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8 Executive Career Change Dilemmas

SC&C executive job search tips, job search myths

Companies seek excellent talent. For you to receive an offer of employment, the company must identify you as the best person to satisfy specific unfulfilled company needs. They will offer the job to the person they feel is a great fit and to someone they feel will bring significant value to their company. They must also feel that your value-add proposition will more than justify each dollar they pay you for your executive talent. If they draw this conclusion, you are magic. If not, they will hire someone else. SC&C has identified eight executive dilemmas related to career change. These are:

(1) Job Search Myths (5) Securing Interviews
(2) Job Search Economics (6) Controlling Your Interviews
(3) Why Should They Hire You? (7) Effective Salary Negotiation
(4) Marketing Yourself Properly (8) Reasons For Job Search

Many executives fall victim to one or more of the executive career change dilemmas presented above. Any failure on your part to effectively understand and manage these dilemmas will cause short- and long-term financial losses and can result in career mistakes ranging from the uncomfortable to the disastrous.

A company will hire you to join their team because you will make a significant contribution to their company. Your ability to communicate effectively, your talent, and your self-awareness will lead them to this conclusion and to your employment.

Remember, they don’t hire two people for the same job. Moreover, the employee pyramid gets smaller the closer you are to the top. This means that the number of executive jobs is limited and you face fierce competition from other highly qualified people for these positions.

Many executives, when transitioning to higher levels in their careers, fall victim to one or more common illusions, pitfalls, or traps. Failure to effectively avoid or completely prevent career change dilemmas can lead to disaster. As you climb up the pyramid, the grade gets steeper and it is easier and easier to lose your footing and fall down. Using the resources on this site and ultimately working with one of the career change experts at Stewart, Cooper & Coon are synonymous with climbing a mountain with all the right tools. Any successful adventurer will tell you that the secret to success is preparation, knowledge and teamwork. Ask yourself honestly, are you prepared to tackle this climb on your own?

1. Job Search Myths

SC&C executive job search mythsJob Search Myth 1 – “The Feel Good School” – Here are a few statements that top the list of job search myths. “I’m working on several leads and I am sure I’ll get an offer” OR, “I know I’ll find something soon” OR, “I have a couple of interviews coming up and I should be fine” OR, “I am among the finalists (meaning I’ll surely receive an offer).” These thoughts may be comforting, but they create a false sense of security and reinforce self-deception.

Intuitive feelings about securing a job offer are fictitious and detrimental. The truth is that the competition is tougher than it has ever been before. If your interview does not translate into an offer, you will delay securing a job by weeks, if not longer. Time wasted erodes financial stability and reduces your choices. Moreover, multiple rejections can lead to depression, and depression erodes the efficacy of a timely executive job search. So the question is, “What can you do to make sure you really are the finalist?”

Job Search Myth 2 – “I’ll be recruited, like I’ve always been.” I’ve never had to look for a job. They’ve always found me. This is not true in today’s economy. A recent position we are aware of – a CFO job for a major Fortune 1000 company – received 225 resumes from highly qualified applicants, followed by 50 initial telephone screenings, 10 final phone screenings and 2 final face-to-face finalists flown into their corporate headquarters. You do the math then refer to myth 1, above. Today it is essential to be proactive.

Job Search Myth 3 – “I always receive the offer.” All I need is a chance to get in front of the interviewer because when I do, I always get an offer. With competition so stiff in today’s market, do you really believe that you will eliminate all of the other highly-qualified candidates and receive the final offer? At the 100K+ executive level, SC&C has interviewed a vast number of employees. We have discovered that most executives still think interviewing is about interviewing. It is not; it is about eliminating the competition. Because you simply sit in an interview and present your case does NOT mean you know how to interview. For 20 years, we have proven this to be true. What is your strategy to eliminate your competition during the interview process?

Job Search Myth 4 – “I feel great, I can ignore my age.” Don’t fool yourself: age discrimination is real and it will eliminate you from certain positions. Trends tell us that after leaving a company, many executives find their careers seriously blocked because the new company knows little or nothing about them except a guess at their age. If age is an issue for you, how do you package and brand yourself to enhance your chances of securing interviews and then getting through the interview process and receiving an offer of employment? What will you do to eliminate the younger MBAs who give the impression that they are more energetic, more flexible and will work for less money? This is your competition. What are you doing, right now, to position yourself to overcome these competitors during the selection process?

