Search results: "Best Job Search Strategies for Executive Level & C-Level Jobs"

Best Job Search Strategies for Executive Level & C-Level Jobs

strategy-791197_1280Executive level jobs and C-level jobs require very specific job search strategies, and some work better than others! In this article, I am going to go over the main executive level job search strategies, including the pros and cons of each. Hopefully, this information will help you decide what job search methods are best for your particular situation.

RECRUITERS

Most C-level executives believe they are bound to recruiting firms to bring them opportunities, but this is not necessarily true. Getting your resume to the top recruiting firms can open up potential opportunities for you!

Pros:

The job comes to you and there is a lot of cachet. Executives enjoy believing that they have been handpicked by a recruiter to represent them to a company. The truth is that the recruiter represents the company, not you, the candidate, no matter what they are telling you or how they are making you feel. Still, it is a “pro” that the recruiter brings the opportunity to you.

Cons:

A recruiter has the company’s best interest at heart since it is the company who pays them in the end. And sometimes the recruiter is paid so much (20% to 30% of your annual compensation) that I believe it can cut into your ability to fully leverage your salary package negotiations.

Recruiters limit your opportunities because:

  1. C-level searches are rare and a recruiter can generally only bring you an existing search – one at a time.
  2. Usually the recruiter will be asked to bring in at least 3 qualified candidates – so you have built-in competition.
  3. You may be constrained from speaking to the company directly as the recruiter will want to mediate and many times negotiate your offer on your behalf (even though his or her loyalty is to the company).

Your Best Move?

Make sure if you do a recruiter distribution, you find someone with a good list of top recruiters (hint: I have one!). Treat the recruiter and the company with the same discernment. Don’t open up to the recruiter as if he or she is being retained by you. They are not. You need to “sell” the recruiters on the value you bring to the company just as if you were “selling” directly to the company.

NETWORKING

Networking can open up opportunities for jobs that are not advertised. If you are well-connected – or you know how to take initiative and “make rain” – this is a viable option for you.

Pros:

You can tap into hidden opportunities. Get third party endorsements from people that you know and that trust and respect you – that can be invaluable!

Cons:

Networking can be tough for executives who don’t know how to do it. After all, how does an executive ask their associates if they don’t know anyone who is hiring or who might be interested in them? This is largely demeaning for a powerful executive who is used to being a leader and in control. It can also take an average of 18 months to complete your job search if all you do is “network” in the traditional sense of the word and your income is over 6 or 7 figures.

Your Best Move?

Learn how to network without asking for a job. There are executive level strategies and communication techniques that approach these conversations in more of a fact-finding and consulting spirit. You need to learn how to do it so you can network confidently. I show executives how to do this both through private coaching and through my DIY home study program, the Job Search Success System.

VENTURE CAPITAL AND PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS

Executives who are looking at management consulting or an interim position, helping turn around a poorly performing company, or are interested in a startup, may be interested in connecting with VC and PE firms.

Pros:

If you are a C-level executive, it may be a pretty good move for you to send a distribution to these firms. There are companies that do this (including mine).

Cons:

I have found that if you are below the C-level, distribution to these firms is less effective.

Your Best Move?

If you are a C-level executive, you can send out a VC/PE email distribution for around $300 and it might land you a handful of good leads if you sell your skills correctly. Smart move!

DIRECT MAIL

I personally believe that understanding how to reach out to companies directly is the most powerful strategy for success. Direct mail means sending an actual letter to the key decision maker in a company. Not an email, an actual letter – preferably on engraved stationery and high quality Cranes paper. You will invest a little money up front marketing yourself like this, but the ROI blows away any other job search strategy I know of in this job market climate.

Pros:

You can identify and isolate your industry and cherry pick who you want to reach out to. You can even do this for free using Google maps. Lists are free or cheap if you know where to look.

With the power of the internet you can use Google news alerts to have information on companies or industries that are growing sent right to your inbox. Companies that are growing are often hiring.

At a salary of $250k+, over 90% of jobs are filled in the hidden job market and never advertised. That means reverse engineering your job search and going after what you want vs. waiting and waiting for the right job to come to you – and competing with dozens or hundreds of other executive job seekers for the same position – makes logical sense for executives.

Learn how to tap the hidden job market once and use this method for the rest of your career. People tap the HJM when they want to leverage themselves in the job market, command more money, minimize their competition and shorten their job search.

