Chasing your tail?

So how’s that job search going?

Chasing your tail?

Chasing your tail?

I facilitate a monthly networking group–Execunet–for those who are in job search mode and/or who recognize that connecting, developing and maintaining a lifelong network is critical in today’s work world. Some people don’t get it: when they leave, they say “Nice to be here, but I hope I don’t see you next month!” Others do get it, and use the meeting as a beginning step in expanding their lifelong network.

We’re creatures of habit, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that so many folks looking for their next job use the same old approaches and tactics that worked the last time around–back in the 20th century… way back, actually. So, when you’re looking, just know that hanging your job search on these things is really ineffective…a lot like a dog chasing its tail!

“I’m an executive”

What you were called then doesn’t mean a whole lot, except to you, obviously, as you continue to define who you are by your former title.

It's about value, not title

It's about value, not title

So making it a point of dropping “executive” and “C-level” and “Cxx” into your conversation and expecting people to treat you special (and be honest here, if you didn’t think it did, why would you use it in the first place?) isn’t effective or helpful. It dates you. It says you’re still living in the past. Emphasizing what your title was as opposed to what your value is says “I paid my dues and deserve to be at the top of the heap” or “I’m important, so know who you’re talking to.”

Other executives may be interested in hearing this…most likely for mirroring or measurement purposes. Otherwise, it’s really irrelevant. While there was a time when you were defined by your title, that’s no longer the case: you are defined by what you bring to the workplace, by your skills and talents and characteristics and contributions.

Hiring managers (C-level included) want to know what you can do for them…not how great you used to be, or how high up the ladder you climbed. When you tell your stories about results, outcomes, growth and value you can make it very plain that you bring strategic-level results and visionary leadership. And that’s what translates to “what you can do for them.”

POINT: Talk your value, not your (former) title.

“I have an MBA”

That’s great. An MBA has value in and of itself. But what have you learned since you got that degree?

Work is driven by information and ideas. The amount of information–new information–available to us every 30 days is staggering: it’s about as much as two Washington Monuments. We can’t even measure it linearly, only exponentially. Look at it this way: in 1980, the information available to us as a world was about the size of the Washington Monument. Now, every 30 days we have double that available.** Not all good probably, not all valuable maybe, but available nonetheless. So an MBA, as the end-all-and-be-all statement of business knowledge has a life span of, say, the time it takes you to walk across the stage as you collect your degree.

Of course your MBA is valuable…just don’t think you can stop there. It may be most useful today to get you through the paper sort of resumes, but it says nothing about how current you are. So, use your MBA as a distinction, yes, but more importantly as a jumping-off-point for your agility and ongoing learning around business, building teams and leading change.

POINT: Talk your currency, not your degree.

“My resume tells the story!”

Where is your resume in the haystack?

Where is your resume in the haystack?

To you, maybe, but it’s your story that gets lost in the pile of paper collected for a job posting.

The best use of a resume is to follow you…not precede you! Because when it follows you, the person who reads it has already met you and so begun the process of knowing, liking and trusting you.

If you must send your resume to become part of a stack of paper, then you also must recognize that how it tells your story is the key to getting you to the other stack, the “interview” pile. Effective resumes summarize, highlight, spotlight, accentuate and underscore your value in concise, carefully chosen and customized language, and do so in the first third of the first page. On average, your resume, might get a seven-second read; your goal is to have your paper-description fit the job description like a glove…so you get a longer read and make it into that more desirable stack of paper!

POINT: Talk your fit, not your life story.

Little shifts can make for big impacts.  Be intentional in your approach, stop chasing your tail, and get more effective results:  focusing on your value, not your persona makes you memorable!

**from the video, Shift Happens!, by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod

12 Responses

  1. You are a genious! Great article, well written. And, an even better point. Kudos.

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  2. Good to hear from you, Matt…and it takes genius to recognize…!

  3. I think your perspective is excellent. I know you’ve helped many people find their way and we need people like you right now.

  4. Thanks for the kind words…hope you and your family are having a great holiday!

  5. Excellent advice. Focus on value, currency and fit and you will have to think about the employer’s needs first!

    I’ll post a link to our St Joseph’s League group so they can “hear” your advice as well.

  6. Thanks, Ray. I came across another article today about identifying “Unique Buying Proposition” –it was written for marketers but it applies to job seekers as well. I’ll post to twitter.

  7. Thanks for your posting of “Chasing your tail “. The tools that we have today are so powerful and amazing (linkedIn, Twitter, etc.) in regards to the speed of getting your story out and your message delivered. I agree the old methods of reaching our audience are not effective and if you don’t step up and embrace the new options for communication you will never get off first base.
    However, one thing I am convinced hasn’t changed and I believe is being said in so many of these articles – is – it is still about relationships. While, the path you take will certainly affect the end result and the time it takes to reach your goal.
    I am beginning to understand the importance of telling the hiring manager what you did and not what you were responsible for along with knowing it’s not about you – but what can do to make the hiring managers life easier is the key. I believe I am starting to get! Thanks again for passing this blog on to our group.
    St. Joseph League

  8. Thanks for your comments, George. The changes are many, and being able to align your search with the “client’s” needs is the most effective way to make your case–that you are the best fit. Good luck to you in your search for your next position!

  9. When does the Execunet group meet monthly that you host. Where? I was a member of the Dallas group years when I was job searching. I am interested in the KC area and would like some meeting information.


  10. Tony: The central Ohio Execunet group meets on the 4th Thursday of the month in Columbus at the Shops on Lane Avenue, in Community Room B. I’ll be glad to put you on the distribution list for here, although you can find info on the KC area by going to the execunet web site directly: You do not have to be a member to get information on local networking groups. Hope this helps! Let me know if I can help in any other way.


  11. Janine,

    As usual, you are right on point! I recently came across this article and felt compelled to send you a note.

    Thank you so very much for reminding me, that it’s the
    “Value-Add”, as opposed to the “Value-Was”!

    Best regards,

  12. Hello, Ken: it’s good to hear from you, and I appreciate your comment–especially the phrase “value-was!” Somehow, very self-explanatory!

    Hope you are well, and please stop back…your perspectives are always welcome!

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