7 insider secrets for Executive Job Seekers

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Adam Walker.



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Choosing your next career step is a challenging decision at any level, but it can become more difficult the higher you climb the corporate ladder –- not only because senior roles are fewer due to hierarchy, but also because the competition and the demands of the executive recruitment process is often more lengthy and potentially tougher.

Looking for a job at the executive or director level is a whole different experience. The winning strategies that may have got you to the top of your ladder (Managing Director, CEO, Technical Director, etc.) may not help you find your next career step. Here are a few secrets from the experts to improve your strategy so you can win your ideal role at Director or C-level.

1. Most exec jobs are not advertised online

While plenty of executive job boards and media aimed at this area exist (Sunday Times, The Ladders, ExecuNet, aspects of LinkedIn, etc.), the roles you will see are only a small percentage of the available executive jobs. There are many reasons for this. The primary one is organisational discretion: companies do not always want to advertise the fact that they are replacing a director, top executive, or that an individual has resigned on a long notice period, and information leaks can even have legal consequences. Another factor is that D and C-level roles come with great responsibility, so choosing an unknown candidate from a job board is risky.

2. Think ahead in planning your career

The challenges confronting an executive or director who believes it may be time to consider a career change can be awkward and potentially perilous. A director or executive at the career change crossroads should ideally have worked out what they are seeking before commencing the job search for a new role. Go well beyond salary and benefits, understand your  priorities, wants, and needs, and create a detailed plan. If you were starting an important new project either for your own business or for a client, the first thing you would do would be to measure the risks and benefits and devise a thorough plan for achieving them. This means identifying what you want to gain and what you are willing to invest in gaining it. It’s crucial to look at your career progression with the same diligence.

3. Create a great executive CV

Even at the director or executive level, your CV remains a key document and will need to be as strong as you can make it. The more experience you have, the more value you have to offer, and a CV is the best way to collate this information.

Your cover letter allows you to sell yourself, but your CV shows the employer or executive search consultant what you are selling. It enables easy cross-referencing and also gives the chance to tell your story. It should sum up your past achievements and your future goals, your priorities, and your reasons for moving on.

Keep your CV under constant review—do not wait until the last minute to update it. Here are some important features to include:

  • Good personal branding
  • The story of your success
  • A clear work history, showing progression
  • Examples of your quantifiable achievements, including numbers and statistics
  • List your core skills near the top, in an easy-to-read format
  • Clear, readable formatting
  • No longer than two pages
  • Include only your past 15 years of experience
  • Remove dates outside of the 15-year timeframe

Get another pair of eyes on your resume. You know your work history inside and out, but how does it come across on paper?

4. Leverage your personal brand to get attention

In today’s interconnected digital world, every C and D level executive has a personal brand whether they know it or not. The role of your personal brand is the collection of values, experiences, and associations that people attach to you. In short, it is what peers and business associates think of you when they hear or read your name mentioned.

While your curriculum vitae may get you an interview, it won’t help you find open positions. This is where personal branding comes in. Your personal brand includes your success story, character, work ethic, and unique attributes. You can use these to attract attention in several ways.

The most obvious of these is your LinkedIn profile. Your ‘about’ section should include details of your success story and plenty of takeaways. Your jobs should include bullet-pointed lists of your key achievements—you can lift these from your CV, but make sure you delete any confidential information. Adding the right keywords will help you get noticed in more algorithmic searches.

Do not stop there but make time to engage consistently with other LinkedIn users, joining in conversations, following companies that interest you, and sharing posts. This will demonstrate to LinkedIn that you’re an active user and make you show up on your contacts’ feeds.

Do consider your other social media too. While it’s important to be circumspect on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, positive and considered comment can be a virtue.

5. Networking is key

At the D and C-level, job hunting can be about who you know. Make sure your contacts are aware that you are looking for your next opportunity. Of course, this needs to be done discreetly to avoid your current employer finding out that you are looking to move on.

Since most executive roles never make it to a job board, internal searches, conversations with the right executive search partners, and word of mouth are how most hiring takes place. Executive search businesses, board members, and existing executives will use their network for trusted recommendations from employees (past and present) and friends much more than they would a cold lead. Strategic networking can gain you exposure without breaking your confidentiality.

6. Invest in yourself

Your appearance can give you the edge in making the first impression, and you might be surprised by how much it can boost your confidence. Consider updating your wardrobe and how you present yourself: a new look for a new stage of your life.

7. Use a specialist executive recruitment agency

Make sure you choose the right executive search firm that specialises in senior management roles in your field, as they will have  relationships with industry leaders and will be in regular contact with them. The more you can get your name out there, the better.

Redline Executive is a specialist recruitment partner for the high technology and electronics sector, with a focus on executive search. With an outstanding team and four decades of sector knowledge, we pride ourselves on our expertise and relationships we've built over the years. For personalised expert advice on how to proceed with your executive job search, contact Adam Walker today to start a conversation and take the next step towards your goals, on 01582 450054 or info@RedlineExecutive.com.  ‘Exec in Tech’

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