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3 ways to get and keep an executive recruiter’s attention!

Mark Toscano is retained by clients to find C-suite executives. When he and I started following each other on LinkedIn, we recognized we shared common beliefs about how to market executives for their next role.

I sat down with him to learn more about how he screens candidates for executive leadership roles. His answers will shine a light on any executive job search!

When Mark is recruiting, he might come up with a list of 10-15 candidates and then present five candidates to the client. He’ll write up reasons why the client should look at these chosen candidates. His client will choose their top three choices using his summary, your resume and your interview to make their final decision.

We’ll get to his top three suggestions for executives in a minute, but for now, let’s look at some areas where executive job seekers need improvement.

3 ways your résumé will end up at the bottom of the pile.

I asked Mark to explain what he sees candidates do that weakens their candidacy for C-suite roles. He included things like – difficulty scheduling a meeting, unable to answer questions about ‘how’ they achieved things and career gaps that don’t make sense.

🚩Difficulty scheduling a meeting:

If, after multiple attempts to meet a candidate can’t make commit to any of the suggested meeting times. If they’re unable to find 30 minutes to meet with him this indicates the candidate is not serious about the role.

🚩Unable to demonstrate “how” you achieved something:

Another sign of a weak offering is when an executive is unable to qualify “how” they did something. “I think some of the misplaced frustration of job seekers is when they can’t articulate the value they have to offer…” What executives who get it wrong are doing – is sending in generic resumes, then thinking that Mark will do the work to figure out where they belong. But that’s not Mark’s job, it’s theirs (often with the help of a career professional.)

Failing to demonstrate how you achieved success and the skills you used (think: strategy, decision-making, influence) make it difficult for Mark to know whether it was you and your leadership, or something else that contributed to this achievement.

🚩Career Gaps (It’s not what you think)

Mark says it’s OK if sometimes people make a mistake in their career and wind up in the wrong job or the wrong company. What he wants to see is that they progressed quickly through that stage and that they are prepared to talk about lessons learned. “There is high turnover within leadership roles in my industry, so there aren’t a lot of long tenures; when talking with recruiters have a great reason for leaving.”

“At some level, these executives have stopped asking for help…when you’re applying for specific, senior executive roles you need documents that jump off my desk.”

Mark admits most executives get it wrong when they lack focus on:

  1. a) what they bring to the table – their value proposition and
  2. b) the stories that go with that.

3 things executives do well in their job search

Establish a well-defined value proposition.

“Once you have held leadership positions, you bring something unique or special to the role. That should jump off the page [of your resume].”

Articulate accomplishments and how they relate to the job.

  • How did your actions bring value to the team/company?

For example, if you’re VP of X, describe the size and scope of the work you’ve done. Give us context:

  • Did you manage a team? What size?
  • Indicate the extent of your responsibilities.
  • Did you save the company 15 %/year on a million-dollar budget?

If you don’t know how to do this on your own. Get the help you need. Mark reminds people, “There are executive resume writers and career professionals out there who can help and that everyone at this level has great stories to share. You need help getting your career documents packaged and presented in a way that makes it easy for me to ‘see’ the connection [between you, your skills and the role I’m looking to fill.]”

Describe, clearly and easily, what they did is repeatable.

Let’s say, at your last job you increased employee morale and that led to improved sales. How did you do that?

  • Incentivize your team?
  • Automate a process?
  • Implement a new strategy?
  • Design a customized program?

How did you do, what you did?

Draw a direct line between your achievement and your strategy/vision.

Make it easy for Mark or any recruiter to understand your process.

I went on to ask Mark “When you screen resumes, what grabs your attention?” and he was very clear about how he assesses candidates’ resumes:

“It depends on the client.

When the client has rigid criteria, I look for specific titles.

When clients are more flexible, I assess bullet points describing what they’ve done. This allows for candidates who don’t yet have the experience to demonstrate their capabilities.”

𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸 𝗮𝗱𝗺𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗳𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝗰𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗶𝘁 𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗿𝗼𝗹𝗲.

“The best candidates:

1️⃣ Know themselves.

2️⃣ Demonstrate what they did for others.

3️⃣ Make it easy for me to see how they’ll come to do the same in this role.

When you’ve told me what value you bring and I don’t have to go looking for it [that makes you stand out.]”

Executive job seekers who focus their efforts on demonstrating value and telling great stories aligned to the open role, make it easy for recruiters to see the connection between their skills. Invest the time and effort to define your value proposition, articulate your results and demonstrate how you plan to repeat them.

Related Categories: Advice, Featured, Working with Recruiters

About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.

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