A termination or a layoff is a rattling experience — to your ego, your pride, and conceivably, your financial security.

How you manage this dicey period in your career will determine how successful you will be in landing that next better job. Competition for leadership positions is stiff and candidates must be well prepared if they hope to be successful.

There is a parallel for executives between between finding a job and losing one. Typically, regardless of their years of experience or record of accomplishment, executives are not experts about their own job search process or what to do when they lose one. That is why mistakes are made.

The dynamics of the job market are changing and senior executives are not immune from these new demands as well as the more stringent expectations of prospective employers. With industry consolidation there are an increasing number of highly qualified executives on the market. Employers can afford to be more critical in their evaluation of candidates.

Here are the six common mistakes that executives make when they are shown the door.

  1. Their resume is not up to date. Most executives ignore their resume until it is time to dust it off and begin looking for their next job.
  2. They leave the organization without having documentation of key performance metrics. Some executives have amazing memories for this level of detail but most do not. This information is critical to development of their career brand proposition which is essentially an argument for why someone should hire them.
  3. They have not invested sufficient time, if any at all, in building a gold-plated professional network that could be instrumental in providing leads or valuable business intelligence. Some executives leave this information on their company computer and do not remember until it is too late. Strategic networking is instrumental in expediting the job search.
  4. They do not take the time to prepare themselves for the interviews — preparing to answers questions regarding their departure or researching the prospective employer regarding their leadership needs. Rereading the position summary or job description does not constitute preparation.
  5. They do not negotiate a reference process (who will speak) or the details of what will be said about their tenure with this latest employer. This can be very problematic if separation was anything less than mutually agreeable and even then there are risks to the departing executive.
  6. They do not know about career transition coaching, or if they do, they do not feel they could benefit from this type of expert advice. Executives, especially senior leaders should insist on this benefit in their severance package. They should resist the urge to ask for the money instead. The list of otherwise good executives who struggled to find a new position is long and distinguished.

For question on this or other career management issues, call me or email me at asktherecruiter@johngself.com.

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