WINNER: Toast of the Resume Industry Awards

Each year, CDI (Career Directors International) hosts the resume writing industry’s most prestigious Toast of the Resume Industry™ (TORI) resume writing competition; an international competition in which contestants submit their best work in a category.

It was an honor to be selected as 2nd place winner for Best Information Technology Resume. And I was equally elated to have been nominated for Best Accounting & Finance Resume.

According to CDI President, Laura DeCarlo, “The Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award winners represent the epitome of excellence for job seekers to stand out from the competition for the 60-80% of all jobs that are found through networking and the hidden job market. Job seekers at any level who want to know their resume is written with the marketing power and precision to help them come out on top for qualifying positions need look no further than a TORI winner.

These individuals are the best of the best in their overall strategy of visual formatting and design, personal marketing, understanding of employer/position requirements, and use of powerful language. In a world where visual presentation has become an art open to everyone with smart phone apps, to win a TORI is the ultimate stamp of approval a resume writer could attain.”

Winners are selected by a blind panel of global industry experts. Nominees are selected followed by first, second, and third place winners in each category.

I proudly represent the ‘best of the best’ in my industry and share the accolades with my esteemed colleagues.

Demystifying the Silicon Valley Job Search

Map of the Silicon Valley area of CaliforniaAlthough the number of job postings coming out of Silicon Valley has trended downward since 2015, this tech mecca is still seen as a desirable place to work. Despite the rarefied reputation of this locale, techniques for landing a job in Silicon Valley vary little from those for gaining an executive job in any other field or region.

Still, some nuances present themselves to those seeking a job in this locale:

Passion for the sought-after employer and dispassion for that employer’s competition are key. As Silicon Valley guru Guy Kawasaki notes, “Passion for what a company makes or does is the most important factor in getting a job in Silicon Valley.” Kawasaki also advises job-seekers to know – and demonstrate dislike for – the competitors of the company they’re pursuing. Job-seeker manifestation: Conduct research that enables you to identify the “hottest” companies of the moment. As in any job-search situation, research each employer extensively, and in job-search communications, convey enthusiasm for what the company gets right. Be able to respond with passion when asked questions such as “Why do you want to work here?” and “What do you know about our company?”

Networking still works. LinkedIn is big in Silicon Valley. There are more than a thousand LinkedIn groups that you can join. San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley Jobs and Careers has nearly 10,000 members; Silicon Valley Product Management has 3,500+ members; Bay Area Artificial Intelligence-Silicon Valley has 3,900+ members; Silicon Valley Sales Professionals has 1,100 members. Job-seeker manifestation: Update your LinkedIn profile. Join groups that will expose you to folks who can refer you to openings. Don’t be afraid to conduct informational interviews.

Pitch culture dominates. Silicon Valley mushroomed through entrepreneurs pitching their startup ideas to venture capitalists. Thus, Valley employers can relate to the pitch. Job-seeker manifestation: It’s not unreasonable to have a 20-slide pitch deck to take with you to interviews. You may not have the opportunity to show the deck, but if you do, the employer will likely respond positively to a well-done pitch. Even if you don’t use a deck, you can pitch yourself, writes Alex Honeysett, by – in one sentence – telling who you are and what you do, by telling your story, by explaining why you do what you do, and telling why you are the best choice to do what needs to be done. Job-seekers are frequently asked: “Why should we hire you?” The unspoken part of that question is “… over any other candidate?”

Resumes are condensed. Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist strongly recommends a one-page resume with just three sections – contact information, work experience, and educational background. Paul Tyma, an entrepreneur and computer engineer suggests adding a section called, “Cool Stuff I Have Built.” Silicon Valley recruiters expect you to prove your worth by having worked on outside projects so an online portfolio can be very beneficial and support your candidacy. The unique culture does not take exception to job hoppers.  Job-seeker manifestation: Create a one-page resume that pares you down to your critical essence and also conveys your admiration for a targeted employer. One way to do so is to identify the employer’s mission statement and explain how it resonates with you.

