Optimize your job search strategies to generate as many interviews as possible. A balanced plan is the best way to achieve the best results.


Strategies for Responding to Openings

Most estimates place the advertised portion of the six-figure job market at a small fraction of the positions which are filled. The more attractive advertised jobs attract several hundred qualified responses. Ads that attract over 1,000 candidates are not unusual. This clearly makes responding to published openings the most competitive area you can tackle.

To make things worse, many executives answer ads without giving any strategic thought to how to gain a competitive advantage. They also use resumes that are average in appearance, disclose far too many liabilities and fail to highlight why the person can fill the position. Rarely interesting or imaginative, they are simply lost among the overwhelming numbers of other candidates.

So with this in mind, what is our best advice here? For most executives, we recommend that time spent in responding to openings should be given 10 percent of your total job search effort. Given the comprehensive nature of our website, try to respond to a maximum number of openings when you are in the market.

Obviously, this means you should respond to positions which sound on target for you. However, our experience has proven that responding to situations a step above ... and a step below ... can prove worthwhile.

Let's recap what we will do for you. Through our website you will be able to instantly access openings in newspapers, trade magazines, job banks and employer websites in any part of the nation. These segments of the published job market are highly competitive.

For a small percentage of people, the key to success when responding to openings is to use letters alone, rather than a cover letter with a resume. As previously mentioned, since employers receive so many resumes, they tend to start by screening out non- qualifiers. So, if you don't fit what is being asked for ... consider responding with a stand-alone letter.

Your cover letters should be targeted to meet the requirements of the job. Also, whatever your basis for selecting a situation, in your letter let the employer know just why you selected it. Give a specific reason.

Here's a sample: "I recently read a great article about your firm," or "Your industry has always fascinated me," or "In a similar job I not only got results, but I also came in far ahead of schedule."

Here are some guidelines for expanding the opportunities at your fingertips. A firm that advertises a job for a CFO might be willing to hire an executive who could start as a VP and move up within a year. After all, it isn't so much the title being sought as the skills and talent. That's an example of downgrading a situation.

By the same token, a company advertising for a Plant Manager might be persuaded to hire a VP of Manufacturing, if convinced that such a move would provide added capabilities. That's an example of upgrading a situation. Openings in one area can also be used as signals for executive openings in other areas of the firm. For instance, if you see a firm hiring a lot of salespeople, that's almost a sure indicator that they are also hiring executives in several other areas.

By the way, many firms ask you to submit your earnings. At higher levels, you get better results if you indicate a range or objective, rather than stating your earnings. This subject is better dealt with in interviews.

There is no question that executive openings are more commonly being found on the Internet. However, the number is still relatively small in terms of the total number of executive job seekers out there. At the current time, Internet recruiting sites are primarily impacting contingency recruiting firms that operate at middle income levels. They are not yet a threat to the higher end of the executive search industry, but that may change.

Recently, we did a one-time survey of the Job Banks to which we connect our clients. This is exclusive of openings an executive might find in what we refer to as the direct-to-employer market ... postings by employers on their own home pages. Here are the numbers of openings we found:

  • Chief Executive Officer- 9,688
  • President / COO- 1,874
  • Vice President / Senior VP- 15,600
  • Executive Openings- 20,000+
  • Director Level (above Manager)- 20,000+

This still represents a small percentage of the job market. It is also extremely competitive, so superior written credentials are obviously required. Growth over the next few years will determine just how large this marketplace will become.

Answering the Perfect Opening

Did you ever see an opening and feel "that describes me exactly"? When you find these situations, you want to be sure to respond by sending a tailored letter that is carefully targeted at the requirements for success in the position. Then, if you have not heard anything after two weeks, you should follow up. Consider using e-mail followed up with a hard copy resume. Employers give a big edge to people who really want to be with their firm.

