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« Today's Executive -- Tomorrow's Walmart Greeter | Main | Executives Should Think Like Teenagers to Drive their Careers or Lead Organizations »

EMERGENCY ALERT: Many Executive Careers Will Be Coming to An Abrupt End

WOW, sounds like a hurricane warning.  Maybe a Fox News Alert announcing impending doom.  But trust me, this is real.  I have been in the leadership development arena for 18 years, and I have never seen anything like what is currently going on in the marketplace.

Regardless of your corporate position, whether you are currently a CEO or an emerging executive, you could find yourself without a career if you fail to heed my warning. I realize I have been hammering this in my blog over the past couple of weeks—but it is of such paramount importance I cannot emphasize it enough. I’ll warn you in advance, this is going to be a long post, but it just might save your career from certain peril….now and in the future.

Perhaps this will be perceived as though I have an ulterior motive to sell you our new Catapult Program.  Yes, I would like to do that.  But let’s set that aside for a moment.  There is something else here far more important. I feel a compelling obligation to alert every executive of the challenges looming on the horizon.

Whether you avail yourself of our services or not, you must, repeat MUST, find a way to achieve the goal I stated in the title of this post.  Some of you will be able to achieve that goal on your own. If you’re one of those rare individuals who possesses the right mixture of tech savvy, journalistic prowess and preeminence in your field to make it happen, then my hat goes off to you (I am not one of those people). You’re welcome to skip straight to do the homework at the end this post.

The rest of you, start by reading this article about IBM and ask yourself the following question: Why are you any different then they are?  You should follow their corporate example of building a powerful internet presence for yourself.

Does your brand “permeate” the internet?

The key phrase is “permeates the internet.” In the future, those executives who build a powerful brand that permeates the internet are the ones who will be sought out for leadership roles.  The rest need not apply.

Two weeks ago I had a conversation with a VP of HR of a Fortune 200 company.  We were discussing the explosion of the internet’s ability to identify talent and provide background on that talent.  I indicated that over 90% of the time the corporation screens the internet before selecting or talking to a candidate.  He stopped me in my tracks and said:  “You’re wrong.  It is 100% for our company.”  He indicated they use the Net to not only identify talent, but to find out if they are engaged in their industry or profession.  If they turn up a blank or limited exposure, that person goes to the bottom of the stack.  Only executives whose leadership and vision can be confirmed on the internet are considered for employment!  Unfortunately, many traditional executives between the ages of 45 and 65 don’t understand this.

One of the industries near and dear to me, the recruiting business, is another victim of the internet.  Almost every recruiter, including the best in the nation, have lost half of their business in 2009.  Many firms are doing much worse than that.  Recruiters are actually leaving the industry in droves.  If you need any evidence to these facts, just check out the financials of Heidrick & Struggles, number two recruiter in the world.  In 2009, their business in the U.S. is down by 40%.  While much of this was driven by the recession, there are many other factors at play here.  Recruiting is NOT going to come back to the levels of the past.  Why should a corporation pay huge fees to a recruiter when they can find talent through advanced internet searches?  (That is not a question, it is a declarative statement).  Recruiting will not disappear entirely, but it will only be used in limited circumstances.

Corporations now form internal search teams…even for a CEO search.  Example:  A corporation recently selected three board members for a search team.  The team was given the support of an internet savvy researcher and an administrator.  They gave the researcher all the parameters necessary for the position.  The researcher developed a list of candidates and submitted it to the team.  The team selected the top prospects and the admin coordinated the interviews.  Net result:  they found their CEO.

The above stories are only a fraction of the stories like this I have heard over the past year.  Now they are almost a daily occurrence.

Those who “get it” and those who don’t:

A week ago I had a conversation with an executive who was talking about his search for a new position.  He just landed a job and indicated he wanted to “stay in touch with the power brokers” he had connected with in his search.  He thought about sending them each an email every month or two, or calling them on occasion.  He wanted to preserve the network he created.  I asked what he was going to say to them in his emails or calls.  Dead quiet.  No response.  I suggested a leadership authority blog where he could maintain and build upon his network of power brokers—with powerful blog insights on industry trends and issues.  His comment was “well, I don’t know about blogging.” 

Oh my goodness, I almost don’t know what to say.  He is not digitally savvy.  He didn’t get it.  Through an authority blog he can build a community, enhance his industry recognition, grow his network of power brokers, and be sought out for opportunities for the rest of his career.

