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Let’s say you are a recently-fired NFL head coach or general manager. If that’s the case, well, at least you aren’t alone today; now that the regular season is over, several teams have parted ways, or will be parting ways, with key leadership figures. So how do you find a new job if you’re an out-of-work executive? Searching for a job is different at the executive level, because openings are limited. When you’re competing for the sort of high-profile leadership role that’s in short supply, you’re likely to find your next opportunity through networking—not online job postings.

You’ve likely heard the oft-repeated advice that it’s important to tailor your resume for each individual application you submit. And that is a common recommendation for a reason: It works. But a job-seeking executive needs to focus on something else: the networking resume. This resume format is brief, heavy on the accomplishments, and the perfect thing to take along when networking.

Networking resume format

When starting a search for an executive job, take some time to think about the characteristics of your dream role. You can even craft your own job description, drawing on your previous experience and taking into account your ideal goals and responsibilities.

Then, get out your career management document (some people call this a master resume)—and if you don’t already have one, now is the time to create one. A career management document is similar to a curriculum vitae in that it’s a master list, updated regularly, where you keep track of all of your professional accomplishments, credentials, education, skills, community involvement, and anything else you might want to include on a resume someday. It differs from a curriculum vitae in that the career management document can include extensive personal notes, a resume keyword bank, and other features that you wouldn’t necessarily keep on your actual job application materials.

Key components

Once you have read through your career management document, you’re ready to create your one-page networking resume. This is what you’ll bring along to meetings with your contacts. The key pieces of a networking resume are:

  • One-sentence career summary. Talk briefly about who you are and what you bring to the table.
  • Biggest achievements. Choose four to six of the most outstanding accomplishments from your career, and explain them each using the C-A-R method (that is, challenge – action – result).
  • Condensed work history. List the companies you’ve worked for, your job titles, and the corresponding dates—but go back only 10 to 15 years.
  • One-sentence education summary. Convey your education in brief, rather than like a traditional resume education section.
  • Future goals. In two to three sentences, talk about your ideal position—whether that’s specifics about industry or company size, or the types of challenges you’d love to take on. (Yes, this is essentially an objective—but in the case of a networking resume, it’s important to include it so your contacts can refresh their memories. The networking resume isn’t a formal document you’ll submit as a job candidate, so it’s okay to talk about your wants instead of an employer’s needs.)

Don’t forget to make sure your LinkedIn profile is in top shape. It shouldn’t be identical to your resume or even your career management document. You can go into more detail on your LinkedIn profile than you’ll typically have space to do on your resume, and you also have flexibility as far as tone. You can use the first person, but make sure you don’t slip into coming across as too casual. Additionally, be sure to join—and participate in—relevant groups. By doing this, you can raise your profile and position yourself as an expert.

Networking is the key to a successful executive job search, and a networking resume is a useful way for you to make the most of your time with your contacts.

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