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How to Make an Executive Comeback

Posted on August 2020

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There are many reasons why an executive is let go from their role, especially during this unique time of COVID-19. It is a devastating time, and finding a new role is a harder hill to climb for those in senior roles. 

The best way to approach finding a new role is to structure your job hunt and take advantage of the connections you have built throughout your career. As we saw in the financial crisis in 2008, careers in finance and the professional sectors can face ups and downs outside of individual control. 

Follow these practical tips on how to make a career comeback and find a job you love at an executive level. 

Make Your Comeback Your Job

As with any job hunt, the best approach to a career comeback is to treat your job hunt like a job within itself. Keep up a daily routine, waking up at the same time every weekday, ‘commute’ by exercising in the morning, and you can even track your own time using free time tracking apps to ensure you are putting time into your comeback.

This introduction of routine is also a huge help to your mental health. It is best to pace yourself after losing an executive role, especially to process sadness, anger and frustration from your situation. If you jump directly into a job hunt, these may end up coming out during discussions with recruiters, or even during job interviews. Take your time, and approach your new job of making a comeback when you have rebuilt your confidence and energy. 

Brush Up Your Resume and LinkedIn

Yes, it’s time to brush the dust off your resume and give it a refresh. Senior-level resumes can cover two pages and should include a summary, detailed experience, a skills list, professional qualifications and your education. A skills list is vital for resumes in this era of applicant tracking systems (ATS), where keywords are picked up by screening programmes to flag your resume as relevant to the role. Adapt your resume to include relevant keywords which are in each job description you apply for (if they are relevant to you, of course!).

Your summary statement will be the most important part of your resume. Lead with your mission and your achievements. 

After your resume is a diamond standard, it is important to spend more time on your LinkedIn profile. You may already be a LinkedIn All-Star, or you only have an account because you know you need one. 

Here are ways to make your LinkedIn stand out before you start networking and contacting recruiters:

  • Get your profile to All-Star level - this isn’t as hard as it sounds. Fill in every section of your profile and add photos to get to ‘All Star’ on LinkedIn - a completed profile is the perfect jump-off point to use one of the best tools for job hunting

  • Edit your headline - LinkedIn is another hiring tool which relies on keywords, and using specific keywords in your LinkedIn headline can lead to opportunities landing in your LinkedIn inbox! Use specifics and specialisations in your description to help relevant contacts find you

  • Write a catchy summary - many leave the summary at the top of their LinkedIn page blank, but it is the perfect space to grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Spend time crafting a brilliant summary, which encompasses both what you have done and what you want to do.

Use Your Network

This is where LinkedIn will come in useful. Emailing and calling your closest professional connections to ask for information on roles or companies who need your skills is the first port of call, but there are also many ways to grow and engage your network on LinkedIn.

Research companies you would love to work for and see if you have any first and second-degree connections with that company. See if others in your network can introduce you to those who can help you approach firms on your list of ideal new employers. 

Keep in mind that many executive roles are never advertised. That is because networking is the most effective way to find senior staff.  Reaching out to a specialist recruiter like Selby Jennings is your best opportunity to find out and be put forwards for these exclusive roles.

If you left your previous role under a cloud, or you were fired from your role, you can also use your network to source excellent and reliable references for your applications. Reaching out informally to your closer professional connections can also help you with your job hunt - people always know people in need. Former colleagues, consultants, lawyers and directors make for brilliant trusted references for those seeking a new executive role.  

Be Kind To Yourself

After losing a job, it is easy to dwell on your regrets, or in the case of COVID-19 layoffs, your frustration and sadness of your situation. 

The most important part of making a comeback after a career setback is to be kind to yourself. Job hunting is stressful, and you need to help yourself as much as possible by giving yourself time to relax, engage in hobbies, spend time with your family and take life at a slower pace. 

This will help you recentre, clear your mind and help you think out what you really want from your next career step - you may surprise yourself.