I had a chance this past week to hear a presentation by an executive recruiter at the Career Thought Leaders Conference in Baltimore. I interviewed him afterwards to learn more about what he is looking for in resumes, candidates, and careers. Here's what I found out:
- Values are important: how someone feels about work-life balance, family, work, relocation, etc.
- A culture match with the target company is critical.
- He wants to know how someone goes about achieving their (quantifiable) accomplishments.
- Putting "consulting" in to cover recent work periods is a red flag; it's usually a cover for unemployment. He'd rather see worthwhile volunteer work listed.
- Recruiters look for candidates who are currently working in a similar role and industry - not people who are currently unemployed, underemployed, or part-time consulting.
- A pattern of ever-increasing levels of responsibility and achievements over the course of a career is what he looks for.
- It's harder to get a job now, because the Internet has increased competition and enabled recruiters to find ever closer matches to their ideal candidate.
- Transitioning as a business owner/founder/CEO to a c-level role within a company's org chart is possible, but only it there is a steady record of relevant and outstanding accomplishments in the same industry.
What does he recommend that candidates do when there is no possibility of recruiter recommendation? In the case of smaller companies, he suggests approaching the CEO and members of the Board of Directors and perhaps the venture capital firm that has capital in the business.
The take-away for executive resumes, executive job search, and executive careers?
- Be very careful about your career progression, including downsizing from a large company to a startup or early-stage company.
- If you switch industries, have it be part of a long-term strategic plan for your career. You may not be able to return to your earlier one.
- Think twice about gaps in your work history. If necessary, fill the time with worthwhile volunteer work where you can use your professional skills to deliver real results.
- Don't count on executive recruiters being interested in you if your background is not fairly standard for the target position - including your having held a similar role for a competitor in the same industry.
That last point eliminates a large percentage of job seekers from using the recruiter channel to get a job. Hence, there is a high priority placed on leveraging 2.0 networking and advanced job search methods to get a job, such as I wrote about in Turbocharged Networking for $100K+ Jobs.
The new age of competition is a daunting one, but:- the economy is picking up
- there may well be a labor shortage as the baby boomers gradually leave the workforce
- and savvy executive job seekers can learn how to get in front of a hiring authority more easily than before.
Never has it been more important to establish, build, and promote your personal brand as it evolves over a lifetime and strategically and proactively manage your career!