You may also wish to try some innovative approaches. Try getting added information beyond what was in the ad, then target a decision maker by name, and use this information in your response. It can be developed by reviewing web home pages, product literature, annual reports or newspaper articles. Demonstrating industry knowledge works better than anything else.

Also, wherever possible, try to use letters rather than resumes. Because employers receive so many resumes, they start by screening out non-qualifiers and, because resumes provide more facts, they can work against you if you don't come close to meeting the specifications.

Privacy Issues and the Internet

The number of resumes posted on the Internet is forecast at 20 million in 2003, with rapid growth in the years thereafter. This is an enormous development with vast implications for the hiring process. Unfortunately, many executives reveal details in their materials — seemingly insignificant — which they later regret.

This is especially troublesome because of resume scanning and key word retrieval processes. Once scanned, your resume may be available historically to subscribers of e'cruiting services for decades. This is one more reason why we prepare our clients' resumes with such precise attention to detail.

To give you an example of how certain firms work, it is easiest to look at a leader in the job boards market. They place major advertising geared to getting professionals and executives to register with them by posting their resume. A significant portion of their revenues are then derived from selling annual access to employers and recruiters. For a subscription fee of approximately ,000, user organizations can then search to fill their situations by key words that may appear in a candidate's resume.

For example, Coca Cola might search resumes on Monster.com by the key word "Pepsi, Pepsi-Cola or PepsiCo." Finding professionals seeking new positions who have experience with a major competitor is one of the best applications of the Monster.com recruiting service.

One of your concerns relates to who might be viewing your resume. These services have been growing rapidly, and certain executives have had their resume exposed to casual friends, former subordinates and others ... and been caught totally by surprise.

Now, most employers wish to search current resumes ... resumes recently posted by candidates who are actively seeking new positions.

However, the fact remains that these services often archive all resumes but allow them to be retrieved at any time. For example, you might post a resume now, find a new job, and decide to look again in five years. The resume you draft at that time might best serve you if you put an entirely different slant on your earlier experience. However, employers and recruiters may still have access to your former resume.

How Some of Our Clients View Responding to Jobs on the Internet

"I had used the Internet for two months and was quite frustrated. Finding executive openings was tedious. One of the biggest values your service brings is your website. You put everything useful on the net in one place, without the 99 percent that isn't useful to executives. Your site was easy to use and I responded regularly to many situations without wasting a lot of time. Several developed into viable opportunities. I accepted an SVP Finance position in Indiana."

"I am a manufacturing executive. As you know, there is a lot written about using the Internet to find a job. But the fact remains that without your website, it is cumbersome, difficult to navigate, and hard to find openings that are appropriate to answer. Your website did help me a lot, but what really made the difference was your approach to resumes and what you taught me about maximizing my use of this medium. It was very revealing. I think that's the key."

"Balancing your campaign with actions in every channel is the right approach. Your website made the Internet much easier to use, but this is a very competitive way to search. I answered a lot of openings. Only four worthwhile situations materialized. My advice to your future clients, be prepared to be extremely aggressive, and respond to a lot of situations."

"Searching for executive openings on the Internet is a long shot. What your website did was make it a lot easier, by bringing everything to one place. But even then, for me, as a Sr. Merchandise Manager, there was relatively little. For executives in more popular occupations like sales, marketing, finance, operations, etc., what you have done is excellent. You can find a lot of situations in mainstream fields."

"Quite frankly, I was surprised to find the number of openings that I did. I was a candidate for jobs at about 150K, either as a Sr. Controller in large service firms or as a CFO in smaller organizations. Over the course of my search I was called in for six openings that I found through your website. One of them turned into a very good position which I accepted. I had even more activity through networking and direct mail, but nothing really good came through."

"My only reason for searching was to consider positions that were a step up from a very happy situation I had with General Mills. The search took longer than expected because of the economy, but I landed a position as a Division President that looks ideal. The openings through your website were more than I expected, but my position was created through contact I initiated with a growth firm."