How to Conduct an Executive Career Search

An executive career search is not as simple as creating a one-page resume and uploading to the web. A search for this kind of high-paying employment requires a great deal of focus and persistence. The web offers many advantages to executives looking for a new job, but traditional networking should not be overlooked. In addition, there are particular portfolio tactics that should be used. While there are services available to help executives land the right job, it is important to understand what these services will and will not do for the executive. By understanding the process thoroughly, executives can guide the search process and stay on track in the search for a new job.

It is common for senior executives to remain in their jobs for many years. This means that they may be top players for the daily activities required in the position, but they find going out to find another job quite daunting.  Those who have not searched for a job in over 15 years will have no idea how to approach the matter.

High powered executives can become overwhelmed with the process of looking for another job, all the while maintaining secrecy about the search with current employers. This makes marketing an executive profile on the web a delicate balance. Executives want to be highly visible to prospective employers without tipping off the current employer. This “sneaking around” can make executives feel as though they walk alone in a jungle. Because of this, it is sometimes helpful to partner with an executive search firm that can walk the executive through the process, keeping the search more focused and aggressive.

An executive search should be planned like a business. There will be objectives, goals, plans for action and deadlines. The executive should clearly define goals and objectives, and then develop a strategy that helps direct the search.

Creating a Web Portfolio

An effective executive career search requires the creation of a profile site that makes the executive stand out in the crowd. The site should include an executive resume, work history and some detailed descriptions of career accomplishments. Just as with a business plan, the executive should have a ‘brand’ that makes him or her recognizable above others, detailed in bold and compelling language. Portfolio specialists can be hired to assist in this process, and any reputable executive search firm should also have this skill.

Special attention should be paid to the executive resume, as it is the main tool in any job search. However, there are several other documents that will increase the chances for success. A well-rounded portfolio includes a series of documents that give the reader a deep understanding of the executive’s career and advancement. These documents will be targeted by keywords and show the most important career achievements. These documents in clued a Career Biography, Critical Leadership Initiatives, Functional Profile and Networking Resume.

Career Biography

The career biography is a snapshot of the executive’s career and education. It is presented as a narrative, highlighting networking contacts, board positions, speaking engagements and links to company websites.  The document will focus on top accomplishments and the milestones achieved at each company. A short summary of job responsibilities is helpful in this document as well. Language should be clear, concise and powerful, like the language used in an executive resume.

Critical Leadership Initiatives

Corporate executives often use this document to show off their accomplishments in business and leadership. The executive should display achievements accomplished throughout the career, proving skills in strategic planning, leadership, staff development and business sense. All displays of leadership capabilities should be demonstrated, encompassing as many aspects of leadership as possible to show a broad expertise in this critical executive function.

Functional Profile

Executives use this document to prove their strengths in the industry or roles in which they function. The document will focus on the industry knowledge or functional understanding of the executive. Typically, the document is one page, evidencing specific qualifications and achievements.

Networking Resume

A networking resume is used to make the executive stand out with recruiters and top decision makers. : This is simply a shorter, more concise summary of the executive resume, highlighting top achievements at each prior employer.

Choosing an Executive Search Firm

When getting outside help for a job search, executives should be careful who they choose. Anyone can put up a sign that says “Executive Career Search Specialist.” Look for credible testimonials comments about a firm’s services before signing on. A reputable career search firm will not promise to find the executive a job; they will promise good information and advice.

Online Networking

In addition to finding outside help in the career search, executives should actively network.  Online networking has exploded in recent years offering executives more opportunities to connect with the right people. Sites like LinkedIn, FaceBook, and Twitter provide the opportunities to reach out and connect like never before. Executive blogs and interactive websites present opportunities to connect with total strangers who would otherwise be out of reach. One such site is ExecuNet, which has been “Connecting Leaders Since 1988”.

Traditional Networking

While the Internet provides easy access to networking, traditional methods should not be overlooked. The rolodex still has a place in life, since many senior executive contacts are still doing much of their communications by phone. Almost all successful job changes happen because of networking though work contacts, family and friends. When it comes to traditional networking, there is a right and a wrong way to approach it.

The wrong way involves calling up contacts asking general questions about openings that may be available. Questions should be more specific in nature, explaining exactly the field and type of company the executive is after. Networking should be a series of calls to find the right contact for the specific job sought. Ask contacts for the means to secure the right contacts, not a job.

By utilizing the services of a qualified executive search firm, presenting a top-notch web portfolio and networking, the executive will be best served for a quick transition into the job sought.