I’m sure you’ve heard about the public relations challenge recently faced by Skip the Dishes, the successful food delivery company based in Winnipeg. It was reported that a young applicant was turned down for a second interview because she asked a question about compensation and benefits. The remarks made by the human resource manager suggested that talking about compensation so early in the recruitment process was deemed inappropriate and thus the candidacy opportunity was halted. Now of course, since the candidate posted her dilemma on the internet, Skip the Dishes is scrambling to recover its tarnished public image.
As an executive search professional, I am always looking to meet young up-and-coming professionals who are seeking that top job. Many only see the fame and fortune they think will accompany the promotion rather than the hard work that goes with it.
Congratulations, you’ve now been appointed CEO of a growing enterprise! You are anxious to get started and you have the energy to change the world. Well…..put the brakes on that! This is where new CEO’s often cause problems for themselves. They carry this “change the world” thought too far and try to do too much too soon.
It’s not good news to start the New Year, 2017 but unfortunately, research is continuing to show that candidates recruited for an executive level role for an organization are failing at rates anywhere from 30-40% after only 18 months on the job. Of those who stay on the job, at least 50% are struggling. So, what’s the problem?
Congratulations, you’ve completed a thorough executive search and made the decision to promote an internal candidate! The individual has been groomed for years and was seen as the best candidate overall. The individual had all the qualifications you are looking for and you’re therefore confident they can take the assigned business unit to the next level.
As someone who glimpses rather sparingly into all the rhetoric being spun throughout the American Presidential elections, two issues stand out for me as attention getting. The first issue is the proliferation of miscommunication being literally thrown out in the campaign. Half-truths, misinformation, sound bites with no substance and a twisting of words and phrases that shape the messages. It seems to be a race to see who can “best” the other candidate with the most untruths.
As an executive search professional, one of the key high profile concerns in the current US Presidential election is the issue of personal character. While I lament the unfortunate focus on distributing disparaging remarks about each candidates’ character, I have to admit that character is indeed an essential component of a successful leader. What do I mean by character?
It is now well known that executive search consultants aren’t the only ones using the internet to do their searching and online assessment strategies. Job search candidates are using the internet too.
One of the key success factors that I pay attention to when conducting an executive search is that of corporate culture. Why? Because without cultural fit, your new candidate will ultimately fail. In fact, studies show that a senior executive who does not fit well with the organization culture will typically leave on their own and/or be transitioned out within eighteen months. As you can expect, this departure will come with a cost, anywhere between three and five time’s salary.
One high profile incident regarding candidate recruitment and selection has popped up on our radar lately. More specifically, an internet technology specialist and newly nominated election candidate was forced to bow out of the campaign because of his less-than-desirable profile on the internet. Although several years old, his words continue to suggest a hatred for women and they have definitely come back to haunt him. Like lightning, he was struck down instantly. His future political job opportunity is now gone forever.
It has often been said that in today’s world, the only job security you have is your skillset. While I agree with that statement, I also tell my executive candidates that job security also means keeping their professional network alive and well. That’s because the network is an information pipeline, it’s how people build relationships outside of work. It keeps you in touch with what is going on in a variety of industry sectors. It’s a clear route to competitive intelligence where you can learn about new opportunities.
A recent Harvard Business Review study indicated that 46% of new hires failed in the first 18 months of their new work and only approximately 20% percent achieved full success in their jobs. The key reason for failure was found to be poor interpersonal skills.
Have you ever experienced a time when your selection committee had difficulty getting past a certain bias they were experiencing in their decision making? It certainly makes for interesting discussion. Part of the challenge is that we are all graduates of our personal experience which we then internalize and establish emotional views of how life should unfold. These so called “assumptions” are very difficult to remove and so we are challenged to move forward.
A PriceWaterHouseCoopers global HR survey identified that several key organizational issues must be addressed by any senior leaders in order for future success to occur. These included namely, change management, leadership development and organizational effectiveness. What does this survey say about the competencies required by future executive leaders? What sets an exemplary leader apart?
