Quit Treating Your Executive Job Search Like Spot Training. Moving Beyond Job Ads


When seeking an executive role, relying on a single executive job search strategy–such as job ads–is akin to trying to get in shape merely by doing some sit-ups. Learn the executive job search equivalent of a full-body workout to maximize results. 


If you’re like me, summer vacation is long over, but you are still carrying around its remnants in the form of extra pounds. Returning to the gym after beach snoozing—stirring only for ice cream or Piña Coladas—can be brutal.

But if you’ve spent any time at all exercising, you know that results only come through perseverance. You also know that just doing sit-ups every day won’t deliver results. We’ve all heard it before: spot training doesn’t work.executive job search

Similarly, an executive job search is more effective if you approach it holistically and with steady persistence. If you rely on a single strategy—such as applying to job ads—your likelihood of success diminishes. If you are eager to land your next position, consider the following ideas for moving beyond job ads, where competition is fierce.

• Tap Into Your Network

Did you know that most executive positions are never advertised? That is because candidates are identified before the company needs to post an ad. To learn about such positions, ensure that your network is vast and that it contains contacts within your targeted area who are aware of your value and goals. Reach out to those who may be the source of a job lead but also to those who could refer you to someone else who may have a lead. It’s not just about who you know, but who your network knows. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for identifying 2nd-degree connections.

• Reach Out to Recruiters

Executive recruiters are a great resource for an executive job search, but remember: their primary interests are to fill their current assignments. For best results, contact as many firms as possible who specialize in your industry, as a single firm will only consider you for one opportunity at a time.

• Contact Employers Directly

Don’t wait until an ad is posted to contact a company of interest. Many positions are created in order to bring a desirable executive on board. Plus, sweet serendipity may have you reaching the employer at precisely the right moment—when a vacancy has arisen but has not yet been posted. Of course, you’ll need a stellar cover letter and resume to generate interest from a cold contact.

• Be an Online Thought Leader

You may very well attract opportunities without even looking if you establish yourself as an industry thought leader, creating content that supports your brand and demonstrates your expertise. But make sure you are connected and engaging on social media with influencers, leaders, and recruiters so that you build visibility where it counts. Creating your online image has the added benefit of supporting your candidacy when using the other search methods described above.


Don’t treat your executive job search like spot training by focusing merely on job ads. Treat it like a full-body workout that hits every muscle group. And do it daily, diligently––engaging with your network, contacting recruiters, researching new companies to approach, and sharing and creating content online—to plot the shortest path to a successful outcome.

The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Connecting with Executive Search

As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:
- Learn about executive search and how it differs from other forms of recruiting
- Discover the best ways to connect with executive search professionals
- Understand how the search process works
- Implement strategies that will help you become visible to the search community
- And more!

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About the author

Tiffany Hardy's picture

Tiffany Hardy, MA, ACRW, CPRW, is an executive resume writer and LinkedIn strategist with BlueSteps Executive Career Services and Top1Resumes. Hardy, a dual Spanish–American citizen based in the U.S., is dedicated to making a difference in global executive job searches by helping each one of her clients to communicate his or her unique value proposition to potential employers. She crafts high-impact career literature—resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, E-notes, executive bios, and more—approaching each project not only as a twice-certified resume writer but as an international business insider with 10+ years’ experience working closely with top-brass international businesses in Spain, as a former hiring agent, and as a former editor for the European Commission.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

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Hi Tiffany! Very nice article. It is true... applying just for spot ads brings no results (or take so long)... however, even though trying to contact someone directly or be in touch with recruiters brings no results too.... and sometimes the job seekers give up this tough tasks... but reading an article like this, shows that unfortunately this process is the same here in Brazil or any other part of the world and it lights up the candidates to re-do again and again and again those strategies mentioned in your article because honestly have no other way to find a new job opportunity if you aren't persistent, faithful and be very well prepared for when you are "lucky" to be in the right place at the right time with the right person with the right need.... difficult match it all !

Tiffany Hardy's picture

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Eduardo. You are right – there is an element of luck in having your resume in the right person’s hands in the moment when they need someone like you. But finding that sweet spot is achieved best through steady persistence. As you correctly noted, this is true regardless of what region you live in, but is particularly important in more difficult markets where jobs do not abound. Thanks for reading!  

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