Many executives start their job search by pulling together a resume listing their employment history, skills and accomplishments. They then immediately start networking and checking job postings. The pitch they make to employers usually starts with reference to their breadth, depth and number of years of experience executing certain roles. This is a questionable strategy. Instead, job seekers should think like marketers. They should ensure they have a value proposition for potential employers and can articulate the type of problems they are best equipped to solve. The resume should back this up.
We once had an executive job seeker tell us “I solve complex problems” which was an interesting, somewhat all encompassing value proposition. Our consultant described a client with a particularly difficult enterprise integration for which they needed help . The executive confessed this was beyond his scope and capabilities bringing us back to the challenge of defining which problems, which contexts, which cultures played best to his set of skills. He was able to craft a much more focused value proposition for his situation.
Equally important, job seekers need to define a target market. An executive informed us that she was a turnaround specialist one who could turnaround any business between $10M and $500M in revenues, irrespective of industry. While this may be true, she had actually only led turnarounds in technology and all the businesses were well under $50M in revenue. Given this it made sense for her reach out to the venture capital/private equity sectors in her region about their portfolio companies who might benefit from her expertise.
Narrowing down the industry that one is interested in and the type and size of company to pursue will make job searches much easier. Organizations tend to look for specialists not generalists. With a more refined value proposition and focused job search this executive was able to quickly identify her target market/networking community and find appropriate roles for which she was well qualified.
With a cogent value proposition and a focused target market, any executive looking for his or her next career step can effectively start a job search that will yield the an appropriate results.