positioning is the secret to a successful executive job search outcomeThe Best Executive Job Search Advice You Haven’t Heard Before… are principles originally popularized in 2001 by marketing pros,  Al Ries and Jack Trout in Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind. I started JobWhiz, Executive Talent Agent in 2000 and soon adapted this new positioning concept to formulate executive job search strategy for clients. When coupled with Network Purposefully, this is clearly an outstanding advantage in a crowded field. Positioning is a universal job search accelerator that’s effective across industries and functional roles.

The internet is teeming with job search tips for executives. Almost all good advice boils down to the same five recommendations.

  1. Focus your search. Today’s job market demands expertise and experience
  2. Choose target employers. Don’t spray and pray the resume game.
  3. Customize your resume. Don’t try to appeal to a broad audience, Emphasize specific relevant accomplishments and describe the challenge, your actions and the results you achieved.
  4. Network don’t depend on your resume to open doors. Online applications are usually a waste of time. Devote your efforts to finding an inside contact, usually a current employee, with the intent they will hand-deliver your resume to the hiring authority.
  5. Follow-up periodically to show serious interest and keep your name top-of-mind.

 Question: If these “rules” are the best way to find a new job in today’s environment, wouldn’t deviating from these lessen an individual candidate’s chances for success?

Answer: Each of these techniques is correct. All reflect sound marketing principles for job searching. However, they don’t always produce good new job leads and when they don’t, it takes a fresh angle. 

A very large number of job seekers, including your competition, have access to this advice and use it. All together these techniques are necessary but not enough. Anyone who neglects these techniques is at a disadvantage. However, following all these recommendations will not always make a candidate stand out and draw attention from ultra-busy, risk-averse hiring authorities. That requires a more sophisticated perspective; it requires good positioning. Here’s how to develop that next level of differentiation and energize your campaign. If you need to restart a lackluster search or want to jumpstart your campaign from day one, here’s what to do!

  1. Describe employer situations that produce needs that you can address and resolve. This will include your current and former employers’ competitors. Add companies in other industries that share similar challenges where transferable skills will differentiate you. Pay special attention to industries where there is a talent shortage possessing your skillset. Choosing target companies this way increases the number of potential target employers and prospective career opportunities. This is especially valuable if there is a lot of competition in your niche.
  2. Next, use your findings from above to compose a larger database of target companies that individuals with credentials similar to yours are less likely to put on their target list.
  3. Do not restrict your campaign to advertised openings and recruiter listings. Rather, focus on growing your network among hiring authorities for the job you want (and their connections who can advise and introduce you.) This approach not only will uncover your next job, but establish the right contacts giving you access to information about future opportunities ahead of your competitors.
  4. Identify the hiring authority’s pain points for each item in #1 above. Prepare success stories detailing your accomplishments to show your expertise and establish credibility. Both this technique and an expanded list of target employers prove to prospective employers how you take initiative.
  5. Start using these positioning tips ASAP. Do not spend excessive time refining your list of target companies or rewording your resume. Get to work connecting, promote your knowledge by volunteering to make a presentation, posting comments, giving compliments, etc. Make this an active campaign. The more of the right contacts you have, the more often you have a chance to present your qualifications and show how you think, the more momentum you’ll have propelling you towards more and better new job leads, Many of these with be unadvertised in the hidden job market which is less competitive than the published market. It’s very possible that some opportunities you didn’t know could exist will surface. You could be the only candidate, not just the employer’s first choice!. Be sure to keep your word and follow -up.  

The right positioning is the secret to a better job search outcome. It differentiates you in the job market and plants you on the radar screens of connections as remarkable, talented, and trustworthy, the qualities necessary to differentiate you, establish reliability and credibility, and be regarded as a self-starter!






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