TO CHASE OR BE CHASED: 5 STEPS TO INCREASING EXECUTIVE BRAND AWARENESS
By Sue Sarkesian, with Senior Writer Sherry Sullivan
There is a quote by Benjamin Franklin that goes something like this: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Businesses go to great lengths to define and carefully implement strategic plans. New product development divisions will develop R&D roadmaps that ensure innovation into the future. So, what are you doing to plan for your own future success?
Over the years, I have worked with many clients seeking answers after several failed attempts at one specific yet crippling approach to executive advancement. Specifically, they put all of their energy behind chasing jobs posted online. They shortcut the branding process, only to sit and wait weeks and weeks for the notification that the organization has “decided to move forward with a candidate who more closely meets our needs.”
According to statistics released by Glassdoor in 2015, every corporate job opening attracts an average of 250 resumes. At the C level, this can be as many as 2,000. However, only four to six people will actually be called for an interview. Recruiters have to meet a precise match for each position: industry experience, age, skills, and education, and they utilize a specification sheet to quickly rule out those who do not qualify.
Dr. Duncan Taylor, Recruitment Partner for Decision Toolbox has this to say about what he calls the 10-second rule, “If you are lucky, that’s about how much time your resume has to catch a recruiter’s attention; however, if I spot a few key things, I’ll spend more time with it and look deeper. Like everyone else, recruiters’ tactics and tools are geared for efficiency.” There is no doubt — the competition is steep at all levels. So, why not put the odds in your favor?
In our development of executive brands for a wide range of clients, there is one message that significantly helps in building a message of continued value and advancement: the pattern of being recruited from one position to the next. In fact, a large percentage of our clients come to us because they, in fact, have never had to think about creating an executive brand. They have benefitted from a healthy industry, successful networking, or youthfulness in moving with ease from one position to the next without having to really look for a new opportunity. Now, for a variety of reasons, they need help. But there are things they can do to keep that pattern of recruitment moving forward.
Plan Ahead. The executives we see who have been able to sustain a long-term record of advancement and recruitment are those who are always thinking ahead about ways to further develop, advance, and communicate their executive brands. They become industry leaders to the extent that companies monitor their moves in the industry and have them on a list of “next hires” for specific positions.
Know Who to Know. I am often surprised when I come across the LinkedIn profiles of highly accomplished executives who have just a few connections on what some consider the greatest professional networking tool to date. Some executives are too busy to bother with maintaining their profiles and networks. Others do not understand LinkedIn’s capabilities and power to create opportunity through these networks. It is only when faced with a serious industry downturn or layoff that many decide to check out the value that LinkedIn might offer. My recommendation is that you shouldn’t wait until you have no other choice but to show a gap in employment. Work ahead of any curves that might present a disruption in your career. Take control of your own timeline.
Adopt a Hybrid Approach. Is the most strategic approach through recruiters? Is it best to network with colleagues? Should you join high-profile groups on LinkedIn? Should you build your LinkedIn network of connections? Should you blog? In my experience, there is no one correct answer that will address the needs of all executives. Thus, I always highly encourage clients to develop and implement a multichannel approach to increasing visibility and opportunity.
Be Relevant. I see it every day. Executives—who feel that some of their best experience is 20 years old—are continuing to rest on their laurels. In a job market flooded with new graduates who are hungry for opportunity and willing to work for the half the salary, seasoned executives have to continually focus on their relevant value in a constantly evolving global marketplace. Whether the message is focused on technical knowledge, industry experience, profitable relationships, or a decisive approach to leadership, it is important to show how you are relevant.
Maintain. As a former marathon runner and an exercise junkie, I have a first-hand understanding of what it means to miss a day or two of running or biking. The work involved in re-establishing a specific level of performance is definitely more extreme than what it takes to simply maintain that level. The same can be said with your executive brand. If you can update it on an annual basis, vs. waiting five, 10, or 15 years, the work involved can be more focused on continuing to build your brand for the future and not on recreating that past.