Regardless of your industry, the competition for executive level positions is fierce. As applicants understand the new job search rules, many are adapting their strategy.  To succeed you must be ahead of the crowd.

Most everyone now knows — or at least they have herd the sermon — that to get past the resume screening process you must customize your resume for the job you are pursuing.  More executives are increasingly  aware of the power of LinkedIn in building and supporting their brand and attracting the attention of corporate recruiters and search firms.  Many job applicants struggle to effectively communicate their value — why they should be hired over a competing executive — in the interview process.

So how do you stand out from the pack?

There are three ways to do this:

1.  Think like the prospective employer.  What do they want to see and learn from your resume?

Present an easy to read resume that will, without any doubt, clear the Applicant Tracking System’s computerized scanners.  Forget the shaded boxes that highlight your skills.  Forget all the color designed to catch the recruiter’s eye. Computers are color blind and there is not much evidence that supports the notion that a fancy resume with color improves an applicant’s chances even when an actual human is quickly eye-balling your resume.  Highlight your successes in a Professional Summary at the top of the resume that align with the needs of each specific employer. Use words like “successfully”, “excelled” or “outperformed” in describing your experience and the outcomes. Employers are looking for candidates who have succeeded in specific areas. Do not complicate your message with unnecessary complexity by using “inside game” jargon and symbols designed to impress.  That is just “messaging “noise” that could expedite your elimination.

2.  Learn how to effectively use LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is a powerful platform and the number of people who have learned how to use it more effectively is growing every day.  To capitalize on its power, you have to learn how to get out in front of the crowd and up your game. Develop a plan and seek out the people you want to connect with. Be purposeful.  Accepting invites from financial planners or life insurance agents is a waste of your time unless you are in the market for a financial planner or an insurance agent.  You must post news stories and your own content three to four times a week.  Every time you post, your photo and “headline” appear for all to see.  Stop wasting your time waiting for recruiters to call you. Stop relying on job boards as your sole source of leads. Elevate your game, your image. Master the art of strategic networking. It is not rocket science.  

3.  Improve your interviewing skills.  Interviewing is a unique communications format.  It is not something the vast majority of executives do on a regular basis.  Most executives I have encountered in my 25  plus years of executive recruiting are not that good at telling their story, communicating their value.  Having a focused resume is critical.  Networking is also very important.  That is how you will identify the best jobs, those posted on the internet and those which are not.  But the resume and networking only gets you to the table.  If you are not effective at communicating your  value at each level of the screening process, from the screening interview to the face-to-face with the prospective employer on site, your chances of succeeding are greatly reduced.  A less than stellar performance in the various interviews is why executives are unsuccessful at closing the deal and winning the job they really want.

Prospective employers are looking for a reason to hire a qualified candidate.  Give them one.  

Think like the prospective employer.

Sign Up For ACHE Interviewing Skills Course

Join Chrishonda Smith, CCDP, SHRM of OhioHealth and John Self, an executive career transition coach, for a dynamic course on interviewing skills at the American College Healthcare Congress in Chicago, March 23- 26.  This is one of the more popular and highly rated sessions of the Congress The session is at 2:15 PM on Wednesday, March 25.