What Every Executive Should Do Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, According to a Retained Search Executive

By Ash Athawale on November 15, 2022 at 1:30pm

By Ash Athawale, Senior Group Managing Director, Robert Half

The final weeks of the year are hectic for senior executives. We’re all working hard to hit quarter- and year-end goals, recognize our teams, and make sure we start the new year on the right foot.

But this is also a time for holiday gatherings with family and colleagues. And a time to reflect on the year that’s nearly behind us and the one that lies ahead. Did you accomplish all you hoped to this year? Are you happy with your career trajectory? What, if anything, would you like to change in the year ahead?

As busy as this time of year is for everyone, I strongly recommend you take on one additional task this holiday season that will help you in the long run:

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Notice I advise this for EVERY executive, not just those pondering a job change.

You may be very satisfied in your current role. And perhaps you’ve worked for your organization for years and have no intention of leaving. Clearly, there’s no shortage of professionals who build successful careers over the course of one, two, or three decades or more with a single firm.

But while you may plan on a long future with your company, nothing is guaranteed, and the unexpected may happen. The last year provides plenty of examples: Even growing organizations and stable industries experienced changes in the form of layoffs, reorganizations and acquisitions, among other events. The CEO you admire may retire or depart for another role, meaning your experience will likely change.

On the personal front, a change in your family situation may require a move to a different city or state. Or, a search executive might reach out to you with an incredible opportunity that hasn’t yet crossed your radar.

The key is to be prepared and anticipate change at all times. Updating your profile regularly will help you do this.

Don’t let an outdated resume become a career ‘stumbling block’

As a retained search executive, I’m hired by organizations to find talent at the highest levels, including C-suite roles, senior vice presidents and division leaders. These searches are very specific in nature in terms of level, industry and experience required. My colleagues and I cast a wide net across the country (and sometimes the globe) to find the right person. We often speak to candidates currently employed and not actively looking for a new role.

In an initial discussion, we ask to see a current resume. Often, that’s a stumbling block. People will look for the resume they used in their last search, which is likely very outdated. Updating your resume means trying to remember your most important accomplishments since you changed jobs, along with specifics on how you grew the business and built efficiencies. It is not an easy task to recall these details after many years.

But time is critical here: If it takes you days or weeks to respond, the search may proceed with other candidates. Here are some tips that can help make your resume upkeep easier so you don’t miss out on potential career opportunities:

Think of it as a ‘spring cleaning’ for your career

Making this a recurring, once-a-year project makes it easier. Many companies start the new year with new hiring budgets, and having a fresh resume means you’re prepared for the changes and opportunities that lie ahead.

Keep it future-focused

Yes, the resume highlights your past accomplishments and career history. But know that search executives and hiring committees look at your resume with the future in mind. They’re asking, “Does this person have what it takes to succeed in our firm?” Show your leadership skills and specific examples detailing your capabilities and accomplishments that would be highly valued in other organizations.

Look to end-of-year events for inspiration

End-of-year celebrations at work bring people together to celebrate one another and the team’s successes. What are team members saying to you? What meaningful compliments are they sharing about your leadership?

This is also the season for year-end bonuses and awards. How did your boss communicate this news? Sometimes other people’s comments can shine a light on the best qualities and accomplishments to emphasize in your resume.

Don’t date yourself

Two things you shouldn’t do on a resume:

  • List a landline phone number
  • List an inappropriate email address (e.g., your work email, an AOL address, or an email address with silly or unprofessional language)

Search executives want to speak with you and leave messages directly on a mobile number, not a family home phone. Establish a Gmail account that has your first and last name to use in your search. Save your other personal account for your friends and family.

Enlist help

Some people dread updating their resume, or they don’t have the time to do it well. If you fall into either category or just find yourself procrastinating, hire a resume writer. Search executives, unfortunately, do not have the time to rework your resume but may be able to recommend a resource.

In my next post, I’ll share tips for updating your LinkedIn profile and what search executives and hiring committees expect to see in it.

Ash Athawale is a senior group managing director at Robert Half in the executive search practice.

Follow Ash Athawale on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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