What makes a company want to hire you? The question is direct. Yet, answering that question is about as inscrutable as the Sphinx. The executive job search is very much like courtship. Both you and the hiring organization are in search of a mutually-beneficial partnership. The company has needs. You show up with the expertise to get those needs met. So, how do you keep the interest of the executive recruiter?
Know how companies choose their partners
To sum it up simply companies are looking for affordability, posterity, problem-solving and fit. Affordability, posterity and problem-solving are within your direct control and can be communicated effectively both by resume and during the interview process. The other, fit, is as much about the company culture as it is about you. Even if your expertise proves an exact match for the company, your work style may or may not fit the work style of the hiring company, which will inevitably pose a problem – sooner rather than later. The good news is you can find out if a company’s a good fit before you ever notify the company of your interest in working with them.
Tips for keeping them interested
There are practical steps you can take to keep the interest of an executive recruiter.
Don’t make the recruiter think. This may seem like a no-brainer, but executive recruiters will admit they sometimes receive resumes from candidates who are not an exact fit for a position and they end up wondering why the job seeker even bothered to apply. This is especially the case when people are re-careering. It’s not that recruiters aren’t willing to take a chance on a candidate who isn’t an exact fit for the job. It’s just that you have to tell them why you are a good fit for the position. Never leave it for the recruiter to figure out. Make it clear why you are applying for an executive position and how you would benefit the company.
Be a good listener. Both online and offline, the key to finding the right company and having the right company find you is knowing what they need and being able to articulate how you plan to meet that need. In the executive job search, research is key. Before you ever submit your resume, know the public personality of your target company. Get behind the scenes by using tools like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to gain some insight on the company culture from people with first-hand experience.
Be dynamic. For years, every applicant who owned a piece of parchment paper claimed to be dynamic. Curious thing about dynamism – it is one of the easiest things in the world to see on someone. Dynamism isn’t esoteric. It is formulaic and measurable. It is the word use to describe the results produced by the right combination of power, motivation, and ability. It means to always be read. Boy scouts are dynamic. Don’t say you’re dynamic. Be dynamic.
Give them your secret sauce. No one ever asked Colonel Sanders if he was in the kitchen. You already know that at some point, he was in the kitchen. That’s how the secret recipe was happened upon. It’s the same with you. There’s no need for you to take up space on your resume listing what you did. Tell the recruiter how you did it. If you managed a team of 75 how did you manage that team? How did you reduce the team by 20% and increase sales by 20% without killing morale? Give them your secret sauce. That’s a desirable skill for an executive candidate to have.
Get in where you fit in. Few things are a bigger turn off than pretense, especially in an executive. Because fit is so important to overall team / department / division / company productivity, it is not something that should be faked. Nor could it be for very long. When you fit, get to work letting the recruiter know that by using inclusive language. Don’t overdo it. Let the “we,” “us” and “our” part of the conversation come naturally. If you find the meme tacked to some guy’s cubicle [tasteful and] funny, there’s nothing wrong with a smile or light-hearted laugh. Equally as important, if you’re not there to specifically shape up the department, be aware of any resistance and dissonance you experience during the interview. Not every job was made for every executive.
When it comes to executive positions, the machine gun approach doesn’t work. It’s a waste of your valuable (and limited) time. Know what you seek in a job and in a company. Zero in on the industry you’re targeting and begin researching companies that meet your criteria and who you think may be a good fit for you. Then build from there.