In recent years, certain problematic trends have emerged among C-level executives searching for new positions. These issues stem from a few fundamental issues. First, these individuals often stay in jobs for long periods of time, and thus have very little experience searching for jobs despite the high levels of success that they have obtained. The other major problem arises when C-level executives begin thinking of themselves as singular, unique candidates. This frame of mind can lead to situations in which job seekers feel like they do not need to sell themselves. In today’s competitive market, however, no candidate should take anything for granted, especially a new job.
Here are a handful of the most egregious errors that C-level executives make during a job search:
- Thinking that the process is about them, not the company.
When C-level executives approach the job search process as something that revolves around them rather than about the companies they want to work for, they typically enter job interviews with the wrong attitude. Candidates should expect to respond to inquiries rather than get questions answered. Interviews are a chance for the company and the candidate to each get a sense of what the other has to offer. The experience should be equally balanced between both parties, if not skewed toward the company, especially during the first interview.
In the earliest stages of the interview process, all candidates, including C-level executives, are sellers, not buyers. Candidates must convey why they are a good candidate for the job before judging whether the company is a good personal fit for them. Asking too many questions early in the interview process can give the impression that they candidate is not really interested in the position or is not sold on working for the company. In these cases, interviewers may be left wondering why the candidate showed up to the interview at all.
- Lacking humility.
People who rise to C-level positions have proven themselves in a number of ways over the years. Although interviewers know what candidates have accomplished, they still expect candidates to display a degree of humility. When C-level executives walk into the job search believing that they will be sought after by companies, they set themselves up for failure. A lack of humility can lead to talking down to people or not conducting the basic pre-interview research. This approach will not impress people looking for new executives.
However, when a C-level candidate enters an interview with an affable, humble attitude, they can build quick relationships with interviewers and show how they are willing to work as a team player for the company. A self-centered approach makes interviewers question whether the candidate will fit in with others at the company.
Humility is also important when using executive search firms. While these firms can offer great feedback about resumes and offer advice on selling oneself in an interview, their advice is useless to candidates who think they don’t need job search coaching. C-level executives have a lot of skills, but recruiters deal with the job market around the clock. When these professionals make suggestions about interview conduct, responses to common questions, or resumes, they are calling upon true expertise, and C-level candidates should respect their opinions.
- Failing to build relationships.
Many C-level executives approach the job search like a transaction instead of an opportunity to build connections with companies and recruiters. By viewing the job search as an opportunity to develop strong professional relationships, job candidates can call upon a number of different sources when they enter the job search. However, candidates who don’t treat others with respect may find themselves with shockingly few options. People have good memories, not to mention databases, that remind them of someone who was not courteous in the past. This type of memory can make them less willing to offer help, or worse, lead them actively spread the word about your negative qualities.
Actions can have resounding effects. Great relationships with recruiters and companies are sort of like insurance. Should something unforeseen happen, these individuals have the connections needed to get someone into suitable positions quickly. When these individuals know the person well and consider them kind, they have more motivation to make phone calls and set up interviews. In addition, they will have more enthusiasm for helping with interview preparation and resume writing.