A Top Manager Looking for a Job: Eight Mistakes to Avoid

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We'll tell you how to avoid "traps" on the way to the desired offer.

Top manager
Kateryna Osadchuk, CEO of Indigo Tech Recruiters  Kateryna Osadchuk, CEO of Indigo Tech Recruiters 

It would seem that successful top managers are magnets for jobs. It is often the case: new offers arrive while they are still working for the previous company. However, if top-level job-seekers have to find new positions on their own, they risk making lots of mistakes. Let’s take a look at some of them in the article and learn how to avoid these traps on the way to your offer.  

Mistake No. 1: Unclear career path and plans

Your job search has to be conscious. First and foremost, we are talking about top managers since career and reputation stakes are high. When you are looking for a job, you want to think of your experience as a product or service to sell. Moreover, it has to be expensive, and the “buyers” have to be pleasant to deal with, as the deal is most likely long-term. To this end, you want to know exactly who your client is and convey a clear message about what their needs and pain points you can fix. If a potential employer reads your résumé and has a hard time finding something valuable from its perspective, your chances of getting a perfect offer are substantially lower.

Mistake flags:

  • Your desired position is something like this: CEO, COO, CMO, HRD, HR Manager, or Head of Recruitment.
  • Different industries for your growth, e.g., construction, game development, and banking.
  • Your functions for the top position range from choosing chairs for the office to building a long-term business strategy.   

Why it is not OK: 

Managers have to be versatile. But if you have not yet decided on the role and industry, you create the impression that:

  • Your knowledge is superficial, and your management skills need improvement.
  • You do not know exactly which company—by size, industry, development phase, etc.—you can bring value to, and what your expertise is all about. 

How to make it OK: 

  • Audit your experience, strengths, growth points, skills, and knowledge. Set new goals and explore the job market.
  • Understand your target audience. Answer these questions, “In which companies will my experience be the most valuable? Where will I be able to actualize my potential and skills?”
  • Opt for one area (domain) and possibly adjacent areas where you plan to grow.
  • Choose one role and describe it as a key one, leaving the rest as additional roles. Versatile top managers are in demand for small businesses, while major companies tend to require in-depth expertise in one area. But diverse experience is an advantage, as you can interact with other top managers more easily.    

Mistake No. 2: Poor-quality résumé (or no résumé)

From my experience, those who seek top positions often do not have top-level résumés or have none at all. They often do not need them as offers arrive by themselves, and the project portfolio speaks for itself.

Mistake flags: 

  • No résumé, e.g., candidates are sure that they had better tell the employer about themselves during an in-person meeting.
  • Unstructured, not reader-friendly résumés.
  • Not enough information, which makes it difficult to understand what expertise candidates offer.
  • Too much information. Extra details, e.g., first jobs and irrelevant education, make it difficult to find key competencies and experience.
  • Focus on functions, not results.

Why it is not OK:

Résumés help candidates showcase themselves to managers or owners who make hiring decisions. If you have not sent a concise and logically structured résumé before a meeting, it may seem that you:

  • are not responsible when looking for a job
  • cannot make sense of and structure your experience
  • do nothing to let your potential employer comfortably review your profile beforehand

How to make it OK:

  • Take the time to write a structured résumé.
  • The education section has to show relevant courses and programs only. You can briefly indicate what changes you implemented after the training and what results you delivered.
  • Focus on achievements and metrics, not functions. Use figures and facts instead of lengthy descriptions. Example: “Thanks to a change in the marketing strategy, I increased inbound sales by 30% in three months.”
  • If you have significant experience, opt for the most prominent results you delivered, which are relevant to the position you are applying for; otherwise, you will end up with a weighty tome.
  • Tailor your résumé for each job you are applying for, considering the features of the challenges you have to accept. By the way, you can conveniently record your achievements in a notebook or on LinkedIn to keep all-important details.
  • Stay away from the traditional way to enumerate your competencies and qualities. You want to have something like this: “managed a team of 20 specialists” or “led the team working with the Eastern European market.”
  • A top manager’s job is not only about personal achievements, but also about team results. To emphasize your leadership qualities, you want to use different expressions, both “I implemented...” and “The team and I created....”  

Mistake No. 3: Taking a passive position

Headhunters usually look for top managers using messengers to send offers to choose from. But there are a number of factors why this does not always happen, and not all of them are due to the candidate’s qualifications.

Mistake flags:

  • You are sure that your job will find you.
  • Looking for a job in the background. You think that an exciting offer will show up on social media, or your friends will recommend you to someone.
  • You apply for vacancies without any initiative and active searches.

Why it is not OK: 

  • If you settle down for incoming offers only, you may miss out on more exciting opportunities.
  • When the market is in a crisis, companies offer fewer vacancies and thus make you put in more effort to get a job. 

How to make it OK: 

  • Keep in mind that job search is a job as well—do it responsibly.
  • Shortlist the companies you would like to work for.
  • Seek out contacts—in person and on LinkedIn—to learn more about opportunities in these businesses.
  • Consult colleagues and career counselors.
  • Initiate informal meetings with people in the relevant industry.
  • Be more eager to answer messages from recruiters.
  • Be ready to go through interviews, maybe a dozen of them, because a cool job is worth pursuing at any level of the career ladder. 