I’m often called upon to recruit a new CEO for an organization that’s been struggling with major challenges over a number of years. When the challenges result from a difficult economic or market situation, the new CEO will need to focus on process, production and productivity. However, when the abrupt departure of a former CEO triggers an executive search, then the new incoming CEO can expect to face both technical as well as much more complex people problems.
As we all know, small businesses face a number of challenges not experienced by larger firms. One of the most pressing challenges is that of succession planning, especially when no internal candidate is readily available. Unfortunately, what I sometimes see is a business owner staying at the helm of their business until their health begins to suffer. When that happens, the health of business also begins to suffer, often resulting in a good, viable business being destroyed by lack of planning.
Are you frustrated with your recruitment results? Have you had a rash of unqualified applicants and/or a candidate turn down your salary? When was the last time you conducted indepth reference checking inclusive of educational credentials, personal credit, and/or driver’s convictions? And what about your interview team….are they using best practice interview strategies that are legally compliance with provincial legislation? Do you even know what legislation protects your potential candidates? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is time to conduct an indepth audit of your recruitment and selection process.
Technology is a wonderful tool. For instance, today, almost every person has some sort of technology gimmick in their right hand while organizations, businesses and/or not for profits have their own websites and landing pages. They also often have a Facebook page where news and events are regularly posted in order to keep clients and/or customers up to date.
In my view, there are two colliding trends in today’s business world that we need to start paying attention to. First, we know that the pool of younger, highly qualified and experienced candidates for succession to senior leadership positions is continuing to shrink. And secondly, we know that the average median age for retirement is now 63.3 years. Thus, with the number of individuals’ right on this age cusp, businesses are at risk of losing a lot of intellectual capital. We need do to something to keep these experienced senior professionals just a little bit longer while at the same time, developing younger professionals.
Alright, so you’ve finished your advanced degree, perhaps an MBA, but there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for promotion in your organization. Then again, where will you get the work related experience that could be leveraged to attain a new job role in another organization? Don’t despair – take a harder look within your organization!
I am sure by now you’ve heard that Black Friday, a US phenomenon that’s usually celebrated the Friday following Thanksgiving Day is being pushed forward by one week. This forward push is being initiated by Amazon.com which is aggressively offering huge discounts and sales on their online products in the hope they can cash in on the upcoming Christmas shopping season. The frenzy will certainly be quickly followed by the major brick and mortar retail stores who will have to scramble to catch up.
Although we appear to be far away from any potential of encountering the Ebola virus, after reading and hearing the daily news, I can easily envision the heightened fear that’s beginning to occur amongst workers. Not only are general citizens becoming ill, doctors, nurses and other health care workers are also becoming patients with a number of them passing away from the disease.
Most marketing professionals as well as corporate leaders understand how a poor online reputation can damage their company’s sales. In fact, a poor online reputation can drive customers away thus causing a loss in sales. It can prevent you from hiring top talent and it can turn away investors. Marketing professionals also know that it is very expensive and very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify a bad online reputation after the damage is done. Therefore, most leaders today are paying a lot more attention to this issue and in fact, monitor and aggressively manage their online presence.
What’s your opinion about people who are always late versus early for work? How do you value a college diploma versus a university degree? Why do you so dislike carrots versus broccoli as a favourite food? And why did you go ahead and purchase a white coloured Nissan car versus blue coloured car from a competitor? Believe it or not, your answers will be influenced by attitude. In fact, all of your beliefs and your behavior reflects your attitude. Yet, most of us don’t think very much about what exactly attitude is and how we acquire it. Nor do we think about how our attitude influences how we think, believe and act. But attitude does indeed influence us and it is visible for all to see.
The stock markets might be soaring as both Canadian and American economies recover; however, the turnover rates among chief executive officers’ are also continuing to soar. In fact, according to a recent poll, executive turnover jumped to 32.3%, the highest in several years. I agree that some turnover is due to retirements, but others are due to resignations.
