While high-level professionals are hardly immune to the challenges faced by other job-seekers, the executive job search process is a high-stakes course. The higher the corporate ladder you climb, the scarcer positions become. As a result, the process is even more competitive.
Every step toward that next position is a critical one — and shortcuts, oversights and blunders can result in costly missed opportunities.
Here are five mistakes executives often make in their job search journey — and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Neglecting to build and nurture your personal brand
Your personal brand encompasses every way you represent yourself to the world. Be intentional about that representation. Whether in one-on-one interactions, in larger-scale contexts (e.g., leading a department meeting or speaking at a conference), in print or online, convey a consistent message about who you are.
The latter — creating and maintaining an online presence — is often missed by executives, who deem social media irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like it or not, social media is one of the first places anyone who wants to know more about you will look.
While it’s never too late, the time to work on your personal brand is now — not when you start looking for a job.
Mistake #2: Keeping too low a profile
Beyond building and nurturing your personal brand, many executives become comfortable in their own circles, in their own routines and with their own networks. Establishing yourself as an industry expert is one of the most powerful ways to boost your visibility far beyond any geographic, demographic or economic lines. It also ensures your relevance.
Whether that means publishing thought leadership articles on LinkedIn, accepting speaking engagements, or attending networking events, having your name and face out there is one of the best ways to land your next job — even before you start looking for it.
Mistake #3: Updating your own resume and LinkedIn profile
The entire executive job search process is rapidly changing and continually evolving. Unless it’s what you do for a living, it’s almost impossible to keep up with best practices.
Enlist the help of a certified, professional resume writer to help you create a resume that highlights key knowledge, skills and abilities in a way that makes you stand out among the competition. A resume professional will also know how to optimize your resume for the automated filtering systems that determine if your resume makes it into an actual human’s hands.
Paying a certified professional to create, revise or update your resume and LinkedIn profile is a worthwhile investment with an almost-guaranteed return. However, beware of bait-and-switch tactics often used by some resume service companies that subcontract their services out to maximize their profits. Make sure your resume is actually landing in the hands of someone who is highly qualified and abreast of current best practices.
Mistake #4: Failing to prepare for interviews
Individuals — especially at the executive level — tend to overestimate their interviewing skills. Don’t let experience fool you. While it’s important to “be yourself,” authenticity alone is not enough to nail the interview in today’s highly competitive workplace.
Often times, accomplished, high-level professionals are baffled when they get interviews, but not offers. Many clients who come in for interview coaching rate their interviewing skills as “good,” but at this level, you need to be “great” throughout the entire interview process. Every meeting with every key stakeholder can make or break your chances of receiving an offer.
Mistake #5: Underestimating the importance of mental fitness
Looking for a job can be an unsettling process; the anatomy of a successful executive job search looks like this: No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Yes.
Individuals often fail to realize that they are telegraphing unconscious messages to prospective employers. Some research estimates that up to 90 percent of communication is nonverbal, conveyed by your somatics — body language, tone of voice and micro-expressions. An interviewer with high emotional intelligence will be very adept at picking up on anxiety, depression and low self-confidence stemming from negative internal dialogues.
Cultivating resilience in the face of every rejection — and maintaining a positive outlook —will help you land the job you want, and pave the way for success in your new role.