“Plug and Play” is the watchword. Companies want tech gurus who can hit the ground running. They’re not interested in training employees. Job-seeker manifestation: You will likely be asked to show you are “plug and play” via technical problem-solving and algorithmic questions posed at the interview. You will also probably be asked to describe a recent project.

Hacking culture prevails: Silicon Valley employers seek those who not only adapt well to change but produce change and continuous improvement. Job-seeker manifestation: Bring to the interview a short list of ways the employing company can improve. Take notes during the interview.

Worth Noting
Some experts use the term “Silicon Valley” not so much to identify a geographic region but as shorthand for “the tech industry,” and it’s worthwhile to note that tech jobs in other parts of the United States (Seattle, for example) are actually on a faster trajectory than those in Silicon Valley.

Mature executives may face obstacles in a Silicon Valley job search. A 2017 study from Visier Insights, The Truth About Ageism in the Tech Industry, found systemic ageism in tech hiring practices. While younger workers can increase their chances of hire in Silicon Valley by pursuing a grad degree in the area or taking coding classes, older workers may be disinclined to do so.

Final Thoughts
Executives who aspire to make their mark in Silicon Valley need not fear a job-search process cloaked in mystique. With the exception of minor nuances listed here, a Silicon Valley job search aligns with a typical search.

For more information on “How To Hunt For Jobs In Silicon Valley In 2018”, go to:

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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Navigating a Job Search When You’re Employed

stealth mode job searchEspecially for executives, job search while employed is tricky. First, at the executive level, “passive” candidates, those NOT looking for a job, are far more valued than “active” candidates. And unfair as it is, the thinking goes that if you are looking for a job, something must be wrong with you.

It’s not as though you can hide the fact with prospective employers that you are in an active job search – but you don’t need to over-emphasize this fact either. It’s a huge plus that you are employed. Unemployed active candidates especially face bias.

The second tricky issue is that job-seeking executives risk discovery by their current employers. Thus a “stealth” job search is in order.

Clearly, careful planning is needed. Here’s where the efficiency of a targeted job search can be especially advantageous.

Ask yourself if it’s the organization or your immediate situation that you want to leave. Maybe the company is OK, but you don’t get along with your boss or don’t feel comfortable in your position. Is there an advantageous move you could make within your existing organization instead of totally uprooting yourself?

Always be “job-search ready.” Even before you have a need to seek a new job, be sure your resume and social-media profiles (especially LinkedIn) are up to date. In fact, as soon as you start a job, update these artifacts. That way, you won’t have to conduct a wholesale update that might get the attention of your colleagues and put the idea in their heads that you are job-searching.

Request discretion from prospective employers and your network contacts. Include in your cover letter a line about keeping your search discreet because your current employer is unaware of your plans. Similarly ask your network contacts to keep your search on the down-low. If you are working with recruiters, be clear that you are conducting a confidential search.

Focus on networking. Submitting resumes to job boards is not especially effective anyway, and doing so carries the risk you could inadvertently apply to your own employer or perhaps a colleague of your current boss who might feel inclined to spill the beans.

Writing for Forbes, job-search columnist Liz Ryan suggests networking for consulting gigs rather than a job: “Consulting part-time is a great way to get a new job,” Ryan writes, “because hiring managers can meet with consultants any time they want (they only need a higher-up’s approval to actually hire a consultant, and sometimes not even then) whereas most hiring managers won’t meet with a job-seeker unless they have a job opening.”

Informational interviewing is a form of networking that can be especially effective in a time-restricted situation. This technique enjoys the same advantage of Ryan’s consulting idea; hiring managers would probably turn you down if you requested a job interview out of the blue but are more open to those seeking information about a particular position or company.

Don’t risk discovery by using your current employer’s time and resources (phone, computer) for your search. Especially don’t participate in phone interviews from your current place of employment. Don’t use your company email address, for example. Be careful not to disparage your employer publicly or in job interviews. A hiring manager is likely to think, “If he/she trashes a former employer, he/she is likely to trash our company.” Continue to produce your best work, even though your heart may not be in your current job. Don’t ask your current supervisor or colleagues to serve as references.

