It can be tough to spot and prepare for all your job search issues. As a senior-level job seeker, you know you need a focused job search strategy to target desired open positions. However, you could feel daunted by creating and executing a senior manager job search strategy. Those closest to you might also face concerns about it.
These issues can often arise in an executive job search: confidentiality, ageism, and job seekers’ personal views versus reality.
Confidentiality and Senior Manager Job Search Strategy
If you’re a senior manager who is employed but looking, you probably worry about protecting your current job. You want to leave on your terms, not your employer’s.
That means you don’t want to signal your job search plans. You might need to find clever ways to conduct your confidential search in stealth mode. For instance, if you reach out to your professional network, use caution about how and with whom. Word can get around!
Ageism Requires Boldness, Resilience and Confidence
Because of your position, you might encounter ageism when you launch your job search. After all, most senior managers and executives don’t reach that level by their 30s. A professional resume writer will likely advise taking some steps to minimize age in your resume. For example, you can omit jobs from 20+ years ago. However, that’s only the first stage.
What’s more, you can do everything “right” and still face ageism hurdles. If you interview with younger managers, you could sense age discrimination. Act promptly and decisively to counter the impression they might be getting and convince them you’re too valuable to pass up.
Personal Views vs. Reality
If you haven’t launched a job search in years, you might wonder what to expect. Prepare to adjust “on the fly” and avoid being thrown off by things you didn’t plan for. Don’t focus on issues you imagine will block your success.
In the end, job search strategy for senior managers involves presenting yourself as a worthy candidate. Share with confidence the value you offer potential employers!
I often suggest senior managers think of their job search strategy like a major project at their company. They make a plan and maximize the existing resources. In other words, you should carefully plan and implement your job search, keep track of critical actions, and watch for roadblocks.
Five steps you can take as a senior manager to plan your job search strategyand conduct a successful executive job search:
Beef up your network before searching.
List possible obstacles and create a contingency plan.
Did you have a great outcome in your job or career this year? If so, congratulate yourself! On the other hand, if the year fell short of your expectations, what could you have done differently? What’s more, how can you build a successful new year as a business professional in the coming year?
These are just a few of the questions you could be asking yourself.
A Successful New Year Starts with You!
Most often, we fail to consider that we have primary responsibility for our own career success. We can’t offload that responsibility onto someone else–even if we would really like to!
On the other hand, the fact that success starts with you and not elsewhere allows you to envision unlimited possibilities. Then come back “down to earth” and figure out what you need to do to turn that vision into reality. It’s your “book,” and you have the opportunity to write the opening chapter!
On that note, I’d like to share a short quote from Fred Rogers: “It’s really easy to fall into the trap of believing that what we do is more important than what we are. Of course, it’s the opposite that’s true: What we are ultimately determines what we do!”
I view that as meaning your “Chapter One” should reflect who you are, not just what you do for a living.
Before I go into any of the essentials regarding a job search plan, I want to share this:
P: Prepare–it works much better than being caught short. Persist–avoid letting yourself get distracted from the goal.
L: Leave no stone unturned–consider all the key aspects of your job search plan. Learn what you need to take into account to tilt the odds in your favor.
A: Anticipate possible roadblocks and get a jump on them. Ask for help when you need it–pride does not help your job search.
N: Negotiate support from others with a vested interest in your career success. Never assume you’re ready for your job search or have done all you can until you confirm you have all your “ducks in a row.”
Job Search Plan or “No Plan”
I love using quotes in my writing when I can. My favorite websites for topical quotes include the Quotations Page and Goodreads. I took the quotes below from Goodreads.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln
How can you achieve career success? It can be done–many people have succeeded in reaching their career goals, which proves it’s possible. That doesn’t mean you’ll find it easy. More than likely, you’ll discover it takes major, sustained effort.
Doubt from others about your chances can throw up roadblocks to your success. On the other hand, self-doubt might prove to be your biggest “enemy.” In any case, you need to give yourself credit–you might have more ability than you or others think you do.
How You Achieve Career Success Depends on What It Means to You
Of course, you first need to decide what career success looks like to you. After all, not everyone holds the same view of it. For example, you might view success as moving up through the senior management ranks to a C-level position. Someone else could see it as earning enough money to buy a home, take care of family, or go on a restful vacation every year.
You won’t know whether you’ve achieved success until you know what it is. You can’t hit a target you can’t see!
Believe You Can Achieve It
Start by believing you can achieve career success, and you’ve won half the battle. Not all of it, but a good chunk. Whether you have supporters who will back you up or have to do it alone, work to convince yourself the prize is within reach.
