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Dude, where’s my oyster? (Part I)

Before the Global Financial Crisis, in terms of career development, the world was our oyster. But what now? Is there still hope left for the terminally ambitious executive? Definitely yes! says Walt Hawtin. But there are conditions, and they will sort out the wimps from the achievers!
There isn’t an executive alive looking at the current global financial crisis who isn’t thinking: “How’s does this affect my career prospects and plans?”.

Pre-GFC, a mere 16 months ago, the world was our oyster. We had many options and personal choices to make. The hardest thing to decide upon was which company would be good enough to enjoy the benefit of our cleverness, our leadership skills and our great work ethic. It almost seemed easy.

Things have certainly changed.

The global financial system has stalled, negatively impacting both the availability of credit and the level of confidence required for most companies to invest and grow. A serious consequence of this situation is that the unemployment rate in most developed markets is steadily rising, and by all estimates it still has some northward movement left.

When you see senior HR people rubbing their hands together and muttering to themselves: “Now it’s my turn!” you just know that the situation has changed.

The global environment will certainly turn around, but not quickly enough for the impatient and itchy footed executive. So, while we may not reach our career peaks as quickly as we might have hoped during the glory days of the new bubble, with a bit of planning and the introduction of some simple little strategies, we can still take control of our careers and prepare for a meaningful and successful future. In fact if there is a key word for new post-GF environment, it is control and it has many meanings in the context of our careers.

Today, we get started on two tactics to get the career ball rolling and begin to maximise our exposure to some quality opportunities.

First, we talk about getting our CVs up-to-date and looking sharp and professional.

Second, we register with some class career sites like executivesurf.com.

Our CV

There’s no avoiding it, we need a short, sharp, crisp-looking CV. Regardless of our situation, we must always have a prepared CV ready to go at all times, not least because in tighter economic situations opportunities can arise when we least expect them.

I personally know an executive from the financial services sector who went for a social coffee with her former boss. The boss had heard through some former colleagues that our executive was not entirely happy with her current role, and the conversation quickly turned to an opening in his new company. Within 30 minutes of that chat she was able to send her old boss a prepared, professional CV. He quickly cancelled a newspaper advertisement for the role as soon as he received her CV. In this case, any delay on her part would have resulted in the advertisement still running, and that would have meant additional competition for the role!

Three weeks later she started work with her old boss. This is not at all an unusual story. Preparation for opportunities such as this may seem like an exercise in raw hope, but the reality is the more we prepare and think about new challenges, the more opportunities we identify.

So a sharp two or three page CV is the minimum entry requirement for the organised and motivated executive. By the way, we also need a big fat Master CV with absolutely everything recorded because the Master CV is our primary source for the core material that makes up the tailored versions we send out.

There will be another article on the Master CV and CV Sharing Strategies later, so stay tuned.

Register On-Line with an appropriate Professional Career Site

Start raising your profile on-line with sites such as executivesurf.com as well as Linked-In, Xing, Plaxo, Naymz, etc.. Senior recruiters are using these sites as primary source tools nowadays, so if you are not there with a decent profile, you will not emerge when the right role is looking for you. These business social networking sites are also effective ways to announce changes to your career, such as increased responsibilities, or completion of key professional qualifications or courses, or even relocation.

ExecutiveSurf.com is an ideal starting point because anonymous profiles emerge when ExecutiveSurf’s many client search against our industry backgrounds, skills sets, and experiences. It is the quiet salesperson, working in the background to ensure that we are exposed to opportunities even before a company goes public with a vacant role! An ExecutiveSurf client in senior HR recently said that she loved being able to work out if the combination of skills and experiences she is after exist before she defines her recruitment strategy. More than once she has hired directly from ExecutiveSurf’s profiles because of the quality profiles she found.

Linked-In is a very useful tool for similar reasons, and also because it allows you to develop and maintain your professional networks. Don’t be scared of the publicity – there are millions of senior people now registered, and the only contact you receive would be relevant to the opportunities in which you have an interest.

Next: Dude, Where’s my Oyster? Part II: Building Career-defining Relationships.

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