Executives, Here’s How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Executives, Here’s How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Pursuing a new executive role? You’ll probably meet your interviewers inside your home.

Approximately 75% of employers are now conducting remote interviews and onboarding sessions, according to a 2020 survey by Robert Half.

Increasingly popular, remote work (and interviews) have become the norm; companies like Facebook and GitLab are even creating new remote work executive roles. LinkedIn Insights noted 81% of talent professionals indicate they plan to continue virtual recruiting, even past COVID. 

It’s only natural that Boards, executive teams, and other hiring authorities will expect to interview, screen, and hire you using the same methods.

Follow these steps to prepare for a virtual executive interview that clearly demonstrates your fitness to lead, influence, and execute on strategic priorities:

 

Leverage your own virtual hiring insights.

Perhaps you’ve staffed new leadership, technology, or finance teams in offshore or other locations – even prior to COVID-19. Now you can put YOUR remote hiring practices to good use – while envisioning yourself on the other side of the hiring table!

What qualities did you seek in candidates during the video or remote hiring experience? What were common “fails” you noticed among competing applicants? Make note of any limitations you observed during interviews and spend time brainstorming ways to avoid them.

For example, your communications style will need to be more enthusiastic to come across properly on Zoom or other video platforms. Employers are looking for strong leaders who can convey strategic goals to their (also remote) teams, likely using the same communication medium. So you’ll benefit from recording yourself to note how clearly your personality and drive come through on video.

You may also have noticed some candidates continually shift their attention between looking at the camera and at their notes. Practice your success stories to ensure this information is top-of-mind and to ensure you’re giving the camera your undivided attention.

 

Prepare your virtual interview space.

Lighting, background, and appearance are key to a successful remote interview. You’ll find these elements help boost your confidence.

Position your laptop near a light source to help illuminate your surroundings. You can also purchase a ring light for a more flattering look. Choose a non-cluttered, quiet area of your home to ensure the best background for your interview – or choose a background that evokes your professional image, according to Harvard Business Review. Of course, you’ll fare best when setting up these elements well ahead of time.

Last of all, dress as you would for an in-person meeting, with the business attire expected in your industry and at your executive level. Hiring authorities are expecting the same leadership presence you’d display if you were sitting in the Boardroom.

 

Prepare your interview talking points.

Not only will you need to anticipate “typical” interview questions, you’ll want to be aware of the unique value you offer as a candidate.

I recommend setting aside time to look for patterns and themes in your background, including achievements that demonstrate leadership, agility, and a record of results. You might have earned a reputation for new strategic projects, technology improvements, employee motivation, or consistent growth.

For example, a COO in the technology operations may have managed digital product development teams, project management organizations, and international operations – can could note “global team management, virtual talent hiring and management strategy, and strong data science” as key areas of strength.

To elicit more talking points for yourself, scrutinize your resume for key points on your career trajectory. If you’ve previously been recruited to turn around a challenged organization, negotiated vendor cost savings, or played a key role in M&A strategy, make notes of why you were asked to head these initiatives and what bottom-line benefit you delivered.

As mentioned in Harvard Business Review, recruiters are looking for your storytelling abilities, rather than a recitation of the facts on your resume. Carefully construct several career success stories of less than 3-4 minutes for the best impact.

 

In summary, don’t fear the video interview for your next executive job – embrace it instead!

Get ready with a camera-worthy presence and solid information on your distinctions as a well-qualified leadership candidate.

5 Pandemic-Related Achievements to Add to Your Resume Now

5 Pandemic-Related Achievements to Add to Your Resume Now

The pandemic has created HUGE changes in business – and your resume needs to reflect your skill in navigating them.

Shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19, remote work for nearly 46% of US employees, and industry changes have all created a “new normal” in business.

How have YOU adapted to new pandemic challenges? Has your work required managing teams in a far-flung location – or a newly intensive workload? By demonstrating leadership under pressure, you’ll be perceived by employers as a more valuable candidate.

Add these 5 important skills to your resume to show resilience and results during the pandemic and beyond:

1 – Newly remote teams established across time zones.

Offshore teams are not a new concept, but the skill needed to establish and manage a division in a remote area has taken on more significance during the pandemic.

Perhaps you offloaded work to teams in a different time zone, adapted to a different work culture in another continent, or adjusted your leadership style to convey requirements to remote workers.

