Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

What Executive Recruiters Want

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Mar 21, 2011 2:15:00 PM

Image executivesearch experts
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!


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive recruiters, Get a Job, career services, Online ID, reputation management

Top Trends in Personal Branding: Job Seekers Take Note

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jan 26, 2011 8:48:00 AM

Personal Branding for Job SearchWilliam Arruda, The Personal Branding Guru, is known for "seeing around the corner." His list of the top trends in personal branding is a heads-up for job seekers who want to get out in front of their competition. Here they are, in brief:

1. Hiring Anywhere - companies are more open to hiring from other locations, and video is the way to get your message across when you're not there in person; consider creating a video to communicate your personal brand, host it on YouTube, and distribute it to interested hiring managers and recruiters

2. Homecasting - professional home offices and backgrounds become the "set" for your video communications; when you shoot your video, make your background clean and professional

3. Vidmail - William says that email is "so last decade," and that integrated text, image, and video communications will become more common; include images and/or a video in your emails

4. Professional Dress - as video becomes a more prominant vehicle for communicating personal brands, it's essential to have your dress on-brand in terms of formality and style; in video and in-person interviews, dress on the formal side of what is appropriate for your job

5. Personal Branding Infused - with the concept at least a decade old now, watch it being talked about in corporate settings with more frequency; leverage personal branding on behalf of your job search

6. Web Purity - watch for new ways to ensure that when someone googles your name, they will find you; now, several people may come up; take a look at Visibility's "Search Me" button and consider adding it to your LinkedIn profile

7. 3D PB - with blended, multimedia search becoming a reality, be sure to have different ways that people can get to know you - real-time content, images, and video; become active on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr in job-appropriate and brand-enhancing ways

8. Personal Portals - new tools are emerging that enable you to assemble in one place all the pieces of your personal brand that reside in different places on the Web; check out about.me and flavors.me

9. Revyous - establish your credibility by getting recommendations on your LinkedIn profile; watch for more sites that enable feedback on who you are professionally

Job seekers, more than anyone else, need to present themselves as relevant, valuable, and 3-dimensional, in order to capture the attention of recruiters and hiring authorities. For those of you who haven't developed your personal brand, do it now. For those who have, project your personal brand in the many ways suggested by William's list of top trends.


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, career management, career planning, Jobs, Get a Job, career services, Job Interviews, personal brands, Online ID, LinkedIn Profiles

25 LinkedIn Tips for Your Job Search

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jan 14, 2011 5:51:00 PM

25 LinkedIn Tips for Job SearchThe vast majority of employers and recruiters search LinkedIn before deciding whether to interview you. If you're conducting a job search, do you know how to optimize LinkedIn to your advantage? Here are a few ideas. Please add additional ones in comments!

  1. After your title, add your industry (if that's the one you want a job in) and then pump it up with your brand if you wish: "Go-to SAP Project Manager"
  2. In your summary, nail your value proposition and competitive advantages.
  3. Use the common keywords recruiters or hiring authorities would use when searching for someone like you.
  4. Put in a comprehensive list of keywords under Specialties to attract search engine attention
  5. Under Experience, just hit your main achievements and contributions. Use numbers whenever possible.
  6. If your title isn't the one a hiring manager would use to search for someone who does what you do, put your formal, legal title in, then a slash, and then the title that you would have in most companies: "Business Continuity Analyst / Business Continuity Manager"
  7. Make your profile as complete as possible. Include links to any websites or blogs and to your Twitter and Facebook pages.
  8. List all your educational institutions, training, associations, and memberships to provide keywords that may help other users find you.
  9. Include a headshot. Make it professional even if it's taken from your digital camera.
  10. List your interests, community involvement, and extracurricular activities. They give you individuality and make you memorable. Also, studies show that skill in one area (swimming) tranfers to perceived skill in your professional area (Program Management).
  11. List your LinkedIn groups.
  12. Consider which applications you'd like to download (see bottom of your profile). 
  13. Participate in the Answers feature in your field to demonstrate subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
  14. Join one or more groups related to your field of expertise. Contribute to it regularly. This helps your reputation as a thought leader.
  15. Ask as many people as you can to write a recommendation (stick to professional contacts).
  16. Recommend others. They may return the favor.
  17. Consider embedding a video in your site - it's a real differentiator and allows you to show your enthusiasm and expertise in your field.
  18. Connect to people you know and have confidence in.
  19. Let LinkedIn mine your email addresses and give you the opportunity to invite some of them.
  20. Do research on companies you are interested in working for.
  21. Find names of people who work in those companies or who have worked there recently (all this can be done in a simple search).
  22. Send a message or an inmail if it's available to them to ask if you could speak with them for 5 minutes to learn something about the culture of the company from within.
  23. Find out any inside information you can about where the company is going that will help you tailor your message to them.
  24. Go to Settings and check the box that says you'll allow inmail and introductions.
  25. Go to Jobs and start using the largest job board on the Web!

