Mid-Career Professionals: How to Land that New Job

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Mid-career professionals looking for a new job with a bigger role, listen up. We have gotten tips from Korn Ferry, a global organisational consulting firm specialising in talent acquisition, and leadership development.

Korn Ferry’s career coaches Sandrine Karlsson-Peraldi and Charu Madan bring with them 16 and eight years of experience respectively in talent acquisition. Largely serving the consumer and industrial markets, they have helped to fill numerous senior management to C-suite roles across a wide range of job functions.

Spamming job applications may do more harm than good

Charu: For every job that the company advertises, a recruiter can receive up to 200 resumes. 98 per cent of these resumes are eliminated during the screening process and only two per cent are invited for an interview.

Sandrine: I would recommend not only to target human resource (HR) when sending resumes. You may be at the bottom end of the pile. Send it to other relevant decision-makers as well to increase your chances.

Do’s

  • Be more targeted at understanding the 10-15 companies that you really want to apply to. Find the right sources within the company for the most effective way of approach to convert the application into an interview.
  • Explore different ways of entry. Find ways to connect with someone at the leadership level you will be reporting to within the company and send them your resume. There is a chance that they will just pass it to HR, but there is also a chance that they will look at it and recommend you to HR and give you a better standing.

It’s not the length that makes a good resume

Charu: These days, organisations are increasingly employing the use of artificial intelligence (AI) during the screening process. If your resume is generic, there is a high possibility that it will be screened out of the process.

Sandrine: The trend is on shorter presentation of experiences. The time for a six-page resume is gone. Nobody has the time.

Do’s

  • Customise your resume with the right keywords and buzzwords to pass through the AI screening. Make use of bullet points. It should be easy to understand at a glance.
  • Keep your resume length to one or one and a half page at a maximum. Focus on your last three to four jobs that are most representative of who you are. Demonstrate your value-add and transferable skills by listing out specific and quantifiable achievements.
  • You can bring along your full resume to the interview as a Plan B. It will come in handy if your interviewer wants it for reference
  • If you had explored different careers, you may consider including them in your resume. Depending on what role it is, it could be interesting for the recruiter, as it shows agility and creativity.

Speak up even if you’re not going to turn up

Sandrine: People can understand if you have genuine reasons for postponing or cancelling, but if you are the person creating the problem, you should be the one bringing the solution. Don’t expect the interviewer to get back to you with a proposition.

Charu: We had one candidate who had an accident. He provided documentation, so it was easy to share with the client and excuse him from the interview. Always be professional, even for your recruiters. They are your gateway and key to the hiring manager.

Do’s

  • Inform the company or your recruiter as soon as you know you cannot make it for the interview. Be proactive in suggesting alternative availability or arrangements.

You can’t charm or “smoke” your way through an interview

Sandrine: Very often, we have the misconception that we should be spontaneous during an interview but in reality, people don’t expect you to be yourself – they expect you to be the best version of yourself and be well-prepared.

Don’t expect your good charm is going to get you far in an interview. When you meet with people, their time is very precious. You can be nice, put on your best smile, talk about your pets… but you know what, that will last you about two minutes.

Do’s

  • Prepare a script. You should be concrete, concise and decisive about what you want the person to learn about you. Read your job description very carefully so you can draw parallels with your own experience. You only have one chance and one hour.
  • Research the person you are going to sit down with – what company they were with before, what kind of career they had. Research the organisation in depth – look at their published financial documents, what the CEO is saying, the trajectory. Beyond that, analyse the industry – the economic sentiment, strategies, trends, and what’s interesting.
  • The point of an interview is a dialogue. It is not going to go exactly like the script. Always prepare by rehearsing with people who can give you feedback on your delivery, spontaneity, flow and content.

Confidence is not just about you

Sandrine: Signs of over-confidence include giggling during the interview and not taking it seriously like you have many other options, and asking too many questions like you don’t need to do any research to impress the interviewer. Some may also be overplaying it with their body language with hands in their pockets and so on.

Do’s

  • Include people in your conversation – talk about your team and the achievements you have unlocked together. Leadership is about leading, growing and managing people.
  • Treat everyone respectfully, even people you come across in the lift or at the reception. They may be your interviewer or future colleagues.
  • Have good listening skills and personal grooming. Everything plays a part.

The most suitable job for you may not be the one you love the most

Charu: I don’t think it’s always about passion. You can be passionate about something, but it may not earn you the standard of living you want. When someone go through the KF Advance programme with us, they will begin to understand that in order to achieve career fulfillment, it’s about finding the right balance between the job requirements, the skills you have, and the right organisational culture fit.

Do’s

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses, so you know what kind of environment you can thrive in.
  • Strike a balance between job fit and organisational culture fit.