Tough Love for the Executive-Level Job Seeker

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , , , , |

I’ve had the privilege of working with job seekers of a wide range of backgrounds and industries. But this past year, I have concentrated much of my time to working with executives and executive-wannabes.

Why, you might ask?

Because I saw that of all levels of professionals, it was executives who seemed to have lost their grasp on how to conduct an effective job search and on how to do it in a professional manner. Honestly, I think many of them simply don’t take their job search all that seriously. At least, they don’t act like they do.

Professionalism…It is quickly becoming a lost art, I’m afraid. From scruffy facial hair to baggy jeans to disastrous cell phone and e-mail etiquette, I’m beginning to think that people view their work environments as nothing more than an extension of their college dorm room.

I can’t tell you how many illegible e-mails I receive on a daily basis from job seekers demanding salaries of no less than $150,000. Right now I have one in front of me from a “whearhouse director” and another from a “hop corporate raider.” Then there is the CEO who can’t attach a file to his e-mail. So every time I send him something to review, he prints it out, writes on it, and faxes it back to me. Now I’m sure he has some great operations skills, but if this is how he conducts business on a regular basis, he must drive everyone nuts! Not to mention the fact that he can’t possibly be giving potential employers the best impression.

For some reason, the more successful we become, the more we rely on our accomplishments to do all the talking and the less effort we put into considering how we present ourselves to the rest of the world. And, to some extent, that is understandable.

After all, we have worked hard. We climbed that ladder. We jumped through those hoops. So who cares about our facial hair? We saved the company $2M last year alone!!

It also doesn’t help matters that there are several top-rated corporations out there who have taken on the persona of their college dorm room CEOs. Their headquarters are virtually playlands of gyms, game rooms, and massage tables. And everyone wears “cas” and looks like they just rolled out of bed.

(I know, I’m a bore. Even worse, I am a…traditionalist, you might say. It sounds like I want us to go back to the corporate Dark Ages. Right?)

Don’t get me wrong…this lifestyle is great while it lasts, but when it is time to move on, reality hits: Not everyone in the world goes to work in their pajamas and straggly hair.

I know, you’re the renegade. You’re worth it, so your beard and tattoo don’t matter. And good spelling? Well, you’re above that. That’s what we have assistants for, right?

This logic may work in the movies, and it may even work for a select few. But I can tell you, executive or not, most people don’t want to do business with a slob and with someone whose grammar and computer skills are worse than a 4th grader, no matter how fantastic you are.

So let’s get back to the basics. You have the credentials. You have the experience and the metrics to back it up. Now it is time to remember those early days when you first started out: buy a new suit, find your razor, and for God’s sake, learn how to spell!


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