Friday, January 09, 2015

Start 2015 Out Right with the Power of LinkedIn Endorsements ... And Something New This Year

Everyone knows how effective product and service endorsements can be in building a business. The same holds true for building your executive career. You may have worked hard on creating compelling and engaging content for your executive resume and LinkedIn profile, but have you considered how important verifying your skill sets by accumulating LinkedIn endorsements is to being found by recruiters?

There is a good bit of warranted skepticism regarding how meaningful these LinkedIn endorsements are, given that more than one billion have been given since the feature was introduced. But whether they mean anything or not (people who barely know a person are routinely asked by LinkedIn to endorse them for particular skills), they do increase your prominence in search results and do make an impression on a visitor to your profile.

It is important to make sure that the skills you list are actually ones you do possess, and that they are important skills for the types of executive positions for which you wish to show you are qualified. Before adding a skill to your list, go to LinkedIn's Advanced Search and input your current or targeted job title, then select "Current" from the drop-down menu. This will bring up individuals who are currently exercising the required skills for the job, and examining the skills they list for prevalent terms will guide you in determining which skills to list on your profile.

Something else to consider regarding the Skills section on your profile is whether all of the skills listed are relevant to your current executive position or targeted position. Since your connections will be asked by LinkedIn if they want to add and endorse a skill, you may wind up with one or more skills that are not consistent with how you wish to be perceived. Don't hesitate to simply remove these skills, as they will dilute the impact of relevant skills listed, and perhaps lead others to endorse you for those skills instead of the ones you wish to highlight. The principle on your LinkedIn profile is the same as for your executive resume: Showcase relevant skills and do not include anything that is irrelevant or perhaps positions you as a lower-level executive candidate.

Segueing to something new on LinkedIn: The site has just made it easier to feature your technical or professional certifications on your profile. The new feature lets you add certifications with just one click, and is available globally to all certification providers. LinkedIn has compiled a list of Top 100 Certification Providers to make it easier for members to search and add them to their profiles. Since recruiters will often use particular certifications (such as PMP, CPA, etc.) in constructing their database searches, including them can increase your prominence in search results.


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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dreaming of a New Job in 2014? Great Place to Work's Top 25

Have you begun polishing up your executive resume with your sights set on a new and challenging position for 2014?

If so, you may want to review consulting firm Great Place to Work's just-released list of the top-ranked workplaces derived through employee surveys and third-party assessment in what they tout as the largest study of its kind.

The rankings were weighted 2/3 on employee perceptions of work culture and 1/3 on the external assessment of company policies and practices.

Number one on the World's Best Multinational Workplaces for the third consecutive year is Google. Other high-ranking employers include Microsoft, Marriott, eBay, and Coca-Cola.

While a powerful executive resume and winning interview skills may land you what seems like a dream job at a substantial pay increase, all that may be for naught if you find yourself ensnared in an unpleasant work environment. Whether the company you decide to go with is on this list or not, researching the work culture and employee satisfaction is just as important as evaluating competitive salary and benefits.

For the full list of 25, see:


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Friday, December 05, 2014

The Stealth Job Hunt and LinkedIn

Are you an executive on the job hunt, in stealth mode? 

After you have a dynamite executive resume prepared, the next step is of course to get visible out there so you can be easily found by the recruiters and companies that can connect you with the next opportunity. This presents a dilemma: How to be visible to those you want to see you, while keeping your search invisible to others, such as your present employer and co-workers.

The trick is to be findable, without LOOKING like you are looking. Discretion is key, because high stakes are typically involved for the currently employed candidate.

How can you promote yourself discreetly? By getting your target audience to see you through the proper lens, through a profile that emphasizes your brand, while giving the company you work for the limelight and credit. It is especially important that your profile be SEO (Search Engine Optimized)--rich in keywords and phrases on which a recruiter or hiring executive would likely conduct a Boolean search.