If you’ve set up a remote team, break this achievement into a quick description for your resume, with data on the location, headcount, operations procedures, budget, and costs saved from the new group, as shown here:

Established 120-member contact center in Malaysia, delivering 32% additional support to ecommerce customers.

Built business case for 50 additional employees in software development factory, enabling $30M in products delivered at 30% lower cost.

 

2 – Virtual hiring and interviewing.

More than ever, employers have switched to remote interviews, recorded interview queries, and other tactics to vet applicants.

By showcasing your influence in sourcing or interviewing candidates remotely, you can make the case for why an employer in Fresno could trust your leadership from Boston.

You can mention, for example, how you’ve hired top performers using video interviews during COVID-19 or assembled a panel interview team connecting with candidates on a group Zoom call. Be sure to add metrics to these resume achievements, as shown here:

Interviewed and hired new teams in Malaysia, India, and Brazil representing 45% of total reports.

Hired CFO and VP of IT using virtual Board of Directors interviews.

You can also mention new onboarding procedures you’ve built to help employees feel welcome, even when they haven’t met your team in person.

 

3 – Team meetings and collaboration over video.

If you’re accustomed to meeting deadlines from home or need to conduct group meetings via Zoom, your ability to be productive away from a brick-and-mortar office is HIGHLY relevant during the pandemic.

Brainstorm a list of achievements that show your adaptability to different work situations, such as the number of projects you’ve completed. Maybe you created new procedures now adopted across other regions or continents also grappling with pandemic.

Make a list of the top wins that show how you deal with online interactions, particularly where you negotiated or led deals of substantial value. Add details on the players involved, impact to the company, or even the careers of the others involved, similar to these examples:

Coached 3 Senior Sales leaders promoted to VP positions after leading global negotiations for #1 UK deal worth $US43M.

Built real-time project status updates enabling on-time development for a $45M software initiative.

 

4 – Solid results from remote management practices.

Executives and teams spread across different time zones require new methods of communication to get results. This resume achievement shows how one executive increased company productivity from multiple locations:

Designed operational improvements enabling 43% additional work from teams in Canada, Latin America, and India.

In addition, you can mention the technologies or tools used for improvement, such as:

Instituted one-click Zoom screen-sharing process used by Latin American trainers to educate 400+ new product users worldwide.

5 – Strong employee support for pandemic stress.

Your teams probably underwent changes including  new ways to handle B2B sales, customer support, project delivery, and technical issues, while also managing their OWN STRESS from social isolation, home-based work requirements, or childcare needs during the pandemic.

Did you manage and mentor employees in response to pandemic-era changes? Frame this as a new leadership skill on  your resume.

You may have conducted additional training or coaching with team members to help them through the new world of work, or helped adjust project schedules to account for employees juggling family needs. This approach to leadership is likely to last; The Workforce Institute’s 2021 Annual Workplace Predictions says “compassionate and inclusive management that emphasizes empathy, wellness, and belonging” will be a 2021 mainstay.

Add achievements that make employers aware of your resourcefulness in managing the new world of work, as in these examples:

Chaired COVID-19 Response Committee tasked with updating telecommuting policy for 2020 and 2021.

Retained 4 managers with weekly mentoring to avoid pandemic burnout, averting potential $15K in additional hiring costs.

Built tiered, rotating technical support strategy for $20M in project deliverables across 3 global teams.

These resume updates reflect robust change management skills – and show how you’re equipped to deal with the unexpected throughout your career.

 

With the likelihood that remote work and virtual communications are here to stay, there are numerous reasons to outline your readiness to operate a division, manage remote teams, and maintain top productivity during a pandemic.

Your ability to adapt to new situations, reach across time zones and geographies to work with others, and influence change is more valuable than ever.

Showcase these wins on your resume to demonstrate strong servant leadership and change management – even under pandemic challenges.

 

Related:

Should You Job Search – or Wait – During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Which Resume Trends Will Help You Stand Out?

Are You Making The Top LinkedIn Mistakes in Your Executive Job Search?

Are You Making The Top LinkedIn Mistakes in Your Executive Job Search?

Executives, you might NOT be maximizing LinkedIn in a way that will help get you hired.

If you’re rarely approached by recruiters on LinkedIn, or you apply to LinkedIn jobs and don’t receive a response, or you wonder why you even need a LinkedIn Profile… these mistakes might apply to YOU.