Mistake No. 4: Betting on networking only

Professional contacts often pave the way to a new company. However, you want to think wider to enjoy more options—even if you are a public person with an established personal brand.

Mistake flags:

  • You are sure that your professional reputation is sufficient to generate a flow of offers.
  • You believe that many superficial contacts equal high-quality networking.

Why it is not OK:

  • Personal referrals are effective, but decent deals may be waiting for you in other sources as well.
  • Reviews are important, but they are subjective. Your colleagues are unlikely to know the details of your specific achievements—and this is what matters in business. 

How to make it OK:

  • Build your network consciously and be ready to benefit each other.
  • Let your network know about what opportunities you are looking for and ask it to let you know about the vacancies that are relevant to you.
  • At the same time, you want to search wider. Headhunters, professional events, and job portals bring exciting vacancies. Even company news about launching new projects or directions can do the same job.  

Mistake No. 5: Your status is “Actively Looking” 

It would seem logical to let the general public know that you are looking for a job. But when it comes to top managers, there is a nuance.

Mistake flags: 

  • Your status in the résumé and on social media is Actively Looking.
  • You have gaps in your experience and do not specify what you were doing during this period. 

Why it is not OK: 

  • Some recruiters have prejudices about top managers looking for a job. It is a common belief that the best candidates do not look for a job; instead, a job looks for them. For that reason, the Actively Looking status can devalue the candidate in the labor market (unfortunately).

How to make it OK: 

  • Leave the last employment open in your résumé.
  • Explain the gaps in your experience, e.g., you underwent training.
  • Avoid using this status on LinkedIn. The flow of offers is likely to be greater.

Mistake No. 6: You are not ready for an interview

Some top managers believe that doing homework, i.e., preparing for an interview, is all about beginners. Actually, the opposite is true—you want to prepare more thoroughly than other candidates for line positions.

Mistake flags:

  • You are sure that the employer—the founder or CEO—will tell you about the company during the interview. 

Why it is not OK: 

  • As a top manager, you have to be super responsible. And a potential employer wants to see it in action right during the first meeting.
  • Employers value your interest and motivation to work for the company. After all, team loyalty and engagement will depend on your mindset. 

How to make it OK: 

  • Read information about the company: the official website, social media accounts, and the mass media.
  • Consider what goals the company pursues and what problems or challenges it has to deal with. Most likely, it is what they will hire you for.
  • Usually, founders, CEOs, or other top managers interview candidates for top positions. Find their profiles on social media and read posts or articles in the mass media. Understand how they think, what they consider a priority in business development, and even what they are passionate about outside of work. This way, it will be easier for you to find a common language with them. Top teams want to have similar goals and values and be on the same wavelength.
  • Make a list of possible questions and answers. It is mostly about purely professional leadership cases. Also, in economically difficult times, candidates for top positions are especially valuable if they have experience in running businesses or directions during crises. Flexibility, openness to new things despite experience and knowledge of how to do it right, and psychological stability (top managers want not only to protect themselves but also to keep the team spirits high under stress) are increasingly important. Moreover, employers are increasingly excited about whether you helped your successor prepare for the role at the previous company.  

Mistake No. 7: Acting like a king during an interview

You do not want to be arrogant, regardless of the position level. 

Mistake flags:

  • You refuse to undergo an interview with a recruiter or HR manager, insisting on meeting right with the owner or CEO.
  • No résumé or poor-quality résumé.
  • Not ready for an interview.
  • Being late or canceling interviews without notice.
  • Showing no interest in a job (“talk me down”).

Why it is not OK: 

  • At modern companies, this behavior goes against the values of equality and trust. For that reason, candidates often get skipped, even if they offer professional achievements, because they won’t fit into the corporate culture. 

How to make it OK:

  • Undergo all selection stages at the company. If the first one is an interview with a recruiter, it is fine.
  • Tailor your résumé to meet the vacancy requirements.
  • Prepare for the interview.
  • Be punctual, interested, and friendly. 

Mistake No. 8: Reluctance to work on your personal brand

Building your reputation in a conscious and planned way keeps you away from a difficult job search. The more you work on your brand, the higher the chances that a new offer will actually knock on your door. 

Mistake flags:

  • You believe that high-quality work equals a good reputation.
  • You make no effort to become visible in the market in your industry. 

Why it is not OK:

  • If you do not elaborate on your expertise and experience, only your colleagues and you know about them. It does not help you look for new opportunities. 

How to make it OK: 

  • Write riveting and meaningful posts about professional topics on social media (most companies monitor candidate profiles).
  • Find a way to write content for the mass media and take the podium at profile events to increase your visibility in the labor market.

Effective top managers are always worth their weight in gold in the labor market. In times of crisis, the demand for their competencies is even higher since managing a team and business requires more skills and effort. If it is time to move on, your top job is already waiting for you, and the price of a successful search is consciousness and persistence.

Info
Author: Катерина Осадчук
1544 Views
Category C-level
09.03.2023
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