3 ways the executive job search is changing via Noelle Gross

After spending years ascending the corporate ladder and building your professional reputation, the last thing you expect to find at the top is a difficult executive job search. The unfortunate truth is that at the highest level, the job market is smaller, the competition is fierce, and the search for executive jobs takes longer as it gets more complicated.

“The executive hiring process is much longer because stakes are higher,” Noelle Gross, a former executive recruiter and current career strategy coach, told Jobscan. “There may only be a few people worldwide who can do the job.”

Here are three crucial ways Gross sees technology changing the executive job search landscape.

1) LinkedIn is an executive job search difference-maker

“Don’t overlook LinkedIn,” warned Gross. “LinkedIn is one of the most powerful job search tools available.”

While LinkedIn is currently the go-to online networking tool for millions of professionals, many executives still aren’t willing to invest in creating a professional online profile and persona that can lead to their next big opportunity.

“I meet so many executives who are skeptical of any form of social media, including LinkedIn,” said Gross. “I encourage those executives to think of LinkedIn as a massive directory for hiring managers.”

“Recruiters and hiring managers exclusively search on this platform,” said Gross, who believes in optimizing your profile’s keywords so that recruiters can find you on LinkedIn. “If you are on LinkedIn but not keyword optimized, you are missing out on valuable opportunities to be picked up in searches.”

Learn more about creating a search-optimized LinkedIn profile with these resources:


Video: Optimize Your Profile with Jobscan (2:53) Jobscan’s LinkedIn Profile Writing Guide
Linkedin Writing Guide
LinkedIn Optimization text tutorial LinkedIn Profile Writing Guide

 2) Technology is a double-edged sword

“Technology has certainly advanced since I started recruiting, both on the recruiting and job searcher sides,” said Gross, noting the tools recruiters use to quickly narrow their sourcing efforts and the resources available to job seekers. But as more of the executive job search moves online, she warns not to put all your eggs into the technology basket.

“There are two things that haven’t changed: the personal connection and strategic branding,” reminded Gross. “I recommend using technology to aid the search but never becoming fully reliant on it to communicate your brand to key contacts when a personal connection can be much more effective.”

“Also, I’ve seen many job seekers get distracted by too much technology,” warned Gross. “It’s good to strike a balance and treat your job search in a holistic way, implementing a variety of online and offline tools to reach the end goal.”

3) Be ready for video applications

A recent development in online applications is the automated video application. Not to be confused with the video job interview that has begun replacing initial phone screenings and some in-person interviews, a video application has the applicant record themselves answering preset questions.

“In my experience the resume never does the applicant justice so this will be a huge opportunity for candidates to let their personalities and passions shine via video,” said Gross.

Not only that, but an automated pre-interview process “should give all candidates a much more equal footing,” says Gross.

In a typical job interview, a recruiter’s bias can affect the line of questioning. Establishing instant rapport with the interviewer could lead to easier questions or a less critical reception to your answers. Meanwhile, a lack of chemistry could lead to tougher questions and more skepticism.

With each applicant responding to exactly the same questions, an interviewer can’t go off script. Each applicant question is set up in exactly the same way.  Of course, this doesn’t eliminate bias, as seeing a video of an applicant early on can open up other types of prejudice– sexism, racism, age discrimination, et al. — but it’s a game-changing step in the early application process.

Full Q&A with Noelle Gross

Check out Jobscan’s full interview with Career Strategy Coach Noelle Gross below to learn more about her views on the executive job search, how the landscape is changing, and how she approaches her coaching business. Be sure to visit her website to learn more about NG Career Strategy’s executive job search resources.

Noelle Gross is an executive job search coach.
Noelle Gross

In your bio you describe yourself as an all-in-one connector, headhunter, motivational speaker, and branding expert. How do you leverage these traits, along with your business school and recruiting experience, to provide your readers and clients with a unique job search experience?

My blend of professional and personal experience has a major influence on how I deliver my services and also how my clients receive them. Above all, I value my clients and aim to serve them where they are (which isn’t always a fun place to be).

I have been in my client’s shoes and know what it’s like to be in a really tough job search – it is emotionally draining, stressful and can become really discouraging. I get that, and so I can approach my clients and their job searches in a truly holistic way that puts the individual first and leverages a variety of approaches they hadn’t yet considered! I bring a level of empathy that your average career service provider can’t replicate. I also bring a deep sensitivity to user experience.

In business school I was ready to tackle the world – only to find myself unemployed upon graduation. Then, after months of searching (and failing) I found myself in a recruiting role. This was a whole new education – one that you don’t necessarily get from business school. You might say I earned a 3rd degree in hiring! It was recruiting that taught me how to connect, how to set strategic targets and how to create plans for reaching them. It was also recruiting that opened my eyes to branding and how something as simple as a positioning tweak to a resume could make me perceive a candidate in an entirely new way. Not to mention recruiting totally changed my outlook on the value of LinkedIn for long-term career management.

How does executive recruiting differ from other recruiting fields?

Executive recruiting is much more strategic. I was in Retained Executive Search which is the highest level of recruiting. You are literally finding a needle in a haystack when you are searching for someone at the CXO level. There may only be a few people worldwide who can do the job for the client and it’s up to you as an executive recruiter to find them. The other type of recruiting (contingency recruiting) is typically focused further down on the organizational chart and allows for a greater candidate pool and more flexibility in candidate backgrounds. The executive hiring process is much longer because stakes are higher (salaries are higher, organizational influence is greater, etc.). Therefore companies retain Executive Search firms to be their organizational recruiting capability and apply a ton of strategy to shorten the process when possible.

What is your top piece of job search advice for executives right now?