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, the latest Gallop survey research and polling company indicates that today’s organizations are continuing to fail at the remarkable rate of 82% of the time in hiring the right talent for their organization. People still seem to be hired and promoted for their technical talent rather than leadership talent.
If you are taking any notice, you’ll quickly agree that the so called “Millennial” generation (1978 – 1995) will be forming the majority of the workforce by the year 2020. And, with this in mind, it is easy to envision how this millennial generation of employees will influence the way we work and operate in the workplace. Not only that, Millennials are already being perceived as a group that may well be more demanding with respect to rewards and recognition.
I’ve recently seen two articles discussing the concerns of mature workers and the fear that they are losing job opportunities due to age. As we all know, employers cannot discriminate against a candidate based on age. However, some people choose to believe their feedback the candidate is over qualified, or exceeds the salary budget is really disguised discrimination. As an executive search consultant with over thirty years’ experience, I guarantee this is not the case. It truly is an issue of cultural fit, over qualification and salary budget.
Go beyond first impressions when hiring executives
Have you ever been discouraged and dismayed when you found that someone whom you hired was not who you thought they were? Where did you go wrong? Was the problem a set of poor interview questions? Did you misinterpret the candidate’s responses? Or, were your interviewers not effectively trained?
7 tips to get you through
When an executive candidate passes through the different stages of the executive search process, you can be pretty well guarantee they are superior performers. And so, as you would expect, candidates who are not successful want some sort of feedback as to why they were not the successful candidate. As a search professional, I feel it’s my responsibility to provide honest feedback in a number of areas including the look and feel of the resume as well as performance in the final client interviews.
It isn’t often that I reach out to say thank you to someone who’s made a fool of himself. But today, I have to thank Rob Ford, current mayor of Toronto for doing just that. Mayor Ford’s behavior over the past year may have some people thinking that he is a good example of how high profile leadership can take over someone’s psyche and create a totally different person.
Just as online dating has rocketed to popularity for individuals, so has the use of social media by corporations who now use this tool to recruit new candidates. It’s been reported that 94% of recruiters in every industry sector is using and/or planning to use social media for recruitment. And, just as with online dating, online recruitment has created a multimillion dollar industry with an ever increasing number of social recruiting platforms and more recently the use of mobile devices. The growth has been so dramatic that newspaper and magazine editors alike are trembling in fear over the loss of print media job advertisements. In fact, print media now only accounts for approximately 20% of all job ads.
More jobs opportunities, more demand for talented employees
The great news just before Christmas vacation was that Canada’s economy produced an average of 13,400 new jobs every month and approximately 22,000 jobs in November, 2013 alone. As well, the unemployment rate held steady for a third month in a row. What does this mean for candidate job search and candidate availability? For one thing, it means that the competition for good candidates will be heating up in 2014.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year! I hope you are using some of your festive time to network and socialize. Yet, at the same time, I know that many senior management professionals don’t consider networking to be very important to their career. Instead, they become so absorbed in their current job that they neglect the friendships they’ve already made and/or could be making in the community.
You’ve probably heard the often spoken lament that qualified candidates are hard to find for a number of our industry sectors. Yet, this notion seems so contradictory particularly because we know there are still a large number of people actively in the job market. At the same time, we see employers aggressively utilizing social media to attract their candidates, many times without success. So, why does this situation exist and how can Legacy Bowes help?
While many urban businesses and organizations are experiencing difficulty attracting qualified candidates, organizations in rural and northern more isolated communities have an even greater challenge. Location! Whereas marketing guru’s shout out “location, location, and location” as the key message to attract business, location isn’t the winning formula when undertaking an executive search for a more isolated community. In fact, location can be very much of a detriment that could slow down a candidate search and frustrate the best of selection committee.
While the latest September 2013 employment statistics show a slight dip in the unemployment rate and a small increase in newly created jobs, the challenge inhouse corporate recruiters are having is that we are now facing a "candidate-driven" market especially when searching for highly qualified, senior professionals. Why do I make this comment and just what are the signals that we are experiencing a candidate driven market?