Read on for common pitfalls to avoid when using LinkedIn as a tool in your executive job search:

 

Mistaking a resume summary for a LinkedIn summary.

executive resume summaryYour LinkedIn About section (formerly called Summary) is a great tool for presenting a snapshot of your brand and value proposition. However, many people mistake this for the resume summary of qualifications, and insert a long, dull paragraph.

I can’t say this enough as a LinkedIn Profile writerOnline copywriting is much different than writing for printed or emailed documents. You’ll need to create your profile so that it can easily be read online, using FIRST-PERSON language to create engagement.

Rather than use your resume summary, instead write a more personalized account of your background and qualifications, breaking up the text visually so that employers can quickly scan through for key words.

See Job-Hunt.org’s tips on adding eye candy such as bullet symbols to make your About section more interesting.

 

Failing to engage others online.

LinkedIn engagementIf you only lurk to read posts, rarely comment, and have yet to post any articles or information of your own, this applies to YOU.

LinkedIn has beefed up engagement algorithm “rankings” heavily over the past months, making it clear that direct interaction is a major factor in how often others will see your Profile.

Just like websites that continually show you the same ad after you’ve visited the company website, LinkedIn wants to reward users who fully embrace the concept of online networking (see point #3 in How the LinkedIn Algorithm Works) by showing these Profiles more often to recruiters.

You’ll still need to tune your Profile for strong content, but after you start commenting on posts of professional interest (or putting your own posts up regularly), don’t be surprised if more employers come calling.

 

Conveying a message inconsistent with your executive resume.

There’s no way around it – employers will be trolling LinkedIn for information about you, even if you’ve already sent your resume to them to review. The problem comes in when your job history, core competencies, or achievements appear different online than on paper. (Lest you think this is rare, I can assure you it’s very common among executives with decades of experience.)

After writing both your LinkedIn Profile and your resume, I recommend printing them out, and reviewing information such as job dates, dollar figures, education, achievements, job titles, and employer names SIDE-BY-SIDE. You’ll be able to spot any discrepancies quickly.

In addition, reviewing the profile this way allows you to see if it delivers the same value proposition message as your resume.

If you missed highlights of your career (such as metrics on revenue generated or cost savings), it’s best to add this data into your LinkedIn Profile so that it aligns with your brand.

 

Failing to use all the space provided on LinkedIn.

executive resume using LinkedInYou’re guilty of this if your About / Summary contains just a few sentences, you didn’t even realize your Headline can be 220 characters, your Work Experience only includes titles (and no description of your achievements), or you skipped sections like Skills & Expertise.

Employers and recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates with specific skills or career experience. By adding information that contains key search terms, your odds of being found by recruiters can rise dramatically. (See How to Optimize Your Executive LinkedIn Profile for SEO.)

Here are the current character limits for popular LinkedIn sections:

  • Headline – 220 Characters
  • Summary – 2,600 Characters
  • Skills & Expertise – Up to 50 Skills
  • Company Name – 100 Characters
  • Job Title – 100 Characters
  • Job Description – 2,000 Characters

If your Profile isn’t CLOSE to maxing out each of these spots, you’re missing valuable opportunities to advertise your skills or insert more keywords.

Want proof? Take a look at my LinkedIn Profile (or search for me on LinkedIn, using the phrase “executive resume writer” in LinkedIn.) You’ll quickly see why every word counts.

 

Using an outdated LinkedIn Photo that detracts from your personal brand.

Have you cropped your LinkedIn Photo from a family or group shot? Used a Photo from a non-professional setting such as a party? Shown yourself behind the wheel of your car?

PLEASE use a photo representative of your executive brand! Run it through Photofeeler to crowdsource feedback on your credibility.

If you’re unsure of the right professional look, review Profiles of your executive competitors to see how their photo stacks up against yours. See What Does Your LinkedIn Photo Say About Your Executive Brand? for more tips.

The bottom line: every time you appear in a search on LinkedIn, or comment on a post, or show up in a group of optimum recruiter candidates, others WILL use your Photo to gauge your credibility. Choose it wisely.

 

Assuming you won’t be hired from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn hiringIt’s interesting how often this comes up in conversations with executive job hunters. Nearly 94% of recruiters worldwide use social media to source candidates, according to this survey.

Even if you’ve never been approached by a recruiter online, your competitors are receiving inquiries weekly (if not daily).

Update your Profile consistently, ensuring alignment with your most current executive roles and showing how you add value for your employers.

