I spend my day speaking to senior-level executives about career-related topics... The question asked most frequently is why is their phone not ringing now and how can they optimize their chances of engaging with executive recruiters? In my mind, there could be a multitude of reasons, but I decided it was time to ask an expert, Executive Career Coach Tim Windhof, for his advice to see what suggestions he had for executives looking to ensure that the recruiter calls.

(1) Why may executive recruiters not be calling me? 

Tim: There can be obviously various reasons for that, e.g. poor career documents or lack of visibility, but the question essentially eludes to a misunderstanding of the roles during job search. When the phone is not ringing, it means that you need to help the process. There are thousands of executive recruiters and, generally speaking, most senior positions are filled on an exclusive basis by just one of them. If your phone isn’t ringing, you need to ensure you are on the radar for the appropriate firm. One way is for the candidate to pick up the phone and call recruiters to build a relationship and develop warm leads – other is to create a profile on GatedTalent to ensure you are more likely to be found. Otherwise, it is comparable to the situation of your company’s sales department complaining that customers are just not calling them. This blog is worth a read.

(2) I’ve heard of personal branding - what is this and does it help? 

Tim: There are some fancy definitions for “personal branding” which usually are not too helpful for executives. I like to break personal branding down to “the opportunity to highlight your differentiating factors in a consistent way across all channels (resume, bio, online profiles, etc.).” In other words, what do you want to be known for and what do you do slightly better than other people? In my opinion, personal branding across your career documents is your best bet to get ahead of competitors who skipped that part; particularly when targeting competitive positions above $200,00 base salary. 

My comments: I agree here with you Tim, there is nothing more important than first impressions and that starts with a great online social media presence via LinkedIn and strong profiles on sites such as GatedTalent that allow you to engage with executive recruiters. A well-documented and presented biography and Resume/CV can really set one executive apart from another in my opinion, equally true in relation to the profiles on LinkedIn and GatedTalent. 

(3) Surely recruiters know where I am - I have LinkedIn, all recruiters are on there? 

Tim: I can’t speak for all recruiters, but I wouldn’t know any recruiter who is not leveraging the power of LinkedIn. In fact, there some leading global companies who have recruiters tasked with sourcing talent exclusively from LinkedIn. Having said that, just because you are on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you will automatically get found. You will need an optimized, keyword rich and active profile to rank high in your category/industry. Besides, why would you wait when you can proactively reach out yourself?

My comments: I would agree with you here Tim, LinkedIn is a great way to search for candidates. However, I know from using LinkedIn myself that search results can bring lists of thousands of people all working within the same industry and all with very similar experience. There are filters to search on LinkedIn, but these filters are not targeted in terms of skills, which I believe is a weakness fundamentally for recruiters looking for an executive with a specific skill set. On GatedTalent we have optimized filtering which allows executive recruiters to search and filter candidates by skill sets, this I believe gives the executive more chance in being found for the right opportunity. 

(4) Should I make my resume more attractive? Would this help? 

Tim: Absolutely, despite advancing technology and its advantages, the resume remains by far your most important career document. Most executive opportunities will require, sooner or later in the process, that you submit your resume. So, improving your resume will help but it is not a magic bullet by itself. Compare your executive resume to a nice Porsche 911. Great to look at but not much use to go places unless you add gasoline and oil to it.

(5) I am successful at what I do, I have been a CEO in my company for 15 years so there should be no reason as to why my phone isn’t ringing? 

Tim: The question implies that de-facto the phone is not ringing and there could be various reasons for this; e.g., industry developments, company reputation, etc. One aspect could be the changing appreciation for company longevity and loyalty. Once greatly appreciated, it can almost become a “red flag” these days of possibly struggling to blend into new corporate cultures and being on top of trends. 

 (6) I can’t understand why I am not getting offers, I have a great resume and am on LinkedIn - why am I still not being called? 

Tim: Many factors can be the culprit here. What does your strategy look like? Do you tap into the hidden job market, raise your profile on sites like GatedTalent or do you rely mostly on ineffective cold application scenarios? Does your profile match the positions you are targeting? Are you geographically restricted to certain areas? So generally speaking, when great written materials don’t deliver results, there is usually something off with the wider strategy.

I would like to thank Tim once again for his time insights - I found them interesting and I’m sure our members will find his advice helpful!

Tim Windhof is a certified executive résumé writer and international career coach who specializes in executive level career advancement. Tim is a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council and one of only 30 Certified Executive Resume Masters worldwide. Tim has lived, studied, and worked in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the U.S. He utilizes his cross-cultural knowledge to work with international résumé and coaching clients from around the globe. You can read more about Tim’s credentials and career services on his website: https://www.windhofcareers.com/.