crucial. Follow executive role models, match behaviours and work on developing a ‘personal brand’ to positively reinforce behaviours (i.e. improve marketability and confidence).
Questions: Asking good questions at interview always impresses employers. It shows an assured approach, genuine interest and evidence of research. First interview questions should be more general (i.e. company culture, executive team and responsibilities). Second interview questions can be more specific.
Research underpins any effective employment search strategy. It helps provide useful intelligence about the job market, target companies (i.e. company culture, possible opportunities and long-term initiatives) and aspects like salary benchmarking (Executive Salary Negotiation Strategy) and identifying sector trends.
Part 4: Executive Job Hunting Strategy (S to Z)
Sales Pitch: Creating a 60-second pitch offers a simple framework to sell core credentials. It must be balanced between introducing oneself, conveying unique selling points (i.e. valued added skills; expertise), main achievements, motivations and aspirations. Practice a 2-minute and 30-second elevator pitch.
Targeted Approach: Focusing efforts yields better results, thus saving time, resources and lost income by securing roles much quicker. Clearly identify target roles, employers and headhunters and build up a credible business case based on core competencies, evidence of suitability and main achievements.
Unique Selling Points (USPs): Offering something unique differentiates candidates and gives a competitive advantage in finding roles. Having a unique blend of experience, international exposure, specific areas of expertise or value added skills can really benefit an employer. Identify and sell any USPs!
Vision: A clear focus (vision) often makes executives more successful at achieving ultimate career goals. Equally important, is the need to convey a vision of how candidates benefit organisations in terms of future realisation in years to come, decision-making expertise and overall ‘strategic fit’ for the role.
Weaknesses: Knowing personal limitations by identifying and reconciling issues can increase overall effectiveness. Weaknesses can be seen as an opportunity to focus on developing particular skills, building confidence and overcoming challenges to improve performance, expertise and decision-making acumen.
X-Factor: This relates to exceptional achievements by winning awards, developing specialist expertise and delivering on key strategic initiatives. This includes leading challenging projects involving restructuring, rationalisation, change management, business transformation and troubleshooting expertise for instance.
YOU are the centre of any employment search. YOU set the agenda in terms of deciding what roles, sectors and employers to target. YOU define career objectives, job hunting strategies and negotiate salary terms. YOU are in charge of your own destiny and work-life balance – always make considered decisions!
Zero-Rated: Assume recruiters have a zero tolerance policy towards candidates. Ensure zero mistakes on a CV, otherwise this can lead to immediate rejection. Answer interview questions fully, honestly and in a structured manner giving clear examples, evidence of suitability and achievements. Honesty is best policy!