Recently a BlueSteps senior executive asked how he could conduct an executive job search in the same way he would execute a successful business plan? The answer is to equip yourself with career management tools such as BlueSteps and Linkedin, and make sure you are documenting and tracking your executive job search like you would a business project.

Peter Felix, president of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) and previous executive search consultant, created a course for BlueSteps titled 'Career Network Planner' to outline how to stay focused and achieve executive job search objectives through career networking. See below for an extract of one section, 'Preparation and Goals' and apply these principles to your executive job search:

The challenge of career networking lies in clearly identifying your objectives, time frame and criteria for evaluation of progress. You may wish to build a network that is of use to you in the future, if and when you decide that you wish to make a career move.  On the other hand your need may be more immediate due to your departure from your current position.

The challenge also lies in limiting your objectives and achieving focus so that you can embrace your project and not be overwhelmed by it. Randomly talking to people in the hope of something interesting turning up is rarely of use. By organizing your thoughts and your activities into this planner you should find it easier to manage the whole process of career networking while managing your expectations and progress.

1. The first task is to write down what it is that you think could or should be your next career move - this is the cornerstone of your search strategy - i.e. what are you trying to achieve?

  • Various functional or industry options may present themselves e.g. finance director in public company; finance director in private company; venture capital; setting up a firm of your own etc.
  •  You cannot pursue a large range of options with any degree of success, because you will end up confusing the market and yourself.

2. Some new options may be suggested to you as you network e.g. Financial planner or executive search consultant.

  • That's OK but you must evaluate such options against your main criteria to decide whether they should be included in your target list. It is critically important to take on a manageable number of options, research them carefully and network effectively.
  • In this respect exclusion is a good approach: apply your criteria rigorously and cull your list of options until you have no more than 4 or 5 at the most.

3. Criteria for selection of your options: How can I add value - what can I bring to someone's party?

  • At your level of seniority you must bring added value to any conversation that you have with a potential employer /partner. This means not only talking about your achievements – most people spend all their time doing this - but specifically identifying problems/issues that may be faced by the person/organization that you are talking to.
  • People are immediately impressed if you are able to either come prepared with positive proactive ideas or if, in the course of listening, you can empathize with an issue or problem and indicate how you could add value by addressing it/solving it. Linking your experience to their situation is an excellent way of focusing a conversation and leading the interviewer to positive conclusions.

Assuming that you have successfully organized your thoughts and planned a networking strategy, its now time to get to work.

The 'Career Network Planner' is a 7-part course available to all BlueSteps members on the post-login homepage. BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at


Peter FelixPeter M. Felix has been President of the worldwide Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), based in New York, since 1998. Mr. Felix is a former executive search consultant, who has had extensive experience in association management, in management consulting and in industrial management.


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