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My BEST Tips for C-level Executives on Interviewing and Negotiating

executive-interviewInterviewing at the C-level is obviously different than interviewing for other positions. One of the main things to remember as an outsider competing for a spot at the executive table is that in most cases, your audience does not know you yet. You have a very small window of time to do one thing: Win their trust. The tips below were developed to give you a foundation with which to do that.

C-suite interviews should involve a combination of focus on the metric-driven accomplishments you’ve made that align with the responsibilities of the position you are vetting AND demonstrating your leader/mentor qualities. Ultimately, they should be intrigued, impressed, like you, and trust you.

Consider the seven points below foundational to every interview:

  1. Get them to invest their energy in you first. In the beginning of the interview, ask them to help you understand in their words what kind of person they are looking for and a summary of the role. ***Take short notes on what they say. These are your interview talking points. ***
  1. Use broad ranges when discussing salary. For example:

“North of $350K.”

“In the mid-six figures.”

“For the past few years my TOTAL comp has ranged from $1 to $3M.”

Then add, “Since you brought it up, do you mind me asking if you have a budgeted range in mind for this position?”

  1. In tight spots just play it cool. Never let them see you defensive or frustrated. They will take that as an indicator of how you handle stress and judge accordingly. Your calm, cool demeanor will engender their trust. Phrases associated with this include:

“That’s absolutely no problem.”

“I am sure that won’t be an issue.”

“I am confident we can work that out.”

“I can do that – I am not worried about that.”

  1. Answer every third or fourth question with a question of your own. This builds co-communication and trust in you as it demonstrates your leadership. You can segue with:

“Since we are on the subject…”

“Since you brought it up…”

“It is interesting that you say that, because I wanted to ask if…”

  1. Questions you can ask in an interview:

Why is this position open?

Can you describe the qualities and background you believe one will need to possess to perform exceptionally in this role and in the current circumstances?

If I was hired, what would you expect me to accomplish in the first 6 months?

Tell me the best things about your corporate culture that makes this company great?

What motivates your executive team?

How does the company deal with changing priorities?

What are your most pressing issues?

Where do we go from here?

  1. Finish on a positive note. At the end of the interview, say something complimentary from your heart about them – either the company/the product or the service/the culture. Tell them you are excited and want the position, if that is how you feel.
  1. Follow up with a thank-you letter and a page of short third party testimonials. After the interview, send a thank-you letter that identifies a couple of important things you discussed and remind them of a few short results you have achieved that demonstrate your accomplishments are in alignment with their goals. Third party testimonials are extremely important to gaining the trust needed for placement in leadership roles.

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The Executive Bio – A Career Management Essential

A  very interesting and short article on The Executive Biography from BlueSteps. They have a fresh idea: use your bio when networking. I like that idea a lot!

A couple additioexecutive-biography-article-minnal tips:

  • Who else expects to see your biography? Boards and Senior Groups in PE/VC Firms.
  • Please never, ever, ever use an amateur photo in your bio or LI profile. A professional photo with good lighting is the quality level you must stick to. Please, trust me on this one. You deserve to look fantastic and your attention to professional polish will keep your confidence intact!

Read more here:  BlueSteps

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Quick Tips for C-Level Executives on Working with Executive Recruiters

executive-recruitersWorking with executive recruiters is one of the primary ways top executives find their next opportunity. Here are a few tips from the top retained recruiting firms that place senior executives and those seeking BOD positions.

  1. Make sure you match up your skills and industry with their specialty for best results – although many major recruiting firms cover most industries.
  1. Don’t worry about geography. Recruiters are primarily industry specialists and will have clients everywhere.
  1. Send them a great resume in PDF format. They may ask for a word version, or ask you to upload your resume into their database or fill out a form on their website (someone has to do it) as well.
  1. Call. It takes more time to call, but your call will be worth it. Ask the person answering the phone for someone specifically or the recruiter who is in charge of your industry (e.g., the recruiter that specializes in general operations searches, or construction, or healthcare, etc.). Have what you want to say written out. Note that you should call before sending your resume if you are in a confidential or passive search.

If you have not sent your resume:

“Hi, this is ____ and I am a(n) ____. I am calling to introduce myself. I am in a (highly confidential – tell them if you are!) career transition and I wanted to reach out to you personally because I understand that you specialize in my industry.  May I send you my resume? I would welcome a conversation if you feel I am a good match for any of your open searches.”

If you have sent your resume:

“Hi this is ____. I sent my resume in last week and wanted to follow up with a phone call to briefly introduce myself and to find out if you have any open searches in the ____ industry that I might be a good potential candidate for.”

  1. Understand what motivates recruiters to pitch you their best client company job openings.
  • Be the candidate that matches their industry and position hot spot.
  • Have excellent marketing material and learn how to interview so they don’t have to train you.
  • Act professionally on the phone and in person.
  • If you say something that sounds an alarm, the client company will typically tell the recruiter. The recruiter may or may not divulge this to you, because it’s a slippery slope.
  • Rehearse your interviews and understand what the right and wrong things to say are.  Speak to the recruiter professionally; don’t confide, even if pressed or if you are buddies with the recruiter. They are not working for you, they are working for the company.

