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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Job Search Strategies for Mid-Career Transitions

Are you getting ready to launch an executive job search for the first time in more than 10 years?

If you’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy a long, consistent career with the same company, an unexpected thrust into unemployment or a career transition can cause some panic.Even if you’re Internet savvy, it can be easy to get lost in a maze of job boards and company databases without a clear direction. It’s important to note that while it’s critical to engage in online job search activities, it should only be a portion of your strategic plan. Here are several strategies that you can engage in right now to re–brand yourself, revive your network, and reposition your experience for top–paying career opportunities.

Know Where You Want To Go. Before burying yourself in a frenzy of resume and cover letter drafts, determine your target. Do you want to stay in the same field, are you using this opportunity to pursue your dream job or are you only interested in a lateral move until retirement? Maximize resources like hoovers.com, wetfeet.com, and vault.com to find critical insider information on companies in your target industries.

Promote Your Personal Brand. Your job search is not worth the effort unless you have clearly identified your personal brand (or unique value proposition) for potential employers. You must be able to articulate why a company should hire you and highlight the consistent theme of achievements from your overall career. Are you the cost savings guru, have you been repeatedly called upon to lead high–profile initiatives or can you be classified as the turnaround agent?For example, a manufacturing executive’s personal brand could be focused on his use of cutting–edge technologies to increase productivity.

Produce an Achievement–Driven Resume. Your executive resume should be a strategic career marketing document not a career obituary. Focus on relevant content supported by career–defining, “WOW” achievements throughout the resume. Use the Situation–Task–Action–Results formula to develop achievement statements.

For example: Situation: Synthesized finance and operations departments following the merger of two manufacturing companies. Task: Eliminated duplication of resources, increased operational efficiency, work productivity and results. Action: Developed a short–term strategy and execution plan by developing a team of key representatives for technology, finance, and operations divisions. Results: Reduced company’s overhead costs by $5 million in six months and improved efficiency 25%. Achievement statement for resume: Shrunk annual overhead costs by $5 million in six months by assembling a core operations team that further eliminated duplication of resources and increased operational efficiency by 25%.Aim to have at least five achievements for each position listed on your resume. Develop a Brand–Focused Portfolio. In order to generate success in today’s job market, you have to go beyond a standard executive resume. Invest in an entire portfolio of career marketing documents including a networking resume, career biography, leadership profile, and cover letters for both employers and recruiters. The networking resume works well for quick introductions to executive recruiters and personal contacts and the leadership profile is a powerful leave–behind document for interviews. Rehearse a Memorable 30–Second Commercial. Once you get to the networking phase of your job search, you need to display confidence in your verbal presentation. Build upon your personal brand to create a unique, 30 second commercial that speaks volumes about what you can bring to the table.

For example: “Hi, my name is Carl Brown. As an experienced Manufacturing Executive, I have enjoyed a progressive career with top companies like ABC Plastics, Newform Manufacturing, and TechNec Corporation. With a reputation for engaging cutting–edge technologies that help global manufacturing companies achieve aggressive revenue growth and improve operating cost objectives, I am seeking new executive opportunities at global companies that would benefit from my strengths in P&L management, product innovation and turnaround operations.” Start Networking. Join professional and industry–related associations, alumni groups, and Chamber of Commerce committees. Identify key industry leaders you want to meet, schedule informational meetings/interviews, and start building your own team of alliances.Don’t forget to use online social networks like LinkedIn.com, E–cademy.com, Zoominfo.com, and Ziggs.com to connect with former associates and friends. These sources can also be used to search for industry experts and top people in your target companies. Use Niche Boards & Specialty Sites. Huge commercial career sites have over hundreds of thousands of candidates in their database and are usually geared for entry–level to mid–management positions. To avoid feeling discouraged and frustrated, subscribe to specialized online job boards that focus on a particular occupation, industry, job function or type of jobseeker like CEO, Sales Executives, or MBAs. Work with Specialty Recruiters. Similar to niche job boards, there are executive recruiters and executive search firms that specialize by industry and job function. Sources like AppolineOnline.com provide online databases for recruiters that may specialize in your area.

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