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When it comes to getting hired for senior roles, who you know matters as much as what you know — HR expert

Getting hired, especially for executive roles, is about being proactive and focusing on how your work experience matches the needs of the company you are applying for. It’s also about working your network to discover the senior leadership job openings that are often not advertised at all, said Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach, recruiter, and Forbes Careers senior contributor, in a recent webinar. 

Those who have been laid off due to the pandemic, or have been out of the workforce several years, should get into volunteering or consulting. “It’s really difficult to swear up and down that your skills haven’t atrophied and you’re ready to jump right in,” she said. “It’s a confidence issue.”  

A 60-year-old client who took time off work to take care of his mother, for example, was able to capitalize on his past customer service process experience to land a consulting gig. His background became an asset for companies struggling with an untrained or young workforce. 

“I didn’t want him to have a pity party, so I said: ‘Let’s get moving,’” said Ms. Levine. “Companies are familiar with hiring on a contract basis, even for senior roles.” 

In your application, “be selective about what you include and omit,” Ms. Levine advised. “You might have years of experience doing dozens of projects, but what is the job asking you to do, and what are the closest examples you have? You need to highlight specific examples.” 

Human resource executives can highlight their experience managing rapid growth in their previous company, if that’s the business condition that their prospective employer is currently facing.  

Among the hires she did on behalf of a company client was for a chief financial officer (CFO) position. The chosen candidate was department head of finance but had not been a CFO. She had, however, done a number of things that dovetailed into the functions of that job, and was as senior as the role required.  

Candidates who are only a 70% match on a particular role, added Ms. Levine, have to figure out how to close that 30% gap, as well as overcome objections related to it. 

“Resumes don’t come into play until later on. This is true especially the more senior and the more targeted the role is,” Ms. Levine said, adding that jobseekers need to tap their network, connect and reconnect with contacts who tend to hear about coveted positions, and be top-of-mind when these contacts get wind of the right role at the right level. 

“Who is it that knows you?” asked Ms. Levine. “You need to have people advocating for you at the decision table.” 

A lot of senior role searches tend to be confidential and worked on quietly via word-of-mouth, according to career portal The Muse 

Companies hire even in a down market, Ms. Levine told BusinessWorld in an August 2020 podcast episode. Opportunities abound, whether through internal talent marketplaces or trends such as job turnover tsunamis post-pandemic. 

Bloomberg Economics also forecast slow recovery in the coming months. In Canada, the jobless rate is expected to fall to 6.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021 and then to 5.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022. In South Korea, where hiring for those aged 60 and above has been the least impacted throughout the pandemic, unemployment is expected to average about 4% this year. 

In the Philippines, the national jobless rate fell to its lowest level in March since the start of the pandemic. Preliminary results from Philippine Statistic Authority’s March 2021 round of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed around 3.441 million unemployed Filipinos, down from 4.187 million in the February LFS round. This puts the March unemployment rate at 7.1%, a drop from April 2020’s record-high 17.6%.  Patricia B. Mirasol 

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