The Yin and Yang of Executive Job Search.
In Chinese philosophy Yin / Yang describes how seemingly opposing or contrary forces may in fact be connected and related to one another – or another way to put it – they are two halves that together complete the whole.
While Yin / Yang may be unfamiliar to you we experience this philosophy in every day life. For example, day / night, male / female and hot / cold. Essentially different sides of the same coin that rely on each other and exist in equilibrium. In the executive job market it's exactly the same, but the Yin / Yang of executive job search is something in my experience most people miss. They miss it in the race to produce their CV / resume and get this out to as many people as possible, usually in application to positions on executive job boards or those positioned by executive search firms.
In my 10+ years as a professional recruiter I saw this each and every day – candidates with valuable skills and experience relying on this one document to champion their cause and help them stand out in the executive job market. As I've said before and will no doubt do many times again, blending in can never be standing out – if the majority are relying on their CV / resume and then third parties to find the success they desire is it any wonder that this approach on its own is set up to fail from the start?
The Yin / Yang of executive job search exists in what I call the 'foundations'. The methodology I've developed over the last 15 years takes three steps back from the process of finding a new executive position to consider environment, psychology and planning.
The foundations of successful executive job search:
It's environment and psychology that combine to form the Yin / Yang of successful executive job search. Together they form the foundations of a successful executive job search strategy and the challenge of turning the knowledge of a new approach (one that stands out) into diligent and consistent action over time.
Time is a critical factor when it comes to executive job search and its importance is something many people miss. The person you are on day one of your search for a new executive position is often very different to the person you will be three months down the track. Things will have happened (or not happened, as the case may be) to you and this will have had an impact on your ability to take consistent action. The executive job market is fraught with rejection – this will test and challenge you during the time it takes to find a new position. Without strong foundations it can seriously impact your ability to capitalise on an opportunity when it does arrive.
Environment – the Yin of executive job search:
Environment is an understanding of how the executive job market really works. Yes, there are always advertised positions on executive job boards and executive search firms will always have their fair share of executive positions, but in addition there is also the place I call the 'hidden market'. This is the place where executive positions always exist before they're visible in the public domain.
The hidden market becomes visible when you understand how employers make and undertake hiring decisions. It sets the scene for a new approach to executive job search – one that gets you 'ahead of the market' and empowers you to stand out.
Environment is the Yin of executive job search. Yin in Chinese philosophy is described as being associated with the shadows or in the dark – by its very nature the hidden market remains hidden until an understanding and awareness of its existence is developed.
Environment is an understanding and appreciation of the EXTERNAL world, essentially the pitch that the executive job search game is played out on. Knowing the rules of the game and how to score dramatically increase the probability of you winning the game.
Psychology – the Yang of executive job search:
If environment is an understanding of the external, psychology concerns itself with the INTERNAL.
The executive job market has no knowledge of you, it's not against you and it exists whether you choose to enter it or not. Whether opportunities are currently visible or not, it still exists and always will.
While the majority focus solely on the external environment those in the know recognise that it's not the executive job market that delivers results, but what you bring to bear. What you believe about the executive job market informs your thinking and ultimately the action you're prepared to take. This is why when asked I always highlight psychology as being the most important thing determining success or failure in the executive job market.
In conversation I can quickly tell whether someone's internal perspective is positioned to find success and this has nothing to do with their skills, experience or what exists on their CV / resume. Those in competition for the position you want will have similar skills and experience, which means this alone can never be enough. What's much more important is how you interact with the executive job market each and every day – it's how you choose to play the game.
Psychology is the Yang of executive job search. Yang in Chinese philosophy is described as representing the bright and influencing the destiny of things – it has everything to do with mindset. To be clear this is not positive thinking, which is only ever temporary, but something much, much deeper.
Harmony in your executive job search:
Yin and Yang and when it comes to executive job search, environment and psychology exist in perfect harmony. They cannot operate in isolation and are two sides of the same circle.
Understanding how the executive job market works (knowledge of the environment) without the right mindset to take action is unlikely to lead to success.
Similarly, having the right mindset (psychology), but taking the wrong action due to a misunderstanding as to how the game is really played, again is unlikely to yield results.
As with so many things in life, polar opposites combine and exist in harmony to complete the whole.
When it comes to executive job search understanding the two sides of what is essentially the same coin (the external and internal) form the cornerstone and foundations of everything else you'll do.
Building a house takes time and once built it must stand the test of time. A house built on sand will fall down and an executive job search strategy without strong foundations in place is very likely to do the same.
I hope you found this blog post useful and to gain feedback on your approach to your executive job search, please take the executive job search assessment here. The assessment will ask you 10 questions about your approach and deliver specific advice based on your answers.