The Five People You Need to Know on LinkedIn for Your Executive Job Search

The Five People You Need to Know on LinkedIn for Your Executive Job Search

There are five people you need to know on LinkedIn to advance your executive job search. These are the people whose insights you will find helpful when you are in the process of exploring new roles, interviewing, and evaluating job offers–but they are not who you think.

1. A Peer in another Industry

Connect with these five people on LinkedIn for your executive job search.

Connect with these five people on LinkedIn for your executive job search.

So often, we connect on LinkedIn with our colleagues in our own company or in companies similar to ours. LinkedIn loves that we are part of a peer group, and the platform judges our relevance by the company we keep. However, as you search for a new role, you should consider exploring outside your company and your industry to learn what others at your level do and believe. At a minimum, you’ll uncover the parallels between your job and your peer’s job. More likely, you will discover the gaps between what you currently do in your job function and what a day in another industry might look like for exactly the job function. This sort of analysis will help you evaluate your own skill set and perhaps help you set your job search strategy if you do not necessarily want to stay in your current industry.

2. A Superior in another Industry

If you have ever wished you had a “fairy godmother” who could advise you on something sensitive yet specifically related to your career, this is your opportunity to find that mentor or trusted advisor. Perhaps an executive in another industry will not know exactly how your particular company or division works, but this person, a trusted expert in his or her own industry, is likely to have some insight into the way things generally work. As you will make it eminently clear in your request for ten minutes of this person’s valuable time that you are not trying to take advantage of their position to get yourself a job in their company. Then, with this ethical approach in mind, you can use this ten minutes of their time to ask the questions that are important to you about your career advancement strategy and get the advice from an impartial observer.

3. A Recruiter Specializing in Your Industry

Although your LinkedIn profile might not advertise that you are seeking a new executive role, perhaps to protect the position you currently have, you might want to connect with a specialized recruiter or two before you go into job search mode fully. First, do some research to identify which recruiters regularly place candidates in your industry and in your job function. Remember, the recruiters who place candidates in your company likely will not try to place you in another company, as this is a breach of ethics. Instead, with some discreet inquiries or even a quick Google search, find the right recruiting firm and the right recruiter within that firm. Then send a brief, polite invitation via LinkedIn to connect with these one or two individuals. Remember, however, that recruiters do not work with you–they work for the companies that pay them their fees for placing executives like yourself with unique and rare skill sets, so you might want to mention in your introductory note exactly what your unique selling proposition is.

4. An Peer in a Company that Interests You

Your first thought in connecting with someone in a company that you are targeting might be the hiring executive himself/herself. Rather than initiating a relationship with a company with an implied request for a position, start by connecting with people at your level. They might have some unique insights into the way the company works, and it is likely easier to make a friend with someone at your own level than with someone who sits at a level far above yours. Down the road, this person might be willing to advocate for you with his or her own manager or the manager of another department simply on the basis of the good relationship you have built over time.

5. The “Connector” in Any Industry

It might help you to get to know with and connect with on LinkedIn a few LinkedIn LIONs, or “connectors.” These are people who seem to know everyone and have connections across industries and companies. They tend to be outgoing and willing to make introductions. It might be wise to set up a few minutes to talk to someone with these qualities, once you have made that connection on LinkedIn, to ask whether this connector knows someone who can help you (you specify the criteria) and would be willing to make an introduction, on LinkedIn, via email, or in person.


Remember, LinkedIn is only the tool. Set up the relationships on LinkedIn long before you need them for your particular executive job search. When you are ready to start looking for a new job actively, these credible connections that you have already established will be extremely helpful and valuable to you.

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Cut the Clutter, and Start Storytelling in Your Executive Resume

Cut the Clutter, and Start Storytelling in Your Executive Resume

The biggest mistake you are making with your executive resume is one you do not even know you are doing. You’re describing your career history. It is true–you are describing your jobs one by one, and you are boring your audience, ensuring that they do not read beyond the first line or two of each position you have held. Read on to learn how to change your executive resume writing strategy by minimizing the space you use to describe your career.

You Are Probably Thinking that This Resume Strategy Sounds Crazy

Tell Stories in Your Executive Resume

Tell Stories in Your Executive Resume

You might be thinking that storytelling is a crazy strategy for your executive resume, but I assure you it is not. The truth is that no hiring executive wants to know what your human resources department thinks your job should be. If you are simply describing your position, you are dulling your top-notch expertise into a simple paragraph and a few bullets that do not do your career justice.

Cut the Clutter, and Start Storytelling

Instead of describing the minutiae of your daily job duties, start telling stories. Your future hiring executive wants to know not what you did, but how you did it. Another way to think of this is that your future hiring executive wants to be able to evaluate your experience in the context of your company and your industry, not in the context of the HR-speak in the company files. If you need a good rule of thumb, the body of your executive resume should be about 30% position description and 70% storytelling.

How to Tell a Great Story in Your Executive Resume in Three Easy Steps

Follow this rubric to tell great stories in your resume. Your resume will be more interesting to start, and your future hiring executive will be able to associate the problems in his or her companies with the types of solutions you are accustomed to driving.

