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.

Is Switzerland the smartest country in the world?

The digital age has transformed the meaning of ‘smart’. What was once a nod towards human intelligence is now a reference to a product, service – even a city - that is connected via the Internet of Things (IoT). Data and information are the building blocks of a smart city, where they are captured and transmitted using electrical signals to improve the functioning of the city. The only country to steal two spots in the 2020 Smart City Index is the home of luxury chocolates and high-precision watchmaking – Switzerland. Could this be a signal that Switzerland is the smartest country in the world?   Smart cities ‘Smart’ conjures up the image of multiple wireless connections beaming to form a complex network of signals. These signals are what make a city interconnected but what makes the city smart is when the data is used to make more informed decisions and improve the lives of the residents. In the Smart City Index, Zurich was awarded the bronze medal - only beaten by Singapore and Helsinki – and was recognised for its health facilities, governance and education. However, the citizens of Zurich addressed the need for e-voting and greater investment in mobile apps for car sharing. Meanwhile, Geneva took seventh place for their basic amenities, health, education and social mobility. Air pollution was identified as a problem in this Swiss city and this could be a call for increased investment in smart devices that conserve natural resources.   This continuous investment in new technologies is one of the reasons why Switzerland took first place in the 2020 Global Innovation Index once again, but how has the push towards developing smart applications and devices impacted the healthcare system?   Smart healthcare Despite there being no universal coverage in Switzerland, the nation is renowned for having a high-quality healthcare system. And as the digital revolution sweeps over the country, technologies such as wearables, implanted sensors and smart textiles are beginning to push the boundaries and alter the skillset required for healthcare jobs. In PwC’s Digital opportunity in the Swiss healthcare system report, smart devices are identified as an emerging technology, suggesting that the true potential of Switzerland’s smart healthcare is yet to be seen. These devices are being used to collect patient data and report it in real-time, resulting in both reduced costs and improved operational efficiency.   One of the first uses of smart technology within Switzerland’s healthcare system was Google Glass. Swiss developers created an app to allow paramedics and doctors to use the augmented reality (AR) glasses to improve the quality of treatment, particularly in time-sensitive cases. Several years on,  more applications of AR and VR tools within life sciences are beginning to emerge. The smart devices are now being used to help surgeons to prepare for surgery and assisting patients to perform their therapy exercises at home.   How can Switzerland get smarter? In 2009, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia (D.C) – Vivek Kundra – announced a competition for software developers to create a mobile app that used the open data made public by the municipality. The purpose of the competition was to take the stores of data that the local government collects and put it to use in a way that benefitted the public. The resulting 47 applications – including a real-time parking app and an app to track a safe route home from any bar in the city – achieving in one month what would have taken years had the government chosen to outsource the work.   Despite the number of software developers living in Switzerland being yet to reach the numbers in the US, and estimates that the shortfall of ICT specialists will reach 40,000 by 2026, the job market is growing. The combination of Covid-19, increased government investment in technology and a booming fintech market have led to a heightened demand for tech and digital skills, with no signs of the trend slowing down. Now, many software developers are trading in their coveted roles in Silicon Valley to relocate to the culturally vibrant Zurich. And with the rise of disruptive technology in Switzerland, more smart apps like those developed in D.C. look to be on the horizon. Perhaps all it will take is a competition to draw out these innovative ideas.   Access our team of market specialists Whether Switzerland is the smartest country in the world remains up for debate, but one thing for sure is that the nation is making a name for itself in the smart technology market. It is trends and technology drivers like these that the team at Swisslinx are committed to keeping pace with, so we can provide you with timely career advice. Contact us to speak to a member of the team or begin the search for your next digital and technology job.

READ MORE

What does the post-Covid workplace look like - and how can businesses thrive?

In the US, 41% of the workforce is expected to continue working partly remotely beyond Covid-19, compared to the 30% prior to the outbreak. A similar trend is expected to sweep over the globe, meaning that in the post-Covid landscape companies that are ‘remote-friendly’ may gain a competitive edge. Though the damaging effects of coronavirus will be felt for some time, for some industries the pandemic is likened to a double-edged sword. So, can the post-Covid workplace be more productive and enable businesses to thrive?   When, where and how?  The 9-5 working model was one greatly favoured by businesses around the globe, but with commuting times creeping up and taking precious time away from employees’ personal lives a gradual shift towards flexible working was forming even before the virus outbreak. Now, with 80% of employees stating they’ve enjoyed the transition to home working, it’s hard to imagine the age-old working pattern being put back into play.   In countries like Wales, the government is exploring new options where cities are no longer the hub of the working world. Instead, smaller co-working spaces will be set up in housing districts – thereby cutting pollution and improving the work-life balance while still creating that sense of community on a smaller scale. As companies strive to keep their culture alive and prioritise the employee work-life balance, new flexible working practices will begin to take root.   Similarly, technology has demonstrated its power to create new working practices and has shown business leaders that remote does not equal diminished collaboration. Within days, Zoom confidently replaced client meetings and over weeks conferences moved to the digital space too. This is a cause for celebration for introverted employees but a challenge for companies to understand their teams’ behavioural drives and examine how to make remote-working work for everyone. As the employee tech stack continues to grow to include more collaboration tools such as Asana and Trello, so will the job opportunities for software developers.   The workplace culture Workplace culture is key when securing top talent and promoting employee engagement, but the remote working model appears to pose a threat to carefully nurtured cultures. However, culture is intangible and a physical workspace is not essential to enforce company values and behaviours.   Covid-19 presents the opportunity to fortify culture. To do so leaders need to establish creative solutions that encourage autonomous working and actively engage the workforce, but a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice. A McKinsey survey found a huge discrepancy amongst remote workers with children or dependents, with 63.2% of males and 38.5% of females revealing they are engaged with their work.   Technology will become cemented at the core of all businesses 2020 marked the fifth decade of the Information Age – a period which has seen technology play an increasingly important role in everyday life and business. No period has witnessed such rapid development, with technology transforming the way humans communicate, creating jobs that were unheard of a few years ago and improving the overall quality of life. While coronavirus was a threat to all this and more, it gave technology the platform to prove its value and has propelled the adoption of technology forward two years, paving the way for a more automated working world.   How businesses can thrive post-Covid The ability to thrive hinges on adaptability. Businesses that hire individuals with this transferrable skill and back projects that are centred around this idea will likely survive the pandemic and flourish in the post-Covid world. Where Covid-19 initially forced industries into reactive decisions, now the stance will change to a proactive one. This has drawn out operational inefficiencies and demonstrated how the new world of working can be more productive than before.   One example of this is the life sciences industry. Globally, 826 companies have noted a disruption to clinical trials, of which over 50% are US-based and 3.7% located in Switzerland. The banning of nonessential appointments was a challenge for life sciences companies but the response was to take a new approach to study, investing more in digital technologies for remote appointments and using smartphone apps to improve patient care management.   Helping you hiring during uncertain times Since 1999, we’ve been providing unmatchable talent acquisition solutions to Swiss companies and the international market. Hiring in these uncertain times calls for recruitment expertise and this is where Swisslinx can help. Learn about our client services, or if you’re looking for a job take a look at our financial services roles.   Get in touch to discuss your needs.

READ MORE