Cons:

Your success in terms of how many interviews/offers you land is predicated on your industry, supply and demand and is hard to predict. Between 2% and 5% is average. But I have also seen executives send out 20 letters and land 5 interviews. It depends on many factors. This still beats job boards, but if you don’t understand marketing numbers this can be discouraging to you.

You must be the type of person who can take initiative and “make things happen” to successfully manage this entrepreneurial driven strategy.

These methods at the executive level generally require some help from an experienced career professional who can be your sounding board and show you the shortcuts to using HJM strategies successfully. You will have to hire some help or at least do some self-study, otherwise be prepared for some frustration and roadblocks.

Your Best Move?

I think everybody, not just executives, should learn how to find and capitalize on companies that are growing and know how to approach companies in an industry they potentially want to work for. I have seen executives grind away for a year in a fruitless job search – wasting precious time, losing confidence and often tens of thousands of dollars in income for those who were in between jobs – only to land multiple interviews in the first 30 days of refocusing their job search on the HJM (and often hiring a professional resume writer to beef up their marketing message). They all say the same thing in retrospect: my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner for myself!

MANAGEMENT CONSULTING

If you are a boomer executive that wants more flexibility you might want to consider your own consulting business. Management and technical consulting is one of the fastest growing industries. At 44% in 10 years, it’s grown four times faster than the workforce growth rate.

Pros:

Consulting can be a nice “bridge” job and you might find the flexibility suits you. Many companies prefer hiring consultants – it’s safer for them and they can check you out first before they consider hiring you full time.

You can consult from anywhere. You don’t necessarily have to be a road warrior either. You can do much of your consulting via phone and internet (I myself have done this for years and rarely even meet my clients face to face).

You can consult in almost any field. One of our $500k+ CEO clients found businesses who could not afford to engage him full time as a CEO, but wanted his expertise. He negotiated a handful of engagements with several businesses – some one day a week, some for a few hours a week, and some for a couple days a month. He is now working fewer hours and making more than $500k per year. In one of our conversations, he remarked that he would never go back to a full-time job.

You can generally charge about two and a half to three times your hourly rate (you will have to break down your salary to get this figure).

Cons:

You will have to market your business and this may or may not be something you like to do. Be prepared to invest 15% to 25% of your revenue on marketing. But of course, if it brings you business and you don’t have a lot of other overhead, this is probably a pro not a con.

Interim full-time consulting gigs can leave you scrambling for new assignments and are problematic. Avoid them and try to find a few clients who need your help part time. This is safer relative to your income streams and it’s easier to land these gigs in general. If you find 2 clients who need you just one day a week, you might find yourself making as much as you made in your past full-time job. Many companies desperately need heavy-weight talent, but can’t afford a full-time person.

Your Best Move?

If you are an executive with any kind of entrepreneurial desires, this could be an excellent move for you!

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CEO Jobs: Powerful, Quick Tips to Accelerate Your CEO Candidacy

Landing your first, or second or third CEO role can be accelerated through understanding how to best market yourself in a way that most fluidly communicates your value points as well as gaining clarity on what the market best responds to. Here are a few quick tips to help you in your next executive transition:

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5 Things All CFO Resumes Should Have

The first thing you need to define when building your CFO Resume – either yourself or with the help of an executive resume writer – is your focus of direction. Your resume should be built to the position you want, rather than a historical narrative of where you have been and what you can do. If you apply this principal and do your due diligence regarding your refocus of direction (which can include public vs private, profit vs nonprofit, regional vs global, industry, company size, etc.) your resume will ultimately give you more market leverage. I wrote in greater detail how to get focused here. 

Once you have determined your focus, here are 5 additional important components to integrate into your resume:

Your Branding

You may perform many responsibilities very well, but what particular areas do you excel in? Is it fostering banking relationships? Reorganizations? Fast growth situations? Turnarounds? Strategic Planning? Once you have defined your top skills, how does this align with your career goals moving forward? If you have picked your next move well, there should be a harmony between your career choices and your top skills. Providing there is, you can begin to weave your top skills into your branding message, including your introductory statements, tagline and keywords at the top of your resume. You can check out multiple branding messages on my executive resume samples page.

