How to get your first executive job

Posting date: 01 April 2020

It’s widely reported that more than 50% of jobs aren’t advertised, and this proportion stretches much higher when it comes to executive roles. Therefore, landing your first executive job will be an entirely different process from any other job you’ve gone after. With fewer executive roles on the market, securing one of these coveted positions can be a highly competitive process. You need to strategise how you will distinguish yourself and position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars. Here’s our advice on getting your first executive job, right from the point of personal development up to preparing for your interview:


Develop your personal brand 


45% of executives agree that a CEO’s reputation will directly impact the reputation of the company. So it will come as no surprise that an executive’s reputation – or personal brand – comes under serious consideration during the hiring process. Just as it’s important for any company’s success to have a strong brand, your personal brand is a powerful way of showing hiring managers why you’re a good fit for the role. When portrayed correctly your brand will highlight your ROI and specifically how you will add value to the organisation if you get the job.


Since many professionals at this level work with Personal Branding Strategists and Career Coaches you can’t afford to leave your reputation as just an afterthought. Your personal brand should be crafted so that it accurately reflects not just who you are but how you solve problems, your authority areas and ultimately what your unique positioning is. Though this may seem a daunting process, Blue Step’s Global Guide to Personal Branding for Executives offers helpful advice, starting with the question “What do you want to be known for?”. Start by asking yourself this and the rest of your approach should come easily.


Get personal with an executive search firm


On average it takes 71 days to place a C-suite candidate, which is considerably longer than the 43 days spent filling the average role. But for the job seeker, finding an executive role can sometimes take six months – or longer - because these senior positions aren’t as common as the jobs you’ve searched for before. So you need to position yourself on executive recruiters’ radars and you want them to know you on a personal level.


One way of doing this is to share your career goals with these expert recruiters. As they’re in the business of finding candidates for executive roles they can provide insight as to whether you have the right skill set or experience. If they advise that you need more time to hone your leadership skills, don’t despair - you now have that contact at an executive search firm to reach out to once you’ve hit the necessary experience level. These recruiters have seen thousands of CVs and applications so you can trust their verdict.


Remember that it’s about nurturing these relationships with executive recruiters. You won’t land a job in a few weeks, it can take months to find the right executive role so you need to stay in touch with them.



Get networking 


The Executive Career Brand reports that only 10% of executives are hired from job board advertisements. This supports the notion that your chance of getting an executive job is heavily reliant on networking and a great place to begin is by developing a strong online presence.


It’s no new information that your LinkedIn profile is a powerful tool in the job-hunting process but have you considered optimising yours for search engines? To improve your LinkedIn profile’s visibility you need to include targeted skills and keywords, set your location and industry, and use all the characters available in each section. This will ensure executive recruiters find your profile and will help you make connections in your field of work.


Consider upping your game and establish yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn by posting and sharing articles on topics in your industry. Beyond the digital world, you should be attending industry conferences and reaching out to old contacts. After all, networking isn’t always about making new connections.



Time for the interview


You’ve put a lot of time into your personal development and nurturing connections – the next step is impressing at the interview stage. A good executive recruiter will only put forward a very small number of candidates for roles at this level, most of which will have exclusivity, so if you make it to interview stage you have a strong chance of securing the role.


Now all that’s left to do is show the company how serious you are about working for them and improving their bottom line. Beyond a deep understanding of the organisation's verticals, the current state of the market and opportunities for you to add value, you should also research the business's financial status and their current challenges.


Some businesses will have an investor relations tab on their website which will tell you a lot about how they are performing. To delve a little further, search their company filings and public financial statements - and if the company you’re interviewing for is private you can get a good picture of their status from news releases and articles.


As for the competitors, beyond knowing who they are you need to search how the company is performing compared to them and what they have in the pipeline. Having this knowledge for the interview will show that you’re invested in the company and will allow you to have a genuine conversation about what you plan to do within your first three months. Think of this research as background information to create your 90-day plan.

Take your next career step with Swisslinx


Want more advice on finding your first executive job? As a market-leading recruitment firm in Switzerland, our expert consultants can offer valuable guidance when looking for your next senior-level position. Whether you’re job searching in financial services, digital and technology, or healthcare and life sciences we’ve got two decades of insight to help you.

