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Job Search Advice for Senior Executives

Q. The job search advice you provide seems right for junior staff and middle management, but for an executive is it the same? I have significant senior level experience and I anticipate making a transition. What advice can help me streamline the process and avoid the typical mistakes senior executives make?

A. There are many commonalities to an effective job search, regardless of level, and executives do make a number of their own unique mistakes. The first mistake is believing they can run a search on their own. Professionals should seek and utilize professional support. There are career management organizations that specialize in working with executives and their services offer extensive support in all aspects of the transition from public messages prior to leaving, to the final aspects of negotiating a new offer.

Being in a powerful executive role often ensures a level of treatment by others that disappears when you are in transition. Search firms that may have been pursuing you may no longer be as easily available. While your phone calls would have been returned promptly, you may find that there are significant delays or no calls at all. Executives also find they need guidance in preparing for an interview as opposed to being the interviewer. Answering questions posed by others as opposed to doing the asking can be a challenge; understand that though you may be capable for the job, you may not be the best candidate.

Ralph Roberto, Managing Partner of Essex Partners, a Boston based career transition firm specializing in work with executives in transition, notes, “Senior executives frequently see the world of potential opportunities from the starting position, 'I could do that role,' and they might be right. However, there are more effective ways to assess their talents. 'Buyers,' whether for senior executive or Board of Director roles, want executives who are the very best for their need. Executives must review the dimensions of their functional experience, management experience, industry knowledge and leadership skills. When these are all at the highest levels, the executive becomes the key candidate.“

Executives may not feel the need to interview as extensively as they did earlier in their career, but this is not a reality. The connections made may happen in more social situations such as charity events and on the golf course, yet the executive must also encourage new introductions. Perhaps look to lawyers, financial advisors and other service professionals.

While executives recognize the need for marketing professionals at their firms, they may not spend as much attention on methods to promote their own visibility. An effective LinkedIn profile is key with an extensive number of connections. Authoring articles, op-ed pieces or blogs can add to visibility if it is consistently well done. There are many perks to being a senior executive, but avoiding the demands of a job search are not among them.

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