Are You Crystal Clear About Your Value Proposition?

iStock_000015653759XSmallYour branded value proposition is your unique promise of value. It is a statement of the tangible results a company expects to gain by hiring you. But how do you define this value and, most importantly, how do you demonstrate your value to the company you are interviewing with?

When defining value, it is important to keep these key factors in mind:

  • Your value proposition must be compelling. For instance, significant cost cutting, hefty profit improvements, large sales increases, opening major new markets, or customer satisfaction turnarounds that spell the difference between company success and failure. Always remember this: Top decision makers are interested in sweeping changes, not miniscule improvements.
  • Focus on top line, bottom line, market share, and shareholder value. Improvements in any of these four fundamental categories will make the decision maker’s eyes shine and bring a welcoming smile to his or his face.
  • You need to relate your value proposition in terms of what the hiring company can reasonably expect. That objective must be first and foremost on your mind during the interview because, more than anything else, it will help you land the job you’re seeking and get you off to a fast start. Showing how you drive value is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge of the business and your ability to help the hiring company succeed. This language speaks directly to the decision maker.

Every accomplishment you claim must be ultimately tied to the bottom line … even if you don’t have P&L responsibility. This is vital, because every decision maker is interested in profitability.

When creating your value proposition, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I bring to the table?
  • How consistently successful have I been in impacting the top line, the bottom line, increasing market share, and increasing shareholder value?

Remember that a clearly defined and clearly stated value proposition communicates your value to the hiring organization. It identifies your natural talents and aligns them with your target companies and intersects with the company’s brand, creating a perfect marriage between you and the company you are interested in working for.

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.


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Is Your Brand In Alignment With Your Goals?

iStock_000010175272XSmallPersonal branding is the future of executive career management. It means identifying and communicating what makes you unique, relevant, and compelling so that you can reach your career goals and achieve your purpose.

Personal branding is about differentiation. It’s about leveraging what makes you exceptional so you stand out from the myriad others who offer seemingly similar talents and expertise. Personal branding helps you stand heads and shoulders above the competition by highlighting your unique promise of value.

When you become clear about your brand it gives your career greater meaning and fulfillment. You’ll feel more energized and purpose-driven. Personal branding allows you to be authentic and capitalize on your uniqueness.

Differentiating between Your Personal and Executive Brand

So what is your personal brand and your executive brand? Your personal brand is your unique vision and purpose combined with your values and passions. Just as your DNA and fingerprints are unique, your entire chemistry, makeup, and style are unique. It’s how you approach everything you do. Your executive brand is how you lead a team, an organization, or a project. It’s how you communicate with peers, customers, vendors, partners, and the board.

Your executive brand involves your reputation and how others view you. You already have a brand. It may not be congruent with who you are, but your peers can tell you what attributes you’re known for in the office. If your brand isn’t congruent with what you think it is, why is that? Do you think one way and act differently? Do you pursue a career path because intellectually it makes sense? Or are you chasing the money or someone else’s dream?

Determining your personal and executive brand is rewarding. Once you’re clear about your brand, your career path becomes congruent with your personal brand and instills a sense of purpose and self-worth. Once you develop a communications plan and begin radiating your brand, you’ll find wonderful opportunities opening up for you.

The Rough Waters of Branding

Make no mistake about it: strong brands both attract and repel. Your brand will help you find the right corporate fit and culture. On the other hand a strong brand may repel an employer, but that’s okay. You don’t want to work in an environment that makes you uneasy. It literally drains the life right out of you. You won’t be able to do your best work if your brand is in opposition to the company’s brand. Plus, you won’t be climbing the corporate ladder if your brand isn’t a fit with the company’s.

Having a clear understanding of your brand will drive your career. Communicating your brand will attract the right opportunities and environments where you can make an impact while fulfilling your purpose.

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

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Are You Executing A Passive Or Active Job Search?

There are two basic types of job seekers: passive and active. Passive job seekers are those who choose the path of least resistance. They typically just send out résumés, then sit back and wait for a response. Active job seekers proactively seek out opportunities, target specific companies, and pursue them relentlessly. They reach out to others to request the information and help they need. They proactively think about how they can bring value to companies. Passive job seekers use two approaches, both of them marginally productive at best and totally ineffective at worst:

  • A serial approach where they update their résumé, submit it to job openings posted on Internet job boards, or to recruiters, and ask network contacts for leads. In all cases they wait passively for responses.
  • A trial-and-error approach where they begin with one method, such as submitting their résumé to posted positions on job boards … and when that approach fails they switch to another method … and when that doesn’t work they try another method. And so on. This trial-and-error approach makes for a very long and drawn out job search. It leads to frustration and disappointment. It also drains the nest egg.

