Top Tips to Stand Out as an Interim Executives
There are tens if not hundreds of thousands of interim executives in the United States providing their expertise in a variety of formats including coaches, advisors, or management consultants.
One of the top questions we are asked is, “How do I make myself more visible?” We recently surveyed our interim executive network and in the general comments question, the overwhelming response was around the topic of more opportunities leading to more engagements. We have thousands of interim executives in our network and it is growing each day as the alternative career choice of an interim executive continues to become an appealing option. There is no single silver bullet but we have compiled a list of the top tips we give executives when asked.
Key accomplishments & results
It is no question, this is top on the list. There is a reason Cerius asks for this information. First, it is not typical to find this information on a resume. We review hundreds of resumes and profiles each week. It is the #1 thing missing and adversely, the #1 request from clients. “What have they accomplished in the past and what types of results have they given other companies?” Given the tremendous amount of experience an executive has, clients looking to bring on an interim executive or advisor is not looking for whether he/she has had PnL responsibility. That is assumed at this point. What impact have you had on the PnL is what they are more concerned about. Leave the job responsibilities on your resume and focus on the types of results you have accomplished in your last couple of positions or engagements when it comes to your profile. If you already have it on your resume then you are among the few and can use the copy/paste function. Don’t be modest and don’t be stingy on the numbers. As much as clients do appreciate that you “Increased morale”, they are far more impressed that you “Reduced turnover by 20%.” How much did you help grow sales by or improve EBITDA by? There is typically some type of financial impact.
Include all of your background
Since there is no specific opportunity or job when you are initially getting your information out there, all information is needed. This is especially important for someone who has been working independently and has had multiple engagements over the past few years. The information on the types of companies you worked with and what you did is the top difference maker between being considered for multiple opportunities vs. none. It is extremely difficult for a client to figure out if you have the background that fits their criteria if all that is listed for the past five years is that you have been CEO of your own consulting firm and you work with companies to increase their revenues and save them money. We need to know what types of companies (particularly industry and size) and what was done during the engagement.
This is increasingly becoming the standard in the industry for a reason. Companies looking to bring in outsourced interim executive talent have something specific to be accomplished. They want someone who is an expert in that area. Our rule of thumb is, if you can write an article or give a presentation to your peers on the topic, you can count yourself an expert. With the caveat that you have also done it repeatedly in practice as well… This should be consistent in your resume, your profiles (including LinkedIn) and your content. The more we see executives niche themselves with a specific expertise, the more successful they are with referrals and opportunities. It is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself.
A great way to establish yourself as the expert and create value for potential prospects is to publish consumable content. This can be in the form of articles/blogs, tweets, posts, presentations, podcasts, videos, etc. The one thing our audience has in common is that they all consume information differently. At Cerius, we are always happy to partner with executives as a distribution source. Please contact us for more details if you are interested.
Look to the past
One of Matt Sauer’s, Cerius’ Chief People Officer, top pieces of advice is contacting prior companies and clients. There is no better source who knows what you can do than those you have already worked with. We are seeing companies increasingly bring on executives who have worked there in the past being brought in on a consulting basis. There’s a variety of reasons that drive this and the benefits each party gains from it. One of Cerius’ top sources is past clients. Keep in touch and reach out to them periodically. They are busy but I’ve never known someone to have an issue with me sending them a piece of news or information I thought they might be interested in.