See how the LBG Executive Search process changes the odds
As can be expected, there's usually great excitement in the air when a senior executive starts their new job. In fact, anticipation flows out from all sides of the organization chart. Employees on hand are anxious to learn more about their new boss. The new boss is busy exploring his/her new environment by comparing and contrasting their interview discussion with the real life picture they're finding.
Are your social media channels limiting your career opportunities?
While social media and the internet have been a boon for businesses marketing to a wider audience and/or friends and families wishing to stay in touch, the same can't be said for candidates in the job hunting mode. In fact, a recent survey suggests that social media isn't doing candidates any favours at all. However, that's not because of technical glitches, a lack of sites (there are 75+) or the expense of posting a resume. Rather, it's the result of the actual content candidates post on their personal sites.
If I asked an employer to describe their ideal CEO candidate, they will typically refer to their technical skills rather than any personal attributes. Yet, success at the CEO level requires a good balance of personal as well as professional characteristics.
No matter what industry sector, we all know there's a general growing trend toward protecting the environment and recycling. And it's not just about saving the planet; it's about reusing and taking advantage of products that still have value. This phenomenon has also been a long standing tradition in the area of second hand clothing stores or consignment shops. Plus, everyone knows Manitoba is the greatest place for that summer garage or yard sale.
Creativity and creative thinking includes being imaginative, being able to generate multiple innovative ideas and being able to move quickly between fact, fiction and fantasy. Leaders and employees are confronted with work that is more complex and more challenging and where solutions may have national and/or global impact. International competitiveness requires that organizations, outthink, out-innovate and outperform in all areas in order to be successful. This requires significant creativity on the part of employees in order to introduce novel approaches but it must also be supported by a culture of innovation within the organization.
Planning an effective succession strategy
The mass exodus of baby boomers has been on the minds of business leaders for quite some time. While the exodus hasn't happened as quickly as first thought, the transition is indeed beginning to make its mark. The situation as it's now developing will create a significant dilemma for all types of corporations and organizations in general.
The last three weeks of news has been rather interesting, in particular because of the enormous focus on the shenanigans of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Watching his fall from grace and his anticipated departure from his role has almost become the viewers’ obsession. Some say it’s better than those weekly television survival dramas.
The list of executive fiascoes this past month such as Senator Duffy's $90,000 expense run-in with government auditors and Toronto Mayor Ford's alleged crack cocaine video reminded me of an earlier "avoid at all cost" behaviour list referred to as executive derailers. The term "derailers" refers to a set of inappropriate leadership behaviours and leadership styles that will ultimately result in a leader's demise.
As an executive search professional, I can suggest quite strongly that there is a growing skills gap at the management and executive levels. In fact, a recent survey indicated that in spite of an increase in the number of applications per job, it remains a challenge to identify a suitable candidate. So, what are corporations looking for today? What seems to be missing?
There are a couple of old familiar sayings that summarize some of our communication, recruitment and selection challenges in the workplace. The first is, "you hear what you want to hear" and secondly we often realize that people have a "tendency to oversell their abilities." All my years of experience allow me to corroborate these statements, as I have seen both of these communication translations create problems in the workplace following a candidate search.
It's been some time since I've written about the importance of assisting your new leaders to integrate into your organization. This is so critical that if specific strategies are not employed, your new employee could fail within the first ninety days. That's because if they don't quickly gain the trust of employees and key stakeholders, it will be difficult to make changes and drive the business forward.
Five years ago, the Human Capital Institute collaborated with the large consulting firm Hewitt Human Capital Consulting and published the results of a comprehensive leadership survey entitled, the State of Talent Management, Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Opportunities. The study revealed five looming workforce challenges, including the attraction and retention of skilled professionals, developing manager capability, retaining high performers, developing succession pool depth and addressing management and leadership talent.
The past several years have seen an explosion of online assessment and psychometric tools that are designed to assess external candidates for entry into established companies. These have proven to be very powerful and accurate tools to predict employee performance as they identify strengths, areas of challenge, cultural fit and personality traits.
