Senior Level Job Seekers Missing the Mark, Reports Forbes

ForbesAs the baby boomers move out and Gen X and Gen Y begin to step up to the senior position plate, the recruitment industry is experiencing many challenges in relation to this change, reports Forbes.

According to the Career Advisory Board in Chicago, US, search consultants are facing the problem of finding quality candidates to fill their senior positions.

Much of this is due to the lack of appropriate competencies in candidates, but Career Advisory Board member, Alexandra Levit, feels the gap can also be attributed to the inability of candidates to effectively express and demonstrate leadership or executive-level skills in their resumes.

“Senior-level job seekers either don’t have or don’t choose to emphasise these abilities,” says Levit. “Instead, they tend to focus on skills that are considered more important at the junior level, such as having a strong work ethic and self-motivation.”

Why is there such a discrepancy in the resumes of these senior level job seekers? Why are they focusing on junior or mid-level talents, rather than leadership abilities in their applications?

“One reason might be that they are stuck in the old model of assessing how available positions fit their background rather than the other way around,” claims Levit. “And when positioning themselves for new opportunities, nearly 60 percent of seasoned job seekers rely on their own judgment rather than seeking qualified advice from their network and mentors.”

While I agree with what Levit says, I also believe that much of the problem between exceptional resumes and senior level candidates rests in two areas: resume writing and the perceived importance of resumes themselves.

Resume writing expertise, which many candidates feel they possess (but actually don’t) impacts candidate success significantly, especially at the early application stage. As an executive resume writer and search consultant/head hunter, I encounter many candidates, even at the senior level, who feel that their resumes or CVs are relevant, well-written and sufficient enough to drive their job seeking success.

However, upon review, many resumes turn out to be very average (or even poor) and are not at all an accurate reflection of the executive’s talents or of their aptitude to understand how their skills fit into the criteria of the job they are applying for. Lack of detail and vague generalisations are two of the biggest culprits.

The importance of resume applications is also greatly underestimated by some candidates. They either feel that their resumes are adequate (despite being brief or vague) and don’t see a need to expand on achievements or responsibilities; or they don’t believe that resumes are worth investing in at all. The reasons behind this are hard to articulate, but can range from sheer laziness to lack of knowledge to the assumption that employers hire people, not pieces of paper.

Egocentric attitudes can also prevail, with thoughts along the lines of, “if they want to learn more about me, they can ask me.” These approaches are all grave mistakes when it comes to resume writing and often these are the candidates who wonder why recruiters and employers aren’t knocking on their doors and offering them employment.

Levit goes on to report that the most desired skills at the senior level include strategic perspective, global competence, business acumen, cross functionality and the continuing desire to learn and grow, even at the top level.

She also states that senior level job seekers need to work on their team management and master technology and social media to secure a high-powered position in today’s modern economy.

When it comes time to put it all on paper, Levit advises “consulting with networking contacts who currently hold senior management titles” and to “look carefully at job descriptions and brainstorm specific examples of how you’ve performed at least 75 percent of the listed responsibilities in past positions.”

As executive roles become more difficult to obtain for candidates in any country, resumes (and digital tools like LinkedIn Profiles) can only continue to become more significant. Producing poor resumes that fail to expose your skills or undervaluing the importance and weight of an executive resume is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a senior level job seeker.

My advice is to invest in your executive resume today, whether it’s through a professional resume writing service or a dedicated approach to revising your resume for every senior role that you apply for.

kylie hammond

About Kylie Hammond
Executive Search Consultant, Head-Hunter, HR Consultant, Executive Career Coach, Expert Resume Writer & Executive Talent Agent.

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