How to be successful in the final round interview

As a candidate, the final round interview is the last opportunity to show why you’re the best person for the role. What happens in the first interview can be dramatically different from the final round, so that’s why it’s all the more important to prepare thoroughly and expect to be asked some challenging questions. Hiring managers do not often make final round interviews for candidates they’re not serious about. Therefore, when you’re invited to the final round, the hiring manager already knows that you have the skills for the job. What they’re going to be looking for is how you present yourself under pressure and whether you’re a suitable fit culturally for the organisation. Here’s a swift guide for how to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in the final round interview and securing a job offer.    Review the company and position   Once you’ve made it to the final round, you need to make sure you completely understand the position and the company. The final round may be much longer and involve more people. This means that professionals should review the job specifications again beforehand and be prepared for in-depth questions. At this stage, hiring managers want to determine fit and whether or not the candidate is a team-player. Companies will also use a final round interview to learn how you manage deadlines and juggle workloads. Hiring in a pandemic is no easy task, so companies will likely be paying extra attention to detail and focusing on the candidates who show the most potential. This means it’s important that you thoroughly research the company and come prepared with what you like about the company. Having that extra preparation will increase your chances of being offered a role.    Share your knowledge and expertise   While many final round interviews will be based on how you fit into the company or the team, hiring managers will still want to verify your technical skills and competencies. So, it’s crucial that you effectively share your knowledge and expertise during the interview, and quantify wherever possible. This means discussing your key accomplishments and how they were achieved, as well as any notable skills relevant to the role. For example, you might have excellent time management skills, so you will need to explain how these skills have helped you perform. Whether it’s through project management software or your strategic planning, you must show the unique qualities you bring to a company. Also, always show confidence and evidence of all your skills and experience.   Ask the right questions   In the early rounds of interviews, it’s important to ask thoughtful questions, but in the final stage, you’re going to need to show you’ve thought more seriously about what it would be like to work at the company. Therefore, professionals in the final round should ask questions about what the first month on the job would be like and if there will be any training, as well as what the performance expectations will be when you join. These type of questions show hiring managers that you’re already engaged and eager to be a part of the company.   Show your commitment and passion   In the final round, hiring managers will want to ensure candidates are interested in staying for a long period. Arguably one of the best ways to show you’re a committed professional is by discussing your long-term career plans, and how it’s connected to the role you're interviewing for. Hiring managers want to find candidates who have a strong work ethic and have the potential to be high performing. This means you need to demonstrate a passion for the industry and that you’re genuinely interested in this specific field. For a company, the final round interview is all about evaluating a candidate’s characteristics and attitude, so make sure you tell stories of how you solve problems and why you enjoy your work, which will no doubt help you stand out from other candidates.   Are you looking to advance your career?   At Swisslinx, we have a motivated and friendly team of recruitment consultants who are dedicated to building great relationships with clients and candidates. We specialise in recruiting for a varied range of sectors, including financial services, digital and technology, healthcare and natural resources. Our team works to the highest standards and we’re committed to delivering an exceptional recruitment service on a daily basis. If you would like more information on how we can help your career and even prepare for your next role, contact our team today.

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In a post-pandemic world, which jobs will continue to thrive?

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies and corporations has been dramatic, to say the least. Countries around the world have been forced to grapple with enormous change and adjust to the new normal of remote working, and the increasing use of digital technology. As we move into the post-pandemic world, professionals will have to be more self-reliant and flexible – and seek out the most in-demand roles to future proof their careers. Before the outbreak, the job market was still highly competitive and ever-evolving, but with the pandemic disrupting the landscape, certain roles will grow faster than others. Therefore, it’s time to take a look at the jobs with the highest demand, to help talent leaders and candidates make better decisions post-pandemic.   Cybersecurity roles   Cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand roles in technology. Over the years, cybersecurity job postings have increased dramatically and with the pandemic forcing many companies to adopt a remote working culture, this has posed new security challenges. Research has shown that the number of cyber-attacks in Switzerland during the height of the pandemic was up three times more than normal. Since there are more people now working from home, there’s more data available in the cloud, which means many companies are more vulnerable to attacks. In early 2021, many security bodies in Switzerland were targeted by malicious email that appeared to come from trusted organisations, like the police and banks, further exemplifying that cybersecurity risks have become a huge problem. Therefore, cybersecurity experts will be hugely in-demand and these professionals can look forward to many opportunities in the field.   Data analysts and scientists    Research has shown that by 2025, 97 million new roles will emerge, most of which will be driven by automation and data. In a post-pandemic world, there’s no doubt that businesses will continue to rely on advanced technology to understand the origin of different data sets. This means that data analysts will be highly sought after over the next few years. With more people working remotely and with more technology-based roles on the horizon, the amount of data generated is only going to increase. All of this data needs to be managed and analysed to understand correlations, and to draw meaningful conclusions. Big data is everywhere now and the pandemic has accelerated this shift toward machine learning and smart communication.   Software developers   It’s no secret that Switzerland’s technology scene has become one of the most advanced in Europe, with Zurich standing up as a powerhouse for the country’s digital technology. There’s a great demand for software developers with growing numbers in Switzerland, and research has shown that there was over 155,700 registered software developers in 2019, a figure which has likely grown since. Companies will increasingly need software developers to build the digital infrastructure for their projects in the post-pandemic world. Also, artificial intelligence investment increased during the pandemic, with more companies implementing AI into their products and processes. This means that businesses will need developers with AI skills and experience. And with more people spending time online, the role of developers has become even more crucial for a wide range of businesses.   Why not contact our friendly team of recruitment specialists?   There’s a wide variety of roles set to thrive in the post-pandemic world, but what remains clear is that these jobs will be digital and technology-focused. At Swisslinx, we’re committed to keeping pace with all the changes within the digital and technology markets. Our team of recruitment specialists have years’ of experience in recruiting top candidates, and we’ve built excellent relationships as a result. Whether you’re looking to recruit or are seeking new roles in Switzerland, contact us today to speak to a member of the team. We’re always happy to help. <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--> <!--[endif]-->

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