A key point to remember is that your LinkedIn profile is NOT an executive resume, and you really do not want to copy and paste your resume content into the summary and background sections.

Why is this so?

Firstly, competitive or sensitive information that may appear in the executive resume needs to be scrubbed from such a highly public document as your LinkedIn profile. Not only could this compromise confidential information and lead to trouble with your present employer, but it might reasonably lead a prospective employer to wonder just how discreet you would be with THEIR company information were you to be hired.

Secondly, your profile needs to be tailored specifically for the professional social media setting, which requires a more personal approach than the resume.

What happens if your current employer sees your new or updated profile and questions it? (The automatic assumption when a profile is updated seems to be that the individual is on the job market.) 

The answer is that "LinkedIn is a place to do business, and I maintain a profile and network there to advance company interests--to help land deals and/or make new connections."

Some things to remember:

* Much as I would love to be connected, it is probably best to postpone that until your job search is completed. Your employer or colleague might reasonably question why you have just connected with an executive resume writer.

* Set "who can see your connections" to "Only You."

* Turn off activity broadcasts.

* DO NOT display the job search suitcase (LinkedIn's setting for identifying "active" job seekers.

* If you participate in group discussions, speak to your primary audience (colleagues, industry leaders, clients, etc.). Your secondary audience (recruiters, potential employers) will be smart enough to translate and connect the dots to the potential value you present as that desirable "passive" candidate.


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Executive Job Search and the Holidays

Think the holidays are the time to kick back in your job search? Think again.

The widespread perception among those in career transition is that nothing happens over the holidays and they may as well just relax. While I am all for fully enjoying this time of year with your family and friends, you may be missing out on some important opportunities if you decide to relegate your job search to the back burner until January.

It is true that companies and their hiring managers as well as recruiters are human and things do tend to slow down a bit over the holiday season. However, there ARE still opportunities coming up and hires being made.

Also, your competition likely have the widespread perception mentioned above, and have effectively removed themselves from the arena--leaving you with a much smaller group of candidates to compete with.

A surprising number of positions are filled this time of year--as evidenced by no lack of LinkedIn profiles with jobs that have start dates in January. Many companies and departments have just been allocated new budget funds to spend on hiring, and they are eager to use them.

The holidays also abound with opportunities to build your network, in a time when folks tend to be mellow, receptive, and extra considerate.

Susan Joyce's 2013 book, New Year, New Job: 101 Tips from the Job-Hunt Experts for Your Holiday Search points out:

* Only 3% more jobs were filled in January and February of 2013 (vs. November and December of 2012). (And it is very likely that many of those job offers made in January were based on interviews that happened in November and December).

* Only 1% more jobs were open in January and February of 2013 (vs. November and December of 2012).

(You can get the e-book for 99 cents on Amazon, or if you are a Kindle Unlimited Member, borrow it for free:  New Year, New Job.) 

Bottom line: If you totally quit researching companies, making recruiter contacts, and sending out your executive resume from Thanksgiving through the New Year, you could be doing yourself a disservice.


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Thursday, October 30, 2014

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate: Job Seekers and Recruiters

Social media guru Joshua Waldman featured a great infographic on his blog today. It explores vividly the disconnect between what recruiters say and job seekers hear. While the infographic was compiled by a popular site for medical sales professionals, the points it makes are equally valid for executives.

A few interesting tidbits from the infographic:
  • 46% of resumes submitted contain some sort of false information. 46%!! While this again refers to their audience of medical sales folks, it surely applies to executive resumes as well.
  • 38% of companies have actively open positions for which they cannot find the talent to fill, while around 50% of applicants do not have the basic qualifications specified for the position they are pursuing.
  • A full 94% of recruiters are using social media to screen applicants. Info I've seen from many sources indicates that this estimate is low regarding executives--I believe the number is closer to 99%. So make sure that your LinkedIn profile meshes with your executive resume, and that they are both entirely truthful!
Regarding communicating with executive recruiters, most of us have a tendency to filter what we hear and morph it into its most positive interpretation. But doing so can lead to frustration, unrealistic expectations, and disappointment. When a recruiter says, "We'll be in touch with our decision," he does NOT mean "Get packing, you'll be starting next week"! -- much as we would like that to be the case.

