Based on my two decades of experience as a Senior Partner and Practice Leader at a leading executive search firm, I can tell you that being a reactive job seeker is holding you back in your career. But the good news is that there’s a better path forward.
In this blog, I’m going to share with you an example of how the executive search process actually works. Within that construct, I’ll help you proactively insert yourself in the search process at the right time to help you land your next executive position.
Let’s start with a brief primer on how the executive job search process works using John Smith – a departing West Coast CMO – as an example. As I describe this process, I’ll explain what each step means for you as a prospect seeking a CMO role on the West Coast. Of course, this example will fit for all executives like Chief Financial Officers, Chief Legal Officers, etc. Let’s dig in.
John Smith is a seasoned CMO with a West Coast-based firm who has all the boxes checked. He’s grown the brand remarkably, successfully managed P&L responsibility, and has demonstrated mastery of all aspects of executive leadership. He’s well-respected by his peers, and his board of directors loves him. Obviously, John’s firm would like to keep him around for a long time.
Then lightning strikes.
John’s wife decides she wants to relocate back to New York City to care for her ailing mother. John agrees to the move and makes a lateral shift back to the East Coast. Now his former firm is scrambling.
John’s now former firm will choose 1 of 3 options, and I’ll explain what these options mean for you as his potential successor:
Option 1: John’s firm can hire from within. If there’s a great a candidate waiting in the wings, they’re all set.
What’s this mean for you? In this case, you have no chance in succeeding John. But many times, there’s no ideal internal candidate so the firm moves to option 2 or 3.
Option 2: Start a retained search process. In the past, this meant that your chances of replacing John were slim because you never had visibility to the opening. You would be dependent on the long odds of being on the retained search firm’s list.
Services like Lead5 have changed the narrative on this. Lead5 would uncover this opportunity along with key contact information. Lead5 would also give you inside intel on the opening so that you could target your outreach effectively. It’s important for you to note here that the search firm doesn’t care ‘how’ they source the right candidate. All they care about is finding the right fit for their client, and the faster the better. Remember, John’s firm has a hole and it’s in their vested interested to fill it with the right candidate quickly.
What’s this mean for you? First off, you need to have your C.V. and outreach strategy solidified and ready to go. Second, you need immediate knowledge of this position so that you can strike before your competition does. Services like Lead5 allow you to filter on important criteria and immediately expose these hidden opportunities on our site and via email.
The takeaway: Be prepared, be proactive, and strike when the iron is hot.
Option 3: John’s firm will take 4 to 6 weeks to explore quick hit ideas from senior management, the board of directors, marketing firms, etc. If at the end of the 4 to 6 weeks they have not found a high-quality candidate, they will start a full retained search process (see Option 2 above).
What’s this mean for you? Understand that John’s firm is essentially scrambling for options here. Their core competency is not executive search, and this process is taking time away from running their business. This mean that as a candidate, keep in mind that John’s firm wants to find the right candidate quickly, and get back to focusing on building products and serving customers.
The takeaway: Be prepared and proactive. Know that it will increase your odds to strike during the first three (3) weeks of this process. If you’re a good fit and your outreach is strong, you have the potential to land this position before the firm resorts to hiring a costly retained search firm.
To summarize, options 2 and 3 above are your sweet-spots as an executive candidate. In the past, they have hidden to you as an executive job seeker. Services like Lead5 make these opportunities visible and arm you with insider intel that will help you stand out as a candidate. Once you have near real-time visibility on executive openings, I can’t stress enough how critical timing is in this equation. Therefore, it’s important to remember two things:
1. Firms have a vested interest to filling a key role with the right candidate quickly.
2. Executive jobs are highly competitive. It’s critical that you insert yourself promptly so that you’re at the top of the recruiter’s list, before the surge of C.V.’s hit.
The modern executive job search is experiencing a transformation. Executive candidates who are proactive will have access to more opportunities and will maximize their earning potential in the marketplace.
Use Lead5 to uncover hidden executive opportunities and gain the intel required to land your next prominent role. Lead5 has been the executives trusted partner for 5 years.