Consider browsing online job boards as the least productive activity. Many of the jobs posted there come from recruiters testing the waters for potential available candidates. They’re also the most dangerous if you’re still employed because you never know whom you’re sending your résumé to, and how it may bounce back to the company where you’re employed. Job search is marketing! You need to actively market your qualifications. Create a job search strategy similar to that of a business. Think about the companies you’ve worked for in the past. Most likely they used multiple mediums and venues for marketing their products and services. You need to do the same. In today’s economy, you need to blend a targeted search with the traditional job search methods. You need to create a multi-channel, multi-media strategy that leverages your efforts and provides a return on investment of your time and resources while shortening the time it takes to land a high-paying and meaningful position.

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.

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Considering An Industry Change?

iStock_000012260427XSmallWhether you’re a one-industry career veteran whose industry recently succumbed to unfavorable economic conditions, or an executive who wants to or needs to change industries, there is a great deal of due diligence required for a successful transition. In our current economic environment where most employers are unwilling to take chances, executive candidates must have a thorough understanding of the industry they are pursuing and be able to articulate the value they bring to an organization.

If you’re in this situation, it’s best at this stage to inventory your qualifications, examine your company preferences, and research industries.

To begin, create a list of personal preferences including:

  • Values, interests, and aspirations
  • Innate talents, greatest strengths, and core competencies
  • Preferences regarding corporate culture and values

Next, evaluate your company preferences:

  • Company size – small-, mid-, large-cap
  • Structure – public, private, non-profit
  • Source of funding – VC, PE
  • Growth model – organic or growth by acquisition
  • Footprint – local, national, international, global
  • Type of organization – traditional, pioneer, hyper growth, etc.
  • Governance – board, regulatory bodies
  • Leadership style – hierarchy, flat
  • Reputation
  • Executive turnover rate and reasons

Then, research and identify industries in which you have an interest using these sites:

  • NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes:
  • NYSE Euronext: The Industry Classification Benchmark* (ICB) — which comprises 10 industries, 18 supersectors, 40 sectors and 114 subsectors — provides accurate and globally accepted industry and sector classifications.
  • Polson Enterprises: This site provides an online step-by-step process for researching industries and companies with links to thousands of resources.
  • Hoover’s Online, – Site has an Industry Master List with drill down capability to industry trends, industry snapshots, major companies in the industry, associations, organizations, publications, press releases, glossaries, and more.

Completing these steps will lay the groundwork for a comparison between the industry or industries in which you have worked and the similarities or lack thereof with other industries. This will help you identify your transferable qualifications and the value you bring to another industry table.

With proper due diligence, executives are able to change industries smoothly. You simply need to identify key industry characteristics and aggressively pursue the transition to achieve the success you desire when landing an executive position at a new company or in a new industry.

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Is Your Job Search Strategy Producing The Results You Want?

iStock_000030155864SmallA focused job search includes extreme clarity, a concentrated effort, persistence, and out-of-the-box thinking. It also includes a system and methodology including upfront analysis and planning, research and investigation, a due diligence process, organization of multiple concurrent activities, and precise execution.

In Bryan Golden’s, nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column, Dare to Live Without Limits, his March 4, 2009 column in The Resident is entitled “Concentrated Effort Brings Success.” He writes, “It’s true, success does take effort. But it also takes as much, if not more, effort to continuously struggle without being on a path to success. Living takes effort. However, you have the power to formulate any strategy you want for expending your effort. You can scatter your efforts so nothing is accomplished. Or you can concentrate your effort into a powerful force.”

Here is an analogy Golden provides to make his case: “What happens when spilled jet fuel on a runway is ignited? It burns, creates a lot of heat, but doesn’t get you anywhere. But burn it in a jet engine and you then have the means to get to a specific destination.

“Why are there different results? When fuel burns on the runway, its effort is dispersed and nothing is accomplished. When it burns in a jet engine, the effort is concentrated and the effort is concentrated and directed in one direction. Only in the engine will the fuel’s effort get you anywhere.”

Only in the engine will the fuel’s effort get you anywhere.

“It’s true, success does take effort. But it also takes as much, if not more, effort to continuously struggle without being on a path to success.”

The same can be said for job search.

