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How Do I Start an Executive Job Search?

I am often asked by executives and friends of executives to help with some aspect of an individual’s career management. It is only natural given the position I hold, but nevertheless it may be difficult for me to help them specifically. What I can do, is to try to help them generically by explaining the way the senior executive job market works and offer some of the tips of the trade. Here are a few thoughts.

executive_job_search_networkingFirst and foremost I am always impressed by an executive who has thought through his or her predicament and has a plan of action for their job search. If that is not the case then the services of a career counselor or coach should be sought quickly. Equally, if the knee jerk reaction to an executive job search is to spend lots of time working on putting a CV or resume together, get it done quickly by seeking advice from professional resume writers (Both services are available via BlueSteps).

The important thing is to develop a job search plan and then get out into the market to start networking. I wrote the BlueSteps Career Network Planner a number of years ago because I found myself repeating the same advice to many senior executives and because it appeared to have helped them (unless they were just being polite!). All I said was not only logical, it was also pretty obvious when one got down to thinking about it. But in my experience only a few executives truly work it all out.

So what are the key job search issues facing senior executives?

Firstly look forward – don’t regret and don’t complain. No one has the time to listen to either. Be precise about the options open to you. What interests you; where can you bring added value; what developmental ideas do you have? Then who do I want to get in to see? What am I going to say to them and most importantly how am I going to say it quickly and effectively?

People love to help and give advice, but only so much. That is why many ask, ‘how can I help you?’ That is an opening, don’t squander it. There are many answers but all need to be short, to the point and specifically respond to that question - what can I do to help?

Be realistic, their company may have an opening but as likely not. So now what do you want? Information, contacts and people you may call using their name as a personal introduction.

The most impressive have it all worked out. They have done research and know who is connected to whom (LinkedIn and other social networks make this much easier than in the past).

Once the network starts building it should roll like a snowball, gathering momentum and size every time you give it a push. Follow links between people, keep records and follow up on leads. Be in the driving seat.

Some don’ts: Don’t say "if you hear of anything then let me know". It’s easy to say yes to and it rarely means a thing. It is better to obtain two contacts that you can follow up with using the referrer’s name. Now you are in the driving seat and your contact can satisfy themselves that they were of help.

On a basic level, it’s a numbers game (as a friend who was a bank President concluded after several months of networking). If you have experience and talent then there is a place for you. The secret is finding it quickly, and that is where precise targeting becomes essential.

Good luck with your networking – it’s a powerful and interesting process, and a very effective job search tool.


This article was written by Peter Felix, former AESC & BlueSteps President.

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About BlueSteps

BlueSteps optimizes your visibility to top executive search firms and positions you for the best executive jobs.

As a member of BlueSteps, your career details will be confidentially provided to hundreds of the world’s leading retained executive search firms, all vetted members of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants in over 75 countries.  Benefits include:

  • Confidential, lifetime career profile searchable by over 8,000 executive recruiters
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About the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants

Since 1959, the AESC has set the standard for quality and ethics in executive search and leadership consulting worldwide. Because AESC members must commit and adhere to the AESC's industry and government recognized Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines, clients can be assured that AESC members are able to serve as trusted advisors for their most important engagements. As the voice for executive search and leadership consulting worldwide, today the AESC is comprised of more than 350 member firms, representing 8,000 executive search professionals in 75 countries. To learn more about the AESC and its membership, visit www.aesc.org.

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