Whether you’re just starting out or you're in mid-career working on your next promotion, getting visibility with the executive team may be your goal. You might be just itching for the day when you can make that big presentation and show these guys exactly what you’re made of and why YOU should be on the fast track! As you’re getting ready for the opportunity, however, you’ll need to develop a new skill: working effectively with executives. Working with execs is not like having a conversation in your team meeting, or even working with your boss. Nope, it’s a whole different level of conversation, and learning how to engage this audience well will enhance your credibility (and viability) in the organization. Whether you’re having a hallway chat or presenting at a meeting, here are some guidelines to keep in mind when dealing with executives: 1. Executives fly at a different altitude. As with any group or individual, you’ve got to understand your audience to have the most meaningful conversation. Execs leverage the view horizontally across the whole organization, and connect the dots from top to bottom. You need to understand how your piece fits into their worldview to connect most effectively with them. 2. Execs are experts in issue triage. They have learned how to quickly dive into the heart of an agenda item, dissect it, and ask scathingly good, on-point questions. Try to anticipate what questions they might ask and prepare a response. They may not need you to “ramp up” to the conversation. Be ready to get to the heart of it. 3. They expect their scathingly good questions to be answered, directly and succinctly. One of the biggest gaffes I see in executive conversations is failing to answer the question. You may get so excited about what you have to tell them, that you aren’t listening for what they want to hear. Prepare accordingly, listen and respond. Be concise, clear, and direct. 4. They can smell BS a mile away. Don’t do it. And if you choose to do it, don’t say I didn’t warn you. 5. They want to know you believe in what you are saying. Conviction about what you say to an executive is as important as the message itself. I had one manager who struggled with this. We’d send him in to an executive meeting with program information and this caveat: Whatever you do, don’t blink. One time, he blinked. It wasn’t pretty. You must believe in what you are saying and have conviction that it is the right solution for the organization. Executives will test for conviction. 6. They can cover a lot of territory relatively quickly. Think cheetah, gazelle, or quarter horse. They’ll move quickly until they pull up to focus on an issue. They will drive this, not you. Be deliberate, but prepare to move fast and flex the conversation accordingly. Just because you made all those pretty slides it doesn’t mean they want to look at them. 7. If there’s a flaw in your logic, numbers or content, they will find it. And they will point it out to you. Know your backstory and your numbers, and the logic behind them. Have someone with content expertise review, poke, prod, and test your content – and you – ahead of time. Don’t risk destroying your credibility with bad numbers, or worse – a guess. Do not guess, ever. Say you’ll look into it and come back. 8. They’re impatient. They may be abrupt. Don’t expect a group hug when you leave. If you’re presenting something, don’t expect flowery kudos when you’re done. They’re moving on to their next agenda item while you’re gathering up your stuff. 9. They remember what you told them. So, don’t tell them anything you don’t want them to remember and remind you of later. See point about not guessing. 10. They don’t subscribe to buzz words. They want facts, solutions, numbers, and conviction. Spare the likes of “paradigm shifts,” “open kimonos,” or “eating your own dog food” and stay on topic. Freaked out? Don’t be. You can do this. It’s just a matter of developing the mindset and doing the footwork. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be. And, it’ll make you better at everything else you do. And when you’re in there, remember, they were all in your shoes at some point, too! Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Recruiters have one job: find the right person for the position. Their performance is evaluated on how efficiently and effectively they match top talent to job requirements. Ironically, in the current economy, recruiters are finding their jobs harder than ever.
There's too much talent for them to weed through. What used to be "finding a needle in a haystack" has now become "finding a needle in ten haystacks." As a result, recruiters have to determine a candidate's marketability much quicker.
Translation: Candidates must pay even more attention to the power of the "first impression" factor.
First Impressions Really Do Matter (A LOT)
People skills, attire, etc. all become more important when competition amongst talent is this fierce.
Reality check: Those who are failing to make a good first impression get put in the "no" pile and are never contacted again.
So, if you aren't getting called back by a recruiter after either an in-person meeting or phone call, there's a good chance that, in addition to the fact you didn't have the right skills, you also might have displayed one or more traits on the "I can't market them" list.
Now, most recruiters won't tell you what you did wrong. Why? For one reason, they aren't paid to give you the bad news. Second, they don't want to burn a bridge. And third, as I mentioned, they just don't have the time.
And yet, how are you going to fix the problem if you don't know it exists? I've put together the most common reasons why a recruiter writes a candidate off. You may not like what you read, but the good news is with a little attention and practice all of them can be improved upon.
So, ask yourself, "Am I guilty of the following?"
Top 10 Things Recruiters Won't Tell You
1. Your interview attire is outdated / messy / too tight / too revealing / too flashy.
2. Your physical appearance is disheveled / outdated / sloppy / smelly / overpowering (i.e. too much perfume or cologne).
3. Your eye contact is weak / shifty / intense.
4. Your handshake is limp / too forceful / clammy.
5. You say ah / um / like too much.
6. You talk too much / use poor grammar / say inappropriate things (i.e. swearing) when you answer interview questions.
7. You appear overconfident / pushy / self-centered /insecure /aloof / ditzy / scatter-brained / desperate.
8. You talk too fast / too slow / too loud / too soft.
9. You giggle / fidget / act awkward / have facial tics / lack expression.
10. You lack sincerity / self-confidence / clarity / conviction.
So, How Do You Fix These?Bigstock
Well, given that 93% of communication is non-verbal, I can tell you that many of the negatives above can be improved by focusing on one thing: attitude.
If you are angry, fearful, or confused, it's going to show. You must find a way to feel good about yourself and your ability to contribute. This comes from knowing your strengths and embracing them.
It also comes from doing your homework on a company so you can articulate clearly and with enthusiasm why you would be a great fit for the job. I realize this is easier said than done, but it can be done.
I hope I've convinced you to take a hard look at the 10 reasons above and commit to finding a way to improve your first impression factor.
And Knowing Your Professional Strengths Will Help!Bigstock
If you want to reveal your unique professional strengths, take our FREE Career Decoder Quiz! It's time to unlock your TRUE potential and start selling yourself to employers!
Once you know your professional strengths, it will be much easier for you to convey why you would be a great fit for a position. And as long as you don't make the above mistakes, you'll be golden.
It's your career. Own your actions and take control of your professional development. I promise, recruiters will take notice.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.