We put together a few tips to help you stand out in the executive search process. Creative EDC has facilitated several executive searches recently for EDOs. We have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Read our tips to be one of the good ones.
Think of your resume as your website, it is the first thing they see. What does your resume say about you – organized, creative, experienced, techy, out-of-date? Too often the resume format and presentation convey an image that does not highlight your best qualities.
We like cover letters. The cover letter gives you an opportunity to tell us why you want the job and summarize why you are a good fit. This is also a good place to explain time lapses in the resume. Maybe you took time off to care for children or a parent. Maybe you went back to school. It is best to explain gaps in your timeline rather than have someone guess. And, don’t forget to have someone else proof your cover letter and resume.
Google yourself. The search committee will. Find out what is on the internet about you. Note what comes up first, but go several pages in. Be prepared to talk about what is on the net about you. Oh, and don’t forget, they will look on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites too.
When you get to the first interview, the committee is looking for ways to eliminate. Do your homework on the community. Ask informed questions. Make a personal connection. Give real examples when talking about your work experiences. Sell who you are – not who you think they want the candidate to be. In the final interview stage, all of the candidates are usually well qualified. The search committee is looking for the person who will best fit with the community and its goals. Again, be yourself. Remember that during this process you are trying to figure out if you fit with them too. It does not do your resume any good to make a bad match, only to be searching again in a short while. Interview them while you are being interviewed. Don’t go after just a job – go after an opportunity.
Blunders we have seen in the search process:
- If you are asked to participate in an interview via a video conference, check lighting, your facial expressions, and what is in the background. Practice with a friend on Skype.
- If sending materials in advance such as PowerPoint, have someone else proof. Double check the names of local places, organizations, and people. For example, do they call themselves the Partnership, Alliance, or EDC?
- Avoid the pitfall of continually saying this is how we did it in ___. Every community believes they are unique and wants a unique approach. Highlight your experience without implying that you have a template. Most communities do not want a template simply transferred from another location.
- We have used LinkedIn and other online sources to advertise for candidates. Even if you respond via the site, email a real resume and cover letter. The formatting sometimes does not translate to all committee members reviewing. You want to show who you are, not just another head shot with formatted credentials generated by a website.
- If you are not asked to come prepared with an economic development plan, don’t present a one in the interview. Telling a community what they should do and how, before you spend a day on the ground can backfire. Research the community, offer an outline based on best practices, but don’t act like you know how to solve their problems on day one.
In general, do what you do for client visits: prepare, make sure the presentation conveys the right message, practice, ask informed questions, interview them, and always be yourself.