Consider creative scheduling for interviews. Scheduling interviews is a challenge for the employed. Look at breakfast and lunch slots, as well as times at the end of the work day. Consider using personal-leave time.

Don’t give yourself away with what you wear. If expected interview attire is different from what you would normally wear to work, consider bringing your interview duds and changing into them offsite so you don’t stand out as an obvious job-seeker.

Be truthful if confronted by your employer. If you’re found out, you’ll only dig yourself in deeper if you lie. Graciously admit the truth.

Final Thoughts
A job search while employed requires some fancy footwork but can be finessed nicely with some careful planning.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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Contacting and Following Up With Recruiters

following up with recruiters

Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. No one right way exists to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important. Here are some basic tips from recruiters:

  • Have a perfect resume and cover letter. The resume and cover letter should be concise and crisp, allowing the recruiter to immediately grasp your profile and expertise.
  • Send your materials with care. Check with recruiting firms to verify if and how they want resumes sent. Call the receptionist or other gatekeeper or check websites. Marking materials as “personal and confidential” may be helpful. When e-mailing your resume, be aware that fear of viruses and unsolicited blasts from resume mills may cause recruiters not to even open unsolicited mail. Make your subject line personal, specific, credentialed, and targeted; for example, “Resume: John Smith, IT Executive, Excellent Candidate for CIO position,” will get you further than simply “Resume.” The same is true of file names for your resume. As you might imagine, recruiters get hundreds of resumes with the file name “Resume.doc.” Personalize your resume with a file name such as “JillKelly_CIO_Resume.doc.”
  • Use the phone or e-mail, but sparingly. Hounding recruiters is never appropriate, but a brief follow-up phone call or two may help direct attention to your resume and credentials. Recruiter opinions are divided on this issue. Consider a short introductory phone call or voicemail message after hours to advise that your resume has been sent, and perhaps another phone call two weeks later to ensure that the recruiter received, read, and filed it. Touch base with your recruiter with a simple, “Just to let you know I’m still looking,” after a month. For a less urgent search, it’s OK to call your recruiter every 4-6 months. E-mail is also an option; you can check in monthly by email with the recruiter, just so he or she will keep you top of mind and let him or her know you are still available.
  • Keep your information up-to-date. Federal employment laws require organizations (excluding very small recruiting firms with a headcount of less than 50) to maintain resumes and application for three years, so you should have few worries that yours will be tossed out. The resume may, of course, become out of date; thus, some recruiters recommend follow-up phone calls stating your desire to keep your information updated and correct. Resubmitting a resume is less important than reestablishing connection with a phone call or email to update the recruiter on your newest accomplishments. Recruiters are open to receiving an updated resume, as long as it truly reflects new information.
  • Don’t expect acknowledgment, and don’t take it personally if you don’t get it. Recruiters receive hundreds–thousands–of resumes. No response simply means, in most cases, that no open position fits your qualifications.

Final Thoughts

With these tips in mind, your goal is to obtain an in-depth interview and to start a working relationship. Depending on their business model and situation, recruiters may or may not be interested in your resume; they may wish to search and contact you instead. Nevertheless, planning a recruiter-contact strategy, in which you target recruiters by identifying and contacting them to build a working relationship, is still a good idea.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
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What To Do When the Executive-Search Consultant Calls You


When the Executive-Search Consultant Calls You

The phone rings at 4:30 in the afternoon, and it’s Tom Headhunter, dropping upon you a tempting position that’s a “must” career move. At the end of 10 minutes of talk, you know little of the position and nothing of Tom Headhunter. What do you do? How do you decide if this position–and this person–are worth doing business with?

