Byline *Karien Boshoff, Principal at Signium Africa
“The birds they sang, at the break of day. Start again, I heard them say. Don’t dwell on what has passed away.” Leonard Cohen, Anthem.
Spring is in the air, a season of new beginnings. For many executives it might be a good time to start afresh, to review your goals and to map out a new career path.
If there is one thing you will get from taking on a new position now, it’s the invaluable experience of leading an organisation at a unique time in history. If you are up to the challenge, there are companies out there looking for your unique skillsets.
While movement is still limited, there are several things you can do to get on the radar of talent sourcing professionals and win them over. They are still the best way to find a position at executive level.
First, spring clean your network. Unfortunately, you cannot yet meet over a game of golf, a trade show or at a large conference. So it is time to put technology to work and get chatting online.
When seeking candidates, head-hunters habitually ask for recommendations from contacts like yours – fellow executives they have dealt with before. If your network knows you are looking, there is a greater probability your name will come up. Speaking of which, large networks are more important than ever. As famous networking expert Keith Ferrazzi said, build it before you need it. A big network, nurtured over decades, means your name will be on the lips of many people who have come to trust and respect you both personally and professionally.
If an executive search consultant hears of you from several trusted sources, you most likely will land on their list of candidates more than once, thereby increasing your chances of reaching the top of your professional career. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to invite them into your network as well. In fact, if you have dealt with executive search firms before, now is the right time to get in touch with them and offer them your latest CV. With the POPI Act being enforced, they cannot keep your information without your permission. Instead of waiting for them to come to you, contact them now and give them authorisation to retain you on their database of candidates.
Up-to-date profiles always rise to the top. That also makes it critical to have a great CV and get the basics right. Provide contact details, qualifications and work experience first. Mention any professional and corporate achievements, affiliations or directorships as these enhance your value proposition significantly. Only after this should you add personal details you feel will be of interest to the position. These days, your CV should be accurately mirrored in a well-maintained LinkedIn profile. Only upload a professional photo – anything less may count against you. Executive recruiters will not only review LinkedIn but also scan the web for any other social media profiles, often at the request of their clients. The rule of thumb is: if it’s private, keep it private.
There are other things to consider but those above will get you started. And getting started is what matters most. So if Spring gives you the sense that it’s time for a new beginning in your career, take these important first steps and, like Cohen’s birds say, “Start again ... don’t dwell on what has passed away.”
Karien Boshoff is Principal at Signium Africa (previously Talent Africa), a leading South African-based executive search and talent management company servicing sub-Saharan Africa. www.signium.co.za Tel: +27 11 771 4800