Pay attention to NEW ways you can market your expertise, such as the Featured section or a newly expanded Headline. Above all, INTERACT with others and post interesting content.

 

You only have ONE SHOT to promote yourself on a site with more than 600 million users.

Rethink how you’re using LinkedIn and tune your presence for a differentiating, powerful leadership brand.

Related:

Is Your Digital Identity Harming Your Job Search?

5 Common Myths About Working With Executive Recruiters

 

 

Should You Job Search – or Wait – During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Should You Job Search – or Wait – During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Trying to decide if you should pursue an executive job search during COVID-19?

Many people have asked this question, especially with numerous layoffs and industry changes.

If you’re among the fortunate leaders still employed – but already planning your next move, this unprecedented time can be confusing. Should you put off your job search, stay in the executive job market, or pivot to a new career?

Use these guidelines to map out a plan of action to benefit your executive career – both now and after the crisis:

 

1 – Look closely at your industry and the impact of COVID-19.

Not all markets or industries have been affected in the crisis. In fact, some types of executive talent are in hot demand, particularly in technology, biotech, logistics, operations, or healthcare.

Even if you’re not directly working in these fields, consider how a strategic pivot could benefit you now and in the future, especially in light of the agility needed in a post-COVID economy (as noted by Dean Trimble in The Senior Executive Job Market and Coronavirus). For example, an IT leader involved in remote work infrastructures could leverage this expertise to pursue a role supporting global telecommuting capabilities.

If you’ve built e-commerce strategies as part of your marketing or sales career, these skills could catapult you into a digital strategy role for companies making the switch to online sales.

If making this switch requires additional knowledge, look into university-level online education, or even the free / lower-cost online training available during COVID-19, such as the resources offered to LinkedIn users, Coursera university-level instruction, or Udemy’s low-cost courses.

There’s never been a better time to brush up on high-value skills.

 

2 – Watch for pent-up demand in your field.

Many industries were poised for an almost-certain growth trend prior to COVID-19 – and they could be among the first to recover after the pandemic is gone.

If your top skills are in these industries, take heart; your strengths didn’t disappear overnight, and your executive-level opportunities will eventually rebound. (Just ask anyone who was in the construction business during the 2008-2010 downturn.)

executive brandHowever, this lull in your field will give you the chance to pull together a strong value proposition, tune your skills with additional training (see above), and strengthen your professional brand.

You might consider joining a professional association, volunteering as a Board member in an industry organization, or running an online forum dedicated to industry-related topics.

Also, take this time to bolster your executive resume or LinkedIn presence with these new skills, career achievements, and industry associations.

You’ll want to be ready when industry demand bounces back.

 

3 – Boost your visibility and professional presence on social media.

Enhancing your personal brand message can pay off greatly, both now and after the crisis.

Job searchers who are more active and visible online often report faster results and the opportunity to be recruited for a prime executive job – directly from social media.

Start by updating up your LinkedIn Profile. When was the last time you updated your Headline, Photo, or About section? Take a few minutes to add new Skills section entries or new training from the courses you’re taking (in Step #1).

Be sure to actually post or comment on social media; many of these sites “reward” frequent activity by showing your profile more often to other users (including employers!). See Hannah Morgan’s tips for LinkedIn engagement at Career Sherpa.

 

4 – Reach out to your network (or build a new one) during the COVID crisis.

Professionals and executives in many fields have taken the opportunity to re-connect in the COVID-19 era. Many people are reaching back out to former connections for a friendly chat.

By checking in with old colleagues, you’ll put yourself one step closer to a group of people eager to hear about your career progression.

executive networkWhat should you say when getting in touch? A simple “I’ve wanted to catch up with you and find out how things are going,” can suffice for a former classmate or boss.

Don’t forget to add new LinkedIn connections in line with your interests and goals, especially if you’re expanding your leadership skills.

Issue a note with your connection invitation such as “As we are turning toward new robotics solutions, I’d like to connect with you to continue to share insights. I welcome the opportunity to add you to my network.”

 

5 – Put out feelers to recruiters and potential employers.

By developing a value proposition message and strategically putting the word out, you’ll get a sense of the demand for your skills.

If you initiate conversations with recruiters and listen carefully to their responses, you’ll get valuable intelligence on the hiring conditions in your field. Maintain a pulse on the market (as described in Step #1) and proactively seek out new skills or education, especially if you sense your industry is on a downward trend.