It’s hard, because you don’t want to be taken for a ride into a vast unknown, risking your confidentiality and relationship with your current employer–and perhaps other executive-search consultants. Just the same, you don’t want to hastily turn Mr. Headhunter aside. You could gain some value in the position and the potential relationship. When these cold calls come in, most executive search consultants advise the following:

First Things First – Interview the Executive Search Consultant
Interviewing the executive-search consultant may sound like an odd way to turn the tables, but start with a few qualifying questions to the consultant before moving on. Find out:

  • Who the executive search consultant is/what firm he or she represents. An executive-search consultant should disclose his or her firm and whether it’s a contingency or retainer firm. Be skeptical if the consultant won’t disclose. Don’t necessarily expect him or her to identify the client hiring firm, however. While you may get that information from the consultant, you often won’t as he or she has been instructed not to divulge.
  • Background in field. Ask the recruiter how long he or she has been in the firm and industry, what types of placements and clients he or she handles. Specific names of client employers are better, but you may not get them. Just as the executive-search consultant will want to know more about you, you should know more about the headhunter before proceeding. Look for competence, professionalism, and experience in the field of specialty. Avoid the used-car salesman type who tries to pry you loose to nab a quick commission.
  • Learn the executive -search consultant’s process. Ask a few questions about how he or she conducts business.

Don’t Commit to Anything
Be careful not to go too far down the path in the first call. Yes, an executive-search consultant’s time is important, and if you’re talking to one of the industry top names on the phone, you could benefit if you keep going. Preferably, though, gather some information, start the relationship, and then step aside. “I’ll get back to you” is a good line to keep in mind.

What do you do before getting back to the executive-search consultant?

  • First, think through everything that was said. Does the position really sound like a fit for your experiences and objectives? Most people get excited, even emotional, at the prospect of an employer wanting them. Let this emotion subside and discern whether you really want to be wanted in this situation. At the risk of a tenuous analogy, think through your dating experiences.
  • Do your own research. Look up the recruiting firm online. Does the firm indeed specialize in your industry? Has it been around for a while, and is it a member of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants or other accrediting organizations? Look at its Web site. What types of positions does it deal with? What type of clients, if it discloses? Does the site and its message convey a professional tone and manner, or is it sales-y?
  • Then, use your network. Talk to peers, colleagues, and executive search consultants if you know any. Talk to people outside your organization but in your industry. Have they heard of or dealt with the executive search consultant or his or her firm? Do your contacts know what kind of clients this executive search consultant typically works with?

After satisfying yourself with these answers, call the executive-search consultant back. Getting comfortable with the consultant may take you minutes or days, but doing so is important. Whether you initiate an executive-search consultant relationship this way or by contacting the consultant initially, the next step is to work with that executive -search consultant toward a productive and effective job placement.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

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How to Be ‘Found’ by Executive-Search Consultants

Visibility in the corporate world can be tough to attain, but you need it if you want executive-search consultants to find you. A significant number of your achievements might be considered “company confidential” – you can’t simply write an article describing your formula for adding 10 percent to your company’s gross profit margin. But if you get your name out there professionally, executive-search consultants will find you. Here are some of the most effective ways to get both internal and external publicity:

Get Known Inside Your Company

How do you build your internal image? Achievement is probably the best way to become known, but you can’t hide your light under a bushel basket; you must promote your achievements.

  • Write articles. Most companies have internal communication vehicles, sometimes print publications, but increasingly intranets, blogs, e-mailed newsletters, and company Web pages highlighting accomplishments and individual achievements. Editors are always looking for good material.
  • Take on big projects. When your employer seeks someone to lead the worldwide customer-satisfaction program, take it on! Volunteering means hard work but also leads to visibility and an ever-more-rapid escalation of your stock among peers. Eventually people outside the organization will learn of your achievements, whether through networks or a more direct spotlight on what you’re doing.
  • Speak. Speaking disseminates your expertise outside the organization as well as inside. Build that traveling road show for your department, and take it around the world or to the sales force. Represent your group in important strategy-setting meetings or customer visits.
  • Hold conferences, webinars, and meetings. A great way to gain visibility and show leadership is to offer to host or hold meetings to resolve important issues or design major strategic breakthroughs. Most of the time, your colleagues or managers will appreciate your going above and beyond, and the reputation you’ll gain as leader, organizer, and solver will promote your brand.

