Social Enterprise

Seven steps to building a fulfilling executive career

A noted executive career consultant offers advice for executives who are in the market for a new job.

Today, we have a quest post from William Ellermeyer, one of the most recognized Executive Career Transition Consultants in Southern California, having pioneered the corporate-sponsored career transition business in the early 1980s.

Here are Bill's seven secrets to embracing change and building a fulfilling career:

1. Relationships rule.

Today's most powerful people are typically the best connected. Relationship building is essential. Focus on quality, not quantity. Meeting 100 people is less useful than truly connecting with 10. The key to successful networking is to bring something to the table. Networking is more of a "give" than a "get," and you must be willing to help people with no thought of getting something in return. Think of something you can give to each person you meet, whether it's an idea, an event, a book title, an article, a contact or simply a friendly smile. Remember to expect nothing in return. If you do this with everyone you meet, you'll greatly increase your likeability and visibility in the marketplace. Those people will be more inclined to hire you, refer you and help you in any way they can-and they'll be happy to do it.

2. Know your brand.

Create a core message that is short, focused and honest. It should include your skill sets without sounding like a sales pitch. It must make your objectives clear in an interesting, conversational style-so memorize the content, but not the precise wording. Let the message become your "unique selling proposition," which you will use in networking as well as in actual interviews. Your brand is a reflection of what people know and expect from a relationship with you. The crucial element is that your core message be brief and compelling enough to grab attention in a networking situation.

3. Give your resume a millennial makeover.

Your clean, clear, focused resume must showcase your experience and accomplishments in no more than two pages. There are times you'll still rely on the classic paper resume, but more often than not you'll need to adapt yours to be compatible with electronic communication tools, including social media and websites. A blog with a couple quotes about you from influential people in your industry can pack a stronger punch than even a well-crafted resume. Companies and executive search firms are increasingly turning to profiles placed on LinkedIn and other business-based social media sites. LinkedIn wears the crown in the business world right now when it comes to social media.

4. Be a business.

Position yourself as a resource, and approach the market as a business consultant, not as a "needy" job seeker. Job seekers tend to put companies on the defensive unless it's a situation where they have found you to fill a need. It is much easier to stride through the corporate door as a resource than as an out-of-work executive. Remember that in this world of short-term work, you will move back and forth from employee to consultant to employee, perhaps peppered with stints as an entrepreneur or a future in "portfolio work," using your core strengths and experiences over multiple income streams. If you're in a traditional job, always be prepared with a back-up, like teaching, that you are equipped to jump into, should your current position no longer be available. Approaching your work as a business can put you in the driver's seat.

5. Assemble a Board of Advisors.

In his best-selling book, Keith Ferrazzi advises that you put together your own permanent "job search board." Start with an individual who wants to join you for weekly or bimonthly breakfast meetings. Once you're comfortable and have established the routine, you should each invite another person to join. Down the line, the four of you can invite more people until the group maxes out at 8 to 10 members, for the best results. The more diverse the group is, the more benefits it can provide. Continue to attend the meetings when you have a traditional job; networking is a lifelong activity that will only be there when you need it if you cultivate the relationships over time.

6. Get organized.

Keep records of all your contacts, including how and when you met them and a word or two about their strengths. Store the information by category in a database program like Outlook or a website like LinkedIn. Organize your schedule to include meetings, events, reading and research, exercise, meals, food and fun. Keep manila files for important projects, special people, events, saved content, reading material and marketing. Instead of hoarding e-mail, get in the habit of printing, sorting and deleting them. Put the appropriate items in "action" and "later review" files. Use e-mail to continually connect with your network and save new contacts. When you're in transition, you should be sending out a minimum of 8 to 10 update e-mails each weekday.

7. Shape up, mentally and physically.

It's never been so important to remain at the top of your game, both mentally and physically. Our fast-paced, "always connected" business environment demands it. Exercise at least 4 or 5 times a week. Eat healthy, low-fat and low-carb meals focused on protein. Meditate daily, even just for 15 minutes of "mind rest" every morning before you start the day. Focus exclusively on the positive, and you'll continue to think more positively all day long.

Just remember that opportunity may take a different form than it has in the past. Be prepared to identify and even create the opportunities you desire. Change is the only constant. Even in tough times, people are promoted, moving, retiring... Opportunity abounds, even in the depths of a downturn in the economy. Use these seven secrets to make sure you're ready when it does.

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