The importance of intuition in decision making
Let's face it; we all know that business operations require accurate accounting and numerical statements of fact. Accounting...that old, enduring historical system of checklists and rules that allows business leaders to review their current situation and predict the future. However, as business moved into the 21st century, it has come to be recognized that financial facts aren't the be-all and end-all. Many business decisions require a balance of head and heart. By this I mean that leaders need to assess their intuition, their "gut feeling," and wrap these feelings around their facts in order to make a final decision.
Businesses can be impacted by many circumstances. Often these circumstances are from external forces at play that need to be understood. Recently, while working with a client we discussed a number of challenges that the company was experiencing. We talked for some time about external events that the company was aware of but could not control.
Have you ever been discouraged and dismayed when you found that a recent hire was not who you thought they were? Where did you go wrong? Was the problem a set of poor interview questions? Did you misinterpret the candidate’s responses? Were your interviewers not effectively trained?
Life and business never forge ahead in a straight line. They evolve naturally. In nature, seemingly random things happen that shape the very fabric of existence. This happens in business too. Businesses tend to operate as self-organizing systems and their natural evolution often leads organizations in the right direction. Embracing this natural progression is referred to as an organic approach to strategic planning.
Have you ever experienced a situation where you were confident that a promotion was yours, only to learn that someone else was the successful candidate? You felt slighted, angry, confused and downright dumbfounded. Why were you not successful? After all, you’ve been a success junkie all your life! In fact, you’ve had a straight upward track to senior leadership throughout your career.
Your business should operate like a fine-tuned machine, like a slick piece of technology. Consider that statement and its ramifications. What if your people were all rowing in the same direction, in tune and with clear focus? That is where the Alignment Model of Strategic Planning is used.
If you’re a seasoned executive, being on the other side of an interview table as a job candidate can be quite the awkward experience. First of all, it’s been years since you’ve had to look for a new job. Odds are that businesses have been trying to find you, not the other way around.
There is a lot going on in your organization, all sorts of things that you need to wrap your head around. The challenge is that you first need to truly understand the issues and determine how to address them.
Strategic planning is an exercise in gathering and documenting information about the past, present and future of your business. Strategic planning helps determine where you want to go over the next few years, how you are going to get there and how to recognize when you’ve arrived.
Recruiters and organizations alike are more and more frequently turning to online computerized assessments to help identify the strengths and areas of challenge for their potential new employees.
To achieve a balanced business perspective consider using a Balanced Scorecard as part of your strategic planning initiative. A Balanced Scorecard is an approach that is used to align your business to the vision, mission, core values and strategy of the organization. The emphasis is to turn strategy into forward thinking actions that the senior team can implement against key performance indicators. To embark on a Balanced Scorecard, the company must have a mission and vision and know their financials, the present business structure and levels of employee expertise. They must also have extensive knowledge regarding customer satisfaction levels.
As a leading executive search consultant, believe me, I’m the first to advise candidates to toot their own horn and brag about their work accomplishments. That being said, there is self-promotion and then there is overly-aggressive self-promotion! And I can guarantee this: those self-promoters who exaggerate and/or significantly overstate their abilities in job interviews will soon find themselves in trouble and probably back out on the street looking for a new job.
Have you ever wondered what the future will look like? Three, five or ten years from now where will you, your business or your career be? If you have ever asked that question then your mind is telling you it is time to create a Vision of Success.
When speaking to clients about their recruitment challenges, they typically mention their lack of ability to find the right candidate for their job roles in a timely manner. Many clients post a job only to find a low number and/or low quality of candidates applying for the position.
Other clients have found that candidates have deliberately used the potential new company as a bartering chip to increase their salary with their current employer. Still, other clients may recruit a candidate only to find that they resign during the first year of employment due to a mismatch with the corporate culture.
Wouldn’t you like to create a sure bet? Most people would. Just imagine you buy a lottery ticket and win 1000 times the initial investment. Everyone would like to create a sure bet.