And, Get Known to the World
Getting noticed means making yourself noticeable. Sounds like common sense, but many competent professionals sit around and wait for their break. Bad practice! If you get lucky or are particularly good, you might get noticed that way. Just as magazine and newspaper editors are always hungry for material, so too are meeting planners, seminar leaders, associations, and other venues eager for material and leadership. If you have something to offer, you’ll get the chance. Your contribution doesn’t have to be breakthrough rocket science. Sharing even small but differentiated successes–or even successfully applying an industry best practice–will often get you there. And in some venues, all you need to do is make the effort. Here are some of the ways to get external visibility:

  • Be active in industry or trade associations. Participate actively, or better yet, take leadership positions, in these organizations. Networking opportunities abound, and executive-search consultants read Web sites and printed material with your name on it. If you host meetings, find extraordinary speakers, speak yourself, edit or help with the newsletter, and go outside to find other excellence. Attend trade shows and organization events. Represent your company and staff your booth. Write papers, build knowledge and research.
  • Speak. Offer to speak at seminars. You usually won’t get paid, though the organization that invites you will likely pay for your travel. External publicity begets internal publicity. Word gets around that you presented at the industry conference. More importantly, from a recruiting standpoint, executive-search consultants, particularly specialists, know who is talking because they follow the industry. Seeing your name, they will attempt to learn more about you, and may even try to see you speak or meet you.
  • Write articles and be an expert source for the media. Writing articles produces much the same results as speaking. You get a chance to gel your thoughts and accomplishments into reader-friendly form, and your name and accomplishments get out there for the world–and executive-search consultants–to see. Get quoted by offering your thoughts, ideas, and opinions to journalists and reporters. Offer yourself as an expert to the media. Let local, regional–and even national–media editors know you’re willing to be interviewed and quoted on topics on which you’re an authority.
  • Be active in your community. Volunteer work, civic service, and community activity provide evidence of leadership and effort beyond the normal course of duty, not to mention good opportunities for networking. Getting involved in local government, civic organizations, arts communities, charities, and the like can be well worth your time as you build your brand with executive-search consultants.
  • Offer your services to the higher-education community. Make yourself available as a guest lecturer for clubs, organizations, and classes at local colleges and universities. Colleges embrace real-world business experience in the classroom, even from those lacking advanced degrees. Institutions of higher learning usually publicize guest presentations.
  • Serve on advisory boards and boards of directors. Jump at invitations to join and participate on a corporate or nonprofit board, either in a decision-making or advisory capacity.

Online Presence
A branded online presence is vitally important. Here are a few ways to cultivate a presence:

  • Establish a profile on a few key social-media sites, especially LinkedIn.
  • Post and comment on key sites ¬– LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Show yourself to be a thought-leader.
  • Consider constructing a professional Web site with a portfolio in which you can publish all your articles, speeches, and more. Buy a Web domain with your name as its centerpiece:, for example. You can also hire a Web designer to build your site.
  • Start (and regularly maintain) a blog and comment on the blogs of others.

Final Thoughts
Essentially, you are in charge of MARKETING yourself, and getting noticed means doing some good marketing. Bottom line–you must build yourself as a brand through positioning yourself well and creating visibility. In doing so, you’ll not only get on the radar screen, but you’ll get there with a strong, clear image that is compelling to the executive-search consultant–and client employers.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
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Schedule a call with Beverly at

Why You Need a Targeted Job Search

Target Audience 3d words in an open door to illustrate searching for and finding niche prospects and clients through advertising and marketingThe idea of pinpointing and then refining your target market of employers is an overwhelming concept for most. A bigger universe intuitively seems more likely to result in employer interest. “If I send out my resume to as many employers as I can,” the mentality goes, “surely some of them will be interested in me.” But the opposite is true: The more you funnel the universe of employers into a laser-focused, precise, narrow segment of those who would love to hire you, the more successful you’ll be.

To understand the importance of target marketing in your job search, let’s first define a target market: “A specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services,” says

Adapted for a job-seeker, that would be: “A specific group of employers at which a job-seeker aims his or her talents and services.”

