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Published on: Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Six-Figure Hotline


As part of ExecuNet membership, I conduct a weekly teleconference called Six-Figure Hotline where members call in to ask the questions keeping them up at night, and to gain market and trend insight from the career experts who join me in talking about issues that are important to executives today. Whether you are in a job search, thinking about changing positions, or want to learn how to strengthen your success in your current position, this weekly teleconference is designed to provide you the support you need to reach your goals.

Recently, in one such teleconference, I was asked about companies insisting that candidates meet every single requirement that they are posting or "don't bother." Should executives still bother to submit applications to these companies if they have 90 percent of the desired qualifications?

The inquiring member is a marketing executive who is very experienced working with companies from a distance. In his last position he was based in New England, while his management team was based in California. He spent one week out of every 4 to 6 weeks in the West Coast office. He now seeks another position where he can work remotely and he wisely updated his résumé, built a portfolio website, attended networking meetings and set up face-to-face meetings with local recruiters.

He's doing everything right, yet his phone isn't ringing very often. He believes his unwillingness to relocate is hindering his job search, and that companies will not even talk to him if he won't relocate. What can be more frustrating?!

The issue of relocation has been around for many years, but it has become more complicated in the last decade or so now that technology has made working remotely so much easier, even seamless. Here's my advice to him, based on what we've seen work for other executives in his situation:

What you seek is not easy to find in any economy, so you are understandably meeting challenges. Most companies default to wanting their people on-site, especially their leaders, but in today's world that really doesn't need to be the case. Working remotely is a concept that is, for a lot of companies, a work in progress.

Your best bet is not to worry about the relocation discussion until you get to the offer stage — that's when you'll have a chance to negotiate that sort of thing.
It is also why I suggest that even if you have a very specific geographic location in mind in terms of where you want to be, that you go well beyond just responding to openings that might be posted for that location. Find the job that makes sense first, and then worry about where it is — no one has asked you to move yet!

Keep working on expanding your personal and professional network, and make sure your desire for "results" is realistic so that you are not being too hard on yourself, which is something lots of us have a tendency to do. In this economy, even though it is certainly trending in the right direction, your standard of what's okay and the marketplace's might well be different.

Companies and recruiters typically look for candidates who fit the specs completely when a search begins. But they usually end up making trade-offs because once you start to put real candidates against a "wish list" lots of things can and do change. So I would go for it, but go for it within reason because the name of the game is to be remembered and referred — for the right reasons. I would focus on the MUST HAVE and not worry about the rest too much. Your goal right now is to get someone on the phone.

Stick with it. Keep working your network, focus on getting interviews, and save the teleworking discussion for negotiations.

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Dave Opton's avatarDave Opton
Dave Opton founded ExecuNet in 1988 to provide a trusted environment where senior-level executives could build career opportunities by facilitating connections to other executives, experts and key market insights. Dave has drawn upon his 35 years of experience in human resources to develop and grow what has become the leading business and career membership network for executives and senior managers. A widely recognized executive career management expert, Dave is regularly quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, Fortune, Fast Company, and other leading business publications. Mr. Opton received his BA from Indiana University.

Posted by Dave Opton
03/01 @ 08:46 PM
Thanks Jacqui, and I know you have certainly faced this issue with your clients as we have and do with our members.

Hopefully with the help of professionals such as yourself while we can't wave a magic wand and make the process totally without frustration, at least we can help people move through it a bit faster and armed with information that makes the journay a bit easier.

Posted by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
03/01 @ 06:42 PM
What great takeaways for executives in transition who feel burdened with the not-so-perfect, square-peg, square-hole qualifications/track record but who know they are a near-perfect-fit and meet more than a majority of a position's requirements.

I love this: "Your best bet is not to worry about the relocation discussion until you get to the offer stage — that's when you'll have a chance to negotiate that sort of thing."

Akin to dating, let the relationship deepen; focus on the fit vs. the potential obstacles before 'worrying' about potentially negotiable issues such as relocation.

I also like the idea of 'going for it' but 'within reason' ... and to focus on the MUST HAVE and not worry about the rest too much.

In my experiences collaborating with executive career movers and shakers is that the 'worry' often creates a cloud in the process ... and thus negatively infuses their conversations with network and hiring contacts who might otherwise be swayed to continue the conversation or make a referral. Keep the conversation positive and on the VALUE you will provide, and often the concerns resolve themselves naturally.

Thanks for this great, bookmark-able article.

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