Why December is the Biggest Month for Your Career

snow-bridgeIn years past, one might have assumed January to be the biggest month for career strategy. Most of what contributes to our professional landscape has changed in the last few years and that has changed how we implement our career strategies. The biggest change to our professional landscape is the frequency of disruption. Just in the last year, we witnessed disruption to occur due to everything from supply chain issues to an economic turn-down. That is not even considering the ‘new normal’ that innovations are changing our world faster than ever before. Technologies and professionals now face the same obstacles — they must stay relevant and agile to survive. The process of job transition is also influenced by our new professional landscape.

First, the frequency has changed. The average tenure for an executive is now only 2-4 years. Whether it is a company pivot, new PE investors or M&A activity, the C-suite is the first to find themselves displaced. A successful executive career strategy must involve consistently checking your market value and evaluating your return in the same way you would evaluate your investment portfolios. You cannot afford not to or you risk being obsolete and unemployed

Secondly, “click submit” is no longer a job search strategy. It’s now about the “pull” not the “push.”

Push vs. Pull Job Search

The truth is everyone wants the high-hanging fruit. “High-hanging fruit” is a phrase used to describe the sought after, employed talent that is too busy to be looking at job postings. A great way to position yourself as “high-hanging fruit” and still be proactive is to optimize your LinkedIn profile to make sure the recruiter or company stakeholder finds you. Pull, don’t push!

High-hanging fruit is your competition, so your competition is Everyone.

Even in a good economy, almost everyone is passively looking, so your competition is steep. October gave us a landside of layoffs so now the supply and demand is even more not in your favor. When competition is steep, getting in the door is more difficult. While applying to jobs may make you feel productive, surveys show that only about 15% of positions were filled through job boards. Most executive level positions are filled through network referrals. Eighty-five percent of jobs filled through referrals!?!?!?! You must be the referral!

Why Referrals Get the Job

Think of it this way, let’s say you are going to remodel your kitchen, which of the following would you do first?

A.   Post on a plethora of service websites what you need with all the detailed kitchen measurements and materials you wish to use.
B.   Research all the service provider websites and read the reviews, specializations, locations, and qualifications.
C.   Shoot an email to a friend who just did her kitchen that she was extremely happy with and ask her who she used.

The keyword is FIRST. You might end up doing A and B if C did not work out or even just to make sure your friend’s suggestion was, after all, the best choice. Now you can see why December is the career action month. When hiring is budgeted and becomes more defined in January, you must already be referred. January will be busy for everyone. It will be busy for you at your current job, busy for hiring managers and recruiters. In January, you can be more passive about your job search and let your dream job call you out of the blue — if you did everything right in December.

5 Things You Need to do in December to Help Your Career in the Coming Year

  1.  Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Optimize for the job you want and the one you have.
  2.  Connect with people on LinkedIn. Think past bosses and subordinates, supply chain contacts, recruiters, and anyone you meet out and about.
  3.  Connect with people offline. Many of our members are saying they have been able to get conversations with people easier over the holidays. Now that going to parties and benefits are back, go out, have fun, meet people, reconnect with people. Learn how your value gets weaved into conversations without even talking about what you need.
  4.  Update your resume. Having a resume that speaks to your value is even more important at the executive level because opportunities are fewer and further in-between, and you cannot afford to not be prepared.
  5.  Help others. The rule of the universe revolves around giving first. Take a call in which you may not see a benefit for yourself in taking or chat with a college kid looking for advice. Do this with no “angle.” When things do work out for you in the future, there is a good chance it will have been because of having done something nice for someone with no expectation of getting something in return. That’s networking at its finest!

The holidays offer the opportunity to get involved with causes you care about. You will meet others with similar passions. Those with similar passions will go above and beyond the call of social duty to network on your behalf. You never know who you will meet.

If you’d like some help with articulating your work experience into one clear value story that you can share in a way that makes sense for hiring companies, our team of advisors, coaches and recruiters is unparalleled in the executive search industry. They will show you how to weave your unique value story together in all the right places – including your resume, LinkedIn profile, networking efforts, and interview – to connect with target companies in an irresistible way.

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Saundra Botts

Saundra Botts

Saundra is known for “opening doors” and has also facilitated Job Search and Transition Workshops for universities, FENG (Financial Executive Networking Group), and various executive leadership groups. Her depth of experience includes has over 15 years in Retained Search and contingency placement within corporate accounting and finance sector with First Call Search, Dubin & Lee and WinterWyman Search. Saundra has consulted with clients, ranging from start-ups to multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. She has worked with $12 billion companies building accounting and finance teams, succession planning, and hiring, as well as filling key positions at many medium-sized, publicly-traded companies; non-profits; and universities in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles.

Saundra provides strategic guidance and coaching to help ExecuNet members land their next opportunity. This includes uncovering their unique personal value proposition and defining competitive differentiators to advance their careers. This also includes providing detailed feedback for improving a member’s personal marketing collateral—well beyond their résumé.

Saundra Botts is an ex-Headhunter turned executive candidate advocate who shares the behind-the-scenes truths on how executives really get their next job. Mrs. Botts has recruited through three recessions and has researched and documented why some people remain in demand, despite the economic climate, and others are not. In 2008, during an economic downturn, she noticed that executives get hired for different reasons than the other 97% of the org chart and began to educate her executive clientele to get them working again quickly.

After working for the top search firm in Boston, WinterWyman Search, and running her own Retained Search Agency, Saundra decided to take the inside information she’d acquired and use it to help executive professionals, most of whom are embarking of their first-ever job search, understand the differences in job search strategy when you make over $200K annually to avoid wasting time, avoid exploiting valuable network connections, and land their ideal role.

Saundra’s passion is to open doors and educate, to help everyone make the career of their dreams a reality.

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