  • Focus your job search efforts. The intensity you build with focus will help you carry the day.
  • Decide on the type of job you want. Create a job description for your ideal or dream job. Be precise and include the challenges, responsibilities, team environment, and culture.
  • Decide what type of company interests you. Would you prefer to work for a company funded by private equity or venture capital? Would you prefer to work for a large public company or small privately held company? A forward thinking, fast paced company or a time-honored, deliberate company? A regulated or non-regulated company?
  • Research your ideal job. Talk to executives who have held the position in which you are interested. Do a target-gap analysis of the skills, knowledge, and abilities you’ll need for your ideal position. Decide how you’ll overcome the gaps.
  • Perform an analysis of your existing network. Develop a strategy for expanding your network so you can connect with the people who can help you.
  • Study your target companies. Talk to people who currently work for your target companies, as well as those who previously worked for the companies.
  • Study your target industry. Conduct research to find out where the industry is headed, how the industry is faring in this economic downturn, and what challenges and barriers the industry faces.
  • Create a customized version of your marketing materials (résumé, accomplishment stories, positioning statement, cover letter, and other materials) that you can use for your target job. Use these customized versions as your leave behind marketing pieces. In other words, materials you can leave with people you have spoken with regarding your target job. By way of an example, consider meetings you’ve had with sales professionals. Most likely they provided customized documentation and left a brochure and other marketing materials for your review and consideration. Follow this strategy and you’ll find your job search efforts more rewarding.

The bottom line: Job search is all about networking and getting internal contacts at target companies to recommend you.


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Tips for Enhancing Your Executive Brand within the Organization

Brands are built on your daily actions and behavior. There is no such thing as a communication, activity, posture, or approach that doesn’t count. Your brand is constantly being evaluated by those around you—both consciously and unconsciously.

While most senior executives are not of the chest-pounding type, when it comes to managing your career, it is important to find subtle ways to promote yourself within the organization.

Following are a few tips for enhancing and promoting your executive brand within the organization:

  • If you’re an expert in a particular area, but you’re not recognized for your expertise, try increasing your executive presence and brand by asking to speak at the next board meeting or executive committee meeting. Volunteer to head a task force, committee, special initiative team, oversight office, or best practices group that will allow you to showcase your expertise and demonstrate your brand. If no such group exists, consider initiating and leading one.
  • Consider preparing a monthly report for your boss, board, investors, or owners outlining your business unit’s monthly goals and accomplishments and how those accomplishments impacted the business objectives, profitability, market share, shareholder value, stakeholder value, etc. This will enable you to demonstrate your leadership and brand persona while keeping your superiors abreast of your business unit’s progress.
  • Position your brand and expertise by mentoring, coaching, and training others. Consider creating training programs, demonstrations, audio/video presentations, podcasts, power point presentations, instruction manuals, tip sheets, how-to articles, and ebooks and publishing them in the company’s newsletter or posting them on the company’s intranet or internal blog. Social media venues may be an option depending on the confidential nature of the subject matter.
  • Promote the accomplishments and successes of your team—both individually and collectively. Promote and recognize each individual team member’s accomplishments and successes. Acknowledge them publicly for a job well done. Also, promote the team’s accomplishments and successes. By promoting your team’s and team member’s victories, you position yourself as a dynamic leader of an “A” team. Rest assured, your superiors, colleagues, and peers will know who is leading the team to success.
  • Network internally. Network across every function and level of the organization. Connect with people domestically and globally across all divisions, branches, subsidiaries, companies, etc. Gain brand recognition across the entire conglomerate.

Now let’s take a look at a few of the more obvious ways to enhance and promote your brand.

  • Your environment: What impression does your office radiate? Is everything in your office in line with your brand?

If your highest value is integrity, do you have a picture or poster expressing integrity? If your brand is team work, do you have posters representing team work? If your brand is global, do you have a globe on a pedestal or world maps hanging on the wall? What books, journals, or publications do you have sitting on your desk or in your reference library? What electronics, equipment, and tools are visible (either physically or on your computer screen)? What types of artifacts are sitting on your shelves? What does your furniture say about you? What does your pen say about you?

  • Your expression: What impression do you radiate?

Is your personal grooming in line with your brand? What kind of watch do you wear? What kind of personal electronics do you use? What kind of vehicle do you drive? If your brand is top performance, are you driving a vehicle renowned for top performance? If your brand is reliability, do you drive an all-wheel vehicle? If your brand is efficiency, do you drive a car renowned for incredible fuel efficiency? If your brand is technological innovation, do you drive a car renowned for state of the art technology?

