Many of the executives we have met over the years have shared their stories and struggles to secure a new position after losing their jobs before their planned retirement. Despite very impressive careers, many have been searching for several years.
Early in their executive careers a change or departure was less of an issue but, unfortunately, times have changed, industries have changed, networks have changed, executive roles have changed, competencies have changed, and perceptions have changed. All these factors add to the difficulty in finding new opportunities for the 25–30+ year career executive.
The following 7 job search recommendations can increase the likelihood of finding a new job.
- Create clear, realistic expectations
Having been a CEO of a large corporation is no guarantee you will be considered for a similar role now, or that it should even be your goal. Think long and hard about your expectations and prepare a detailed list of “Things I need”, “Things I would accept” and “Things I do not want”. Consider the amount of travel, compensation range (be realistic), type of employer (public, private, not for profit, consulting, government), size of employer, title or level of accountability, office location, hybrid availability or not, etc. Establishing some personal expectations will help clarify where to look for a new job and what not to pursue. Review this list every 3-6 months as your views may change as you learn more about the market through your job search journey.
- Refresh your resume and LinkedIn profile
A well formatted and succinct resume will be essential for your job search. You may wish to have two versions: a condensed resume for on-line submissions (2-3 pages) and a long resume (3-5+ pages) for engaging directly with companies or executive search professionals. Equally important today is having a detailed LinkedIn page that closely resembles the content on your resume coupled with a professional picture. LinkedIn not only gives you a profile for the job market, but it also enables you to be found by human resource professionals looking to fill un-posted opportunities.
- Be consistent and focused
While monitoring job boards will result in some opportunities, sitting at your computer sending out applications should not be your primary focus. Remember to evaluate each position against your competencies and expectations. Avoid applying simply because you think, “I know I can do that”, after reading the job description.
- Leverage and expand your network
No job board can replace the value of networking and building relationships – after all, people know people, who know people. Reach out to anyone who was part of your former network and venture out to engage in other networks. Prepare a 1-2 minute “elevator introduction”. Bring a notebook with you and record contacts, leads and other relevant information. Investing in a personalized “business card” would prove effective. Volunteering is equally valuable as a means of networking.
- Re-evaluate and adjust along the way
Throughout your job search, networking, and interviews, continue to evaluate your approach, responses, pursuits, activities, and expectations. Learn from your experiences and adjust where it makes sense to do so.
- Consider alternatives
Former CEOs tend to look for new opportunities that closely resemble their previous positions, but your skills and experiences are transferable to many other endeavors. Consider opportunities and avenues that are different from the position you once held. A private sector CEO may have much to offer a public or not-for-profit organization. Being open to function as an independent contractor or consultant can also open doors.
- Remain positive
Take care of yourself throughout your job search journey. Rejections and lack of responses from applications can be deflating, so make sure you take time from your job search activities to relax, enjoy, solicit advice, self-educate and, above all, remain positive.