Top 5 Strategies for an Executive Job Search

Top 5 Strategies for an Executive Job Search

Are you an executive seeking new opportunities?

Whether you’re in deep search mode or simply thinking that it’s time to move on, here are 5 high-yielding ways to market yourself in an executive job search, as well as helpful resources and pros and cons of each.


Networking during your job search is about tapping into your network of existing contacts – and broadening that – to uncover career, market and business intelligence. It involves talking to people about your job search and getting referrals to people who can influence the decision making for a job opening.

♦ WHO SHOULD USE IT: Networking is such a powerful search strategy that nearly everyone should use it. Only if you are currently employed in a very small industry and want to conduct a completely confidential search should you plan not to use it.

♦ PROS: It’s real. It works. Most jobs are not advertised; networking is how you find them. It is still the most effective job search strategy around and is a great way to access the hidden job market. Now with LinkedIn making it easier to nurture and expand on your contacts than ever before, you have nothing to lose.

♦ CONS:  It can be challenging for the shy or undermotivated, and is time consuming. Many people don’t know how to network purposefully, so there is a learning curve.

♦ USEFUL RESOURCES: Networking to Enhance Your Job Search & Check out this resource to start building your networking contact list


Company targeting is the process of cultivating relationships and planting seeds for job creation with companies that don’t necessarily have an opening for you at present. It allows you to become the known candidate so that when a position opens up or is created, the hiring manager will think of you.

♦ WHO SHOULD USE IT: Most senior executives. Candidates with an untraditional career trajectory that will fail to interest recruiters. Anyone with rigid geographic preferences who cannot relocate. Candidates who don’t fit job descriptions adequately.

♦ PROS: Company targeting is a superb way to tap into the hidden job market. It positions you to co-create a job with your target company that is accommodated specifically for you.

♦ CONS: It is rather time-consuming and requires networking to be effective. Again, many people don’t know how to do this, so they often need coaching (and yes, I can help!).

♦ USEFUL RESOURCES: 5 Simple Steps to Targeting Employers Strategically & Start by building your target company list with this handy template. Maximize resources like,, and to find critical “insider” information on companies in your target industries.


Thought leadership is the process of sharing your unique insights, perspectives, opinions and expertise on key issues in your industry – in case of job search for the purpose of attracting recruiters and hiring executives to your candidacy.

♦ WHO SHOULD USE IT:  Senior executives and candidates aiming to join the executive ranks. Job seekers with a clear track record of successes in their careers. Anyone seeking to position their career success for the short-, mid-, and long-term.

♦ PROS: This powerful self-marketing strategy helps your target market to find you, and validate your knowledge when compared to other candidates. Most job seekers over-rely on “push” marketing strategies, but thought leadership leverages “pull” marketing to attract your target market toward your candidacy.

♦ CONS: Most candidates needs to get more familiar with this strategy before they can implement it.

♦ USEFUL RESOURCES: “Pull” Self-Marketing Can Attract Your Next Career Opportunity


Shopping your candidacy to recruiters who have been hired by companies to source candidates for their open positions. These firms specialize in recruiting for particular positions within particular fields, including; interim management roles; board positions; opportunities within business consulting, venture capital, and private equity firms etc.

♦ WHO SHOULD USE IT: Candidates who can document high achievements for the types of positions they are pursuing. Candidates who are not in a hurry and who have limited time for the above tactics. Candidates who are unable to network because their target industry is too small.

♦ PROS: If you are able to form a relationship with one or more recruiters in your target industry(ies), they can be powerful allies in your search for a new job. They know the market and have access to connections and information that you don’t.

♦ CONS: Recruiters mainly work with jobs that are publicized outside the company; hence this strategy aims for the visible job market. Recruiters find people for jobs, not the other way around. Their ability to help is therefore based on their current openings.

♦ USEFUL RESOURCES: Consider becoming a member at to connect with retained executive recruiters and find international job opportunities. BlueSteps also provides webinars and blogs that are jam-packed with job search information specially targeted to international job search. (Use promo code Berge20 to get a 20% discount on your lifelong membership). See the Riley Guide’s short list of quality recruiters and BlueSteps’s posts How to Best Approach Executive Recruiters & Executive Search vs Contingent Recruiters.


If you’re a booming executive seeking more flexibility you might want to consider your own consulting business. Management and technical consulting is one of the fastest growing industries.

♦ WHO SHOULD USE IT: Executives with specific industry expertise or expansive management experience. Independent consulting and assignment-based partnering can be a great option either as a gap-filler or as a testing ground for folks considering to plunge deeper into entrepreneurship in the consulting arena.

♦ PROS: Flexibility, autonomy, exposure to varied clients, environments and challenges, potentially high profit margins. Many companies prefer hiring consultants – it’s safer for them and they can check you out first before they consider hiring you full time.

♦ CONS: Uncertainty, varied income, increased vulnerability due to market conditions. You will have to market your business.

♦ USEFUL RESOURCES: 6 Facts You Need to Know About Starting Your Own Consulting Business & How to Start a Consulting Business