Some key takeaways from this post for executives are:
  • Be up front with the recruiter about your needs and timetable.
  • Keep in contact, but give that recruiter some breathing room!
  • Even small fibs on your executive resume can cost you--big time!
View the full infographic here:
What Recruiters Say and Job Seekers Hear


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Friday, October 24, 2014

A Few Quick Tips on Working with Recruiters

There some commonly held myths with regard to working with recruiters. Awareness of these can spare you some frustration and hopefully expedite your search for that new executive position.

Some common myths about recruiters include:

* The candidate that moves forward in the process is the most qualified.
This is OFTEN untrue. It is the one who does the best job of selling him or herself, in conversation and in his or her resume.

* You need to spend a lot of time locating and connecting with recruiters who specialize in your industry or function.
Contacts are generally made in the reverse direction. Recruiters will only respond to your unsolicited inquiry if they have a CURRENT position that they think is right for you.

* All recruiters know what they are doing.
Often recruiters have little or no training at all. Corporate recruiters in particular are viewed in many instances as order takers. Many recruiters absolutely hate recruiting.

* If a recruiter contacts me, I'm halfway there to an interview, and a job offer is nearly in the bag.
Not so. If the call is from a retained recruiter, your chances are better, but if it is a contingency recruiter, many unfortunately get as many resumes as they can and throw them against the wall, hoping that one or more sticks.

* If the recruiter was really a professional, he would get back to me.
Nope. Recruiters are extremely busy, have literally hundreds of contacts, and it is just not realistic that they will update everyone they deal with. It is not a lack of professional courtesy.

You CAN take control and encourage follow-up, though:

* ASK questions about what the process is, what the next steps are, and how long they think it will be until the next step.

* VOLUNTEER to take the onus off of them and initiate the next contact, establishing what they think would be a good time to do that and whether they would prefer the follow-up by email or phone.

* SHOW the recruiter that you are willing to take some responsibility for the process.

No matter how compelling your executive resume may be, how you deal with recruiters and the impression you make on them can make or break your job search.

In an upcoming post, we'll cover how to get recruiters to share information with you, how to sell yourself in the interview, lies you may be told by recruiters, and what some of their greatest fears are.



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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do I Still Even NEED an Executive Resume? Doesn't my LinkedIn Profile Now Serve That Purpose?

Prognosticators have been predicting the demise of the resume for literally decades. According to a recent post on the Glassdoor blog, some career experts think that LinkedIn's value is quickly surpassing that of the resume, and on its way to replacing it completely.

I agree with the article's author that this is not a likely scenario. Some reasons are that LinkedIn is far too public... Is everyone going to want to publish the level of detail contained in their executive resume for all the world to see? No matter what your privacy settings, if you publish your resume to LinkedIn, you are essentially broadcasting it.

Also, the content and language used in your resume is quite likely going to be unsuitable for general public consumption. For example, while you might talk about operational or financial issues addressed for your current or previous employers in your executive resume, you could offend or even be deemed to have breached confidentiality or trust if you mentioned those things in a public forum such as LinkedIn.

There are practical considerations as well. LinkedIn's format and template place extreme limitations on volume of content, design, fonts, etc. Your resume suffers from no such restrictions.

My opinion is that you will likely need a resume for some time to come. Virtually every employer or recruiter will still ask for your resume early in the hiring process. Your LinkedIn profile will of course be an extremely valuable and virtually indispensable part of your career portfolio--as either a venue to be found initially, and as corroborating and expanded material for consideration in the hiring decision. But the executive resume is not down for the count just yet!


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