The following is an excerpt from the BlueSteps Executive Career Guide: Advanced Job Search. You can access the complete guide HERE

Not all job search methods are equally productive, especially at the executive level. Spend most of your job search time growing your network rather than searching job boards. Activities that increase your chances of referrals and connecting with the right executive search consultants will make you the most visible for executive jobs. Many executive positions are not even posted on job boards as they’re confidential or employers are simply weary of wading through a flood of resumes. 


Employers regularly note that referrals have the highest hire rate, particularly when the source of the referred hire is a well-respected, happy employee. Referred hires save companies time and money in the long run. If you’re an executive in need of a quick job transition, you’ll be glad that you prepared ahead of time by building up your network which you were happily employed. Once you’re ready to look for a new role, you can feel out your network to find out what’s going on in the marketplace and where there is a need for your particular set of skills and experience. 

Informational Interviews:

As another proactive job search strategy, informational interviews can often be attained through referrals or by meeting someone at a target organization through networking. Once you identify employees from your “right fit” companies, you can seek out more information about the company and its current challenges to ascertain if there’s an opening that fits your skills and experience. 

Become a Successor:

Most organizations only have so many positions, many of which remain filled. Options can be limited if you’re interested in moving up but want to stay at the same organization. Yet, in some cases you may catch whiff of a potential opening of interest coming up within the next year or two. Maybe the CEO has announced his retirement or the CMO’s performance has been unsatisfactory. In this situation, you can network with key decision makers within the organization, on the board, or sometimes even the person leaving the role themselves to ensure you’re kept in mind as a possible successor. 

Face-to face networking:

In-person networking at events or meetings is still one of the most impactful ways to expand your network. During these conversations, it’s best to focus on the other person and find out what you can do to help them. Then, exchange contact details to continue the conversation further either online, via phone, or during another event or meeting. After you’ve started a mutually beneficial relationship, you can let them know that you’re looking for new career opportunities.

Social Media:

Keeping active on social media is a long-term job search strategy that should begin before you even start looking for your next role. Through social media, you can publish thought leadership and showcase your experience, accomplishments, and skills. Having an active presence on LinkedIn is an absolute must for contemporary executives even if they’re not actively looking. That’s because executive search professionals, hiring managers, and even corporate boards will source a candidate through online searches and social media in addition to checking up on the candidate’s background. Beyond simply having a profile on social media networks, you can leverage these sites to expand your professional network. Do this by joining groups, discussions, and commenting and sharing other people’s content. If you start to become a recognized thought leader on a specific topic, you may even be asked to panel events, participate in journalist interviews, or connect further with other professionals in your industry. 

Job boards and databases:

Unlike the previously mentioned job search activities, job boards and generic databases give the feeling of having accomplished something quickly. That’s because you can post your resume to numerous job postings and databases within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, this kind of job search activity rarely amounts to much – networking usually provides better leads. Large generic career sites have thousands of candidates in their databases and are often geared to entry-level and mid-management positions. Instead of putting your focus on generic job boards and databases, look for those that are more exclusive and focused on executive-level opportunities, particular occupations, industries, or job functions. 

Cold outreach:

Emailing your resume to a large list of search consultants or contacts through a mass mailing is never an effective strategy. To be successful, you must narrow down your list and contact each person individually. If you’re looking to contact an executive search consultant or a key executive at one of your target companies, you may be tempted to send them an unsolicited resume, but the better option would be to research them and find out what you have in common, whether it’s an interest in the same sports team, a common connection, or an association membership. In many cases, cold outreach may not be the best time to send over your resume; instead you should attempt to make a genuine connection that could eventually lead to a valuable networking asset. Lastly on this, think about the method of outreach; maybe you’ll stand out more to this cold contact if you connect with them on Twitter first or meet them at an association event.


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