5 Job Seeker Tips from an Executive Recruiter

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COVID-19 caused a lot of people to put plans on hold this year. Credit union leaders across the country pressed pause on major organizational initiatives from branch construction to brand rollouts, and even revised planned retirements (as evidenced from a significant slow down in executive recruiting over the summer months). After a fairly inactive spring and summer on the recruitment front, credit unions seem to have picked up their pace on hiring, though. If a new job is on your wish list this season or your “New Year, New You” plans for 2021 include a career change, that could be good news for you!

With this pent-up demand for new executive positions, each open role is attracting dozens of qualified candidates, making it critical that your interest stands out. With the added burden of trying to differentiate during socially distanced interviews, landing a new role—that is also a right fit-- may seem almost impossible.

Here are five tips to incorporate in your job search that may help you stand out in a search:

Build and Engage Your Network
Even with a push to attracting diverse candidate pools-- and increased awareness around the limitations of relying on a personal network when building candidate pools--  it remains true that most six-figure jobs are filled with people already known to the hiring manager. Making your existing network aware that you are open to new opportunities and building new, meaningful connections can help you find the right opportunity. Without in-person networking events, LinkedIn offers a valuable platform for this: Sharing or commenting on posts, asking for specific advice from someone you admire, or looking for introductions from mutual acquaintances can all build your network.

Be Intentional with Your Approach
If you are actively searching job boards for new roles, you may come across several opportunities (all at once) that pique your interest. With your newly freshened-up resume, it may be tempting to apply for every position. Be careful not to send the message, “I’ll take any role you have.” Instead, research specific details about each role to learn why you could be the right fit, then reference what you learn to set your application apart. Drafting a letter of interest that references key elements of the job posting may demonstrate that you understand the unique nature of this credit union and this role.

At Humanidei + O’Rourke, we work with clients to offer both traditional and video job postings. These video job postings feature a hiring manager or Board member discussing their specific needs and what sets their credit union apart. As a job seeker, look for this type of supplemental information and use it to create a customized application that shows why this is the role for you.

Ask Strategic Questions
You’ve landed an interview! After an engaging conversation with the recruiter, your time together is wrapping up. Didn’t get the chance to share all your best strengths? Want to leave the recruiter with a bold last impression? Take a few minutes at the end of the interview to ask strategic questions that allow you to emphasize why you are a great fit and that may help you prepare better for the next round.

Questions about goals for the first 90 and 365 days, key organizational priorities, employee well-being, and the impact this role could have on each of these areas would position a candidate as thinking strategically. Having examples of how you would take action based on the answers could further differentiate your candidacy.

Thank People Along the Way
As you move through a job search process, it is easy to lose track of whose court the ball might be in. Is now the time to send a follow up thank you, or do you wait until you hear back from the recruiter for the next round interview first? The safest answer: Now is always the time to thank someone for their support. Certainly, you want to thank the hiring manager and search committee for any time they offer in an interview, but there are others who merit appreciation, too. Express gratitude to the recruiter who answered your questions and advanced your candidacy, as well as the one who scheduled the details of each interview; follow up with people in your network who referred you to the job or served as a professional reference. Thank you notes are increasingly rare these days. A well-timed expression of gratitude for the investment others are making in helping you find the right fit can is one more way to demonstrate your emotional intelligence, stay connected with your network, and differentiate your candidacy.

Be Patient With the Process
The job search is demanding and deeply personal. Candidates put forth effort to craft customized cover letters, tailor their resumes, respond to screening questions, and allow themselves to get excited about the possibilities. And then…Sometimes weeks pass with very little communication. Depending on the timing of your application relative to the search timeline or other organizational priorities that may demand a hiring manager’s attention, there could be reasons beyond negligence and disrespect that are causing the process to take time. While a first instinct may be to criticize the process (or the individual handling the search), a more constructive action is sending a thoughtful (and brief) email checking in. It is perfectly appropriate to seek clarity on the process and timeline. Handle that request with the same respect for the human on the other side of the search as you would like extended to you, and you are more likely to get a response.   

Bonus Tip: Before you get too frustrated with a lack of responsiveness, check your spam and junk mail folders and verify the email address on your resume is one you check regularly. Email is a common communication tool in the search process. Especially in early phases, a recruiter may read a lack of response to an email as disinterest in continuing the search.

Looking for your next professional step should be an exciting journey. A thoughtful approach to your job search may make it a productive one, too!

Humanidei + O’Rourke is your league partner for human capital solutions. We offer products and services that support hiring managers and candidates in finding the perfect organizational fit, including executive search, candidate coaching and professional profile review, and leadership/team development coaching—all with a focus on building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. California and Nevada Credit Union League members receive priority pricing.

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