Job search expert Liz Cohen recommends these efficient strategies for combing LinkedIn to see who is hiring, with tips on evaluating job posting freshness and reaching out to employer contacts.

Use employer job postings for information – not just for sending your resume. Consider applying to these employer’s competitors if you believe demand is picking up. Look at the LinkedIn Profiles of your job-seeking competitors to see if they’re changing positions or moving up the career ladder.

By paying close attention to the news and trends in your field – while continuing to network and hold informal meetings – you’ll be able to identify hot leads and decide which are worth pursuing. 

 

Remember, COVID-19 and the associated downturn will someday be behind us.

The time to polish your personal brand, re-connect with valued colleagues, obtain new skills, and monitor new trends in your industry is NOW.

Take advantage of this time window to carefully consider next-step executive career moves and start executing your strategic plan.

 

The Worst Mistake You Can Make in Your Executive Cover Letter

The Worst Mistake You Can Make in Your Executive Cover Letter

After you identify the ideal employer or job, it’s time to court them with a well-written Cover Letter.

Even though your resume and LinkedIn Profile will get the most attention, your Cover Letter (also called a Value Proposition Letter) is a powerful tool that can point out how your leadership approach will create ROI and why you’re the best fit for the company.

Some CEOs, Boards, company owners, and investors will read your Cover Letter even MORE intently than your resume! It’s worth your time to craft a powerful one.

 

What’s the Biggest Mistake in Most Cover Letters?

Calling attention to your deficiencies as an applicant.

You MUST put your best foot forward immediately in a Cover Letter – enumerating the reasons an employer SHOULD call you.

Are you opening your Cover Letter with any of these lines?

“You might wonder why I’m reaching out to you…”

“Despite the fact that I don’t have the experience listed in your job posting…”

“Even with my experience in a field entirely different than yours…”

STOP! The employer doesn’t even know you yet, and you’ve just given them a reason to dismiss you out of hand.

Consider how quickly you’re ruling yourself out as a candidate when you launch into the negatives of your background.

By over-explaining, calling out your weaknesses, or unfavorably comparing yourself to other candidates, you could be relegating your Cover Letter to the (digital) trash bin.

Re-Think Your Cover Letter Strategy

Lead with your strengths! These could be your skills in a related industry, your career recognition for exceeding expectations, your steady promotions into the C-suite, or simply your affinity for the employer’s industry.

Rework your Cover Letter with a strategy that outlines your readiness for an executive role, including your history of business growth, related achievements, and grasp of their customer needs.

Ditch the negative opening line and start fresh with something like these introductions:

“As SVP at GHI Holdings, I’ve regularly stepped in as interim COO to manage our regional operations, lowering OPEX 23% and providing me with the insight to streamline operations at XYZ Company.”

“Long interested in the technology side of the life sciences business, I offer a strong perspective on digital transformation, AI, and modernization that could benefit your operation.”

“Your posting for a CFO piqued my interest. As the senior finance executive for ABC Company, I’ve created the same culture of stability, accountability, and accuracy as described in your requirements (with 11% better revenue and 6% more productivity.”

Note that these statements all fit the bill for a candidate who is not quite at the level they’re pursuing, but they’re still conversation starters that can get you in the door.

 

Want a better shot at impressing employers?

Write a persuasive Cover Letter that describes your passion for the industry and how your leadership background directly aligns with employer needs.

Focus on the POSITIVE aspects of your career and the ROI of hiring you to get the response you deserve.

Top Companies Hiring for $100K+ Jobs

Top Companies Hiring for $100K+ Jobs

If you’re monitoring job postings to find $100K+ jobs, take note of The Ladders’ Top 15 Companies Hiring for $100K+ Jobs as of May 2019.

Don’t forget to check out job postings for $100K+ jobs using Indeed.com (where you either find all $100K+ jobs at https://www.indeed.com/q-100k+-jobs.html or simply search Indeed.com with the Salary parameter set to the appropriate figure).

You can also use PayScale.com as a salary research tool to analyze your expected salary in a specific job type (using https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job), then bring up Google Jobs to fill in parameters such as job type and location. After selecting a job posting, you’ll see salary data if it’s available.

Even though Google Jobs will list both Indeed and LinkedIn job postings, you can also use LinkedIn Jobs directly; first, select the Search option and then use the Filters tab to restrict your results above the $100K level.

Happy searching!