Job Search Myth 5 – Promises, Promises. “I just spoke to a company who says they’ll get me a job in 12 weeks and if I am not employed, they will redo my campaign.” Not a day goes by that candidates don’t tell us they just spoke with a salesperson from some career marketing company claiming that their company has “spent millions on their databases and systems and that they can guarantee me an executive position in twelve weeks or less.”

We recommend avoiding anyone claiming such nonsense. They are just telling you what they think you want to hear in order to get you to buy something from them. As the cowboys say, “It’s pure cow pieography!” Furthermore, firms promising quick results in your job search have absolutely no control over who a company hires or how fast they move to hire someone.

ExecuNet, a national executive job search consortium, published an article about job searches stating that corporate hiring decisions now take longer. Companies are concerned about the economy, their current tentative growth plans and sometimes they are even changing position specifications right in the middle of the search process! Common sense should tell you that guarantees of a job offer under such conditions are ludicrous.

Job Search Myth 6 – “More is better, OR, put enough out there and something will stick.” Many career marketing companies offer resume blasting services or large direct mail programs in an attempt to lure you into thinking that by contacting 500 or 1,000 companies in a shotgun approach, you will increase your chances of success. The problem is companies are looking for specific people to fill specific needs. A general resume has little likelihood of meeting what the company is looking for when they hire above the 100K level. Moreover, no one can seem to get them to define the word “contact.”

In your capacity as a senior executive, you already understand the importance of targeted marketing. So why would you blast your resume all over the place without consideration for targeted results? You’ve been exposed to marketing departments before. If your marketing team had proposed this for a product would you accept that strategy? Why would you now accept similar behavior that directly affects your own job search or career change?

The shotgun approach to a career move is not your friend and it will waste precious time and money. Direct mailing (in which 1% effectiveness is considered outstanding) to hundreds or even thousands of unknown companies or recruiters is futile. The rifle approach is far superior. It targets known companies and contacts within those companies. The rifle approach targets companies that are in sync with your specific career objectives and goals. Ask yourself, what is the marketing plan you are using now and is it yielding multiple interviews and significant offers?

Job Search Myth 7 – “A J.O.B is a career move.” Anyone can find a J.O.B. There are four things, however, that make for a well-balanced career move. They are: Fit & Challenge, Happy Factor, Geography, and a Great Financial Package. Making a career move that is an ideal balance of all of these is difficult to achieve. To find the right career-enhancing move often requires professional assistance.

Furthermore, your emphasis should be on the right position. The real focus should be on effectively managing your career. Smart executives manage their careers;  the rest accept an offer and take a job. The truth is this: there is a big difference between finding a job and securing the right position. You are just like every other job seeker. Seeking help really is okay. Finding the right help for your specific situation in your life and career requires diligence on your part. Stop fooling yourself; wake up and start focusing on your career. Call SC&C and let us help you with your next career move.

2. The Economics of a Job Search: Calculate Your Actual Costs of Jobless Downtime

SCC executive job search economics, executive career salary calculatorStewart, Cooper & Coon has developed the following job-search calculator to help you determine where you stand financially and to calculate potential losses that you might incur in both earned and unearned income and expenses during your job search.

Enter the desired annual salary you aspire to into the box requiring desired. Then, enter your monthly expenses into the next box. Click the Calculate Fiscal Losses button and your daily, weekly and monthly costs of conducting an executive job search will be displayed. After you know your potential financial losses, read the rest of the article below to learn more about the economic impact of your current job search on your career and retirement prospects.

Time is always of the essence in a job search. So is reducing the financial drain on your current “wallet” but also the cost over time by having unearned income.

3. Why Should They Hire You?

SC&C executive career advantage, executive job search adviceThink back for a minute over your entire executive career and your previous career goals. Your goals today should be to receive an offer from a company that you want to be with and to be offered a financial package matching or exceeding your expectations. To do this, you must be the finalist among 50-1,000 people applying for the same position. Here is a fact of today’s job market: there are now over 500 applications for each advertised position. That is a lot of people to evaluate and sort through to winnow the list down to 10 finalists.

How do you convey to the hiring authority that you are the most qualified candidate by far for the position? Of course, you could begin with the usual resume, send it out and hear nothing or worse yet, “thanks but no thanks,” and continue to wonder why you are not more successful in getting interviewed and hired. Consider these facts:

  • Your package must be impeccable.
  • A reader takes 12 seconds for you to prove your candidacy on paper.
  • To get an interview, you must get a call.
  • To get a call, your bio, resume and web presence must compel the reader to pick up the phone.

