BlueSteps Career Management and Executive Search Blog
The BlueSteps Career Management Blog is written with a C-level audience in mind on career management topics ranging from executive compensation, executive resumes, and interview tips to networking, executive job search, and gaining visibility as a professional in one’s industry.
The BlueSteps Executive Search Blog links senior executive candidates to actual retained search recruitment insights from AESC member executive recruiters, BlueSteps career advisors and other guest writers.
BlueSteps is an exclusive service of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants, the voice of excellence for executive search and leadership consultants worldwide. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of AESC's mission, and only AESC member firms and consultants have access to BlueSteps members resume info. Click here to learn more about the additional benefits of becoming a BlueSteps member.
Nearly every time I talk with executives about their job search and the career documents they need the long-standing question comes up…
Do I really need a cover letter and is it really being read?
Some executives will tell me that they personally don’t read candidate cover letters (the reasons: they are usually not well written, sound canned, not tailored, etc.). Others will tell me that they do read them—some before they read the resume and others after they read the resume, looking for consistency between the two documents and interest in their company and the position.
Executives negotiate millions of dollars on behalf of their employers for contracts, products, and services every year. Why then is it so difficult for most executives to negotiate their salaries when offered a job? Whatever the reasons, senior managers, directors and C-level executives are not immune from negotiating their salary for a new job opportunity.
Most standard interview questions are simply not designed to allow an executive to truly demonstrate their capabilities, ideas, and innovation. Executive search consultants are bored with cookie-cutter interview questions and the answers people give, which don’t reveal what the search consultants—or employers for that matter—really need to know. They want to understand who you are, how you will work and what value (ROI) you can bring to an organization.
Executive bios take branding to another level, linking an executive’s softer skills to their value proposition in a way that isn’t possible to emphasize in a resume. BlueSteps allows you to include your executive bio in your career profile, so it’s important to have a professionally written bio that will represent you in the best light. To clarify any confusion around executive bios, let’s look at a few points:
To reflect who you are and what you have accomplished in your career
When launching your executive job search campaign while employed, there are always a few concerns. The biggest concern is that your current employer might find out. Some consider this “disloyal” behavior, even if they themselves would have no issue with poaching an executive from a competitor.
A few companies have internal or unwritten policies that an employee (executive or otherwise) who is discovered searching for a new job should be replaced as soon as possible, rather than be stuck having to quickly fill a key position when that person gives notice. For this reason, if your job search is discovered, the company may start to seek your replacement, even if you haven’t announced you’re looking, much less leaving.
Your employment situation can change in a heartbeat — the company may be acquired, or sold, or go out of business. A great boss may leave for a new position — and maybe he wants you to come with him/her. Or maybe his/her replacement wants to bring in his/her own people. Are you ready to jump at a new opportunity in an instant?
Even if you are not actively looking for a new position, your executive resume should be updated and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Referrals! Recruiters and hiring managers tell us that they will go through their referrals before looking at other candidates. And some companies are highly recommending that executive recruiters look at referred executives first. Industry leaders predict that in three to five years if you are referred to an executive recruiter for an open position, you are 14 times more likely to get the job.
The key to executive interview success is preparation. Interviewing methods differ between companies and people. Are you prepared for a non-traditional interview?
A phone interview is often one of the first interviews an executive will encounter. Some call this a pre-screen interview when an executive recruiter picks up the phone and calls a candidate – typically to screen them out. This unexpected call can throw some candidates off.
This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating – honesty is the best policy. The executive job search process is difficult enough – you don’t want to get inches away from an offer, only to miss out on the role of a lifetime. Below are some of the factors you should consider when deciding what should and shouldn’t be disclosed to a potential employer.
Negative Behavior or Debt Show Up During a Background Check
Much like a blind date, attending a networking event can bring up anxieties. Even the most experienced executive can have some apprehension about walking into an event alone and trying to integrate into groups of people and conversations. Since it is a fact that most jobs are found through networking, it is worth your time to avoid common missteps and hone your networking skills.