Don’t overlook LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful job search tools available especially since recruiters/hiring managers exclusively search on this platform. It’s also the quickest way to be found if you are using it correctly. If you are not on LinkedIn you are risking not being found for your dream job. If you are on LinkedIn but not keyword optimized, you are also missing out on valuable opportunities to be picked up in searches. I meet so many executives who are skeptical of any form of social media including LinkedIn. I encourage those executives to think of LinkedIn as a massive directory for hiring managers and one they can’t afford to avoid.

Have challenges with age discrimination affected your clients? How do you speak to age discrimination in the coaching that you do?

Absolutely. Age discrimination is a very real thing these days but too often my more senior clients will use this as a crutch. I don’t allow them to do this because it creates a major mental roadblock that could sabotage their entire search! Instead I remind them that they probably don’t want to be hired by an employer who is going to discriminate based on age. Plenty of great employers exist who would love a more experienced candidate and so those are the employers we focus on finding. Once a job searcher can remove this mental roadblock, you’d be amazed at the progress. Many of these job searchers end up landing jobs much quicker than younger candidates.

What is the top tool, online resource, or platform you recommend to executive level job seekers? Any runners-up?

LinkedIn. Hands down. There is so much functionality beyond just being searchable. This is my go-to for company research, networking, and finding all the strategic pieces that go into creating my client strategy roadmap. Runners up – Jobscan of course! Getting past ATS is a very real struggle and without a robust keyword strategy, most candidates are doomed to end up in the trash. I just love how James and the Jobscan team have identified a huge need in the job search market and have designed something that addresses it in a very effective way.

Scan your executive resume for ATS.

How have you seen the job search arena change in the past 5-10 years?

Technology has certainly advanced since I started recruiting – both on the recruiting and job searcher sides. Recruiters can gather information on candidates much quicker and with much more proximity while job seekers can access endless online resources – from more job boards to smartphone apps to online resume builders. Even though there have been great advances in hiring and application technology there are two things that haven’t changed: the personal connection AND strategic branding. I recommend using technology to aid the search but never becoming fully reliant on it to communicate your brand to key contacts when a personal connection can be much more effective. Also I’ve seen many job seekers get distracted by too much technology – so it’s good to strike a balance and treat your job search in a holistic way implementing a variety of online and offline tools to reach the end goal.

What job search trend or idea are you excited about in 2018?

The shift towards video applications as a first checkpoint is definitely something that will be a game changer for job seekers. In my experience the resume never does the applicant justice so this will be a huge opportunity for candidates to let their personalities and passions shine via video. This should give all candidates a much more equal footing as well.

What is the most commonly asked question from your clients? How do you approach solving this problem?

There are so many resume writing services out there and our resume services are priced much higher than the average resume site – so I’m often asked what makes my service uniquely better than sites like Resume Spice or Top Resume.

In the world of resume writing services, you pay what you get for. What you get from our writing services is a human being with hiring experience, that is invested in seeing you succeed and a level of service that is much more engaged and high touch than the standard quick turnaround resume service. We offer a strategy call so that you are actually talking to a human – and not just any human – one with a background in hiring/HR/recruiting. Most other services do limit the collaboration process to email only (so it’s important to read the fine print before signing on). We take a much more personal interest in our clients including spending time on the phone to make sure we understand our clients and their goals during the process. Some clients take more hand holding than others and that’s okay by us! So you are paying for a much more collaborative and high-end service with a team handling your case (I personally review every client intake form and collaborate with my writers). At the end of the day, my name is on the business so I make sure my clients are happy!

With some of the cheaper services you also don’t know who is actually doing the writing. I’ve noticed on many sites they use stock photos for their testimonial pictures which is a red flag.

At the end of the day there is no substitute for a guarantee of a certified writer with hiring experience, reading and writing every word. Keep in mind they are paying the writer a cut of the price of your resume and so if the writer isn’t being well compensated, what is their incentive to personally invest in the client? Other services also typically limit their guarantee to one rework if their resume does not perform. This translates to “we’ll rewrite it once and that’s it.” At NG Career Strategy, we are invested in seeing you succeed so we offer a 30-day guarantee. We also review the job descriptions for which our clients have applied, so we can analyze where we were off or where the client might be off in selecting the best fit for their experience.

What does NG Career Strategy offer that other career coaches aren’t doing? What makes your company stand out?

I offer a level of hiring and recruiting expertise that most career coaches don’t possess. I also give tirelessly to my clients. I don’t cut a client off short just because time is up. It’s really important to me that my clients understand what’s going on every step of the way so they can replicate my process and approach when they are on their own.

What do you look for when you’re hiring for your own team?

I look for people who are people- and service-oriented first. My team has to LOVE our clients and be hyper-sensitive to their needs just as I am. I also look for people who have a hiring or recruiting background. Someone with resume writing expertise but lacking in hiring expertise may tend to get stuck on the writing best practices but miss the hiring strategy. Therefore it’s essential that my writers have a blend of resume writing best practices and real world hiring experience.

What is your biggest company goal for 2018?

To reach even MORE job seekers and make all of my exclusive coaching and branding resources available to every person who visits my website so everyone who needs job search strategy support can access it! I am creating a membership community which will allow my site visitors to use all of my tools, tips, workshop recordings, and resources at a fraction of the cost of coaching or writing services. I’m so excited to empower each and every person who visits www.ngcareerstrategy.com

Anything else you’d like to share about yourself – or your company or the job search – with our close network of over 200k active job seekers?

I just want to offer a word of hope & encouragement. I know the job search totally stinks. I know you might be feeling really discouraged, frustrated or confused by the whole process. You might even be thinking that you are defined by your inability to land the jobs you pursue. I want you to know that the situation you are in is temporary and it does not define you because you are so special and unique. There’s no one quite like you and that perfect career fit DOES exist. Enjoy each and every day even if it is spent in the job search – you’ll never get another one!

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