The following is an excerpt from the BlueSteps webinar: Becoming Visible: Getting on Recruiter Radars.
- Lucrecia Airaldi, Managing Partner, EMA Partners
- Fanny Gimenez, Managing Partner, Belgium and Luxembourg, Boyden
- Shawn Hartman, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Academic Search
- Moderated by Kathy Simmons, Director, BlueSteps Executive Career Services
Kathy Simmons: Let's talk a little bit about personal branding and the effect it has on increasing your visibility with recruiters. Lucrecia, why would you say an executive needs a personal brand? And how important is it today?
Lucrecia Airaldi: It's extremely important. Companies are more competitive every single day and they get a competitive advantage when their C-level executive leaders build on their personal brand, because the perception of the company will be reflected through these executives. Today, everything's exposed on the internet and consumers want authenticity.
LA: For me, building a personal brand is a very smart business tactic, and executives have to understand that they don't belong to a company for life. That trend has changed. You're not defined by who you work for, what your job title is, or what your description is. You are you. I often tell candidates, and I recommend a very old article by Tom Peters, The Brand Called You. What I love about Tom Peters is that he clearly states that we're all the CEO's of our own companies, Me Incorporated, and our most important job is to be our own marketing manager.
LA: Today it's very important for executives to leverage that brand, and understand that it will increase their network, and by increasing their network, their market range will be much more accessible. I would strongly advise them to remember that people don't buy products, that they buy brands. And it's the same thing when you do executive search. You will definitely stand out more if you work on your branding.
KS: Excellent point, thank you. What are the usual components of an executive brand, and the strategy that one should use in both building and using it? Fanny, what would your thoughts be?
Fanny Gimenez: First of all, a very basic one, is to learn how to write clear and plain English without making errors. I prefer a simple letter in English with very short sentences which is well written, than a letter which is full of errors and typos.
FG: Second thing, and it's more from the point of view of the candidate. Where are you today? What is your area of specialty, or expertise? Define your audience. What kind of company do you want to be seen by? Find your unique angle. What makes you unique? What is your unique perspective on the market? What makes the company notice you over 10 other people?
FG: And then you have some tools that we have all seen. You can write a book, you can have publications, you can make public speeches or participate in a webinar, like we are doing today. It's trial and error. It's okay to make faults. It's okay to try things, until you find the real you. What activity puts you most at ease? What makes people think, "wow, they’re a natural. They do that without effort." I think these kinds of things are really important.
FG: And the last one, is what wakes you up in the morning? What makes you want to wake up and go do your job? What is your passion? This is where you will be your best. And if you combine this strategy with your passion, and your unique approach, you got it.
KS: That's a great definition of a personal brand, and how you develop a value proposition. Thank you. Now let’s move on to perfecting your career documents and tools to make sure that you stand out. We're going to start with the resume or CV. How do you ensure that it stands out from the competition? Shawn, would you speak to us about your opinions in terms of resumes and CVs for the U.S.?
Shawn Hartman: Sure. I think it's really important to understand your sector, to understand what the norms are for the specific jobs you're applying for. For example, I work in a sector where a 17-20 page CV is not abnormal. I just had a search with a 57-page CV. I think knowing what sector you're in is very important. Some, it's a one or two-page. That is it. You have to be concise. You have to be succinct. For qualitative research, you need rich, thick descriptions. Every line has to be understood, has to be full with imagery. You're painting a picture.
SH: Unfortunately on first pass, most materials will stand out for the errors or the challenges in them. That's where getting your peers, your mentors to review these materials for you comes into play. I think Fanny said it, making sure they're clear, concise and error free.
SH: Additionally, be honest in your materials. Our job as a recruiter is to make sure that the materials and information presented in your interviews is factual. And so, any challenges, if you're embellishing or those types of things in your descriptions, will likely come out through the process. Being honest and upfront is very important.
SH: Most people consider tailoring their cover letter to the organization that they're applying for. But particularly for sectors that have only one or two-page resumes, you need to tailor your resume/CV to that position as well, it can't just be your cover letter. Spend some time with the position profiles, with the job description, and also researching the news for the goings on at the organizations to be able to tailor your materials. Also, Don’t just use keywords in your CV as jargon, but really make sure that you actually know how to use them, and that they're used correctly. It is very clear when materials have jargon, and not substance.
SH: Finally, just my biggest recommendation is be authentic, and be yourself. Make sure that everything you say you can back up and that you feel comfortable. This will put you in the best light forward, in the context of what you're applying for.
KS: Great points. Thank you, Shawn. Lucrecia, I'd like to hear your perspective, because I know you have many global clients. Any differences?
LA: The main difference from Shawn is a 17-page Curriculum. I know that there has been a trend that everyone talks about of a one-page resume. I'm more of a two-page resume. Mainly because it's easier to read. Candidates have to understand that we read hundreds and hundreds of resumes per day. It's much easier to read a two-page than a one-page. And another point that I want to take from Shawn, is to tailor your resume/CV. Not just one for everything, but to use tailored versions, which added keywords.
LA: Candidates have to understand that now with technology, most of the companies and executive search firms will use different systems called ATS. What those systems do is track different keywords. When you're applying for a position, and you know the position, read about it. Make sure you include certain keywords in your resume. Be authentic, and take advantage of all this information available to you and read about the company.
LA: Another thing that's very different, at least in Latin-America, is the picture and personal information. Here in Latin-America it's okay to put your birth date and your picture. The only thing I want to say about the picture is to make sure it's professional. You'd be amazed by how many resumes we receive with an unprofessional picture. You have to understand that for a position we can receive 200 different resumes, only four or five will reach the company, and sometimes a picture can go a long way.
LA: Another thing to understand is that is you really have to focus on accomplishments, and on achieved goals. Make sure you include both quantitative and qualitative information. We're not worried so much about your description of the position, but actually what you accomplished, and what you achieved. That will help you stand out, and also will help you with that keyword search.
LA: And last, but not least, everyone thinks that executive recruiters know all the companies, and we don't. I always ask candidates to briefly describe their current company and to give it some context - industry, revenue, number of people. That will help us a lot in going through different Resumes/CV's. I think that's mainly my point of view.
KS: Excellent, thank you so much. Appreciate it.