In this time of restructuring, downsizing and double-digit unemployment, it's more important than ever to be ready when a recruiter calls. Being ready means telling a concise and compelling story that demonstrates how your background matches to what the company needs.
Stories should have a beginning, middle and end. Don't highlight something that you started but couldn't finish because you left the company or the project was halted. The most effective stories set up the business problem, discuss the solution and detail the results.
Aside from how you communicate your accomplishments, you have to have the goods. Here's what recruiters are looking for:
Results - We are always drilling down to find out what a candidate has accomplished in each role. Did you move the needle and deliver results? Just as importantly, how did you deliver those results, because the process of how you get things done is just as critical as the results themselves. We come across people who have accomplished great things but have alienated people in the process. Very few organizations want those types. When we interview candidates, we're looking for the specifics about the results they delivered: What was your goal? What were the market conditions? What plan did you put in place and what obstacles did you overcome to get there? And why are those results noteworthy?
Leadership - Companies hire for a specific position, but they are always looking for people who have the potential to advance within the company. Every search assignment we have requires leadership and management skills. Leadership is about creating a vision and management is about how you implement that vision and utilize the people and resources you have. Successful leaders know how to articulate a vision that is both meaningful and inspiring to the people they work with. If you don't demonstrate effective leadership, your career is going to stall.
Career Progression - We ask candidates to explain how each role demonstrates growth in responsibilities. Are you managing a bigger piece of the business than before? If you moved from one international assignment to another, does the new position reflect more responsibility or greater challenges? It's important to always be monitoring your career path to see if you are increasing your responsibilities and tracking towards your ultimate goal.
Broad Experience - The more assignments you have and the more diverse those assignments are, the more valuable you are to a potential employer. You never know when the experience you gained in a particular role can be used to help you solve a problem in a future position. Companies want to know if you have the ability to do more for the organization, beyond your functional area. We had a VP of Marketing interviewing at a Fortune 500 company and the CEO asked him, "Can I move you into supply chain, if I need to?".
International - Companies are more and more focused on growing their international business. There are valuable skills you pick up from an international assignment. One is how you deal with varying resources from country to country? How do you work within various cultures? Companies are always looking for "plug - and - play". If they want international and you have it - it's easier to sell your candidacy.
You never know when that call from a recruiter will come in. Start developing and practicing stories around your experience now. The more details you can provide and the more excited you are about what you accomplished, the more likely you'll get to that all important meeting with the hiring manager.
Fred & Gladys
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success
Follow Fred Whelan and Gladys Stone on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WhelanStone