Here’s what a target market is not (even though some marketers of products and services mistakenly define their target markets this way): “Anyone interested in my products or services.”

Here’s how the marketing process works for those marketers who define their target market as “anyone interested in my products or services:”

The marketer creates advertising or promotional material and then disseminates it to those perceived as “anyone interested in my products or services.”

This process may have a familiar ring to job-seekers because it is essentially the way most of them conduct their job searches:

The job-seekers create advertising or promotional material – in the form of a resume and usually a cover letter – and disseminates it to those perceived as “anyone interested in ‘me as a product and the services I offer,’” typically employers who have posted vacancies on job boards or advertised openings in other media.

Smart marketers know that both of these approaches are backward. If you want to sell a product, you don’t create the product first and then go to stores hoping people buy it. You’d first do research. You would find out who would use the product, what customers are looking for in this kind of product, how this product would help them, how you’d get it to market, and what the packaging looks like. Once you understand that, you would perfect the product and go to market.

Just as no universal products appeal to all consumers, no universal job-seeker appeals to all employers. Neither jobs nor employers are one-size-fits-all. Savvy job-seekers survey the universe of employers to determine how to break the market down into a more manageable subset of employers that will be keenly attracted to what the job-seeker has to offer.

The proven strategy of target marketing enables the marketer or job-seeker to reach the customers/employers whose needs are most likely to be filled by the entity being marketed. That’s a big reason to use target marketing in the job search – but just a few of the other reasons include:

  • It’s more efficient. Yes, target marketing requires a big investment in front-end research. But that investment pays off when the job-seeker is productively going on interviews instead of sitting on his or her posterior by the computer uploading resumes to employers who might be interested and waiting for hiring managers to call.
  • It targets the portion of the job market most likely to hire. A huge number of jobs aren’t advertised. Employers hold back on publicizing vacancies for all kinds of reasons, but if you can get in on the pipeline of an unpublicized opening, you’ll have a huge advantage over the vast hordes responding to job postings.
  • Through target marketing, you’ll be a better fit and happier with the employer at which you land than if you took your chances with answering ads. Since you’ve carefully vetted each employer in your target market, you know you’re a good match and you fit the organizational culture. The outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison notes that 70 percent of its clients get new jobs through target-market methods, a figure consistent with other studies.

These steps of identifying and narrowing the market are part of a process that also includes approaching employers, developing and proposing solutions to them, handling their objections, closing the sale, and following up.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
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3 Ways to Tap into a Pipeline Job

Now that you have the skinny on the unpublicized job market, let’s look at how you can break into it. When job-seekers search for new jobs, one of the most important elements of a successful search is developing job leads. How can you find a consistent source for open jobs in your career field? The answer, of course, is that you cannot. No one consistent source exists. There are, however, several methods that all job-seekers should consider using in uncovering the largest number of job leads.

While other ways of unearthing unadvertised jobs exist, the key to mining the unpublicized job market is deploying strategies that break you, the candidate, into the middle of the hiring process – before positions are publicly known. Even better for you as a job-seeker, if you can make a strong case for your fit with an unadvertised position, you’ll face much less competition from other job- seekers, immediately improving the chances that you’ll get a job interview.


The No. 1 reason networking is so important and effective is that, as we’ve seen, so many jobs are not made public – through advertising or other means. One of the best ways a job-seeker can find out about these jobs is through word-of-mouth. Networking is a highly effective way for job-seekers to hear word-of-mouth news of unadvertised vacancies. These vacancies may eventually be publicized, but most jobs start out hidden, and only the decision-maker knows.

More job leads are developed/discovered through networking than any other method. Networking involves using the vast numbers of people that you know – your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, customers, vendors, associates, and others – as information sources for job leads.

Networking is simply about building and maintaining relationships with the people around us. The more people we know – and the more people the folks we know are connected with – the more powerful our network. Remember to not only maintain your current network, but strive to regularly add new contacts – especially those who work for prospective future employers.

