Why Strong Candidates Often Get Overlooked For Top Leadership Roles

Get noticed. Get hired.

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Companies are notorious for hiring the wrong candidates into senior management and leadership roles. Why does this happen?

You want to rise to the top of an organisation, drive strategy, lead a high-performance team, be respected, and make a hefty amount of money along the way.

You know you have the goods. And yet…

You often get overlooked for internal promotions. Also, when you apply for external roles, you get overlooked by recruiters and hiring managers.

What’s going on?

The Missing Ingredient Of Success.

Companies are notorious for hiring the wrong candidates into senior management and leadership roles.

Research consistently shows that perfectly qualified candidates get overlooked, while less-than-stellar people make it into the top ranks.  You’ve no doubt seen this happen first hand.

But why does this happen?

Before we get to the answer, we need to examine the cultural background against which this phenomenon occurs. Let me ask you this question…

How Valuable Are You?

The society has taught us that the strongest predictors of success are:

  • good reputation
  • strong experience
  • high emotional intelligence
  • quality education
  • intrinsic talent
  • learned abilities & skills
  • strong network

All of these can be summed up with one word: your valueMore specifically, your commercial value in the job market. And value should, in theory, correlate very highly with favourable responses from recruiters and potential employers.

Now, if I were to plot your actual, real, commercial value on a graph, it would look something like this:

reach career success

In other words, your real-world value is quite high.

Logic would suggest, then, that you’re being overlooked due to a gap between your current level of value and one that employer has deemed as pre-requisite for the role. Your value is high, but not quite high enough, right?

Not Quite.

In this case, logic isn’t the most reliable guide.

The biggest predictor of success is your ability to articulate and effectively communicate your value – not your intrinsic value per se.

I meet a lot of experienced senior business leaders who fail to successfully attract (and/or compete for) top jobs – because they, despite their enviable track records of success and strong communication skills, can’t effectively articulate their value to potential employers and recruiters.

When asked to do so – via their resume, their LinkedIn profile, during a job interview, or even over a coffee – they stumble and sell themselves short.

Can You Relate?

If you can, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

But as Mark Twain wrote, whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

Chances are, your ability to articulate and communicate your value is a couple of standard deviations lower than your actual value:

reach career success

In other words, your communication is marginalizing your value. And the gap between your actual value and your communicated value represents scads of missed potential.

Most importantly, it means you’re being overlooked NOT due to a gap between the levels of your real and pre-requisite value, but between levels of pre-requisite value and your communicated value.

In other words, to get the role, you need to improve your ability to market and sell yourself:

reach career success

This is apropos to our point about why the candidate who talks a good game, even though they lack the skills to back it up, often gets the job.

Your largest point of leverage is not the value you’re yet to obtain. Rather, it’s the value you already have, but have yet to explain.

How To Communicate Your Value.

Creating a strong value proposition is a lengthy process (our team spends over 20 hours on each client), but I can give you a few pointers here that will get you moving in the right direction.

An effective value proposition:

  • positions you as a clear answer to a specific set of commercial challenges
  • establishes your unique point of difference, and
  • weaves a clear narrative through your career history, positioning each career move as strategically relevant to your intended direction.

This value proposition then needs to be strategically disseminated across every touch point of your personal brand. Specifically, your:

  • resume
  • LinkedIn profile summary
  • online headshot
  • interview skills
  • (optionally) thought leadership pieces, websites, evidence of speaking engagements and mentions in the media

(Related Article: How To Start Building Your Personal Brand).

Here’s How To Get Started.

Have a clear job search strategy (know your commercial value, have a direction, know whether it’s realistic or suitable).

Take an honest look at your resume. Does it do justice to your career, or does it sell you short? Does it make you look different to another, similarly qualified candidate? Does it speak into the needs of hiring managers?

If not, continue rewriting it, or hire us to do it for you.

Boost your reputation, your brand, your authority through building a strategic online presence. Make sure your LinkedIn profile looks as crisp and professional as your best suit. Get a professional headshot. Publish thought leadership content regularly. Ideally, get yourself in the media.

By the way, your LinkedIn profile needs to NOT be a carbon copy of your resume. Its purpose is twofold:

  • to attract opportunities by acting as a “top of funnel” marketing element, and
  • to provide additional context to recruiters and hiring managers who have already seen your resume.

As yourself – does it achieve both?

Next, polish your interview capabilities. Don’t undo everything you’ve worked so hard for by not being able to communicate your value live and in person.

Finally, what about the digital landscape beyond LinkedIn? Make sure all of your relevant thought leadership content is readily available for consumption.

Some examples:

  • Do you speak at keynotes?
  • Have you participated in panels?
  • Have you written articles in which you teach more junior leaders how to navigate the waters?
  • Or, have you written articles which challenge your peers and superiors to rise to a new level of performance?

If you’ve answered “no” to the lion’s share of the questions posed above, you have a lot more talent than you communicate.

Right about now, you’re likely feeling a bit overwhelmed.

But Fear Not.

We can help you with all of the above. Let me ask you this – what would your career look like, if your success gap were to disappear, or become negligible?

reach career success

Eliminating the success gap in careers of senior business leaders is the reason we go to work. Work with us, and we’ll take the entire problem off your hands. In the next few weeks, your ability to market and sell yourself can increase by a large margin.

Arielle Executive is here to help you realise your potential, reach your career goals, have more freedom and more money to do the things you want, enjoy more fulfilment, more meaning and more choices.

Author and meditation teacher Rod Stryker summed it best:

“Your long-term happiness and fulfillment depend on your ability to fulfill your soul’s unique purpose and to fill the place in the world that only you can fill, making the contribution that only you can make.”

It’s your life. Let’s do this thing.





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