For some years now businesses have been placing a great deal of focus on developing their “brand” or corporate image. This is in recognition that people carefully consider an organization’s public image when choosing whether or not to apply for job postings.
Have you ever wondered what CEOs really want? What does a CEO expect from his/her organization, its senior team and the individual players? Generally it can be summed up in two words: creative alignment.
Survey after survey is showing that employee retention is a growing human resource concern for today’s businesses and not-for-profit organizations. In fact, some surveys are showing that over 50% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs and have placed themselves back into the job market. While one might think this is good news for recruiters and employers engaged in a candidate search, it also suggests that attention needs to be paid to those work elements that will not only attract new employees but will help to keep them.
When you consider the different personality types, learning styles and backgrounds that make up any workplace, it becomes clear that offices are true modern-day melting pots. This is not new. What is new is that all of these very different people are now working side-by-side, rather than being generationally segregated. This creates tension.
When it comes to people discussing the current job market, I can’t help but feel that April Fool’s Day is dragging on a bit too long. But who needs practical jokes when it comes to jobs and careers? Not me and not you! So… what’s happening? What are we to believe?
Are there job opportunities out there or not?
Creating an Execution Culture is all about getting things done through people. In order to do that, you need to get your senior team on the same page in their thinking about management vs. leadership and how it relates to empowering people to get things done.
Have you ever been discouraged and dismayed when you found that recent hires were not who you thought they were? Where did you go wrong? Was the problem a set of poor interview questions? Did you misinterpret the candidate’s responses? Or, were your interviewers not effectively trained?
The answer to these questions is probably no.
Recruiting highly talented employees has become more than an art, it has now become a science. And taking a scientific approach means utilizing a number of strong measureable recruitment and selection strategies in order to attract candidates to your organization. Years ago, behavioural descriptive interviewing was introduced and has proven to be remarkably successful in helping organizations select the best candidate with the right fit. The science has grown exponentially since then and there are now several more-effective recruitment and selection strategies that are far more advanced than simply asking the right questions.
When asked to create a list of innovative people, who comes to mind? Maybe Einstein, Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Spielberg or Hanks. Innovators are people with the creative ability to come up with and act on something new. When it comes to those in charge of businesses and organizations, there are five different types of innovative personalities that tend to end up at the top.
Have you ever been in a position where a recently hired candidate leaves before the probation period has lapsed? Or, on the other hand, have you been shocked at the unexpected resignation of a long term and valued employee? If so, have you ever stopped to ask your departing employee the reason why and analyze the response?
Many senior leaders don’t understand the unique impact that people bring to teams and organizations. That’s unfortunate. People drive discussions and create change based on their natural tendencies, personal style, skills, experience, beliefs, values and attitudes.
The business world remains abuzz with the trials and tribulations of the “war on talent”. There has been a shortage of workers in multiple industry sectors for some time now and, with baby boomers moving faster toward retirement than ever before, fear surrounding the war on talent is building to a frenzy.
Over the next 10 years, 200,000 small business owners in Canada alone will turn 65 and want to retire. This number does not include their employees, mid to large businesses, corporations and public organizations. When you add all of those together this clearly becomes a critical issue with major impacts and ramifications.
As our workforce changes and becomes more diverse, the general thinking on talent and people resources is changing as well. While senior employees and managers are still essential to organizational success, there is now wide-spread recognition that improved performance depends on the acquisition, development, engagement and deployment of new talent.
Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, the day when loved ones share their appreciation for each other through gifts, cards, flowers, special meals and pretty poems. In other words, it’s “feedback” time for relationships. Typically, however, this celebration doesn’t ever get down to the nitty gritty of relationships... in other words, the strengths and areas of challenge for each individual. In fact, often those special strengths that attracted the couple in the first place result in problems later in life.
Being a Chief Executive Officer or any senior executive leader in today’s economy is very difficult. Leaders must demonstrate an effective combination of the so called “hard and soft” skills. In other words, leaders are expected to take responsibility, aggressively pursue business, be flexible to market changes and offer significant project leadership strengths. In addition, they must build and lead strong, collaborative teams, be creative and have good listening skills.
