Life as a senior-level executive certainly has its perks. CEOs, COOs, and Senior Vice Presidents hold an important role in the strategic day-to-day functioning of a major organization, the status of such a position carries a great deal of social capital, and the salary and benefits are pretty darn good.
But most jobs have a life span. A decline in revenues, an uninspired presentation to the Board of Directors, or a difference of opinion on the strategic direction of the organization can result in a highly successful C-suite leader being unexpectedly – and inexplicably – unemployed and having to mount a job search. Here are six essential facts about job hunting senior-level executives need to be aware of as they pursue new career opportunities.
- Prepare for the job search to take a while. One human capital and search firm's recent data indicated the median length of their executive job searches over the past six years averaged 6.3 months. There are several reasons for this – there are fewer C-suite jobs available, companies tend to take their time filling these critical roles, and they often seek the buy-in of numerous individuals – including the Board of Directors, members of the executive leadership team, customers, strategic partners, and other key stakeholders.
- Most executive opportunities won't be posted on job boards. True, you'll find a few listed, but most companies tend to shy away from posting senior-level executive opportunities on boards such as Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn.
- Employers generally prefer to engage executive search firms to take on the burden of vetting tens of thousands of applications. Executive search firms typically work on a retainer, receiving from the employer a fee in the neighborhood of 33% of the candidate's first year total compensation plus expenses, and managing the search on behalf of the company from beginning to end. Although search firms are pricey, companies utilize them because they have an extensive database of existing contacts, and a major firm's prestige alone will usually merit a return phone call by a busy C-level candidate. Such firms are often tapped to quietly handle confidential searches (i.e., the company is looking to replace their existing SVP of Marketing).
- Networking will be your most important job search tool. You'll receive the highest ROI by building and working your network. Proactively reach out to peers, mentors, and others who may be positioned to provide you intelligence on the job market and refer you to opportunities. Likewise, use LinkedIn to identify and reach out to executive search firms' Practice Leaders; these are the individuals who specialize in identifying talent and managing searches within specific verticals and disciplines.
- Your resume needs to read like an executive resume. Balance high-level, strategic language with tangible, high-impact accomplishments. Consider how you established or delivered against a vision, and the ways in which the organization realized gains and created shareholder value as a result of your efforts; and context around these accomplishments matters. It's also important to address how you influenced the culture and created a pipeline of leadership talent.
- It's important to be mindful of your tone during all interactions. Anyone with whom you come in contact during the job hunt will be in a position to help your candidacy – provide them with good reasons to do so. Demonstrate an abundance of assertiveness, positive attitude, and gratitude.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.