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Winning The Executive Search Game In 2015

The New Year is upon us and many of you may be taking stock of your professional journey vis-à-vis your long-term career objectives. Perhaps you are thinking about what lies ahead and considering a move.

If you have accumulated sufficient years of industry experience and have all the relevant qualifications and credentials, you may even be wondering why headhunters aren’t beating a path to your door.

Here are two possible reasons why headhunters may not be calling you.

1. You aren’t on LinkedIn
To most of us, this seems like a given. But there are actually individuals out there who do not have a LinkedIn account or may have an account but are not active on it.

These days, recruitment consultants and headhunters and increasingly using this professional social media platform to find the talent that their clients need. This is especially so in the executive search arena.

Having a proactively managed LinkedIn account will give you a better standing in the eyes of headhunters. Not only can you list all of your credentials and achievements to impress recruiters and your would-be employers but your peers and ex-colleagues can also leave testimonials endorsing your skills and recommending you as a great candidate.

I suggest you go one step further and join the discussion groups related to your industry. Regular participation in such professional discussions allows you to showcase your expertise and position yourself as a thought leader in your field. More significantly, it will raise your prominence amongst the community of professionals and in turn, boost your chances of getting noticed by headhunters.

2. You lack professional visibility
The first point above talked about visibility in the online space. Similarly, you may also be lacking visibility in the public domain.

Many headhunters focused on executive search often look to periodicals like trade magazines and journals to see who are the stars in a given industry. If you don’t show up in these publications, you may lose out in terms of not being considered by the headhunter because they do not even know you exist!

Consider writing an article and sending it in to one of these trade magazines to get published. Choose a topic that is directly related to your work and share your insights with the readers in your professional circle. You will be viewed as a thought leader and authority of the subject matter and this will go a long way towards helping you build a strong reputation within your industry.

We recommend that you also make time to network. Attend networking and other functions organised by business associations related to your trade. You could even volunteer to serve on the committee of these organisations.

Finally, seek out opportunities to speak at industry events as it is guaranteed to raise your profile amongst the right audience. Such speaking engagements are not reserved for business owners. If you are at executive level and feel that you have something to contribute, most business associations will be happy to have an experienced professional run a talk that adds value to their members.

By increasing your visibility in these ways, you will be expanding your network and building your contact base, making it more likely for you to get headhunted.

Upholding a good reputation
Getting on executive search consultants’ radar is one thing. The next step is to ensure that your actions, behaviour and results do not impede your chances of being successfully headhunted for the job.

These days, it is very common for recruiters and employers to check the social media accounts of potential hires as part of the screening process, particularly when it comes to executive search and hiring for senior positions. Like it or not, things you post or share on Facebook, for instance, send a message about your character, values and even morals. For example, do you often complain about your current boss or company or always post status updates that convey a very negative view of the world? Even though you may be great at your job, people are going to judge you based on what they see on your social media accounts. Worse still if you post an extremely politically incorrect or racially charged remark. Your gaffe can go viral within minutes and haunt you for the rest of your life. Remember Anton Casey? His infamous social media blunder spread like wildfire and the online backlash became national news that eventually got him fired from his high-ranking position. So always think twice before clicking that ‘post’ button.

Moving offline and into the ‘real world’, some people leave their previous place of employment on a bad note. If they were fired on the spot for whatever reason, they may curse and swear at their ex-boss. Even if you feel that you were maligned or unfairly treated, you should never exit in such an unprofessional manner. It is unwise to burn bridges with your previous company, boss or colleagues because the industry is so small and news travels fast. Leaving on a bad note not only eliminates your chance of getting a reference or a testimonial but your ex-colleagues will gossip about it and you will get a bad reputation in the industry.

At the end of the day, nothing beats having a solid track record of good performance because results speak for themselves. It is only natural that people in the industry will exchange notes with each other; they talk about who’s a winner, who won projects, and of course, who screwed up. You want to be on the right side of this conversation so make sure you’re creating great results and winning at work. In time, you’ll earn yourself a good reputation that will eventually reach headhunters’ ears.

Heed these points, practice our recommendations and you could be a winner in the executive search game. We’ll see you at the top!