Being unemployed at the C-level can be the kiss of death. Of course, I have been accused of exaggeration and hyperbole, but not in this case nor by executives in that situation. They tend to confirm that finding a new similar position can be seemingly an insurmountable challenge.
I am not referring to the nose-bleed section of CEOs that collect a king's ransom in severance after they are let go such as the CEOs of HP, Burger King and New York's Bank Mellon. They can afford to retire or buy their own company. The early (50-something or younger) CEO or C-level executive is usually not in that position. The serial CEO, CIO, CMO needs the next opportunity as much as he or she wants it.