Catch the hiring bubble before it pops

The holidays are now over. You’ve eaten the special foods, gained a few pounds and had some fun. Now is the time to get serious about your executive job search.

The “hiring bubble” usually lasts from about the 15th of January until the 15th of April. In 2010, I see it as being quite a bit shorter, perhaps only a month or six weeks. If you wasted December on the holidays, you have some rapid catching up to do. Remember the things you said you’d do “after the first.” Well, get cracking.

1). No mistakes on your résumé. Résumés, at the executive level, are not terribly important. But at some point you’re going to need one. One typographical error can cost you a job. Have three or four good proofreaders go through your résumé with a fine-toothed comb and point out typos, incorrect dates and so on. Most employers see a mistake on the résumé as a sign of carelessness in one’s work….not exactly the impression you want to convey.

2). Prepare a good bio. A brief bio is now much more common than a résumé. Unfortunately, most people try to make their bios a “mini-résumé,” which is not a bio. A bio should hit the high points without a great deal of detail as to when, where or how. A bio that is more than two or three (fairly short) paragraphs long is too long.

3). Get yourself networked, however you can. Call everyone you know and begin to set up coffees. If you don’t have a good network, now is not the time to start building one. Buy one that is ready made. Executive Transition Coaches often have good networks that they share with their clients. There are numerous organizations that have ready-made networks available. Don’t be “cheap” on this. If you want to find an executive job, buy the best network you are able. Expect to spend some real money. It will save you, however, tens of thousands of dollars in lost work time.

4). Get some new clothes and other things for interviewing. There are lots of post-holiday sales going on right now. This is the perfect time to look at your interviewing wardrobe and make it work.

5). Prepare your stories. Know your best accomplishments, and prepare a way to tell employers about them in under two minutes each. You must show how you are different from the other 50 candidates they just interviewed. Make your accomplishments clear and easy to grasp.

6). Do your research. Get out there and find out which companies may be hiring, but don’t stop there. Most of my clients wind up employed at a company where there are no openings.

7). Don’t “shotgun” what you want. Those who have a concise and clear explanation of what they’re looking for get lots of help. Those who are trying to cover everything that is “out there” just to get a job don’t get much help. Choose the one thing that you mostly are known for, and prepare to let others know about that, not everything you’ve ever done.

8). Prepare to talk about numbers of all kinds. Many employers want everything “quantified.” In other words, they want you to say how much, how high, to what extent, etc. It is much more effective to say that your idea saved the company $2.3M than to say that you saved the company “millions.” Be specific. If you don’t know for a fact, make a good general guess. If you can’t quantify it, then it is hooey, so far as most employers are concerned.

9). Understand that your skills are not going to get you a job. Many people probably have equivalent, or even better, skills. Be prepared to show the potential employer personal qualities that set you apart, and make you the better candidate.

10). Make each interview count. You only get one chance. Get help if you need it to keep from blowing it. There aren’t lots of interviews available now.

Get moving now on these important items. Time moves rapidly. Make each day count towards your goals in 2010.

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