Six Critical Steps to Market Yourself in an Ultra-Competitive Job Market

By Rick Cassidy

If you’re re-entering the job market following an extended tenure with one company, you likely already know that the norms around job seeking aren’t what they were 5, 10 or 20 years ago. Marketing yourself to executive recruiters requires a strong commitment to personal branding, particularly in the highly competitive C-Suite space where the number of qualified applicants far exceeds available opportunities.

Talent marketing today requires a focused, multifaceted approach that harnesses technologies, taps into existing and prospective contacts, and is built around your personal brand. Executive job-seekers should take the following six steps to differentiate themselves from other job seekers.

1. Develop a Comprehensive Job Search Plan

In today’s competitive job market and with the impact from COVID 19, you should have a well-developed, thought out and comprehensive Job Search or Talent Marketing Plan. Create a comprehensive job search plan to identify and clarify your career goals. Develop an actionable list that highlights potential employers and set aside a few hours each day to focus on personal branding and research.

Additionally, you should tap your network contacts and industry influencers to access unadvertised positions. Consider whether you are open to non-traditional employment terms, such as freelance, contract or project-based positions.

Our recruiting firm has developed a comprehensive Career Search and Talent Marketing Program that allows executives to take control of their search. Sky Search Partners asks each job seeker to list four to six factors that are important to them in finding the right company and position. These factors could include but are not limited to company location, culture, company size, or industry. This is then force ranked by our search consultants into a list of the top 25 companies that align with the noted criteria.

Ask our team how they can assist you with either of these processes and programs.

2. Craft an ATS-Friendly Resume

Applicant tracking systems, or ATS, are widely utilized by executive recruiters and hiring managers to track and filter applicants. Also referred to as resume-scanning software or screening algorithms, an ATS can weed out unqualified job seekers, identify those who apply for multiple roles at the same organization, and fast-track the best candidates.

Create an ATS-friendly resume by focusing on keywords and phrases related to EACH position. Include terms that are listed in the job posting, and when applicable, add specific certifications and educational qualifications. Spell out any abbreviations, and use the .docx file format unless otherwise specified.

Resumes for executives and high-performance professionals are critical to getting past the ATS and baseline recruiter screens. Resumes should be limited to two pages under most circumstances, even for senior executives with extensive experience. For some professions where publishing and writing is a mainstay such as physicians, some clinicians and researchers, you’ll want to share this important information too. Our suggestion is to share this through an exhibit or attachment to a well-crafted resume.

Resumes should be formatted in a highly strategic and easy-to-read manner where key skills, experience, qualifications, and accomplishments are highlighted in a modern-day formatted resume. Our search firm sees hundreds to thousands of resumes each month. On average, more than 90% of resumes we see need editing and/or formatting work and even major re-writes. Our firm offers a resume service in which we can help candidates with their resume needs, whether it be a clean-up of your existing resume with our Revamp package or a major overhaul with the Re-Engineer service. You can find more information about our Resume Service as well as our package offerings on our website.

3. Focus on Personal Branding

To stand out in a tight labor market, you will need to find ways to differentiate yourself from your competition.

Identify the experiences, skills and personal traits that set you apart from others who have comparable educational credentials. Recruiters are always searching for that elusive ‘purple squirrel’ — the candidate who has the right combination of knowledge, salary expectations, career goals and qualifications.

Focus on developing your own personal brand by highlighting your unique qualities when marketing yourself to talent marketing agencies, recruiters and professional contacts.

4. Don’t Underestimate Your Resume, Bio and LinkedIn Profile

After crafting your resume and determining your personal brand, be sure to update your LinkedIn profile to align with both. With approximately 575 million members worldwide and 260 million monthly active users, Microsoft’s LinkedIn is by far the largest and most relevant professional networking site. More than 90% of talent marketing companies and independent recruiters report using LinkedIn to find candidates, making establishing and maintaining a strong LinkedIn profile a critical step in your executive job search.

It is important to always keep your profile up to date. Not only does this increase your odds of being noticed by a recruiter, but it also ensures your information is ready to go when an opportunity is posted.

5. Leverage Social Media Channels

Additional social media channels can be powerful tools in your search for a new position, but only if you take the time to establish and maintain a professional online presence.

Start by identifying the most-used social media platforms used in your industry by researching potential employers. Establish profiles on each of your target platforms using your real name and a professional head shot. Consider creating a centralized hub, such as your LinkedIn profile or a personal website that links to these platforms.

Create lists of companies you are following on social media and set up automated alerts to track posts from organizations you want to work with. Look for ways to participate in online conversations that highlight your skills while positioning yourself as a subject matter expert (SME).

6. Hone Your Interview Skills

While all the above steps might get you in the door, you should not overlook the importance of the interview.

Executive-level interviewers are looking for clear proof that you have the skills and knowledge listed in your resume, along with verification that your leadership style matches the corporate culture. Be ready to provide an in-depth overview of your leadership philosophy backed with real-world examples of how you have navigated past challenges.

Consider hiring a HR professional to help you hone your interview skills and walk through several practice interviews. A talent marketing firm can work with you to fine-tune soft skills such as body language, voice tone and cadence, and even your handshake to make the most of your interview.

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About Sky Search Partners

Rick Cassidy, Sky Search Partners president, founded the firm for one primary reason: We love putting people to work. Sky Search Partners has developed a rigorous platform for engaging, researching, and connecting with the most successful executive talent. The firm executes with a laser focus on to identify candidates precisely aligned to search specifications. A proven formula of integrity and “people first” enables it to build trusted relationships with organizations and top-tier talent across key disciplines, job titles, national markets, and industry classes. This enables client organizations to create their “dream team,” especially in highly competitive environments where results are imperative.

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