When the going gets tough, the tough get going!
Last week I explained how to rank with executive recruiters. Building on from this, my plan this week was to discuss the different types of recruitment companies and what this means for executive jobseekers.
This was my plan, but a surprise phone call on Friday and an email over the weekend changed the focus of today's topic.
If you're a regular reader, listener or watcher of my content you'll know that my mission is to help people from all over the world navigate the executive job market successfully. This involves defining, finding and ultimately securing the executive position they really want. Last week saw digital trips to China, South Africa, Europe and the USA – with the advancement of technology it really is possible to have an international business without leaving the office!
Modern marketing is about educating, empowering and serving – it has nothing to do with selling. Simply put, people just don't like being sold to anymore and sales skills often have little connection with the ability to deliver. Through this modern approach there is an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge, skills and ability to an audience that will be searching for a solution online.
When I left my own recruitment company back in October 2013 to set up Career Codex I wasn't certain what the future had in store, but was driven by a burning passion to communicate my knowledge and education to those who need it most. This was a complete career change, with no guarantee of success, but I decided to put myself out there and play all out from the very start.
My blog post, podcast and video are weekly evidence of this. I've had my fair share of bumps in the road, including technology challenges and the occasional piece of negative feedback. At times it's been tough and on occasion I've questioned whether anyone was reading, listening or watching. Despite this I've stayed disciplined and kept going no matter what – quitting has never been an option.
This is the world many of my clients are facing when we first meet – executive job search can be a lonely pursuit and often the biggest challenge is not the skills and ability to find and secure that next position, it's to keep going long enough to make it happen. This gets even tougher when faced with rejection or when things don't go to plan, but as Billy Ocean sang in 1985 – 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going...' and more to the point, they keep going!
With my executive career coaching clients I often talk about believing is seeing. This concept can be hard to grasp at first and refers principally to the activity senior executives need to take in the 'hidden market' to uncover the position they want, but where there is often no immediate or visible result. This is one of the challenges of modern marketing when pitched in business to those who simply don't get it – because there might not be any immediate visible return on investment it doesn't mean this new approach doesn't work. In business, many see the move away from traditional advertising and cold calling as a risk – the big risk however is the status quo.
For someone looking for their next senior role, advertised positions or opportunities handled by executive search firms are sometimes viewed as the only route to market. Because the opportunity is visible, it's often deemed as more certain. Adopting a modern marketing approach to engage in the hidden market can for many seem a leap too far. The real risk though is not positioning yourself in the place where high probability executive career opportunities exist before ever entering the public domain. Just because the opportunities aren't immediately visible doesn't mean they're not there.
I teach my executive clients the importance of focusing on the process and not the prize. This means having a clearly defined direction of travel and the big picture in mind, but not so they become such a distraction that you stop taking action. Any journey requires one step at a time. Success comes from focusing on milestones rather than obsessing over the final destination, which if left unchecked can lead to a daily temptation to give up. What's more, in my opinion it's usually the journey that contains the most important lessons, but many fail to realise the value in this experience.
As human beings we are eager for confirmation to justify continued action.
'If I do this once and it works, I'll do more of it – if it doesn't, I'll stop – it clearly doesn't work.'
However, things are actually in reverse. Confirmation comes after consistent action, as opposed to being the catalyst to keep going. In executive job search and modern marketing the absence of confirmation in the short-term, but backed by consistent and faithful action, often leads to some of the very best opportunities – opportunities others never see.
Cue Friday's surprising call and the email I received over the weekend:
Following a LinkedIn connection request and my subsequent acceptance, I received a phone call from a senior consultant who works for a global executive search firm. Having purchased my book on a recommendation and read a number of my blog posts now was the time for him to get to get in touch. Until that moment I had no idea of his existence or that my weekly content was resonating. The consultant wanted to talk to me about how I could help some of his senior candidates and has kindly already made one referral with the promise of more to follow.
The email I received over the weekend was from one of my current 'Executive Edge' clients who is part way through the programme. He's already seeing results and is very close, based on his hard work in following the Career Codex methodology, to securing his next executive position. In the email he generously offered to introduce me to the leader of the principal networking organisation in his sector with a view to me helping more people with a similar background to his.
Both of the above appeared to come out of the blue and are huge opportunities. In reality though they are the result of continued action over an extended period of time, which has resulted in the most important building block of any recommendation – trust. There is no shortcut with trust, it takes time to develop. These are both significant 'markermaker' opportunities (relationships with individuals who have considerable reach and influence), which I'm extremely grateful and excited to have been given.
With any executive job search there will be bumps in the road and rejection is just a natural part of the process. Success is about standing out and doing things differently to your competition. This requires consistent and diligent action over time.
Believing really is seeing – don't wait for confirmation, as this comes from action. Finally, remember to keep a clear destination in mind, but focus on the process rather than obsessing over the prize.
When the going gets tough, don't give up and instead remember Billy Ocean's wise words!i