It’s important to note that if you are honoring your unique brand, any adjustments you make to these personal or environmental elements will reduce stress, support your innate talents and expertise, ignite your passions and lead to greater fulfillment.

Incorporating just one or two of these strategies will help you elevate your brand visibility and position yourself for the next level.

Let me know how it works for you.

*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.

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10 Interview Preparation Tips

Today’s interviewers expect you to know something about their company. It’s an indication to them that you’re interested in the position and the company. In fact, some interviewers will ask, “What do you know about our company?” If you haven’t done your research on the company, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. On the other hand if you have, this is your invitation to showcase how your qualifications and expertise will allow you to drive and deliver on the company’s goals and objectives. So here’s a shortlist of tips:

1) Research the company’s size, industry position, market share, brand, growth rate and style, products/services, customer type(s), funding source (private equity, venture capital, or angle investors; family-owned/operated, etc.), and stability. Warning: Don’t depend on the recruiter’s information. I’ve heard too many cases where the company did not give the recruiter accurate information.

To find this information, review the company’s website, blog, press releases, podcasts, YouTube videos, white papers, and SEC reports. If you don’t find this information on the company website, you may be able to find it using these sites:
Press releases:
White papers:
YouTube videos:
SEC reports:

Additionally, “Follow” the company on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. More and more companies are embracing social media as part of their marketing strategy, so be sure to check all three sites.

2) Research members of the leadership team and the organizational structure of the company using your LinkedIn contacts, LinkedIn’s company search tool, or these sites:;

3) Research the interviewer(s) using Google or LinkedIn. “Follow” the interviewer on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

4) Research your predecessor. Find out how long s/he was in the position, why s/he left the compny, and where s/he went.

5) Identify ways you will be able to contribute to the company. Be prepared to convey your value proposition as it applies to each specific position and company. Contact employees, vendors/suppliers, third-party consultants/advisors, and customers to gather information about problems you can solve for the company.

6) Create a customized interview portfolio that contains examples of your leadership style, contributions to previous employers (expand on bullets on your resume that align with each specific opportunity), value proposition, strategic initiatives you drove, impact you had on the company, and/or technical expertise. If you prefer an online portfolio, check out and include a link to your portfolio on your resume, cover letter, and other marketing materials.

7) Be prepared to give a presentation (Think: board presentation) on why you’re the perfect candidate, what accomplishments you can drive for the company, and what quantitative and qualitative impact you can have on the company. If you don’t have access to presentation software, you may want to check out This is particularly effective when the interviewer doesn’t have an agenda for the interview.

8) Research the company’s culture. Speak with others who work at the company (no matter what level-shipping clerk to senior management). For example, companies owned by foreign companies may have a country-centric culture; technology companies often have a distinct culture; private equity- and venture capital-owned companies also have a unique culture. Some companies are fast-paced, innovative, ahead-of-the-curve and have a flat reporting structure while others are methodical, hierarchal, and risk adverse. Knowing this information will help you respond appropriately during your interview. You may find some help at

9) Research salary information particularly if the company is located in a different state or region. Even if an executive search consultant has provided you with salary information, you need to research the salary range for that position in that geography so that you can negotiate the best salary for yourself. ( or ( can help you with this research.

10) Research the company’s benefits package. If you’re interviewing with a public company, you can find this information in their SEC filings. If it’s a private company or not-for-profit organization, you might find some information in the careers section of the company’s website. Often times the company lists their employee benefits in the position descriptions. Of course, as a senior-level executive, you can expect a more comprehensive benefits package, however this would provide you with a baseline.

While there’s no doubt, this IS a lot of work … knowledge is power … and it can set you apart from the other candidates who are being interviewed.

*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.

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Reflecting on the Past Year

Reflecting on the past year can be very enlightening. While we all live such busy lives, we seldom take time to celebrate our learnings and accomplishments. Yet, it’s important to set aside 30-40 minutes each month, or at least, quarterly to jot down some notes about our accomplishments. So many times when I’m interviewing clients for the development of their resume, they’ve forgotten quantifiable details, or they’ve completely forgotten many of their accomplishments.

Following are some suggestions on what to record:

Success Stories — Your challenges, actions, results, and strategic impact on the company. Be sure to quantify your results. It’s easier to look up the numbers and details now than it will be a year or two from now.

Education & Professional Development — From college degrees to workshops and seminars, record all of the details related to any type of education or learnings.

Recognition — From awards and honors to letters of commendation and praise. Gather copies of each and store in a safe place.

