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Top 5 tips for senior executives seeking a new position
02 January 2015
Looking for a new role when you are in an executive position can be more challenging than finding work early in your career.
Other factors include:
- Greater scrutiny of executive appointments
- Executives are expected to bring experience, rather than grow into their role, so often you aren’t hired simply on potential
- Executives can be pigeon-holed according to their prior experience and industry specialisation
- There is generally less movement at the executive end of the market, providing fewer opportunities
Here are some key tips to ensure you are best preparing yourself to find a new role at the executive level, based on trends we’ve been seeing in the market:
1. Review your resume and interview technique
The biggest issue my team and I have been seeing with executive resumes is that they have simply been added to over the years. This makes them long, without a focus on the most relevant positions. Four pages (including the cover sheet) is generally an ideal length.
Equally, interview technique doesn’t necessarily become better with more experience. The biggest mistake we see with executive candidates during interviews is that they provide too much information, rather than specifically answering the question. Executives need to prepare for an interview the same way as all candidates would – by reading up on example questions and preparing responses. Check out these common interview questions to give yourself a good starting point.
2. Network at the CEO/Board level
Think about the people making decisions about executive appointments. It is either down to a recruitment campaign or a recommendation at the CEO or Board level. Proper networking allows you and your reputation to be in the mix when decisions are being made.
3. Deal with a recruitment agency you trust
Reputable agencies will always handle the executive positions, so it pays off to develop a strong relationship with the person recruiting positions in your areas of expertise. Recruitment consultancies may run a full campaign, but equally, they may be retained to execute a confidential search, which means a greater focus on the people they know.
The biggest mistake we see with executive candidates during interviews is that they provide too much information, rather than specifically answering the question.
4. Only apply for positions if you believe you are a very strong fit
It isn’t the lottery. Applying for a position that looks great, but for which you know you are an outside chance at best, actually dilutes your credibility. It shows you haven’t objectively reviewed your own skill set, which decreases the confidence of others.
5. Obtaining the right executive position is often down to timing
Some professionals don’t have the luxury of a passive search. In the current economic situation, we’ve seen a lot of restructures and redundancies. For those highly skilled, but available candidates, short-term contracting/consulting is a good option while seeking the right position. Accepting the wrong position can put you under further stress and back on the market.
Often, if you haven’t been successful, it generally means the right role for you hasn’t become available, as opposed to you not being a strong candidate. Patience is often needed as market forces have as much input as any other factor.
Senior executive roles are harder to come by than junior roles, due to greater scrutiny of executive appointments, the need for extensive experience and there being less movement at the executive end of the market. These tips can help you prepare when seeking a new senior role:
- Review your resume and interview technique
- Network at the CEO/Board level
- Deal with a recruitment agency you trust
- Only apply for positions where you're a very strong fit
- Wait for the right position, and consider contracting or consulting in the meantime