“I’ll find my next job by applying to an online post.”
This is a common belief among job seekers. Problem is, at the executive level, that’s not really how it works. Should applying to posts be part of your job search strategy? Yes, people can get placed that way, but the odds of getting past the application screening system are small, which is why so many people receive no response. It’s very important not to get drawn in by how easy applying online is. It feels productive to apply online, and once you hit “submit” there’s an instant feeling of hope, that now you have a chance of hearing back with an interview request. That feeling of hope is so alluring, but it’s nothing more than a job search myth. Like the Sirens of Greek mythology, it is nothing more than an attractive, false promise.
Plug your ears to the noise, and focus on what works best.
According to Don Weintraub, Managing Director of ExecuNet’s Career Services Group – that’s where we work with senior executives on identifying their unique value proposition, search strategy, interview preparation, and onboarding effectively – applying to job postings should be the smallest, least focused on component of an executive-level search. Most important is networking. The vast majority of senior-level positions are filled through who-knows-who. Job search efforts are best served by making and developing connections. Unfortunately, too many executives neglect their network until they need a job, and then approach their contacts with an “I need help” message. Much better to always be networking, to routinely help others – when one does that, the network is quite responsive to a call for aid.
After networking, Don advises the bulk of job search efforts be spent on being found. That means having an online presence that draws people in. It also means having personal marketing collateral designed in a way that those looking for talent find you.
That’s not to say job boards have no place in an executive search. There’s nothing wrong with applying to a post; I shared last month that I recently hired an ExecuNet member to an executive position within my company. The best way is to use job boards to provide a glimpse into what the job market looks like at the moment, keeping in mind that the majority of the most senior-level positions are never even posted. By monitoring executive job boards you can see what companies are looking for. You can familiarize yourself with the language they use in their listings, and if you see one that interests you, your best strategy is to find out who the hiring manager is. Tap your network for an introduction, if not to the hiring manager, then to an executive at that company who can get you in front of the right person.
Here’s an excerpt from a recent Master Class panel discussion in which Don and Sam Mehar, ExecuNet’s Director of Executive Branding and Marketing, talk about the challenges of applying online and the dangers of making that a significant component of a senior-level job search. They work with members every day and know what’s working and how to attract attention in today’s job market.
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