Debra Feldman

What Do Executive Job Searches Have to Do With Dating?

Find out.

February 16, 2012
by Debra Feldman

Job searching bears a striking resemblance to dating. And in the current economy, the old “kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince” adage applies to those who are hiring. After all, employers have many choices and can be very selective. Their mindset doesn’t include the concept of “settling.”

Indeed, meeting and developing mutual interests works for finding a new career opportunity as well as starting a romantic relationship. As romantic courting has changed over the years, so too has the matchmaking between employers and job seekers. New media, including social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, have transformed the world of recruiting and had a dramatic effect forcing job hunters to adapt to new methods for navigating today’s job market.

More than ever before, the early bird gets the job offer. Candidates must proactively market themselves, get connected with employers directly and not merely respond to open job listings with a standard résumé submission or application.

More employers and new hires are meeting online via social media, rather than through corporate career portals, traditional job boards or classified ads. As reported in CNN/money, 60 percent to about 80 percent of jobs are never advertised. Having the right connections and being on the inside track is crucial to success for candidates today.

For you, this means a lot of connecting, establishing new contacts, developing new relationships and investing to develop trustworthiness and establish credibility. Like all things that have a high value, the effort is definitely worth it, especially since if failure to take initiative and follow up persistently, means no offers.

After all, it’s really about relationships. And it’s important to be mindful of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

In the job search, you’ve got to network purposefully: identify those individuals who have access to desirable connections and opportunities and develop a relationship focused on mutual support, not just focused on leads. Think long term. Sure, a meeting may produce a new job lead, but even those that end there should be a contact that is maintained because it is likely that sometime in the future there could be another job opportunity.

Connections or your network will be the source of job leads in the future. It is a pretty good bet that sometime in the future you will need to find another position. By nurturing fresh connections, they will mature and their value increase for both parties becoming a reliable source of future job leads when either party needs referrals. Yes, you can also make recommendations and referrals to those you petitioned for help with your own campaign; the tables often turn. The more people who care about you, have hiring authority and appreciate your potential contribution, the greater the chances of being personally referred.

Modern success requires game-changing activities. A few confidential calls to eager headhunters, several smartly placed online profiles and some finely tuned résumés circulating discretely won’t lead to a calendar overbooked with interview appointments anymore. Intentionally scouting out key players and getting their attention is the best job search method today.

Three Effective Go-to Strategies

Below is a job-search plan that will accelerate your progress and land you in a new role faster by creating an effective go-to-market strategy.

  1. Are you and the potential employer a match?

    Determine characteristics of your target employer and describe companies where you would like to work or whose employees can refer you to opportunities. Beyond target employers, create a potential networking target list of individuals who may be able to make valuable referrals to job leads.
    • Don’t attempt to represent yourself as everyone’s perfect employee. Do focus on being an expert with special value to a select group of appreciative employers.
    • Don’t sum up the quantity of your applications or size of your network. Do emphasize the quality of your contacts and the strength of your relationships.

  2. What does your ideal employer look for in someone?

    Describe where your abilities and knowledge intersect with each target employer’s needs and show how you will satisfy these requirements. Individualize campaign communications (résumé, letters of introduction and elevator pitch) for each target employer or contact. Identify your strengths and credentials and match them to the needs of each individual target company.
    • Don’t list everything you’ve achieved. Highlight what is most relevant to the employer’s current needs and appropriate for your current career goal. Do create a high-impact profile supported with accomplishments communicating what the employer needs to know your full potential.
    • Don’t focus on your career goals or your interest in learning at the employer’s expense. Do concentrate on what employers expect from their team members and demonstrate your skills and talents that will provide an immediate, measurable contribution.

  3. Concentrate on similar interests.

    Detail distinguishing characteristics that separate you from competitors (e.g., background, connections, passion or unique experiences). Describe your unique value contribution using quantifiable terms to show remarkable influence and quantified impact. Individualize campaign communications (résumé, letters of introduction, elevator pitch) for each target employer or contact.
    • Don’t lose sight that a résumé is a marketing document, not a chronological report. Do customize résumés to address specific requirements and rearrange résumé content in order of employer’s priorities.
    • Don’t include irrelevant information or simply list various talents — be selective.Do demonstrate specific skills and special talents with illustrative examples using dollars, numbers or percentages to show measurable impact.
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Debra Feldman is an executive talent agent and job search expert who implements customized senior level job search campaigns.