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Job Advice For Executives

Executives, defined as Director Level or better, have a different challenge in identifying new opportunities. These challenges include that there are less jobs and more competition available for executives compared to the opportunities available for individual contributors and first line management. In addition, executives frequently require introductions and or personal referrals in order to get serious consideration. Further, the network for checking out executives behind the scenes is close knit, and the jobs themselves are frequently not advertised. All of these add up to significant challenges for the displaced Sr. Manager searching for their next executive suite.

These challenges can be addressed by executives using the following model for identifying and securing their next jobs.

Boards & Executive Headhunters
Several Sr. Management job boards cater exclusively to executives. These include:



Social Networks Defined

If you live in, or want to work in the Bay Area, then you might want to see if you can connect with Bob LoPresto of Rusher & Loscavio at 650-494-0883, or Tony Scott with Transpac Ventures at 650-233-9888. They are each well connected local executive search guys. Nationwide, leading executive search firms include: Booz Allen and Hamilton, Arthur Andersen, McKinsey & Company, Arthur D. Little, Ernst & Whinney, Sperry Rand Corporation, Hay Management Group, PE Consultants, Arthur Young, Korn/Ferry International, Boyden Associates, Price Waterhouse, Berndtson International, Heidrick and Struggles, Spencer Stuart, Ward Howell, Egon Zehnder.

As noted by Workforce Management, in the June 25th 2007 issue, the leading Executive Search firms rank as follows:

Ranking Company Web Address Global Revenue in Millions
1 Korn/Ferry International www.kornferry.com 653.4
2 Heidrick & Struggles www.heidrick.com 520.1
3 Spencer Stuart www.spencerstuart.com 482.2
4 Egon Zehnder International www.egonzehnder.com 449.6
5 Russell Reynolds www.russellreynolds.com 430.6
6 Ray & Berndtson www.rayberndtson.com 226.0
7 IIC Partners www.iicpartners.com 129.6
8 Transearch International www.transearch.com 112.03
9 Intersearch Worldwide www.intersearch.org 101.85
10 DHR International www.dhrinternational.com 88.1

Professional Associations

Attending professional associations, meetings or trade show events are also good ways to gain exposure and visibility and may even result in bumping into someone you know who may know of the right job for you.  Many of these professional associations, especially for vertical industry segments, have their own job boards which may be worth reviewing.

Working the Boards
Most of the job boards give you alternatives of looking for jobs or posting your resume.  Some even give you the ability to create a search agent which continuously looks for and notifies you of applicable openings.  I know many executives who don’t like the idea of placing their resume on a board, but I suggest that if unemployed, you have nothing to lose except a little pride.  If employed, then you will want to scour the boards using search agents when possible.  Once you have identified the right job, your next step is to make a call to the hiring CEO/VP, and if possible, arrange an introduction through a third party.  Don’t just send in your resume and hope for a response.


Networking is the best way to secure a job for most high-level executives as well as individual contributors and professionals in many specialty occupations.  According to Lee Hecht Harrison, a major outplacement firm, more than 60 percent of executives find new positions through connections rather than by simply responding to advertisements or Internet postings.

Social Networks
More recently, social networks have evolved such as LinkedIn, Tribe, Spoke, etc.  For higher level executives, utilization of social networks, both formal and informal, is a must.  A separate article is attached to this document illustrating how they work.  It is imperative that you enroll in at least one of these, since they will also serve as a method for organizing your contacts and relationships.  They will serve as a platform to reintroduce yourself to folks you have worked with in the past, as well as a method for hooking up with people you want to meet and / or know.  This will help you in the process of setting up informational interviews and information exchange sessions with people who may be instrumental in your job search.  Start with LinkedIn as the recommended site, with Spoke as a close second, as these two are more employment and career oriented vs. new age dating services.

Link Up
If you are an executive, link up with me via LinkedIn.  I have a large network of HR folks and recruiters throughout the Bay Area and US, but with more focus in the Bay Area and California.  If you find a job through one of the above listed job boards, or get a referral through a third party, scroll through LinkedIn and see who I know in HR or who might be recruiting at the place you want to work.  If I know somebody there, I can refer you and you can have yet one more access point into your next potential employer.

Value of Network Referrals
The more I actually know you, the more willing I or any of your network contacts will be to vouch for and refer you.  Don’t expect good referrals if you don’t actually know the parties involved or if you haven’t offered some type of reciprocal value proposition.


Asking people for referrals or connections should remain a constant priority for executives, whether they are in positions they enjoy or searching for new ones. To diffuse their fear of rejection or looking “silly,” Lee Hecht Harrison, recommends executives start with their family and friends, as well as professional and alumni organizations, which can provide excellent networking opportunities.

According to LHH, when building a network, executives should look for individuals with certain characteristics, including:

• Real world perspective
• Honest feedback on ideas
• Experiences in hiring and firing
• Credibility

Building your Network

Other ways to include building a network include attending professional events and trade shows in your field of expertise.  This will frequently serve as a catalyst to trigger memories of the right people to network with.  In the Silicon Valley, more opportunities exist through organizations like SVASE, www.svase.org, the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs, VLAB, www.vlab.org, the Stanford Venture Lab, Angel Investors, www.angelinvestors.org, etc.  These are all places where you can meet the right people.  Want to know where all the important meetings and networking events are?  Check with www.workit.com for a complete schedule of Bay Area events important to entrepreneurs, investors, and VCs and technologists.  Other places to meet people include: the Association for Corporate Growth, www.acg.org, the Commonwealth Club of California, www.commonwealth.com, alumni associations from both educational institutions as well as past employers who have established past employee alumni web sites, local Chambers of Commerce, local community groups such as the Rotary club, the VCTaskforce, www.vctaskforce.com, etc.

Maintaining your Network

Maintaining a network is as important as building it.  Simple ways to do this include: distributing holiday cards to people in the network, sending an article or a note related to a person’s field, or having breakfast or lunch with close contacts. Thank-you notes and offers to return the favor once a person has landed a job are also important because networks can serve a number of purposes. Besides directing executives to new career opportunities, networks can help them stay current in their fields and abreast of the latest trends and major industry players.  They can also serve another purpose—to help executives identify candidates to fill positions in their own organizations.


Lastly, and most importantly, consider a personal relationship marketing plan which includes contacting friends, peers, former managers, and employers, letting them know what you are up to, what you are looking for, and how you can contribute.  It’s best when these networking plans and meetings include a tip, free and useful information, so that the reader/receiver gets something for listening to you and offering you a few moments of their time.  You may even want to put together a brief PowerPoint presentation detailing your bio, employment history, list of accomplishments, etc.  The thrust is to put something together that you can show a CEO demonstrating how you can add value and impact the target company.  Obviously, you’ll want to do research to prepare yourself, and the web should be part of your toolset for learning all about the employer as well as the competition. 

Thank you & good Luck! 

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