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The 5 Behaviors That Derail Executive Careers

Very good article from Forbes on behaviors that hinder success. I was surprised. Very insightful 3 minute read.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2016/10/02/the-5-behaviors-that-derail-executive-careers/#4141544848b6

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How Savvy C-Suite Executives Network

If you are a CEO, COO, CMO, CTO, CIO, CRO or CFO 🙂 , and you have been considering a career transition, you may be thinking about ways that you can tap into your network of connections. As a C-level executive you may have a powerful and / or high-profile network that can potentially connect you to the right people and resources to help start conversations. You may also be wondering what the right way to approach your network is – so that you demonstrate you honor the relationship as well as respecting your own reputation, confidentiality, confidence, and leadership approach.

Think about setting the conversation up for success. You want to help them make good decisions and you probably also want to make it easy for them to help you. Here are some tips to facilitate that:

Approach them like the leader you are. Do you get a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think of approaching your network with the question: Do you know of any opportunities, or do you know of anyone who is hiring? Trust that instinct, because at your level, this question has more negative consequences than positive.

Understand marketing numbers and your expectations. Bureau of Labor Statistics states approximately 350k positions over the $250k salary mark are filled every month in the U.S. That is a lot of executive positions; however, banking on one of your colleagues or networking contacts may know of one of these open positions simply isn’t reasonable. The expectation we put on our network when we approach them with this question is really high. It’s a lot of pressure. Its something that may work every once in a while, but it is something I never recommend any of my clients do.

The solution is to approach your network in a way that demonstrates your leadership and control of the situation. Give them the parameters you are looking within and let THEM determine how they might be able to help you – if at all. You may say something like:

John, I wanted to confidentially share with you that I am currently open to vetting COO or VP of Operations positions in Industrial Manufacturing. I am considering companies between $700M and $2B. I am now sharing this with my network.

Ask for an endorsement. Another way of approaching your executive network is to ask for an endorsement:

John, I wanted to confidentially share with you that I am currently open to vetting COO or VP of Operations positions in Industrial Manufacturing. I am considering companies between $700M and $2B. To this end I am updating my marketing collateral and putting together a page of endorsements. Would you consider writing me a one- or two-sentence statement that speaks to my ability in ____?

*You can coach them depending on which skills they can speak to, such as strategic leadership, mergers & acquisitions, operations, restructurings, turnarounds, or process improvements, to name a few.

Minimize your risk. Are you in a secret job search or need to be discerning while tapping into your network? You might add something like this:

John, would you mind keeping this information confidential for the time being? I would hate to upset my team simply by exploring alternatives.

The above approaches are just as much a mindset as they are a strategy, because the processes outlined above puts you in the driver’s seat – which is the best and most natural place for you (a top executive) to be!

 

 

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Corporate Expansions and Plans for Hiring Across the U.S.

Corporate expansions and plans for hiring across the U.S. in multiple industries right now including consumer goods, retail, healthcare and finance. Get the details here: http://leads.careercloud.com/

 

Learn how to tap into the hidden job market and secure multiple high quality interviews here: http://maryelizabethbradford.com/cpss_hidden_job_market.html

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Quick Tip for Top Executives on Executive Resumes

The best executive resume writing tips in one quick, 3-minute video. Mary Elizabeth Bradford, The Career Artisan, addresses the top issue executives encounter when writing their own resume and shares the resume tips she uses in her practice.

quick-tips https://youtu.be/aG55kWqNFbc

Want more information on DIY resumes? Visit Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s Success Store at:  http://www.maryelizabethbradford.com/success-store.php

Interested in having Mary Elizabeth create your resume for you? Visit http://maryelizabethbradford.com to schedule a 15-minute introductory call.

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Hiring Is Up – Job Growth Is Strong per Bureau of Labor Statistics

Here are a few highlights:

  • BLS says hiring is much stronger this quarter than predicted by economists = up 75k jobs for this quarter.
  • June 2016 was strong, with nearly 300,000 new jobs added.
  • Professional and business services saw the greatest job growth; the industry as a whole has added more than half a million jobs over the last year.
  • Health care, financial activities, leisure and hospitality also saw growth, as did government employment.

The full report is here:     http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

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The Uncommon Commodity, The Common Sense Guide for New Managers

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One of my favorite clients just released this wonderful book titled: The Uncommon Commodity, The Common Sense Guide for New Managers. Chock full of great insights and tips! Learn more and grab your copy here:  http://www.amazon.com/Doug-Thorpe/e/B01I7ABQC0/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

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The Best Companies Invest Aggressively in These 3 Areas

Great article for so many of my clients.jun16-30-117087933-1024x576  The points that stuck with me most include:

  • We have never met great leaders who feel they have over-invested in talent.
  • Companies can and should continue to “think big” even as they grow.
  • They’re “spiky” in how they allocate funds and they invest big in three areas:  game-changing capabilities, next-generation leaders, and next generation business models.
  • They use the power of 10X—a willingness to commit 10 times the normal resources—on their critical capabilities.

Read more here.

 

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