Topics: job search, LinkedIn, executive resumes, career management, Get a Job, career services, LinkedIn Profiles

Are You an Entrepreneur Seeking a Job? Reinvent Your Personal Brand

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 30, 2010 8:33:00 AM

image entrepreneurism resized 600

LinkedIn is having a great discussion about personal brand reinvention based on an article in the Harvard Business Review. Most comments have to do with someone changing dramatically from a software engineer to an artist, etc. But there's another kind of career reimagining that needs to happen for entrepreneurs who want to transition within their own industry.

Here's the scenario in which a job seeker MUST change their personal brand even if they're not changing their industry or even changing their chief competency: they've been running their own business for a number of years and now want to transition to being an employee of a company. It's doable, though not an easy sell.

Usually they can demonstrate extensive knowledge of the industry and superior capability in one or more functional area (usually more). But the hiring authority has concerns about whether a CEO / entrepreneur would be happy or committed over the long haul to working in a situation in which the org chart has clearly defined boundaries between jobs. Employers may have concerns that the entrepreneur would be reporting to someone else for the first time in a long while.

The imperative for entrepreneurs is to infuse their personal brand with elements that assuage those concerns while conveying an irresistible value proposition and even exalting their entrepreneurial experience as a competitive advantage in certain cases.

1. Brand Reassurance: Some of the elements of the new brand might be extensive experience consulting within companies, working with internal and external teams, reporting to program managers or other managers / executives, interfacing and interacting comfortably up and down the organization etc.

2. Value Proposition: The value proposition would depend on the function and industry. For example, an independent sales rep might be able to report having an extensive database of C-level contacts in Fortune 100 companies and a strong closing ratio. Both would be highly valuable to the right company.

3. Turn Your Liability into an Asset: Entrepreneurs may also find that the very fact that they have a mindset of taking a great idea and commercializing it in the form of a viable long-term business is valuable to the right kind of company - a mid-sized to large company that has institutionalized an intrapreneurial approach in some or all of its groups - or - an early-stage company or startup that is looking for proven entrepreneurial talent.

Because it's a harder sell than making a move as an employee, the entrepreneur must nail these new aspects of their personal brand - both in their networking and in their resumes, cover letters and other marketing materials.


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, career services, personal brands, reputation management, IT resumes, careers in retirement, job interview

A Good Idea to Include Activities & Interests on Your Resume?

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 9, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Add "sailing" to your sales resume?

There's been a trend in resume writing - particularly executive resume writing - to leave off interests and activities unrelated to the person's profession. The thinking was that it's not a good idea to distract readers from the person's consistent career brand as described in the resume. Those extras have been considered simply irrelevant.

But I was struck to read about some research that has implications for what a job seeker should do about this matter. Craig Lambert, in a Harvard Magazine article about Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy, discusses the finding that competence in one area generalizes to overall competence. So, if a job seeker lists "sailing" as an interest, the reader will be more likely to think that that person is competent in his/her job.

My new advice? It doesn't matter how removed the interest or activity is from your profession, include it if it demonstrates an ability or skill that you have. Cello playing for a CFO. Competitive swimming for an IT manager. Sled dog racing for a construction manager.

