Don Straits

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Why Senior Executives in the Job Market Should be Blogging: A Game Changer

Blogging? Nobody has time for that, right? Wrong! Blogging is single-handedly the most effective way to “syndicate” your skills, knowledge, and expertise. As a senior executive, a blog can put you on the fast track to the position you desire. Put yourself into the shoes of a key decision maker....swamped with traditional resumes listing accomplishments and accolades that are questionable at best.  However one candidate has a dynamic, thought-provoking blog that reflects their strategic thinking and proves that they are contemporary leaders within their industry. A blog adds an insurmountable value proposition to set yourself apart from all others. If you think it's a waste of time, one might ask, “How bad do you really want a job?” In this video I discuss the added value that blogs can bring to an executive job search. I would love your feedback on this topic.

Have Severance Package, Will Travel

You've lost your job, but you have received a great severance package, so there is no reason to worry.  You are a talented executive so you will be hired quickly.   But you need a break.  You have put in many years of hard work.  You would like to do some of things you have only dreamed about.  Dedicated family time, adventures around the globe, and just some time to relax.  So you are going to put off looking for a job for several months.  What you may not realize is just how difficult your search will be.  I don't begrudge you that time off, but at lease put in place a few tactics that can help make that time work for you, and give you a head start on your search.  Here are a couple of great ideas.

"I've Never Had To Look For A Job Before" The Challenge for Executives

For decades, many senior executives easily drove their career through advancement and opportunities that were presented to them. Or their network was always able to provide connections. More than ever before executives are finding themselves struggling to secure their next assignment. The “Ole Boy's Network” just isn't what it used to be. Almost a day doesn't go bye that an executive doesn't say to me, “I've never had to look for a job before.” Many executives don't know where to begin and end up making classic mistakes. Here are some guidelines to help executives drive their search.  

Career Management Scams

Unfortunately, there are a number of career management companies and career service organizations that will take advantage of executives seeking new opportunities.  The industry is rife with con artists and scams.  This post will examine various career service options and provide some guidelines on how to select a legitimate service that can be a real asset in driving your search.


1.  Career Management Companies (CMCs):  In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of these companies.  For some reason, which escapes me, the overwhelming number of  CMCs are just plain crooks.  If they would just put in half as much effort in helping execs as they do in trying to scam them, then they could provide a valuable service.  I can probably count on one hand the legitimate CMC's that provide a valuable service.  CMCs charge several thousand dollars, so if you are considering a CMC, be certain to do your due diligence.  Some firms have an exceptional value proposition and can open up many doors of opportunity.  But research these firms carefully to avoid the scams.  Here are some tips in selecting a CMC. 

  • Conduct a Google search on the company, the sales person, and the person that would be your coach.  Be certain to do all three.  Many scam CMCs have multiple company names with common terms in order to hide their presence on the Net.   You will frequently find rip off reports and blogs that talk about these scams.  The sales person and particularly your potential coach should have outstanding credibility on the Net with dozens, if not hundreds, of positive Google hits including articles, awards, videos, press interviews, and other accolades.  If they don't have this credibility, then how could they do a good job of driving your search and leveraging social media?

  • Ask for client references.  If they refuse, then don't walk away, RUN.  Many CMCs will refuse references with the excuse that they are protecting the confidentiality of their clients.  Ask yourself this question:   If a CMC did a good job for you, wouldn't you be willing to provide a reference?  

  • Ask for recruiter references.  If a CMC is going to represent you in your search, then they should have several recruiters they work with.  If they can't produce them, then RUN.

  • Review examples of the resumes they develop.  Again, if the refuse, then run away.  You need to understand what your marketing materials will look like, how they will differentiate you in the marketplace, and how they establish your value proposition.


2.  Job Boards.  Caution.  Many of the job boards over promise and under deliver.  Again, do a Google search on these job boards and look for scam reports and blog posts on their services.  Are the jobs they list current?  Are they exclusive?   Are they legitimately at the compensation level that was promised?   The cost is usually nominal, but the jobs they post can generate thousands of responses.  So you are like a needle in a haystack.  Many of these firms are now  offering resume writing services as well.  Here is another red flag.  The sales person is paid on commission, so regardless of how good your resume is, he/she will find something wrong with it As a heads up, one of the most popular job boards,  The Ladders, was sued for misrepresentation and fraud on March 11, 2013


3.  Outplacement Firms.  While the majority of these firms are honest, their focus is usually on support for the job seeker, rather than as a marketing service.  They provide search strategies, career advice, and resume guidance.  In only rare circumstances will they actually write your resume for you.  Don't rely on them to find you a job, but they can provide valuable resources.


4.  Resume Writers.   An invaluable service as long as you find the right one.  So many executives, even those who are good writers, often cannot adequately develop their own credentials.  I actually have a name for the inability of executives to define or articulate their own experiences.  I call it the "Leadership Performance Syndrome".  In some ways the syndrome is analogous to the saying:  "He who serves as their own attorney has a fool for a client."  When evaluating a resume writing service, insist on seeing samples.  You should also ask if the writer is certified by a recognized industry trade association.  The certification is not a guarantee, but it should be one of several criteria in your evaluation.  Also do a Google search on the writer.  If they do not have a strong presence on the Net, then you should be very cautious


5.  Career Counselors and/or Coaches.  Typically they charge by the hour with a focus on helping executives select the right industry, or perhaps, transition to a new industry or functional area.  They often make extensive use of testing.  In some cases they also serve as resume writers.  They will provide strategy in areas including search techniques, networking, interviewing, and salary negotiations.  Once again, as with all of the above services, if you find the right person, the service can be invaluable.  Always due your due diligence.


6.  Executive Recruiters:  Contingency and Retained.  A recruiter never charges a fee to the job seeker.  If someone represents that they are a recruiter and wants to charge you a fee, then they are misrepresenting themselves. You should run away as fast as you can.  A contingency recruiter is only paid by the organization when they make the placement.  A retained recruiter is paid in advance by the organization to exclusively conduct the search.  On a rare occasion, a recruiter might help market an executive if they believe the candidate is unique and might help them secure a contingency fee.  If a recruiter indicates they will help you drive your search, don't sit back and wait for the calls to come in.  They are simply saying that if they secure an opportunity that matches your background, then they will contact you.  I know countless stories of recruiters who get "hate mail" from job seekers because the recruiter didn't find a job for them.  Recruiters are engaged by companies, not by job seekers.


Finding a new opportunity in today's marketplace is an extraordinary challenge.  Using a career service can be a valuable tool in your search, but like any other business service, you should always do your due diligence.  


I would love to hear your stories or comments on your experience with any of the above career service options.   


YOU'RE FIRED! How to Avoid Being Canned!

The job market for executives is extrordinarily challenging, and in my humble opinion depending on the impact of the sequester, it will get even tougher. There will be fewer positions available and many execs currently employed will lose their jobs. So, what can you do to secure your position? Typically the answer does not lie within your skillset, but rather within your attitude. Lets take a look at what you can do to be a survivor. Your first challenge will be to look at the two images in the beginning of the video and identify which image most closely represents you. Be honest. Don't rely on wishful thinking. Come to grips with reality. I would love your comments.  

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