If you think that a good objective and a few job description facts will suffice, you will never get a significant interview and get hired. Competition is too stiff to allow for such cavalier attitudes in the market in which we now find ourselves. If you care about being seen and hired, then why don’t you send us your resume or just call SC&C. We can discuss your current career goals and see how we can help you, as we have the thousands of our clients over the past twenty years.

4. Marketing Yourself Properly: Executive Job Search 101

SC&C executive job search marketing, marketing your career

Ask 100 executives if they need help in a job search and the answer will usually be “No.” They haven’t looked for a job for a long time and think the methods they used the last time they sought employment will still work in today’s executive job search environment. They are even confident about this. Why?

They are confident for good reasons. After all, they run companies, make decisions, and achieve results because of their dynamic managerial and executive leadership. What else could possibly be better on a resume? The problem is that excellent track records are no longer unique. As an executive job seeker, you are no different from 500 other executive job seekers out there today. This job market is fiercely competitive and the job you seek will probably be difficult to find.

Furthermore, there are tactics and strategies that you should avoid as you conduct your search. Why? Some of them are time wasters and others simply don’t work. Some can even be harmful to your career objectives. Knowing which one is which requires expertise. Precious few tactics really work well and they need to be worked on every day until you are employed. Knowing which is which and in what sequence you need to perform these tasks will give you the edge over your competition.

Some executives tell us they network on the Internet eight or more hours daily. As you read this you are working the Internet, too. However, are you managing the other six channels of job search effectively as well? Are your network efforts yielding multiple offers? What could you do to make that happen? Did you know that only 5-7% of nontechnical jobs are found on the Internet and only 15-20% of all jobs are advertised? Where are the other 80-85% of the jobs that are available?

Proper marketing begins with proper packaging. Your objective, therefore, is to be perceived as the most viable candidate. On paper, on the web, on LinkedIn, or on any other social media channel, you will want to be perceived as the one perfect candidate. How do you ensure that you are?

Once you are properly packaged, you must then conduct excellent research and select your target companies carefully. Our databases consist of millions of hiring organizations – each with full contact information, and all of this is available to our executive candidates.

Your competition will be using common and public job search techniques. Working with us, you will not. Your marketing package will be multifaceted and it will focus on a tactical, carefully designed plan to reduce the time you spend in your executive job search which is one of your primary goals. You must position yourself outside the box, beyond narrow vision, away from old hat and traditional implementation tactics in order to move toward a successful campaign.

If you don’t know what multiple channels are or how to manage them during your campaign, or your networking isn’t paying off in spades, or your resume isn’t generating multiple interviews, then chances are your executive job search effort isn’t working. Why don’t you explore options that really work and gain a better understanding of what a successful job search is really all about? Call SC&C and let us share with you what really works and what does not and why.

5. Securing Interviews at the Executive Level

SC&C strategies to securing an interview, getting past the gatekeeperWithout question, securing interviews is the hardest part of the job search process. At the executive level, each job posted on the Internet receives between 100 and 1,500 applications. Many executives send out resumes, make calls and then sit and wait for responses that never come. Furthermore, when interviews do come, they are not a good match for the executive’s wants or needs. Too many executives secure interviews at levels below their earning potential because they are not positioned properly. This is a waste of time and resources, and it leads to accepting lower than optimum offers that yield unsatisfactory financial rewards.

Executives often indicate to SC&C that they need help getting past the gatekeepers in the interview process. The irony is you know who the gatekeeper is only too well. It is the person who worked for you in your last job. The person you told to screen everyone out because you were too busy. You told them to direct job applicants to HR. You are now being screened and you face this same dilemma. Ask yourself, what will you do to gain direct access to the hiring authority? Recruiters get through all the time. What are they doing and what secrets do they know?

Here are some thoughts about securing interviews using familiar resources.