You get the idea. You'll be considered better at what you do for a living than a comparable competitor with no interests / activities.



Topics: executive resumes, executive resume writing, executive resume, career management, Get a Job, careers in retirement, resume writing

The ONE THING Boomers Have 2 Get Right in Job Search!

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Oct 27, 2010 10:43:00 AM

image boomergetsajob resized 600

Of course boomers have to use up-to-the-minute best practices in resume writing, job search and interviewing when looking for a job. But there is one overriding factor they have to nail: their value proposition. Often boomers have an advantage in this, because they have already had accomplished careers and a strong track record.

What's a value proposition for a job seeker? It's the benefit they can (often uniquely) provide to the potential employer that matches the needs of that employer. How do you use it? At a minimum, in your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn Profile. How else must you leverage it? In your networking and interviewing.

One of my clients was 62 and had been out of work for a year when he applied to a Director-level job. Despite a strong competitive field of younger applicants, he got the offer. Why? Because the value he offered was so clearly and boldly spelled out in his resume. And because he interviewed keeping the value prop as his central message. How could the company resist? He was offering the exact value that they needed to solve the "pain" they were having.

So, don't neglect this critical value messaging as you go about your job search. It will override any concerns employers may have about age (even if that concern is not expressed because of possible legal ramifications). But only if clearly, powerfully and consistently expressed on paper and in person!


Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, interviewing, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, technology resumes, career management, Get a Job, career services, IT resumes, careers in retirement, Retirement Planning

What To Do When Facing Job Uncertainty

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Apr 8, 2010 7:53:00 AM

A lot of people are finding themselves facing uncertainty right now. Either they are already unemployed or else they are anxiously eying their company's future as layoffs have begun or are rumored.
Of course it makes sense to have an up-to-date, personal-brand-driven resume and cover letter ready. And it's vital to reach out to networking contacts both through your own personal network or through the social and organizational networks you can access online. 

But beyond these proactive measures, what professional certifications, workshops, or continuing education would enhance your brand and give you an edge over your competition?

For IT folks - the niche I work within - there are 5 in-demand certifications at this point in time that would benefit a job applicant to have. According to TechRepublic, three of them are related to ITIL - Information Technology Infrastructure Library, one of them is related to Security, and one is the PMP - Project Management Professional - certification. 

What could you learn about in your field that would cause your resume to be placed in the "yes" pile? Or what mentoring or internship at your workplace would expose you to new skills and learning? Tough times don't have to be hopeless, waiting times. They can be times for you to strengthen your position for getting a job even in this recessionary environment or to position you well for the economic recovery that will surely come. 


Topics: personal branding, technology executive resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, Working

In Hindsight, I Should Have...

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Apr 8, 2010 7:35:00 AM

The Boston Sunday Globe and Monday's Wall Street Journal both have articles about people who have been laid off from their jobs and are turning to entrepreneurship to try to make a living. In most cases, they have to invest a lot of their own (and other people's) money to fund the startups. Then they go through a period of time when they are earning significantly less than they did in their corporate jobs. In several of the examples, the newly minted entrepreneurs may never earn as much as they did before they were laid off, although job satisfaction appears to be generally high. 

The recession has taught us a lot about how insecure our investments and employment can be. And people have learned to be creative about employment alternatives, given the fact that they may not be able to find a job in their (now-dried-up) areas of expertise. 

It struck me that, in the case of career changers as well as entrepreneurs, keeping fixed living costs on the low side (mortgages, rents, cost of cars/transportation etc.) gives them the flexibility to go with a lower paying job or launch a business in response to a volatile job market. It may be that a silver lining of this difficult time is that people will spend less, save more, and, in some cases, seek job fulfillment over financial benefits. 

If even Warren Buffett didn't see this one coming, perhaps the rest of us should plan our lives in a way that allows for down as well as up markets, lean as well as flush times, winter as well as summer, droughts as well as abundantly rainy conditions. And to consider planning our lives in such a way that we are not so wedded to a high-salary lifestyle that we can't change careers or break out on our own to find the job fulfillment we've always wanted.  

Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, Working

What To Do When You Really Can't Get a Job

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Apr 8, 2010 7:19:00 AM


 If, despite conducting an advanced job search with a great branded resume, you still can't get a job in your chosen field/function, the options below are worth considering. Short on time? Skim the bolded areas below to get the gist of these 3 strategies. 

1. KNOW WHERE THE JOBS ARE IN YOUR FIELD AND REDIRECT YOUR CAREER TOWARDS THEM. Do research to uncover the areas of high-demand and the areas that will languish going forward. Consider getting a relevant certification or doing an internship in the growth area.

In IT, there are areas where hiring is expected to be strong and areas where the jobs may be gone forever. The Hackett Group is recommending that companies not hire back laid-off system admins and support staff, but rather outsource those jobs to other countries where the pay scales are lower. Someone called me last week and told me that his job in IT - inside sales - was being offshored to India. So a job that he assumed was secure turned out not to be.

Areas of projected high growth in IT are Security, Healthcare IT, Global Wireless, Virtualization Software, Business Analytics, SaaS. Can you get qualified to work in one of these specialty areas? 

2. CHANGE YOUR CAREER & GET CERTIFIED IN A NEW FIELD. You may or may not be ready for a radical change, but sometimes, to transition to a growth sector and start paying the bills, there is a solution that would enable you to get a good job with  good-enough pay (depending on your requirements) after only a few months or, in some cases, a year or more of study and internship. (A year of studying beats a year of knocking your head against the wall going to job fairs and sending out resumes.) 

Review your local community college's certification programs. Inquire into its career placement program and its ties to local businesses that may be hungry for graduates of the certification programs. These certifications often came about because of the dearth of skilled employees in those areas and business demand for employees in the region. 

There are certifications in many areas, including public safety and homeland security, human resources, and auditing. To stay in IT, you can increase your eligibility for IT jobs in healthcare by getting a healthcare IT certification. Hiring in this area can be expected to be strong as healthcare delivery becomes increasingly IT-dependent.

This is a sample of my local community college's offerings: there is a new Energy Utility Technology Certificate Program meant to help meet the "urgent, long-term need" of utilities for these specialists. Utility SmartGrid initiatives will be requiring IT employees and others. Biotechnology Technician is another certification that is offered that, like the energy certification, requires an internship, giving you real-world, valuable experience with an employer that would give you an edge in hiring. Computer Forensics Certification. Dental Assisting. Many others.

Earning a valued healthcare certification may help you change your career. As the population of aging Americans grows, more services will be needed. There are many clinical-professional as well as administrative certifications in healthcare. Some in-demand jobs with certifications are: MRI technologist, radiation therapist, and nuclear medicine technologist. There are other certifications that promise to be growth areas as boomers age such as Certified Life Care Planner and Certified Life Care Manager, as well as Medicare Set-Aside Certified Consultant.

3. GET CREATIVE, FOLLOW YOUR PASSION, AND CHANNEL YOUR INNER ENTREPRENEUR. On NPR's "On Point" radio program on "Life After Layoffs," the discussion centered around a film, "Lemonade," about what the laid-off executives of a Manhattan ad agency went on to do when it was clear there were no jobs for them. One exec profiled turned his avocation into his vocation. He left Manhattan for a studio upstate and now sells enough of his paintings to live well in a less-expensive region. (The strategy of reducing your expenses and/or changing your lifestyle is one that can help you make the transition away from a big paycheck and towards a more meaningful career.) One exec became a yoga and holistic health counselor. Another became a career reinvention coach. One caller took his passion for European car parts and turned it into an Internet business.

Many people's successful alternative careers are heavily dependent on technology for making products and on the Internet for selling products and services.

Wired Magazine (Feb. 2010) predicts that a new industrial revolution is in the making "in an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design.Now that individuals are able, without a high capital outlay, to use computers and 3-D printers to design and prototype new products and then outsource custom, "small-batch" manufacturing to China, many small entrepreneurs are successfully bringing their products to market. Some examples? A kit car manufacturer. A company that makes accessories that interface with Lego blocks. Bike components. Customer furniture. Noise-canceling wireless headsets. If you have a great idea for a new product, you may be able to grow a business from your garage.

IN SUMMARY. If you are out of work and feel out of options, these new directions might spark an idea for you that could result in a rewarding new career. With the fast pace of technological change, the vicissitudes of the market, and an increasingly global economy, it makes sense for everyone - jobless or not - to be thinking about having an ace up their sleeve and an idea about how to adapt to "what's next."


Topics: job search, personal branding, executive resumes, executive resume writing, career management, career planning, Get a Job, Working

5 Tips for Acing the Phone Interview

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Apr 8, 2010 7:14:00 AM

Think a phone interview is easier than an in-person one? It may seem so on the surface, but in fact there are a couple of ways in which it is harder.
The most obvious way is that you have to project your personality and personal brand without a visual. The interviewer can't see your eyes, your smile, or your body language and so you have to rely in part on how you sound to make the connection.
Another way it's harder is that the format lends itself less well to the conversational back-and-forth that enables you to make a personal connection and communicate your reasons for why you should be hired.
Here are some tips to help you succeed in the phone interview format:
1. Be sure to be in a quiet place (or reschedule until you can be) and free of distractions (don't be checking your email or IMing while you are interviewing!).
2. Stand up (walk around if you like) and smile slightly as you talk. Do these things and your voice will project better, be more energetic, and have greater warmth. If you can convey to the interviewer simply through the way you sound that you are an upbeat, outgoing, and lively person, you have already done something important.
3. The interview is apt to be more scripted than the in-person interview, so try to answer each scripted question in a way that helps you branch out into what the company is looking for in terms of this particular hire. If you can find out what constitutes success in this position six months down the road you will be much more able to communicate how your skills and experience would make you a low-risk hire. The back-and-forth of a conversation gives you much more freedom to make your case for yourself as the right person for the job.
4. Make that personal connection. If you can move from a standard question such as "Tell me about yourself" or "What are your strengths" towards a discussion of the challenges that will be facing the individual who is hired, the pain the organization is having that occasions this hire, or the strategic changes the company is in the midst of, you will be much more likely to engage the interest of the interviewer. The interviewer has a problem you can solve. If you are able to truly present yourself as the one with the answers, solutions, or abilities to meet the desired objectives of the company, you will boost your chances of being called for an in-person interview.
4. Even though the interviewer probably will have a list of questions s/he is working from, make every attempt to work your personal brand into your answers. Your personal brand is your professional reputation clearly delineated. What is your specialty? What are you known for? What are your primary attributes? And, most important for the interviewer, what is your value proposition? How do you make money, save money, streamline operations, solve problems, lower risk, facilitate the success of others? If you are able to make a strong, clear, positive impression on the interviewer, not just as a person but as a professional, you will be remembered way longer than the other 6 people who were interviewed that morning who did not project a personal brand.
5. Have a leave-behind message that will get you to the next stage. Express your interest in speaking more about how you could meet the needs of the company. Reiterate your value proposition. Express confidence that the hiring manager (if someone different from your phone interviewer) will be interested in your ideas about what you could bring to the position that would benefit the company. If you are able to do this, the interviewer won't just remember a string of answers to a list of questions, s/he will remember why the company should get to know you better.
As you wrap up the interview, be sure to find out what the timeline is in terms of finding out about next steps. That way you can get back to the interviewer if you don't hear from him/her in the specified time period.
Also, as with an in-person interview, it is a good idea to write a thank-you email or snail mail note expressing appreciation for the interviewer's time and restating your value proposition and interest in an in-person interview.
If you follow these tips, it is likely that you will set yourself apart from your competitors who may just be responding to the set questions and not attempting to broaden the conversation, project a personality, make a personal connection, or communicate a memorable message. Ace the phone interview and you are well on your way to a job interview and offer.
Anyone out there have tips to add from your experience with phone interviews?
P.S. For interview questions to practice with (phone or in-person), here's a good site.

Topics: interviewing, Get a Job, Job Interviews, Phone Interview

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Tyrone Norwood