Step 1: Pick a Career Story Topic

Your story topic can be

  • “What was the mess/situation/complexity that you were hired to solve?”
  • “What was the best thing you ever did in your job, the cool outcome that makes you smile every time you recall it?”
  • “What was the worst project you worked on? Why was it awful?”
  • And many more, all related to the types of problems you expect your future hiring executive to be facing (check the job posting if you are not sure what they want!).

Step 2: Tell What You Did to Fix It

In the second step, describe the action(s) you took to resolve the problem. Talk about your team’s contributions, your leadership, the money you invested or saved, and the process you followed to ensure a positive outcome. For example, you might describe how you negotiated a termination clause with a vendor and brought a development team in-house for a particularly thorny project. Or you might describe the way you coached your sales team to increase top-line revenue.

Step 3. Describe the Outcome

In the final step, tell what happened in your company or your industry as a result of your contribution described in step 2. In the examples above, you might describe how bringing your development team in-house sped production 10% and saved the company 16% monthly over the original vendor cost. Or you might indicate that your sales team exceeded quota by 15% for three consecutive quarters and are on track for +18% in the current quarter.

Putting It All Together: The Accomplishment versus the Duty

In conclusion, nobody cares that you were responsible for hiring a development team or for driving sales. At the executive level, these are part and parcel of your job, and talking about them the way your job description reads is frankly boring. If you want to wow your future hiring executive, then you need to put the bulleted statements together in a way that cannot be ignored or overlooked:

  • Within three months of hire, jump-started flagging [project title] by exercising termination clause on expensive development vendor and recruiting 5 in-house developers plus project manager; completed project 10% faster than plan and saved 16% on projected budget.
  • For three consecutive quarters, coached team to exceed quota by 15% with combination of advanced product training and weekend retreat focused on selling strategies and customer needs assessments. On track to beat quota in Q4 20XX by 18%.

These are the accomplishment statements that impress hiring leaders. Your hiring executive needs to know not just what you did but how you did it and why it was important. Remember, if the accomplishment is relevant to a future executive role and important to you, you can tell a great story about it.

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Top Tips for Executive Resume Writing

Top Tips for Executive Resume Writing

Top tips for executive resume writing from Five Strengths. Change your strategy now!

Top tips for executive resume writing from Five Strengths. Change your strategy now!

If you are thinking about developing your executive resume right now, take a look at my most popular blog posts from the last several years. These are the ones that executive job seekers like yourself review again and again for top tips on how to prepare your executive resume.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

The right length of your resume is based on your unique job search needs.

The right length of your resume is based on your unique job search needs.

Job seekers with long careers tend to have had . . . long careers. When they are ready to write their resumes, they want to include the best and the greatest experience. Instead, they choose to start with their very first job, making their resume span multiple decades. The result is a long, directionless document. Read How Long Should Your Resume Be? for expert tips to choose the optimal length for your resume.

5 Keys to Resume Bullet Bliss: Resume Accomplishments Versus Duties

On your resume, for each position you have held in the last 10 years or so, you’ll need to include two key components: The description of your duties as well as your accomplishments. These two components are really quite different, and they serve completely different functions. Duties tell what you did; accomplishments tell why what you did was useful, valuable, and important. Do you know the difference? If not, read 5 Keys to Resume Bullet Bliss: Resume Accomplishments Versus Duties.

What if You Failed as an Entrepreneur? Where Does *that Go on Your Resume?

You can turn entrepreneurial failure into a successful resume.

You can turn entrepreneurial failure into a successful resume.

What if you were part of a failed start-up, and there is nothing that is clearly representative of your accomplishments to report on your resume? This can be an extraordinarily difficult situation for former entrepreneurs to negotiate. The trick to creating a successful entrepreneur resume is to focus on the key contributions that you made, even if they did not ultimately result in a profitable conclusion. In other words, the accomplishment is in initiating and succeeding through the process, not its result. Read What if You Failed as an Entrepreneur? Where Does *that Go on Your Resume? to retool your executive resume writing strategy to compel future hiring executives to look more closely at the assets you do bring to a future company.

Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40

If you are still typing “Resume” at the top of your resume, or if you are mistakenly writing an objective statement about what YOU want from a future position, read Top 10 Resume Mistakes by Job Seekers Over 40 to learn about the executive resume writing mistakes you are probably making right now.

7 Secret but Powerful Resume Hacks that Get Interviews

Old-style computer screen reading "Hack Alert!"

Can you hack your resume to get more interviews?

How can you tell the difference between a ho-hum, reasonably good resume and a powerful, attention-getting, interview-winning resume? You’ll know, because the rules that govern excellent resume writing will have been hacked. Here is the countdown of my most secret hacks to writing a resume that breaks the rules and gets the right interviews. These 7 Secret but Powerful Resume Hacks that Get Interviews will tell you how to improve your own executive resume.



Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / rodrigovco

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / cobrasoft

Cool Tools to Search for Jobs Online

Cool Tools to Search for Jobs Online

Stop wasting hours searching for jobs online. If you are spending more than 10% of your time searching online for jobs, you are wasting your time. Use these cool tools to automate the search process, so you can focus on networking into the right role.

Monitor 87 Social Media Channels with IFTTT

Put the Internet to work for you--get job alerts and company information emailed directly to your inbox, automatically!

Put the Internet to work for you–get job alerts and company information emailed directly to your inbox, automatically!

Setup an application called “ifttt” — “If This Then That” — to send you an email whenever you are mentioned on Twitter.

Sign up for a free account at

Browse and use recipes for pre-made monitoring, such as:

  • Sending an email alert when your target company is mentioned in The New York Times.
  • Sending an email alert when your name is mentioned on Google+.
  • Track all new Twitter followers.
  • Email tomorrow’s weather, so you know whether to bring an umbrella to your interviews.
  • And anything else that you need to know or can think of.
  • Create an Evernote page with saved hashtag searches on Twitter.

Be as creative and detailed as you need to be to monitor your online presence effectively.

Set Up Google Alerts

Sign into your Google account, and visit
Use your name as the search query and determine what information you want searched:

  • Everything, News, Blogs, Video, Discussions, Book
  • How often you want to receive email alerts
  • How broad you want the results to be (Everything, Only the Best Results)
  • Where you want the alerts sent.

Now select the phrases that you want to monitor:

  • Your own name.
  • The name of an executive with whom you hope to interview.
  • The names of companies you are targeting.
  • Industry topics of interest.
  • And anything else that you need to know to enhance your job search.

Some tips:
Using quotation marks results in these sample search results:
Removing the quote marks makes it more likely that you will receive results that are irrelevant.

You can modify these alerts at any time, so start with broad results and you can refine them over time.

Set Up Alerts from Job Boards

Let,,,, and LinkedIn do the legwork for you. These automated alerts (sometimes called “agents” or “saved searches”) will generate the results you need without your having to visit each site every day. Considering the fact that you should be spending more time on human connections than on scouring the job boards, this is an easy method to ensure you are not missing any good opportunities without requiring you to commit endless time to the process.

Now select the phrases that you want to monitor:

  • Job title
  • Geographical region
  • Industry
  • Job characteristics
  • And any other specifics of your target job that you want to know about.

Setting up alerts will save you time and frustration in your executive job search. If you need assistance in setting up these alerts, or in any other aspect of your job search process, please call Five Strengths.


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What to Do about Your Executive Job Search if You Have Been Fired (or Consciously Uncoupled) from Your Company

What to Do about Your Executive Job Search if You Have Been Fired (or Consciously Uncoupled) from Your Company

Fired from your job? Follow these 5 steps to start your executive job search.

Fired from your job? Follow these 5 steps to start your executive job search.

Let’s face it–there is very little that is good about being fired. Executives experiencing this type of crisis often believe that the best thing for them to do is to get right back in the saddle and go search for a new job. Instead of forcing yourself into a job search situation for which you are not fully prepared and to which you are not fully committed, take a step back and follow these five steps to preparing to start an executive job search.

1. Take time to heal from the job loss.

It has been said that job loss and the ensuing loss of income is one of life’s biggest stressors. If you recently lost your job, you should take the time you need to process what happened without the compounding pressure of engaging in job search. You need to clear your head, read a dime store novel, and spend time with your family–to the extent that the financial pressures bearing down on you are not dire.

2. Evaluate your position in your industry.

If you have been terminated from a position, either terminated for cause or let go as part of a reduction in force, take some time to rethink your career trajectory. Consider the following questions:

  • Is this industry expanding or contracting?
  • Does your function within your industry have future viability?
  • Do you like your work well enough to return to something just like it in another organization?

If you are not entirely sure that the industry from which you came is the one you want to continue in, then perhaps this is a time to make a radical change in career direction.

3. Re-engage your network.

Once you have taken time to heal and evaluate your situation, start to talk to people inside and outside of your industry. Be a great conversationalist by being a great listener, and learn what drives them, professionally speaking. Do not go casting about asking anyone who crosses your path for a job–that is not networking. Rather, advance your knowledge of others’ careers and industries. You might learn something valuable to add to your own executive job search strategy.

4. Write your resume.

By this time, you will have had time to recover from your job loss plus taken the time to discover what is really important to your executive career strategy. Use this information to craft a resume directed toward a particular role in a particular industry. If you are unable to pull this information out on your own, do not hesitate to ask for help; there are career experts who walk this path every day. In any case, make sure that you include your current volunteer work or education as a current role, so that future hiring executives know that you are keeping your industry skills sharp.

5. Start applying for positions–via your network

You have developed quite a lot of information about the direction you want your career to go, and you have validated this information with your network. Now continue to work within your network and those your first-degree connections (think: LinkedIn) suggest you should meet to become top of mind before positions are posted publicly. You will find this to be a much stronger strategy than scouring the job boards for open positions and posting into the void. If you must use job boards, set up alerts to email you with appropriately filtered lists, so that you can review them quickly and decide to apply through the job board or approach the company from a networking connection.

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