If you’ve been sending out tons of resumes and not getting any interviews, NOW is the time to put proven executive job search strategies into action.
In our work helping thousands of executive job seekers, we’ve found that most people start their job hunt without a clear plan of attack. They start out feeling optimistic and applying for every job they see and quickly become frustrated when they don’t get results.
Ultimately those most successful in their executive job search have a clear set of strategies in place before they apply for their first position.
Here are some of our proven executive job search strategies to help you quickly gain traction and land your next position.
Executive Job Search Strategies for Success
1. Ensure you’re clear on your ideal next position
The first step in any executive job search should be to spend time reflecting on what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish in a new position. Make sure you’re able to honestly answer to yourself why you are seeking a new position. Are you running from something or running to something? Are you seeking more money? Greater responsibilities? Less travel?
Before starting the job search process, ensure you have a clear vision for what your next position needs to offer. Consider which aspects of your “wish list” you’re willing to compromise on if needed and those you need to stand firm on.
Deciding to take a new position can impact the entire family, particularly if relocation is involved, so it’s important to get their buy-in prior to starting your search. We’ve seen many candidates start pursuing their dream jobs in a new city only to realize that their family isn’t on board with a move; take the time up front to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as relocation. Make sure you carefully consider the costs associated with relocation as well.
2. Create a plan for your executive job search
Having a well thought out plan will shorten your search duration.
An effective job search plan includes time allocated to each of the following components:
- Networking – researching, contacting, and following up with people in your network
- Online research – developing and refining a list of target organizations and researching companies
- Searching for and responding to job postings – checking sites like Indeed, LinkedIn and executive search firms’ websites for job openings and applying
- Job search correspondence – updating your resume, drafting cover letters, sending timely follow-up and thank you emails
- Maintaining interview preparation – identifying common interview questions and practicing your responses; ensuring you are confident interviewing on video
- Managing the process – keeping clear records of where you’ve applied, staying organized, and self-care so you stay focused and motivated
Consider what percentage of your time you’ll dedicate to each of these items. What are you committing to doing daily to move your job search forward? Weekly? Set specific, measurable, result-oriented goals so you stay focused and can track your progress.
Decide where you will regularly check for posted positions (industry websites, Indeed.com, etc.) and get in contact with a reputable search firm with expertise in your area. Develop a plan for how you’ll tap into your network and reach out to your professional contacts.
3. Make sure your resume adequately showcases your accomplishments
When picking a resume template, keep in mind that at the executive level, candidates typically have greater success if they use more conservative resume formats and avoid trendy resume designs.
The number one resume mistake we see is failing to quantify accomplishments. To set yourself apart from other candidates, ensure your resume content focuses on the results you’ve achieved (rather than your duties).
4. Clean up your social media profiles
Know that as you progress through the job search process, potential employers will most likely “Google” you and check out your social media profiles.
Make sure that everything is “professional” and that nothing on your LinkedIn profile contradicts the information on your resume.
Keep in mind that potential employers may go so far as checking out your spouse’s or kids’ social media profiles and make judgments (we’ve seen this happen!) so consider having your family members adjust their social media privacy settings if warranted.
5. Prepare your references
Ensure you’re ready when you’re inevitably asked for references. It should go without saying, but give your references a heads up about your job search and ask for their permission before listing them as a reference.
Early in your executive job search, put together a list with your reference names, contact info, and relationship to you so you have it ready to go.
6. Practice your interviewing skills
Most interviewers use variations of common questions, so it’s a good idea to do some research and prepare ahead of time for the questions you’ll likely encounter.
As a reminder, when interviewing, keep your answers to a maximum of 90 seconds.
Failing to be concise in your answers can cost you the job. This is the second biggest reason, just behind lack of preparation, that hiring authorities cite for cutting candidates.
Practice being interviewed for a position by someone who will give you objective feedback on the content and delivery of your responses.
Employers are increasingly using video interviews as part of their process. We conduct dozens of video interviews each week, and we’ve found that few job candidates excel at video interviewing.
Practice video interviewing so you’re comfortable and take the time to learn video interview best practices on everything from where to position yourself relative to the window and how to ensure your internet connection is fast enough.
(We offer mock interviews as part of our career coaching service; this is a great way to practice and get direct feedback on your performance.)
7. Perfect the PAR technique for answering behavioral interview questions
While there may not be a “right” answer for behavioral interview questions, one of the aspects your interviewer will evaluate is how well you structure your answer.
The PAR technique provides an easy structure for answering behavioral interview questions. PAR stands for Problem, Action, Result.
- Start by describing the Problem or situation was that you had to handle.
- Next, explain the Action you took to address the problem.
- Finally, describe the Result of your actions and decisions. Make sure to quantify the results.
8. Ensure you have an impeccably fitting suit ready early in your executive job search
You’ll be judged by your appearance and what you wear when you’re interviewing.
Always play it safe by wearing business professional clothing – a suit and tie for gentlemen and a business dress or suit for ladies. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Make sure you have what you need when you’re kicking off your executive job search so you don’t have to scramble to find an appropriate outfit when you get your first interview.
Keep in mind that many major department stores have stylists to help you build your professional wardrobe.
If you have a suit sitting in the back of your closet, try it on and consider taking it to the dry cleaner so it’s ready to go.
9. Consider the total package when evaluating a job offer
We sometimes see candidates place too much emphasis on the compensation package. While money is certainly important, we recommend that candidates consider job opportunities more holistically.
When candidates take the time to carefully evaluate the position and offer details, we find they ultimately have increased job satisfaction and success.
In addition to considering the alignment of the new position with the criteria you identified as important at the start of your executive job search, we recommend you evaluate an offer on the following:
- Compensation Package
- Company Reputation
- Corporate Culture
- Team and Boss
- Advancement Opportunity
10. When you find the right position, resign gracefully
Always remember your candidacy will be stronger if you are still working. We advise our candidates to wait until you have an offer letter in hand before resigning.
Give sufficient notice, thank your employer for the opportunity and offer to help find a replacement.
It’s always best to avoid burning your bridges if possible. After all, you never know when you might meet your former colleagues under other conditions — and then it’s better for everyone if there are no hard feelings.
You CAN change the trajectory of your executive job search
Searching for a job doesn’t have to be painful, and if you put these executive job search strategies into practice, you’ll get results faster.
We encourage you to get started today by picking just one or two of these areas to focus on first.
Need help with your executive job search? Our career coaches can help you land a new job faster.
Learn more and get started today: kirbypartners.com/executive-career-coaching.
For more than 30 years, Kirby Partners has made it our job to get executives jobs.
We’re a Forbes’ “America’s Best Executive Search Firm” and have worked with thousands of executive job seekers.
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