Leadership Roles & Outcomes — From developing and implementing strategy to leading people, projects, organizations, and corporations. Be sure to include both your assigned and assumed leadership roles.

Contributions to the Company — From financial contributions to efficiency and productivity improvements, to the attainment of business objectives. Record all of your contributions.

Recommendations / Suggestions Implemented — Record any business models, strategies, systems or processes that you have conceived and recommended. Be sure to note if they were implemented and the results or outcomes.

Special Projects — From a special committee, task force, or working group to a cross-functional or cross-enterprise initiative. Be sure to include projects outside the normal scope of responsibilities.

Speaking Engagements / Presentations — From external presentations to hundreds of people to internal presentations to a small group. Record the who, what (topic), where and when.

Volunteer Work / Community Contributions — From volunteer work in local organizations to large-scale industry associations. Record your role and contributions.

Compensation Package — From a cost of living raise or a change in benefits, to a promotion, or performance bonus. Before you can effectively negotiate your severance or compensation package, you must be aware of the dollar value of all of your benefits and perks, as well as, your salary.

Career Management Advances — Record the steps you’ve taken to more effectively manage your career. From career development plans established with your current employer to steps you’ve taken independently.

Brand Management — Record the steps you’ve taken to manage and promote your personal brand. Personal branding has gone mainstream and it’s critical to communicate and exude a consistent authentic personal brand.

Your Most Fulfilling / Rewarding Career Moment Of The Year — Think about a time when you were at the top of your game, brimming with pride, feeling a sense of accomplishment. Note every detail you can remember about that moment — where were you, who were you with, what was happening, how did you feel, what did that mean to you, why was that important to you?

Your Dream Job — Describe your dream job. What would you be doing, what type of company would you be working at, what kind of environment would you be working in, who would you be working with, what types of challenges would you be handling, what types of contributions would you be making?

Recording these reflections will help lay the foundation to start working on your goals and plans for the upcoming year.

*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.


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Looking For Work? Keep It Up Through the Holidays

…Large companies often have “use it or lose it” hiring budgets they need to spend by the end of their fiscal year, which for many firms coincides with the calendar year. “We’ve had facilities [such as hospitals] call us and say, ‘We have $100,000 to spend for recruitment and if we don’t use it this year, we don’t get it next year,'” explains Sean Milius, CEO of Management Recruiters of Colorado, a health-care focused affiliate of MRINetwork. Money might go toward signing bonuses and relocation packages, Mr. Milius says. Read the full article by WSJ’s Lauren Weber here…

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What’s Driving Your Career?

Is it your personal vision, passions, and innate talents … or is it uncertainty, confusion or even desperation? Are you clear about the type of position that would be intrinsically fulfilling … or are you willing to accept whatever you can get?

When you hear the words personal vision, passion, drive, and innate talents what emotions do you feel? Energy, excitement, enthusiasm, curiosity, hope? Do you feel like you want to get to know more about this person?

Alternatively, when you hear the words uncertainty, confusion, and desperation, what emotions come to mind? Lethargy, pessimism, despair, or lifelessness?

Before you launch your next job search, identify what you are passionate about, what energizes you, and what drives you. Passion is unique, it’s what sets you apart, it’s a precious treasure, and it’s impossible to authentically reproduce.

Focus your job search on your areas of passion, drive, and innate talents. These qualities are contagious and attract the right opportunities. You’ll interview better and capture the interest of the recruiter. While they may not have the perfect position for you at the moment, you will be remembered because of the emotional charge you brought to the meeting.

Communicating verbally and in writing from a place of vision, passion, drive, enthusiasm, and expertise is one of the hallmarks of your brand. It will set you apart from peers who have seemingly similar qualifications. Consider this: If you were interviewing two candidates for a position and both met all of the position requirements, had the same skill sets, appeared to be a good fit in your organization, but one was passionate, appeared to have a lot of drive, and was enthusiastic, who would you choose?

The most successful job search is the one that is focused around your uniqueness. Nearly all recruiters will tell you that they’re looking for the candidate that is focused on a particular function. Trying to market a broad and diverse range of skills and expertise will only confuse the recruiter and muddy your message. While employers do want executives with diverse and broad skill sets, your job search needs to focus on one or two of your major ones. And those should be the skill sets that align most with your passions and innate talents.

The return for landing a position focused on your personal vision, passion and innate talents are many, but most importantly include intrinsic fulfillment and extrinsic reward.

*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.

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