  • Recruiters. Recruiters work for the company, NOT for you. If they have a job order to fill, and you are qualified, they will be your best friend until you are either eliminated or employed. When that order is filled, they move on to other companies and orders, and you are left in the dust. The only solution to this dilemma is to have your own personal recruiter working just for you. WE challenge you to find one who will do that until you are employed. This is the most passive form of a job search.
  • Newspapers. They are obsolete to most knowing executives. At your level in the corporate world, do you really think you will find something in the newspaper that will meet your income and career needs?
  • Networking. This is the single most important aspect of the job search strategy. Do you know that most people fail miserably in managing their network. They usually call up their network and friends and say something to the effect of, “I am on the market and if you hear of anything, would you let me know.” There are a hundred variations of this theme and they are all 180° wrong. What are you saying to your network?
  • Unadvertised Openings. The majority of jobs are not listed with recruiters, nor are they advertised. This can be a fact within a corporation’s own HR department. Let this sink in for a minute. There are tens of thousands of jobs available, and you don’t know how to access them. Now what do you do? Unless you penetrate this market segment, you will use financial resources that you cannot afford to use and increase the length of time for your job search. Here are the reasons why this market channel is so important:
    • There is little competition.
    • You can interact directly with the decision-makers.
    • Many times you can draft your own job description.
    • There is more leverage in negotiation sessions and less competition.

There are other channels of marketing yourself that actually work. Why don’t you call SC&C to discuss your marketing plan.

6. Controlling Interviews & Eliminating the Competition

SC&C executive interview preparation, executive interview strategy, eliminating job search competitionWhat are your interviewing strategies? This is just like planning for the biggest game of the season and winning requires discipline and planning. Clients often say when they first come to us, “Just get me in front of the interviewer and I’ll take it from there.” Most executives feel that because they have negotiated deals or sold products this somehow makes them experts in interviewing at the executive level, eliminating their competition and securing a job offer.

The truth is, most people prepare for an interview with company background information and other materials, and then they go into the executive interview thinking they can answer questions. Unfortunately, they aren’t really ready to play the game.

Interviewing is NOT about interviewing. It IS about eliminating your competition. Very different interviewing strategies are required to accomplish this; far more is required than just company knowledge, answering questions in a straightforward manner, presenting a solid image, and applying all the other things you learned in Interviewing 101.

Interviewing is about control techniques that persuade the company to conclude that you are the right person for the job–the only person for the job. This leaves you as the last person standing. If you wind up number two, you lose. They don’t hire two of you for the same position. Your job is to be in a position to reject offers. Why? Multiple offers on the table place you in a position to negotiate. Control the interview and you control your future.

Call SC&C and let’s discuss how to improve your interview strategies and execute a successful executive job search.

7. Effective Salary Negotiation: Don’t Leave Money on the Table

SC&C executive salary negotiation strategies, negotiating salaryA successful career starts and ends with effective salary negotiation. The company wants to pay you what they want and not a penny more. You want them to pay you what you think you are worth and not a penny less. This difference is a reality every executive faces in a job search. How you address this discrepancy will determine how successful you will be in negotiating your salary and benefits package. Moreover, nothing influences future earnings more than your starting salary. This is one of the most important steps in securing your future.

Do you know what should be on your three salary negotiation lists? Do you even know what the three lists are? Have you set your priorities on each? At some point, you or the employer must put a dollar amount on the table. How do you answer the following question in its various forms: “Tell me what you are looking for.” Or, “Tell me what it will take to get you here.” Or, “What did your W-2 show last year?” If you answer too low, you should be working for the next level down. If you answer too high, you price yourself out of the market. The real answers to successful salary negotiation, and we have ten proven strategies to share with you, have nothing at all to do with money.

Here’s another fact. The hiring company is not concerned with your needs. Their main concern is getting your labor at the cheapest rate, given what the market will bear. Taking less is not an option. But, how do you get more? The “more” will come if you know how to create value, effectively negotiate your salary, and control the process from beginning to end.  Call us and let’s discuss proven negotiation strategies we helped our 5,000+ clients implement for over two decades.

8. Reasons for Job Search

High-level executives start a job search for a variety of reasons. Whatever your reason, chances are Stewart, Cooper & Coon can help you successfully navigate your way into a better position. Below are a few of the possible issues that may be driving your desire for a career change. Of course, there are many more but these seem to be the most frequently quoted reasons given by the executives we’ve interviewed over the years. No matter what your reason, attempting to solve one or more of these by yourself is like picking stocks without studying the underlying value of the stock purchased. Why don’t you call SC&C to learn how we can assist you with your career goals.

  • Bored & Desire A New Career
  • My Job Is Being Eliminated
  • My Company Is Failing
  • Worried About Facing Unemployment
  • Can’t Secure A Meaningful Interview
  • Can’t Secure Multiple Interviews
  • Laid Off Or Fired
  • Company Outplacement Isn’t Working
  • Can’t Locate Or Get To Unadvertised Jobs
  • Recruiters Aren’t Responsive
  • Is Age Hurting My Career Change?

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