Ask The Expert

"As a Senior Executive, how should I structure my job search during the current financial crisis?"

Peter FelixResponse from Peter Felix, former President of the AESC.

"As the financial crisis has developed during the past few months I have often been asked what effect it is having upon senior executive recruiting and senior executive careers.

Until October, the executive search profession was in surprisingly good health and had continued to enjoy the enormous momentum that had been built over the past four years. With uncertainty roiling world markets we have to learn to live with it, and if possible get ahead of it or at least be prepared for unexpected change. In the context of executive career planning, one must increasingly sit in the driver’s seat or risk being blown around the job market. One can never discount chance – the tap on the shoulder from an executive search consultant, the chance meeting with a friend or acquaintance, the unforeseen promotion. The senior executive market is highly imperfect and full of chance. But this imperfection can also spell opportunity, which is why networking is so highly advocated by all those who work in it.

When active as a search consultant I would often say to executives - treat your search like an executive search in reverse. We, as search consultants, have a position and are seeking the executive. You are the executive and are seeking a position. A search is nothing if it is not organized and well-documented. One contact leads to another, follow it up and document it. Don’t ask sources to get back to you with ideas – quiz them on the spot about people or organizations that they know and ask them if you can follow up a lead directly – don’t leave it to them to forget to call the lead or miscommunicate your message.

Perseverance and focus lead to a good executive search completed within a short time frame. The same goes for a job search. Divide the market into a few sectors, no more than 5, where you are confident that you could add value. Then compile your starting list of ideas and contacts within each sector and start the ball rolling. It’s amazing how quickly momentum can build, how one idea or contact can spawn another. As one friend said – it’s a numbers game; get your network to a certain size and it will begin to build itself.

None of this obviates the value of being on the radar screen of search firms and consultants relevant to your sector or function through services like BlueSteps. Search consultants are busy people but over a period of time that network will build to your advantage as well."


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