The Breadth of Your Financial Acumen

Make sure to detail all areas of your financial expertise including accounting and finance, treasury, financial reporting, strategic planning, budgeting, tax strategy, insurance, internal audit, corporate compliance, and contract analysis and negotiations. Of course, include any supporting degrees or certifications such as CPA and MBA.

Metrics

Match up your metrics with your career goals. If you are gunning for a position with a large global company and that expertise aligns with your background, at the top of your resume provide metrics, including the most P&L you have ever managed, teams, and geographical scope. So you might say, “P&L to $500M, Teams to 1600, and Global Scope: North America/Asia Pacific.”

Your Core Competencies

These should align and support your financial acumen. Identify your other leadership capabilities such as executive stewardship, enterprise strategy, performance management, team development and strategic growth plans.

Cutting Edge Technologies and Strategies

Today there is ever-increasing interest in cloud-based consolidated technologies that simplify processes and consolidate data. If you have any expertise with cloud-based financial and administrative systems, be sure to emphasis this front and center on your resume.

Your ability to demonstrate how you have achieved or revived fiscal health in your previous positions, though your utilization of metrics and quantifiable achievements, will add tremendous value to your CFO resume. Remember too, exemplary, well-balanced designs (with a respect for white space) and focused content that categorizes and calls out your accomplishments in short sound bites, are all critical factors in today’s leadership resumes.

Once your resume is aligned and written to the position you want next, you can start to explore which executive level job search strategies are best for your career transition.

 

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More Job Search Tips & Strategies for Busy 6- and 7-Figure Executives

I have the distinct honor of advising many top executives from around the world on executive job search strategies. You see, networking and “job searching” for a top executive does pose unique challenges. A C-level executive in a job search typically isn’t going to get much traction from calling up their friends and asking if their company might need a new President or COO.

Historically, executives have relied on executive recruiters to bring them opportunities – or networking; a painfully slow process at the top executive level. Recruiters can bring the occasional opportunity, but it usually comes with built in competition. Truthfully, executive recruiters only receive a certain amount of President and CXO job search orders to fill each year.

So here are some additional tips and alternatives for your executive job search as you strategize on the best method for yourself.

Direct Mail for High Visibility Executives

I have seen many high visibility executives successfully conduct direct mail campaigns. (I have a reputable direct mail service so if you want a personal introduction to the president of that company, please call me at 830-331-9398.)

If you are a highly visible key executive who is presently employed, you are probably interested in protecting your interests and identity. There are many ways I advise my senior level clients to do this. If you have your own website (yourname.com), you can password protect it. You can also use a mediator when sending letters to targeted companies in your industry of interest, hiding your identity and vetting interested party calls through a trusted third party who doesn’t mind screening calls on your behalf. Once the company and opportunity are known, and provided you are interested, you may divulge your identity at that time.

Private Agents

There are two companies in the US that I know of who are both reputable and work to represent clients (meaning you, the executive job seeker). In other words, the difference between a “private agent” and a recruiter is that the company pays the recruiter (thus, they represent the company, not you in terms of their interests). YOU pay an executive agent, and that agent will actually make calls and work on your behalf to get you interviews. They will help you develop your marketing strategy, develop your marketing collateral, prep you for interviews, and act as your private sounding board as you are negotiating your compensation package. They can help your leverage yourself in the market and your return on investment can be very, very lucrative. However it is expensive to hire someone who is qualified to perform all these duties on your behalf, so consider this fair warning. *INSERT SMILEY* Many executives use these services with great success. If you want me to connect you to my sources, just give me a call.

Top Retained Executive Recruiting Firms

I have a list I give to my executive clients of top recruiting firms. There are two ways I generally suggest that you reach out to them:

  1. If you are conducting a private, passive search, then call the top 10 firms (like your “Korn/Ferry’s”) and let them know you are considering moving and would like to speak to one of the firm principals confidentially. Do this, one by one, with each top firm on your list.
  2. If you are less concerned about privacy issues, you can set up an email distribution and send your resume and a value proposition letter to a wider group of retained recruiters that place top executives. I have a large list that I send out for my clients for $249. It’s a painless and relatively inexpensive way to cover a lot of ground at once with the reputable recruiting firms both in the US and if needed, internationally.

I hope this insight empowers you and ignites your enthusiasm for your job search! There are many ways for executives to keep control of the job search process and many strategies from DIY to DFY (Done-for-You), depending on your time and budget, that can yield powerful results.

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