The following articles are relevant for senior managers and executives either engaged in or planning a job search, or simply working on enhancing their ongoing career management.
(Previously published in the June 2007 issue of Netshare’s Executive Update ezine as “What’s Your Job Search Brand?”)
As savvy job seekers know, substantial job search activity takes place online these days. Despite the technology advances, though, one issue remains essentially the same: How do you differentiate yourself from everyone else who’s after the same prize you are? How do you out-class the competition?
Television ads sometimes use a technique that starts by showing everything in black-and-white and suddenly puts something in color—an image that, not coincidentally, promotes their product or service. One reason this technique works is that it quickly focuses your attention on their product or service. The presentation makes that company’s offering stand out distinctly from the crowd (its competitors).
Branding in a job search plays a similar role. How can you develop and communicate a brand for yourself in order to progress in your job and career? It’s a complex topic, but one critical method is to identify your unique value and how you can use that value to benefit employers.
Also, it’s important to review impartially (or have someone else do it, if you can’t) key elements of your skills, experience and personality and how those can make you attractive to employers. Then you can map out a plan to convey that message quickly and compellingly—in your resume, cover letter, pre-screening phone call, first in-person interview, and so on. You need to be able to think and speak in terms that directly strike a chord with employers and inspire them to think: “We could really use someone like this!”
Even after you’ve decided what your brand is, and how you want to communicate it, you’re a long way from done. One of the challenges you may face involves a unique online phenomenon known as digital dirt—the electronic version of negative press, which has a much more pervasive and long-lasting effect than its print-copy cousin.
If you haven’t ever looked to see what comes up for your name online, you should try it—particularly if you’re engaged in a serious job search or pursuing a career advancement opportunity. The result can range from good to terrible. What you don’t know is “out there” can hurt you. Recruiting industry statistics show that about 85% of recruiters Google candidates, and over 40% rule out candidates because of what they find about them online.
How do you discover whether you have any digital dirt online? Start by doing a Google search for your name, with the words in quotation marks. For example: “Harrison Washington,” not Harrison Washington. This query format helps keep results such as “lived in Harrison County, Washington” from being included in the search results.
Another identity-search resource is Zoominfo.com. It doesn’t bring up everything, and some of what it does bring up may have nothing to do with you, but it might also produce results that Google misses.
From a job search or career management perspective, you need to be aware of where and how your name appears online. Ignorance is not bliss! Numerous possibilities can account for digital dirt, including such things as these:
What should, or can, you do if you discover you have digital dirt? Like the ancient alchemists, try to turn it into digital gold! Seriously, your best alternative is to focus on generating such compelling good-news buzz about yourself that it forces the negative material far down on the search results, where few people will have the patience to find it. You should be doing this anyway, since it makes you easier to identify—and more attractive—to recruiters who are searching for candidates like you.
You can take a number of steps to develop that digital gold, including the following:
Clients often ask me questions such as the following:
Most of the time, I start by making sure they’re clear on one point: Recruiters (executive or otherwise) don’t try to find you a job. They either have an assignment from a client company (retained executive search) or are hoping to fill an opening they’ve learned about at a company (contingency recruiters). First and foremost, they’re focused on what their client needs and will accept, not on what you need or want.
Not only that, but the odds aren’t great that if you approach an executive recruiter, they will have a relevant assignment underway at that particular time. At best, it’s usually a case of establishing a relationship with one or more recruiters and maintaining that over time, by doing things such as becoming a good resource for them to find candidates for openings that aren’t your target.
Recently, I had an opportunity to listen in on a teleseminar presented by BlueSteps, which is affiliated with the Association of Executive Search Consultants. The teleseminar (which was open to all BlueSteps’ members) was titled “Strategies for Navigating Executive Search.” Below are just a few points that stood out to me from the teleseminar:
Regardless of what level you’re targeting in your current or next job search, recruiters can be a valid piece of your career management plan. Just don’t view them as a quick-fix solution to finding you a job in the near term and be realistic about what you will need in order to work with them effectively.
Depending on your situation, you might say, “I’m not an executive (yet), but I have to make all kinds of decisions in my job. How would it help me to consider the subject of executive decision making?” This article is just a very brief glimpse of the topic; you can research online and find multiple entries to investigate.
To start with, here’s one definition of an executive decision: “a decision made and implemented by a person in power or of authority, esp. one without the agreement of others.” In the final analysis, an executive might be making decisions without agreement from others; however, it’s likely that he/she has done some exploring and fact-finding among subordinates and others before reaching that decision. Whether or not you’re an executive at this point, you can learn something potentially valuable from considering the topic of executive decision making.
Among many articles I found online, there was one from 2006 that had some interesting points to make. Titled “The Seasoned Executive’s Decision-Making Style” (by Brousseau, Driver, Hourihan and Larsson), it talks about the fact that “while managers at all levels must play the role of decision maker, the way a successful manager approaches the decision-making process changes as he or she moves up in the organization….To climb the corporate ladder and be effective in new roles, managers need to learn new skills and behaviors….” Recognize that fact, and you’re starting off on the right track.
The articles included here were written by me unless otherwise identified.
If you are interested in sharing or reprinting these articles, in-full or in-part, for use elsewhere, please note that they are copyrighted, and therefore must include appropriate author credit as follows:
“By Georgia Adamson, A Successful Career, 508-263-9454, www.ablueribbonresume.com.”