Developing your Job Search Strategy: Specialists are the Rage
As I draft this post I am reminded of three current clients. One is a small, growing enterprise trying to optimize its resources to aid in profitable development. A second is an established manufacturer reorganizing itself for sale. The third is a large company which has made a number of acquisitions that must be integrated into their core business. Each of these businesses compete in diverse industry segments following different strategies to achieve their objectives. As one would surmise the experiences they look for in potential hires is distinctive. You can be certain, however, that the hiring managers in these companies are looking for senior executives with experience that matches their particular situation. Call it situational experience.
It occurs to me that this is a fair representation of the “new normal.” The career opportunities are declining within large established companies. Major corporations have learned to be more efficient with less. They offer fewer opportunities for middle managers and highly compensated, over-50 aged candidates. However, the organizations currently looking for people are emerging companies or those working to find a relevant niche. Emerging brands, PEG portfolio companies, established companies repositioning themselves and those experiencing major change are looking for people with experience that closely matches their situations. These situations may be more risky but they can be very rewarding. Private Equity Groups want C-level candidates who have experience working with PEGs. If the employer is a start-up, they will be looking for people with start-up experience. If they are preparing for an IPO they are looking for people with IPO experience, especially CFOs and controllers. You get the point. Today, employers are looking for specialists who can make an immediate impact. They are looking for people with situational experience. Generalist backgrounds are not in demand so much, especially for the 50+ age group.
There are three primary components to one’s career positioning strategy: Job Function; industry segment; and your pay grade. All of these components are fairly straight-forward. Begin by evaluating your experience to understand where you have particular strengths and experience which can be packaged as a specialty. Seriously, this task cannot be that difficult. After all, personal experience gained with LBOs, mergers and acquisitions, rightsizeings, and re-organizations are all great examples of situational experience. Perhaps you have been involved in implementing new hardware and software solutions to automate processes. Or you have been involved in re-engineering activities to help employers become more efficient. Experience gained in involvement with a company turnaround can be invaluable.. Maybe you have been in a family-owned business or experienced an IPO. Maybe you have been involved in a successful Chapter 11 reorganization. There are many employers today who face those same issues. They are looking for you!
Hiring managers have become very particular in their requirements. They seek industry-specific candidates with situational experience. The key to a successful job search is to position yourself as a problem-solver who will assuage the hiring manager’s risk aversion. The Over-50 job seeker must have a career story which speaks to high-value, specialized knowledge and experience. The flexibility of today's word processing software allows you to create resume versions tailored to emphasize certain parts of your background, positioning you as a specialist.
Think about your career. Find those common threads that you can position in a compelling way to fit the new normal.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search