How do you stand out in the job market in 2024?

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Barron Williams

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According to Indeed’s recent UK Jobs & Hiring Trends Report, as an industry, we can expect to face some tough challenges in the job market in 2024. 

Whilst the UK labour market continues to show resilience, we are still facing uncertain times and they paint a bleak economic outlook for the year ahead:

“The UK labour market was piping hot in 2022 and has spent much of 2023 slowly coming off the boil. And while the market continues to simmer, further cooling is on the cards for 2024, as the UK economy faces a challenging outlook and the fight against inflation remains far from over.”

They go on to state that amid this less-than-rosy outlook, the demand for people is likely to soften further too:

“The UK economy has faltered as policymakers have raised interest rates in an effort to get inflation under control. Recession risks remain, and growth forecasts for 2024 and beyond are anaemic. Inflation is well down from its peak, but the cost of living crisis is far from over, and households will continue to feel squeezed heading into a general election.”

Amid uncertain economic times, the idea of searching for a new role can seem a little daunting. Many senior execs are reluctant to walk away from a secure position, especially if they have been with their current employer for a long time.

However, we’ve been around this block a few times, and contrary to common perception, we know that changing roles during an economic downturn can hold several distinct advantages.

As a candidate, the brave among us will often face reduced competition, while those recruiting are signalling to you that they have a genuine need to source fresh talent. 

If a client is hiring new roles when times are tough, then it suggests that they are stable, secure and confident in their long-term plans. Even those hiring “defensively” are often firms with a positive outlook.

If we are, as many are predicting, facing another 12 months of ‘stagflation’ then one thing is sure, those senior execs in the market for a new role must stand out in their approach if they are to prosper.

We have compiled our top 12 criteria that will help you differentiate yourself from the pack in 2024:

1. Keep Learning

An old dog is never too old to learn new tricks as they say. Keep yourself up to date on the latest industry trends, emerging tech, and management best practices. Before committing to searching for a new role, consider enrolling on relevant courses, attending workshops, and obtaining new certifications that could help you in your search. Show people you’re serious about your development.

2. Digital Presence

As we highlighted in last month’s Is LinkedIn stopping you from getting hired? insight article, it is critical you optimise your LinkedIn profile when applying for new roles. Make sure it is up to date with a professional photo, comprehensive summary, and detailed work history. Use the platform to your advantage, share good content, engage in industry discussions and connect with relevant companies and fellow professionals. But don’t forget to show some of the ‘real’ you if you want to stand out.

3. Networking

Networking is not only about facilitating an exchange of ideas and best practices, it also opens us up to the opportunity to foster long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Attend industry conferences, seminars, and networking events, online and in person. Build and maintain strong relationships within your industry and beyond, and identify opportunities and potential roles before they are advertised. Don’t forget the simple things too. Reach out to contacts to offer help and keep in touch with people – just remind them that you’re there!

4. Personal Branding

At the exec level, it is critical to define and promote what you stand for as an individual. A culmination of the experiences, skills and values that differentiate you from that aforementioned crowd. Clearly articulate your USP. Develop a consistent message across your CV, LinkedIn profile, covering letters, interviews and any other professional profiles.

5. Results Results Results

We are all in a results-driven business. Clients want to know your achievements and results in previous roles. Use quantifiable metrics to highlight the impact your leadership can bring to the organisation. Provide evidence that validates your capabilities and provides a clear picture of your potential. Demonstrate your leadership skills and back it up with financial performance. Demonstrate your adaptability and problem-solving skills. Highlight your skill in stakeholder management, comms, risk management, and back it all up with hard facts to build credibility and trust.

6. Adapt

Those with the confidence to recruit in challenging economic times want to hire execs who can demonstrate a clear ability to adapt to change and lead teams through uncertainty. Highlight instances where you’ve driven innovation during your career history. The landscape is dynamic, you must show them you are too. Those candidates who can navigate uncertainty, embrace new opportunities, and lead our clients through various challenges will be better positioned for long-term success. Demonstrate how you deliver results in difficult circumstances.

7. Innovate

When it comes to demonstrating innovation we are not just talking about showcasing a specific skill or the latest tech know-how. As recruiters, we want to see our candidates convey a mindset and approach that aligns with the dynamic and evolving nature of our clients. That is what will differentiate you from the pack and position you as a valuable asset that can contribute to their growth and success in a crowded field. Show us how you’ve evolved and adapted your approach to face new challenges.

8. Presence

Hone your craft. Good communication and presentation skills are imperative. Exhibit confidence, decisiveness, and a strong executive presence in all interviews and interactions. It is a multifaceted quality that will demonstrate your ability to lead effectively, communicate persuasively, and build positive relationships both within and outside an organisation. The right presence will tell our clients that you can deliver success. And, if you’re not feeling on top form, pretend you’re on top form.

9. Mentorship

If you have the opportunity, engage in mentorship, both as a mentor and mentee. Done effectively, it is a two-way street. As a mentor, you can guide those coming up. As a mentee you should actively engage in the process, seek feedback, and take ownership of your development. A successful mentoring relationship benefits both parties. Share the benefit of your experience and contribute to thought leadership by writing articles, speaking at conferences, or participating in webinars. It shows that you are a true leader who’s prepared to support and develop the next generation.

10. Crisis Management

Highlight your experience in crisis management and your ability to navigate challenges effectively. As senior executives we are often the face of an organisation, so effective crisis management skills will demonstrate that you can actively navigate and manage a crisis to safeguard reputation, maintain stakeholder confidence, and contribute to the overall resilience and success of our client’s business. Being able to remain calm and function effectively in tough times us an under-rated skill!

11. Soft Skills

We (Barron Williams and our clients) will want to see a demonstration of key non-technical, interpersonal attributes that play a crucial role in how you will interact, navigate, and contribute to the role and organisation. These soft skills will vary depending on the nature of the role and the culture of our client but we want to see candidates showcase their emotional intelligence, adaptability, collaboration skills, and how you can successfully lead and motivate teams. Treat our discussions as “meetings” rather than “interviews” – the difference in approach can be illuminating.

12. CV and Cover Letter

We looked at the importance of an effective resume in our Do we still need a CV to hire Senior Executives? article. Tailor it to the role. We want to see a compelling CV with a concise cover letter – Para #1 “Why I’m applying?”. Para #2 “Why I’m a good match to the role brief?” – that aligns with the specific requirements of the role you’re applying for. This is an opportunity to make a strong first impression, highlight your leadership skills and achievements, and demonstrate your fit to the organisation.

Remember, standing out as a senior executive in 2024 is about showcasing a combination of leadership skills, adaptability, strategic thinking, and a track record of delivering results. Concisely!

Tailor your approach to align with the specific needs and expectations of the organisation and the industry sector.

There is little in the way of alchemy involved in differentiating yourself – just good practice and a little thought.

Box clever. Approach each opportunity uniquely and give yourself the best chance of securing the right role.

If you are looking to work with a team dedicated to helping you find the right people to fulfil those crucial roles for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or call us today.

If you are looking to find or apply for a new role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or call us for an exploratory conversation.

And if you’re not already, please don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Barron Williams

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