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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Tips For Creating a One-Page Resume

While most executives have a multi-page resume, the one-page resume is a valuable tool to include in your executive portfolio. You’ll most likely be using your resume in a multitude of ways.

While an executive search firm may not mind reading your two- or three-page resume, you most likely should have a one-page resume for the various types of networking activities and events in which you will be participating. For example, you may want to update your closely knit contacts about your current status. These are people you’ve known for many years and who may be assisting you in your search. They may already be familiar with your qualifications, and you want them to have an updated resume so they’re clear about what type of position you are currently pursuing. You may also want to share your one-page resume at networking events, tradeshows, conferences, or the like. Or you may want to share your one-page resume during an information gathering or business meeting.

While creating a one-page resume is often a daunting task, here are a few pointers:


  • Get clear on “exactly” what type of position you will be pursuing. Consider your brand, your passions, your unique and innate talents, and your value proposition. Then focus the entire resume on those qualities.

Executive Profile

  • Your executive profile should include your branded value proposition. Recruiters want to know what can you do for their client/company.
  • Eliminate soft skills. Go for one-line zingers that will grab their interest, such as: “Launched 7 business units, integrated 4 acquisitions, and led 3 turnarounds.” Or, “Drive 4 businesses to rank among the most profitable units in their industry.”
  • Include three or four of your strongest core competencies.

Education and credentials

  • In a one-page resume, this section is generally positioned immediately following your Executive Profile.

Professional Experience

  • Include one line that describes the company (public, private, global, VC funded), major product(s) or service(s), and industry.
  • Create one line that includes your title, the size of budget you manage, number of direct reports you manage, and other key information that will fit on that line.
  • Add one line that describes your challenge(s). Were you brought in to turn the business around, or where you brought in to launch a new division or product, or to penetrate new markets? In just a few words, describe why you were brought in to the company.
  • Accomplishments — In 25 words or less, describe what you have contributed to the company during your tenure. Articulate what value you created or delivered for each company. If you’ve worked for one company for many years, you may need to do this for several divisions or business units.
  • Only include the companies you have worked for in the last 10-15 years.

Leadership Roles

  • Leadership roles, such as Board positions, may be listed.

Associations / Affiliations

  • Only list associations or affiliations if they are extremely relevant.

On a one-page resume, it’s okay to abbreviate more than usual. You’ll also want to condense your contact information to one line following your name. It’s also okay to reduce the size of your margins.

Creating a one-page resume will take some time. You will struggle with eliminating all the great details of your accomplishments. But, remember, you have your traditional resume to give to appropriate decision makers.

*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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Are You Overqualified?

Ever been told you’re overqualified? Overqualified can mean many things such as:

  • too many years of experience
  • too much education or too many credentials
  • too highly paid in your current or previous job
  • too dated, senior or old.

Or, it can simply be a way to eliminate you from the running because you’re not the right ‘fit’ for the position. Overqualified is often a category that encompasses a wide variety of factors or qualities related to fit.

Many hiring managers feel that overqualified is a complimentary and safe way to explain your elimination from consideration for the position.

So how do you respond if you’ve been told that you’re overqualified? First, you’ll want to switch the language from “overqualified” to “fully qualified.” Having all the qualifications simply means you’re fully qualified and can do the job extraordinarily well. Isn’t that what the company is looking for?

If you’re in an interview and you’ve just been told you’re overqualified, respond with a question to find out specifically how the interviewer feels you’re overqualified. Ask the interviewer, “What about my qualifications over qualifies me?” You need to find out specifically what their objection is so you can address it.

Some of the interviewer’s concerns may be:

  • you’ll cost too much to hire
  • you’ll get bored, frustrated, resentful
  • you’ll leave as soon as you find something better
  • you might take my job because you’re more qualified than me.

So, how do you respond to these objections?

You’ll want to address these concerns with stories of past experiences, demonstrable proof, and the return on investment the company can expect from hiring you.

If salary is the issue, you can explain that you are aware that the economy has caused significant changes in salaries and that you have adjusted your lifestyle so that you are able to accommodate these changes. Alternatively, if appropriate, you could explain that at this point in your career, you want to eliminate some of the stress and demands of your more recent senior positions.

If the position is similar to a position you held five or ten years ago and really loved, express your passion for that role and share a compelling story about how you delivered value to the company while in that role. Explain that you are looking to get back into a role that you loved and capitalized on your core skills.

If you have a history of longevity, loyalty and commitment to past employers, share that information so the interviewer feels secure that you won’t resign the moment you receive a better offer.

If you suspect that overqualified means too old, emphasize your reliability, commitment, work ethics, and ability to meet objectives in a smooth, efficient and timely fashion. Share stories that demonstrate the positive effect you bring to the workplace.

If you suspect that overqualified means you’re too senior or outdated, read,“How 55+ Year-Olds Can Compete in Today’s Job Market” to dispel this concern.

If it appears you would be working for a young, inexperienced manager, give an example of a like past experience and what you did to make the situation work. Also share stories that allude to your agility, flexibility and physical stamina.

Leverage your vast experience to demonstrate your ability to work well in groups and on teams, communicate across various functional groups in the organization, and avoid potential landmines and crises. Emphasize your ability to ramp up rapidly with little or no training and take on added responsibilities as they arise.