When you’re ready to seek that next job, the simple way of uncovering unpublicized job opportunities and leads is by asking people in your network what advice they might offer for someone seeking the type of job you’re looking for. Keys to success include knowing exactly the type of job you seek and asking your network contacts not for a job, but rather for information, advice, and referrals that may lead to a job. These conversations may reveal information about pipeline jobs.

Pipeline Jobs

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, a pipeline job is a vacancy that an employer is in the process of creating but is not yet official. Once the job is official, the hiring manager may ask around within the organization for referrals of qualified candidates before making the vacancy public.

As we noted in the Part 1, many hiring managers prefer getting internal referrals because once they publicize the job, they know they will be bombarded with resumes, many from unqualified candidates. They will then have to process those resumes. Referrals from known and trusted employees are always preferable.

Once the hiring manager starts asking for internal referrals – and especially when he or she posts the position to the public – competition will increase exponentially.

Many employers have highly developed employee-referral programs and reward workers for suggesting a hire. Social media has fast-tracked the employee-referral process and vastly increased its reach.

3 Ways to Disrupt the Pipeline

    1. Referral Cover Letter: Once you have a network contact who has told you about a pipeline job, one effective way to approach the hiring manager is with a referral cover letter. The referral cover letter is an extremely effective type of cover letter that springs from networking efforts. The referral letter uses a name-dropping tactic as early as possible in the letter to attract the reader’s attention and prompt an interview. The opening sentence for a sample referral follows:Dear Mr. Fouche,Nancy Jones of Green & Associates Advertising suggested I contact you regarding possible public-relations opportunities in your firm.
    2. Informational interview: This technique can be effective even if the job for you hasn’t even entered the pipeline. Research the needs of targeted employers. Especially conduct research into recent news stories about the organization (Is the company expanding to new markets? Introducing a new product? It will likely need to hire). Another way is by networking with organization insiders and asking them about company needs and challenges. But the best way is through informational interviewing, a sub-set of networking in which you conduct brief interviews with people inside targeted organizations and ask what keeps them up at night.Informational interviewing is exactly what it sounds like – interviewing designed to yield the information you need to choose a career path, learn how to break in, and find out if you have what it takes to succeed. It’s a highly focused conversation with someone in your career field who can provide you with key information, such as the issues and needs a given employer is facing. While an informational interview is not a job interview, the information gleaned can be used later in your approach to an employer. Armed with knowledge about problems and needs within an organization, you can propose ways that you can meet those needs and solve those problems.
    3. Creating Your Own Job based on Employer Needs: This technique may enable you to get a pipeline job before it even enters the pipeline is trying to create a job for yourself – where one currently doesn’t exist – based on a deeper exploration of the employer’s needs or problems. With this technique, the job-seeker identifies the employer’s needs and/or problems and proposes that the employer create a job that the job-seeker will then fill and meet the needs or solve the problems.

Finally, realize that sometimes a referral doesn’t pay off immediately or directly but lays the groundwork for a future opportunity. Keep following up on pipeline jobs.

If you need help tapping into those pipeline jobs, consider coaching with us.

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Nabbing a Job While It’s Still in the Pipeline

Have you ever conducted a job-search and thought to yourself that there must be more job openings than those found through online job searches? Guess what? You’re right! If you are simply searching online, you are missing out on as many as four times the job leads – job leads that go unposted publicly.

A significant reason for not publicizing an opening is that the job is still in the pipeline. The late career-marketing coach Mark Hovind asserted that most jobs start out hidden, known only to the decision-maker. The employer recognizes a need and decides to create a job, but the vacancy, for various reasons, is not official. Perhaps the skills needed for the job haven’t been identified. Maybe the job description hasn’t been developed. Possibly the budget to fund the position hasn’t yet been worked out. Whatever the reason, the opening isn’t ready for prime time and can’t yet be publicized.

The hiring process is a long and winding road – as long as 12-18 months – that begins when a hiring manager requests a new position or when a current employee leaves his or her current position. The first step is getting approval to fund (or continue funding) the position and approving the recruitment plan. What happens next is a multi-stage process that eventually leads to a public job posting if all other measures are unsuccessful.