There is an old saying that the higher the level of success a candidate achieves in their career, the more difficult it is for organizations to thoroughly assess their skills. Why is that? The answer is this: by the time a manager rises to a senior executive position, they are typically very good communicators. Good communicators are skilled at telling a stories, selling themselves and, on occasion, embellishing their skills. It’s just what they do.
Decision-making errors exist within all levels of organizations. Some common examples include:
2011 was an interesting year for a wide range of industries across Manitoba. Our business leaders and professionals have provided a reasonably healthy report card and rarely has there been a discouraging word spoken about our economy. In short, we have done well.
As a professional accountant and an executive search professional, I find it strange that organizations undergo their annual financial audit without a thought, yet rarely do they engage in an audit of their human resource practices and, in particular, their recruitment and selection processes.
7 planning steps to achieve measurable resultsBusiness leaders need to ensure that planning and implementation is focused. A well thought-out planning and implementation approach considers linking strategy, tactics and operational needs. It includes considerations for key business impact zones (productivity, tools, people and culture) and the outcomes required for solutions to business problems.
The recent news report of 61,000 new Canadian jobs created in September is rather encouraging, particularly since most offered full-time employment. Additionally, business leaders are also starting to experience more of the baby boomer drift into retirement. As a result, many senior level positions are becoming vacant which provides new opportunities for potential candidates.
Of course, as with most opportunities, there is a catch! In this instance, the catch relates to the fact that most senior level managers and executives have little experience marketing their skills and/or being on the candidate side of the interview table. In other words, these senior leaders are simply not as well-prepared for that all important candidate interview. In fact, many senior level leaders take themselves for granted and do not do a good job of identifying or confirming the very skills they do have.
Whether or not you are “headhunted” for an upcoming opportunity or you are seeking a new role on your own, you need to adopt several key candidate preparation strategies in order to ensure your success. After years of experience as a search professional, I can offer the following advice:
Document your history – reflect on your career progression and identify industries, roles and accomplishments. Next, stand back and review your career path and determine what experiences you may be seeking with the next job. Typically, people feel an underlying sense of discomfort and restlessness when they get to the stage of looking for a new opportunity. Identify what this discomfort is and “name” it.
Research industry sectors – most senior level skillsets are transferable to other industry sectors. Determine which sectors you have an affinity for and would be comfortable in. Identify several companies within each sector and conduct further research in order to develop some priorities.
Compile data on selected firms – search the internet, business information news as well as your own personal network. Find out more about a potential employer’s business cycle, sales and market strategies as well as their strength of leadership. Identify the rationale for their change and determine if there might be a fit for you. Continue to pursue your information gathering on and offline.
Consolidate your skills – each senior level manager/executive has a number of key skills, so it can be difficult to describe these in a brief interview. Consolidate your skills into three to four themes and subsets of skills. Create a statement or “elevator speech” that you can use for introductions and those “tell us about yourself” type questions.
Prepare for behavioural interview questions – most interviewers are now asking for very specific examples of how you carried out your work. Be sure to identify issues and challenges, your role, what you did to overcome these challenges and the results. Create at least three examples for every skill so that you always appear “polished” and ready with an indepth response.
Understand and define your personal character – good interviewers today are going beyond examining intellectual and emotional intelligence and are now focusing on identifying personal character. Character is defined as the attitudes, beliefs and commitments that impact how you carry out your personal and professional life. For instance, what are your personal values and how do you apply these to work? Are you the same person inside and out?
Define success – there are many definitions of success such as fame, prosperity, power, control, prestige and/or title and recognition. What is your definition of success and what role does this play in your personal and professional goals? How does your definition of success motivate you and what is the relationship to your potential new job. Be sure to prepare yourself to address this issue in the interview.
As a senior leader, you’ve been involved in many, many interviews from the employer side of the table. However, when it’s your turn to shine as a candidate and put the “shoe on the other foot”, you’ll find the experience to be quite demanding. As a senior executive search professional, my expectations are high, so be prepared.
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