How can you do that? Start by reviewing past, smaller successes and take time to celebrate them a bit. View them as building-blocks to reach your end-goal. Just as “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” career success takes time and effort. However, it’s worth doing.
Next, look at actions and results you took in your career path that did not turn out the way you’d hoped. You might find clues to what went wrong and use that knowledge to make better choices in the future.
If someone asked whether you would quit your job without a new one lined up, what would you respond? Most people would say the sensible answer is to snag a new position before you abandon your current one. In essence, you might find multiple reasons supporting that view and very few going against it.
I Quit! Now What?
Although throwing away a job you already have doesn’t usually make good sense, some people do it anyway. Why? Often it happens because you get fed up with conditions at work–maybe they’ve gone on too long or something has sparked too much frustration.
So you erupt with anger, despair, or other negative emotions and submit your resignation effective now.
Then you do your best to deal with the fallout, which could include several actions more or less at the same time:
Get yourself out of the workplace as quickly and with as much dignity as you can.
Calm down upset loved ones–spouses, kids, and others.
Start looking for a new job.
Consult a coach or counselor to figure out why this all happened–and how to keep it from happening again.
Plan future job-related actions around a new “look before you leap” philosophy.
Workplace ageism in a job search and on the job can crop up in your experience unexpectedly. But it shouldn’t catch you by surprise when it appears! Instead, recognize that it occurs–all too frequently–and take steps to ensure you’re ready to handle it if needed. That doesn’t mean you peek around every corner to see if ageism lurks in wait for you! You just stay alert and prepared overall.
Workplace Ageism–What Are Your Odds?
So can you fight workplace ageism and win? If you limit that question to legal action (suing an employer or potential employer for age discrimination), I would most likely say, “Rarely, if at all.”
As most people know, age discrimination can be hard to prove; sometimes it’s impossible. Not only that, but if you take an employer to court over it, you can find yourself viewed as a liability later.
On the other hand, consider the idea that fighting ageism doesn’t have to involve the courts. For instance, you might adopt a less confrontational approach, using more creative methods to gain the ground you’re after. The end result you’re aiming for matters more than how you pursue and achieve it.
What About Ageism Battles You Can’t Win?
No matter how stupid it is for companies to practice ageism, many do. Yes, the practice is shortsighted and narrow-minded, to name just a couple of its shortcomings. However, consider yourself lucky if you haven’t yet run into it. Sometimes, trying to fight it turns into a real no-win situation. You might succeed in a court case, for example, and end up wishing you hadn’t.
If a company is a lousy place to work, landing a job there against the odds doesn’t make it better. Discrimination in the company’s hiring practices can turn out to be only the tip of the ageism iceberg.
When a company is forced to hire you or kept from letting you go, the outcome usually ends badly. You need employers to want you urgently, to appreciate the talents and enthusiasm you can bring to them that have nothing to do with your age.
A toxic boss can make your work life a living nightmare! (If you have one, you already know this.) What’s more, they don’t always show their true colors until you decide to quit your job.
So the question is: If you find out you have a toxic boss, should you quit? If the answer is yes, how do you handle the situation?
Toxic Boss–or Not? Is It Time to Quit?
Just because your boss gives you grief now and then doesn’t mean he or she is a genuine toxic boss. In fact, anyone can have a bad day, even a bad week. After all, you probably experience that yourself at times, right?
Therefore, your first priority centers on deciding whether you have an actual toxic boss or merely one who flares up on occasion. What’s more, how big are those flare-ups? For example, does your boss scream, call you hateful names, rake you down in front of others?
If not, maybe you only need to have a heart-to-heart with your boss, in a professional manner (that is, without venting hurt feelings or anger).
On the other hand, if your boss exhibits abusive behavior , you might face the choice of “quit or be fired.” That’s not a great situation to find yourself in!
What’s the last thing you want in a job search? To have employers toss your resume aside as not worth their time. How can you get to first base with them if your resume turns them off? Hint: You need to avoid running afoul of recruiter pet peeves about the resumes they receive.
Worst Recruiter Pet Peeves about Resumes
According to a recent survey by Career Directors International, these resume slip-ups top the list of recruiter pet peeves:
Mistakes: Unless you want your resume to land in the wastebasket, you need to have an error-free document. What’s more, making mistakes in your contact information will send your resume into a black hole!
Not enough information: If your company isn’t a household name, include a briefidentifier about it. By the same token, if you have a rare or confusing job title, add the more common title most people would recognize.
Too long and general: Get to the point; make it clear and concise. Include specific details where a more general statement would give employers little to go on.
And More Pet Peeves
As if the above items weren’t enough, you also need to watch out for the following: