What executive job search myths have you heard while searching for your next leadership opportunity? There is so much conflicting info out there that it can be tricky to tell fact from fiction. In my dozen+ years as an executive resume writer, I have heard them all!
So today, I’m busting some common executive job search myths!
Myth 1: Avoid addressing possible objections
One job search misconception I see often is the assumption that you should avoid difficult conversations around your shortcomings. Every employer makes certain assumptions early in the hiring process, often subconsciously, without even noticing. And it’s best to be prepared for them.
Think about any possible objections employers might have. For example, if you have what may be perceived as a ‘job-hopping’ background, be intentional in addressing it. Show you are a committed and loyal employee who hasn’t found the right fit yet or emphasize how you’ve been invited to more challenging and progressive roles in short succession.
Every candidate has baggage that led them to their current job search. It’s always better to be prepared than to be caught off guard. Know the areas that might stand out and come up with a concise (and positive) answer that explains the situation. Often, interviewers will ask the question and then move on – they aren’t expecting perfection.
Myth 2: Write your resume for tracking software, not humans
Yes, over 98% of Fortune 500 use tracking systems to monitor the intake of resumes, BUT, at some point, an actual human will always have eyes on your resume. Many executive opportunities are also still found through networking, employee referrals, outside recruiters or social media – not online.
Your best bet is to keep both in mind! While you want an ATS-compliant resume, you also want to write for people.
Consider layout, design, and readability attractive to human eyes; include keywords, buzzwords, and formatting for ATS.
Myth 3: No one reads cover letters
This myth is more of a debate – some employers admit to reading cover letters, and some skip them altogether. But, how do you know which employer is expecting the file?
It’s always best to include one, just in case. Besides, it’s an excellent opportunity to stand out from the crowd! Craft a non-traditional cover letter that lets your personality shine through and demonstrates very clearly how you are the solution the company is seeking.
Keep your cover letter fresh and customized to each role. Be sure it’s not a generic letter that’s a summary of your resume. Grab attention! Be clear and to the point, displaying the value you bring to the company and showing (not telling) facts and proof that you are the right leader for the job.
Myth 4: Your LinkedIn profile is a resume replacement
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for executive job search and is an excellent way to network yourself into a new job. But it’s not a replacement for a stand-out executive resume.
Your LinkedIn profile should complement your resume rather than replace or duplicate it. Think of your LinkedIn bio as more of an overarching overview to pique the interest of potential employers. Write it in an authentic voice (first-person!) and emphasize your personal leadership brand. Use LinkedIn to showcase what you have to offer with selected examples of success to back up your claims.
Then use your executive resume as a tool to give more specific measurements and focused experience. An executive resume should be specifically tailored to each unique audience and designed to feed the reader exactly what they need.
Done correctly, your LinkedIn profile and executive resume should work together to position you as the perfect fit.
Myth 5: Job searching is a numbers game
Another executive job search myth I need to bust is that it’s all about how many applications you send out. When searching for an executive role, it’s more about quality than quantity.
As a senior-level professional with plenty to offer in your area of expertise, you will be better off spending time crafting customized applications to companies that would be a good fit for you rather than applying for every job you see.
You should also aim to speak to the right people (not necessarily MORE people) to support search efforts. People hire people and at the executive level, you need to tap your network for support, introduction, and guidance into opportunities. Instead of hitting up a wide group of random people, focus efforts on individuals most closely tied to the type of role you want to land next.
Myth 6: Social media is for personal use only
Expect everything about you online to be found by potential employers. 90% of employers say they regularly screen candidates on social media, and 79% of them have rejected an applicant based on what they saw. (and yes, this includes your personal pages).
Consider adding privacy settings, but don’t disappear completely; it may look like you are out of touch or have something to hide. Show up on social media so potential employers can find you – just keep it professional.
LinkedIn is one of the best social sites to use for executive search. However, you don’t just want to ‘set it and forget it’. Make efforts to engage regularly on the platform. Connect, engage on posts, and share your own thought leadership to better control your online image and brand.
Myth 7: It’s all about experience and qualifications
Whether or not you land the job goes well beyond your education, experience, and qualifications. Employers are looking to build teams of people who work well together. So, they also consider values, goals, communication styles, and personality when determining who will best fit the company culture. Therefore, you want to position yourself as the best candidate and someone who will smoothly transition as an asset to the existing team.
Today’s modern leader is also well-rounded and possesses both hard and soft skills. Emphasize your value as both an expert in your industry, but also someone who is adaptable, communicative, and thoughtful.
There you have it – 7 executive job search myths busted. Searching for an executive role is a highly personal experience; there is no one size fits all solution. What works for someone else may not be suitable for you – customize your approach and keep your spirits up. Your next opportunity is around the corner!
If you need a little backup to land that dream job, check out my job search support kit or reach out to discuss my award-winning executive resume writing services.