During the initial time of the request the manager starts asking around among his or her trusted employees for referrals. After all, if you were the manager, wouldn’t you rather hire someone known and recommended to you via a colleague than an anonymous candidate submitting a resume?

Once funding has been approved, the next step is an internal job posting, again with the intent of finding an internal candidate to promote and usually publicized internally for about 7-10 days. At this stage, hiring managers may also contact their network and inquire about possible external candidates (referrals).

This stage is especially crucial for a candidate who wants to get in on an opportunity early. Only after failing to find someone to fill the need through referrals will the manager write a job description and begin to advertise the job.

The implication for the job-seeker is that a strong, thriving network can alert you to pipeline jobs. The goal is to reach hiring managers before they opt to publicize the opening. If you are constantly adding contacts to your network, and telling members of your network what you’re looking for, sooner or later, you will likely encounter a network contact who responds with, “Oh, my company is planning to hire someone like you, but the job hasn’t been posted yet.” When that happens, you can ask your contact to refer you to the hiring manager, perhaps even deliver your resume personally to him or her.

The beauty of this scenario is that if you make contact with the hiring manager while the job is still in the pipeline, you will have virtually no competition. Once the hiring manager starts asking for internal referrals – and especially when he or she posts the position to the public – competition will increase exponentially.

If you need help finding those pipeline jobs, consider coaching with us.

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*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.

Elevator Pitch

iStock_000007269826XSmallYour elevator pitch is a twenty-to thirty-second statement that tells networking contacts and company decision makers that you have what it takes to resolve their outstanding problem(s). It’s centered on your branded value proposition, what you offer, what you bring to the table. As such, it’s an extraordinarily valuable networking and selling tool.

It acquired its name from the concept of accidentally meeting a decision maker or valuable networking contact in an elevator, recognizing it as a golden opportunity, introducing yourself, and in about thirty seconds telling him who you are and describing your value proposition. The assumption is that if you have captured the interest of the decision maker or contact, the conversation will continue after you both have left the elevator.

Your elevator pitch will need to be tailored to the individual networking contact or decision maker, recognizing that they all have different needs and varying agendas. If you’re networking socially, you can use your elevator pitch when you hear this request: So, what do you do? Your elevator pitch is a great way to immediately let your contact know what you’re passionate about (your brand), what you do for companies, and how that combination will add to his luster by suggesting a great job candidate (you) for a job opening.

You can also use your elevator pitch when you hear this request: Tell me about yourself.

If you’ve networked your way into your target company, you can use your elevator pitch to expand on your value proposition in detail. And that’s exactly what you want. You want to demonstrate that you have a thorough grasp of the problem(s) facing the company by describing in enough detail how you’ve handled similar problems before and how you’re ready to handle those same kinds of problems starting on day one of a new job.

Here’s an example of an elevator pitch a job candidate made to a contact within his target company who said, “Tell me about yourself.”

“John, thanks for your interest. I’ve had twenty- five years in pivotal roles reducing costs for the three companies I’ve worked for. With my current employer, as vice president of manufacturing, I’ve trimmed the labor force by 23 percent, reduced warranty costs 18 percent, and cut finished goods inventory by a third. I would like to show you specifically how I achieved every one of those cost reductions. Is this a good time?” (That last question in an interview shows you’re ready to close the sale. Don’t leave it up to chance. Try to move directly into describing exactly how you accomplished those cost reductions.)

Of course, that pitch assumes the contact’s or decision maker’s biggest problem is excess costs. If your contact is an experienced quality professional you’ll want to emphasize how you reduced warranty costs, and if the contact is an inventory professional, you’ll want to emphasize inventory control along with measures you installed that resulted in an inventory reduction, and so on. The point is to be ready to tailor your elevator pitch to the individual networking contact or decision maker, recognizing that each may have different needs and varying agendas.

This brief article is an excerpt from, Landing An Executive Position.

*This article may be republished with written permission.  If you are interested in posting this article on your blog, please email me at  I will respond within 2 business days with my required signature and credits.