How to stand out from the crowd in a competitive field
If you're plunging head-first into the new year, the new decade and the new you with the top priority on your list as 'find a new job', then buckle up, as this head-hunting column is for you.
Alex Aleksandrova has been in the recruiting business for more than 10 years. I had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a meal with her late last year in the Black Sea resort city of Varna, where I was keynote-speaking at a conference.
Her company, the International Executive Search Federation, based in Switzerland, helps multinationals place executives or fill difficult positions all over the world.
If that wasn't enough, she also works with individuals seeking their next career challenge, to change jobs, and/or to relocate.
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"I provide career advice, interview coaching and job searches for those who would like to find a new challenging position, but are currently employed and due to workload, do not have time to search, filter jobs and apply," she explained as we sipped our glasses of wine.
Understanding that Alex has the rare ability to sit simultaneously on both sides of the interview desk, I asked her if she would share her perspectives on what top employers are looking for and what prospective new employees can do to help themselves stand out from the crowd. She graciously agreed.
To follow are her recommendations and my own perspectives on the topics.
I hope this provides you with the tools you need to check that top priority off your list in the first quarter of this year.
The Communicator: What are your top three tips for executives looking to be hired?
Alex: "Constantly build on your professional network; never stop educating yourself; be able to adapt; and don't hop jobs too much."
Technically, that's four, but the first three all incorporate the growth mindset that I'm such a fan of.
Put simply, this is embracing the notion that we are capable of expanding every facet of our lives (not just our waists around holiday time).
Our relationship circles, our minds and our behaviour patterns can all be increased and improved upon.
As for job-hopping, many business experts agree that a resume which shows a consistent pattern of non-contract, full-time jobs lasting under a single year is a bad sign.
If you do take regular contract or campaign work, the duration of those projects may only be for a matter of months. That should be no problem if you ensure your resume explains the situation.
The Communicator: What is the biggest mistake you see job candidates making?
Alex: "Looking for a position when you don't have matching skills. Candidates often make the mistake of applying for roles they imagine they would enjoy, but don't realistically have the suitable experience or personality the company requires."
Additionally, a common mistake I hear is that candidates, who might otherwise be properly qualified, have not done proper research or shown a deep level of interest in the company they're applying for.
The Communicator: How important is a resume/CV these days?
Alex: "A well-structured CV, as well as a perfectly suitable introduction letter, are still very important. It's also important to use the right CV format.
"For example, the famous American 'one-pager' CV is not so welcome in Europe. Managers will look only a couple of seconds through the CV and if they notice important facts are missing, they do not go further.
"The intent of a well-structured CV and letter is to prompt a discovery call or meeting with the hiring person, who becomes eager to find out more about the personality behind the CV; not to retrieve information gaps and missing details."
The Communicator: What would you recommend for someone over 40 looking to change jobs or get back into the marketplace?
Alex: "It is extremely important to keep up with the speed and changes of your profession and business segment, and not to neglect possible activities like education and care of your professional network.
"You must be able to prove that although you've been 'out of the market' for some reason and for some time, you are still aware of the way the field has developed and changed.
"Also, prepare well for the personal interview and be ready to answer such questions."
My favourite suggestion here is the care and feeding of your professional network. It takes effort but can mightily pay off.
The Communicator: Give your final tip for job-seekers based on your years of experience.
Alex: "Everyone must be able to answer these three questions: Who am I? What do I do? What do I want? Answer honestly. After that, you will have the right direction to go in.
"Make time to study what exactly is behind each job description and company. Is it the right position for you?
"Are you going to feel well there? If the answer to one of those questions is no, then this is not the right job for you."
NEXT WEEK ON THE COMMUNICATOR:
How does team management on the field compare with managing teams in the office? A certain top rugby coach gives us answers.
Sunday Indo Business