If the interviewer feels intimidated by your qualifications, reassure him that you are purely interested in supporting him, making him look good, and achieving the company’s objectives so that the company can thrive. If you are the type of executive who surrounds yourself with people who are smarter than you, share a story about some of the people you’ve hired that were smarter than you, how you leveraged that, and the outcomes.

You can also compliment the hiring manager on his outstanding qualities and strengths and share how you would enjoy blending your strengths with his to create a dynamic team. Perhaps some of your weaknesses are his strengths.

It’s best to address these concerns about being overqualified before they arise. To discover how to customize your resume so you won’t be considered overqualified before you have a chance to interview, read,“How To Improve Your Response Rate”.

If you’ve had the opportunity to interview and suspect that you are overqualified for the position, include additional stories and outcomes in your thank you letter. Demonstrate how you’ll be the perfect fit and deliver far more value than the cost of your compensation package.

*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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Incorporating Keywords In Your Resume

Regardless of how you plan to distribute your resume, keywords or buzzwords are a critical element in marketing yourself to the prospective employer. A resume rich in keywords is critical whether you are:

  • Selectively sending your resume to the hiring decision maker or an executive search consultant
  • Responding to a position posted online
  • Posting your resume on an executive search firm’s site, a membership organization’s site, or a function- or industry-specific site

In nearly all of the electronic options, your resume will be entered into a database where the recipient(s) can conduct a search of the most qualified candidate.

And how do you think these folks initially determine who’s the most qualified? Keywords. Their own set of keywords, based on the requirements of the position.

Due to the plethora of job seekers in the market, employers are only considering candidates who are a “perfect fit”. And today, recruiters are expanding their list of requirements to include very specific requirements.

For example, some job postings include the geographic location in which you must reside. Some require specific company experience, for example, you must have worked at Coca Cola for five years to be considered for the position. Some even state, “The unemployed need not apply.”

So, your first challenge is to figure out which keywords to include. In selecting keywords, it’s important to be crystal clear about your functional target. It also helps to be clear about your industry target. Positioning yourself as an expert in a function and an industry greatly enhances your chances of being selected.

Generally, keywords are nouns or noun phrases. The most common type of keyword that employers search for is a position title. Other keywords include degrees, prestigious college names, credentials, licenses and technical certifications, as well as hard skills (areas of expertise), techniques or tools (B2B business development, environmental engineering, Six Sigma, lean manufacturing), soft skills (team building, cross-cultural leadership), languages, affiliations, industry jargon and geographic locations (cities, states and even telephone area codes). If you are searching for a position in the Silicon Valley and your residence is in “Alum Rock” rather than “San Jose,” in parentheses add, “Silicon Valley area,” or “10 miles outside the Silicon Valley area.” Remember, a recruiter selecting candidates for a Silicon Valley company may be based in New York and may not be familiar with the outlying cities.

Next, research job postings and select four to five positions that sound like your dream position—postings for which you feel 110% qualified. You may also want to visit industry-specific association websites to identify keywords. Association sites generally educate members on the current trends and challenges facing the industry.

Read through each position or website and record all of the keywords. Look for keyword similarities and patterns across all positions and websites. Create a list that you can refer to and update on an ongoing basis. Then, rank order the keywords by the number of times they are mentioned in the various postings and sites.

To determine the keyword strength of your resume, run a search on your resume for each of the keywords on your new list. Highlight the ones you find. Now, you can determine which keywords you will need to add. While it is okay to include a keyword list in your executive summary, you will also want to weave the keywords throughout your resume because some systems are able to decipher lists from content and rank keywords found within the content higher on the search results.

When embedding keywords in the experience section, create a quantifiable value proposition story encompassing the keyword or phrase. For example:

“Developed and successfully executed strategy for divestiture of 3 facilities within 16 months to yield $8MM in cost reduction and $280MM in asset sales.”

“Restructured manufacturing-driven inventory management system into a global organization based on solid forecasting methodologies. Reduced back orders 50% while improving customer service levels; improved inventory turns 10%.”

In the examples above the keywords are in bold.

Caution, do not use so many keywords that the resume does not read well when viewed by the human eye. The number of keywords you use will depend on your function, industry, qualifications and years of experience. For example, if you have been in operations or technology for 20+ years, you will most likely have numerous keywords that you could include in your resume. However, only include keywords that relate to what you would like to do next.

If you intend to pursue different functions and industries, you will need to create multiple versions of your resume that include keywords appropriate for each function and industry. While this is a lot of work, it is critical in today’s job market. Just be sure to track which resume you sent for each position or which resume you posted on each site. Some functions and industries combine well on one resume and others do not. For more about this topic, read: How Many Versions of Your Resume Do You Need?

You should also include keywords in all of the documents in your executive job search portfolio (cover letters, bios, online profiles, positioning statements, leadership profiles, success stories, branding statements, introductions, reference dossiers, thank you letters, etc.).

While a targeted search is the most effective job search strategy, there may be times when you must use some of the online venues to pursue a position, at which point your keywords can make or break the opportunity.

The strategies outlined in this article can also be applied to your LinkedIn profile.

Feel free to send an email to of you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

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