The Executive Job Search: Understanding Today's Job Market

In today’s highly competitive job market twenty million Americans annually attempt to change jobs, industries or careers. Many more will attempt to start or buy a business. Elimination of layers of management combined with newly minted post graduate and college-educated professionals have sharply increased the level of effort required to effect a career transition.

Most people will utilize a traditional and frustrating approach to changing jobs. They will prepare a resume, update their LinkedIn Profile and join web based job posting services.  Then focus on the tedious completion of online applications and starting an effort to get the attention of recruiters. Finally they request friends to “keep their eyes and ears open” and even write or call companies directly. The surprise is how little result comes from these efforts. If you haven’t looked for a job recently, you tend to overestimate your knowledge of how to find the next job.

There are very few things more crucial to a person’s quality of life than their job so you should understand the hiring process and the job market. To help, here are two “traditional” approaches.

Answering On-line Postings
Most see job postings as the largest single source of job opportunities. The reality is that only a very small percentage of senior positions are filled through postings.

This effort is generally unproductive for most because it ultimately boils down to a numbers game. There will be hundreds of responses and all but one are destined to be losers. If there is a candidate with a more “directly transferable experience base” than you, he/she will be the winner and you the loser.

Search Firms
A major misconception exists regarding the role of executive search firms. In “Executive Search: Gateway to the Best Talent for Your Business,” Charley Polachi sums it up: “We don’t find jobs for people, we find people for companies. People think I’m in the business of making their next job change; I'm not."

Forbes once asked a major search firm what was done with the 40,000 resumes received annually. One of the principles replied, “We destroy them periodically.” He went on to say that he had neither the personnel nor the time to acknowledge these unsolicited contacts.

Do not ignore search firms, but keep their role in perspective. They work for companies, not you.

The Solution
The most successful executives in finding a new position focus on private openings (also called the hidden job market). These are positions which are either about to become available or could be created. The rewards are great for the job hunter who can find these private openings because:

  • You practically eliminate competition.
  • You interact directly with decision makers.
  • You are very often instrumental in creating your own job description.
  • You have significantly more leverage in negotiating your compensation package.

Success Stories

R.K.:

Previous Position
Chief Administration Officer, Americas for large Swiss bank

Previous Income
$250k/yr with small bonus

Action Plan
Built the groundwork for a career campaign and utilized networking strategies to identify target companies and positions

Results
Joined a rapidly growing financial services company as Head of Operations

Compensation Package
$250k/yr + 1% equity + bonus + additional stock options

Campaign Duration
5 months


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