Same week I talked to an executive who was very proud that he sent a contemporary article on legislation to a decision maker he just had an interview with.  It was his way to show he was contemporary on the issues.  My suggestion was to link to that article in an authority blog we could develop for him….along with all of his other insights….and send that to his prospective employer.  A light bulb went on over his head.  He got it.

He is now rethinking his entire search strategy and what he is going to do to position himself for future opportunities.

Those who “Don’t get it” in the coming years will not be competitive with executives who are current and contemporary in the marketplace.  You will be perceived as out-of-date and out-of-touch.  Actually you won’t be perceived at all.  No one will be able to find you.  The executives who “get it” will have demonstrated their leadership, vision and expertise across the internet so that they will be sought out.

A new formula for success

There is a new formula for success in the modern day business environment. Here are just a few things that must be done, and I am only scratching the surface. There will be many more blog posts in which we explore this topic.

1. Write articles.  It is less work than you think, and there are many sites eager for article content.

2. Build a successful leadership authority blog.  For those who are blog savvy, there are numerous ways to leverage the content.

3. Give speeches.  Every chance you get—get in front of an audience.  Your authority blog will help you secure many speaking engagements.

4. Join appropriate business networking sites and create a presence there (it is not just Linkedin).  Profiles on multiple key sites impacts SEO and SEM

5. Make yourself available to the press for interviews on your area of expertise.  Simply stated, people who are interviewed are considered authorities and your credibility sky rockets.  There are a few insider tricks to know how to get in front of the press…and no, you do not have to rob a bank.

6. Create a private network of power brokers.  You need to continually build your network, not let it go into decline.  For the digitally savvy exec, it is easy to do.

7. Develop a series of mini-videos on your area of expertise and post them on key video sites (there are many video sites other than YouTube).  Your videos can be used in multiple ways to build credibility, whether you are looking for a job or advancing through a company.  Today it is all about exposure rather than just relying on a recruiter.

Now, doing all the things I suggest in the paragraph above can be a challenge if you’ve never done them before or only have limited experience. Doing some of them is time consuming. Doing them all requires some pretty advanced support infrastructures.

But my question is:  “Do you want to be master of your destiny?”  The answer should be a no-brainer. You should be willing to do whatever is necessary—or as stated in the title of this post, your career will come to a brutal and abrupt end.

Out of all the items I mentioned above, one of the most logistically taxing and tactically subtle is the launch of a leadership authority blog.  You can probably find a 12 year old to set a blog up for you at no cost.  But driving traffic and building community are components that a mere web designer can’t address.

We are experts in doing that.  Below I’ve included three examples of leadership blogs we have just recently developed and launched for our clients. And you know what? By this time, next year their careers will be on a clear trajectory for permanent growth. You can quote me on that.

To be perfectly honest we would like to help you develop yours too.  But if we don’t, that’s cool. By all means, go do it yourself along with the other things we suggest. You will never regret implementing the strategies.

Leadership Authority Blog Examples

Click the image to view each blog.

Just let us know if we can help.

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Reader Comments (2)

I agree with Don, although I still support the use of executive search firms (my line of work). Simply stated, the rules have changed. The companies and candidates who create demand for their services (and re-invent themselves in the process will experience demand for their services and talent.
We must be more efficient, more effective and deliver results that count.

We are also living in a new world of demographics. As the Boomers retire (or are forced out) they will be replaced by Gen X, a smaller group of talent who are very much in demand. They cost less and bring drive and talent. They are also very tech savvy.

The newest group of employees are also just as large, or close to, as the Boomers. While the Gen Y generation will work hard to get those entry level jobs (when they open), they will be in demand, and increasingly so as the economy improves. This generation has grown up in a tech society. They embrace diversity, yet they still need to learn about business. They lack the wisdom and experience and patience.

Each generation will need the other. Let us build bridges of understanding to be of mutual assistance to each other.

October 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn Hazan

Don,
A buddy passed me your article. I had to laugh. Last fall I couldn't wait for Columbus Day to arrive. My 11 year old daughter didn't have school so I asked her if she could build a website for me. Sure enough she did. She said "you know I've done this before".

I did start writing last year and am having fun. I'm a guest blogger occasionally for "Take the Wheel Wednesday" on a relatively new leadership blog for a new colleague of mine.

I'll heed your advice on getting more video out there. Good thing my daughter did a "digital media camp" last summer.

Thanks for the insights. Well done.

Steve

January 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Kovich

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