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Potential Blockers in a Senior Executive Job Search

Working your way up has a price. You lose time for yourself, your family and your friends. Sometimes, it also causes a drift from your colleagues. But you’ve earned it through your years of commitment and dedication. That is why when senior executives leave due to company restructuring, end of the contract, or office politics, they may face some serious challenges and may find the change very uncomfortable.

Here are various challenges that Senior Executives would face during a job search:

Hurt Ego

Whether you resigned voluntarily or involuntarily, leaving a company you served for more than a decade would definitely have an effect on your self-esteem. You will feel embarrassed because you feel like your reputation is tarnished. You used to have control over things, but now you have less impact and you no longer make the big decisions.

o help you adapt to this kind of situation, you start diverting your attention to something that you can do other than work. An example would be spending more time with your family or volunteer in a certain project, start a new hobby or be a fitness buff. You can also hang out with other top executives who are also in transition so that you will not feel left behind or alone. There is nothing wrong with asking support during these difficult times.

Outdated CV

It took you years to get where you were. Updating a CV or resume might be a challenge in a sense that a lot of things have changed since then.

Before you submit your CV, make sure to make a list of achievements that you have done over time. Do not use the old “all text” type of CV. Redo it and find a unique way to present yourself. Include some graphics and colors. If you can’t do it on your own, hire a graphic artist to liven up your CV.

No option to be selective

The application or the recruitment process can take up to 12 months or so. Due to the high number of unemployed executives and less available vacancies, executives may have no choice, but to decide quickly if they want to keep their executive lifestyle. Some of them would grab the opportunity that comes in first. Sometimes, we fall into the habit of applying to every possible role before selecting the one we wanted the most.

In these scenarios, you have to be transparent with the executive search. Be honest enough to tell them that you are also seeking other opportunities. You can also share your preferences in terms of scope of work, salary package, relocation, etc. By doing this, especially if you have exceptional background and credentials, you will become a “sought after” candidate. They will appreciate your openness and they will try to find ways to accommodate your application.

Losing Focus

This is one of the problems of many senior executives. Most of them have trouble determining clear, accurate and realistic expectations. They have a hard time identifying what they can do best and which companies would benefit from their expertise in the later part of their career.

Your goal is to create a list of ideal industries and companies to refocus your target. This will narrow down your search and will save you time and money in the process.

Lack of Resources or infrastructure

At this point, you are on your own. You don’t have a support team who will handle the day-to-day  administrative tasks for you. You will have to learn new technologies and might get frustrated because it would be time-consuming to learn a basic skill before doing the actual task.

What you can do is to learn new behaviors and organizational skills for you to easily do things independently. Up skill yourself by taking time to keep up with the latest technology and productivity tools. If you feel like you really need a hand, you can hire a part-timer or a volunteer to assist you with some tasks.

Searching for high-end jobs or its equivalent

It’s natural for any senior executive to look for a greener pasture. Who would want to take a role that is a step lower that you previously had? However, this behavior causes frustration because it takes longer for you to find the right job that is of the same caliber or even higher than you expected.

In this case, you have to be more flexible in terms of selecting a role. You can also try some short term positions so that you can still do what you want and you can still put your skills and knowledge to good use. You can also explore consulting jobs or start a new business.

Maintaining ideal salary package

Compensation is one of the factors that senior executives would consider in a job search, especially if you have a family to raise. You have to ensure that if you have to move, you will be given relocation and educational allowances and other benefits. However, this could make or break your job application. Companies or executive firms might consider someone who can do the same job, but at a lower salary level.

If you are faced with this kind of problem, you have to do a little research. What are the responsibilities with tangible results that can be measured in financial terms? You can also ask around to know about the standard salary package so you can adjust how high or low you can get. Just make sure that you are able to determine what are your “wants” and “needs”. You can also prepare a pitch where you can showcase your experience, skills, and knowledge. Talk to the right people and try to negotiate. There is nothing wrong in trying to get what you want as long as you can present realistic results and you can convince them that you are worth investing for.

Reaching out to the appropriate contacts

We have also discussed this in our previous blog. HR Directors open or shut the doors to a new comer and they will not welcome you unless you are exceptional or if you are the answer to their current needs.

Try talking to the hiring managers and explain to them how you can help their business. Present them with your previous work and enumerate how you have successfully championed every difficult situation. Using Linkedin or Viadeo, join executive networking groups. Add search firms and ask for references or referrals. You can also approach your colleagues for possible vacancies that might know of. You can also develop a “work proposal” that focuses on your value that could be used as an asset in your prospective organization.

Internal hiring for high-level positions

There are many reasons companies prefer internal hiring. One is to reward and retain loyal employees. Another is to save money because it wouldn’t be necessary to conduct an executive search or to train “outsiders”.

Just like what was mentioned earlier, research is your friend. You can research about the internal structure of the organization for you to determine how you can best position yourself. Planning is also essential. Target companies who have brought in “outsiders” before and study how they have succeeded. You can also target troubled companies who need a fresh perspective. Explain to them that being an outsider can broaden the possibilities because you will be the third set of eyes who can see things that the company has overlooked.

Tough Competition

Once the high-level job is posted nationally, more candidates will apply and will fight for it. This is a competition between internal and external candidates who will never back down, especially if the role is very relevant and has a great impact.

Research and preparation are the keys to identifying your strengths that would set you apart from the rest. What makes you unique? You have to work harder by selling your skills and experience with tangible results. Use the STAR (situation, tasks, action, and result) method in explaining how you have achieved successful results.


We have to admit that, as much as organizations want to avoid discrimination, senior executives also faces rejection due to their age. They get comments like they are “too old”, “might not last long”, “may not fit in”, “can’t keep up” or simply “too expensive”.

First, you can present your employer with your exceptional qualifications. What are your achievements, network, and experiences relevant to the post? Demonstrate your health, vitality, energy and enthusiasm. How do you maintain your mental and physical health? During a face-to-face or video interview, try to look your best.

What you can also do is to look for smaller companies who will value your credentials. Update yourself with the latest technologies, approaches and news about your industry. During the interview, you can also reiterate your intention and commitment to a long-term position. Cite examples of how mature employees made a big impact on the organization.

Losing control as a boss

Like what the saying goes, “Once a boss will always be a boss.” But what happens when all of the sudden, you lose your job?

Do not let the situation consume you. Devastating as it may be, you have to put your feet on the ground, stop denying, prepare yourself to work and get busy. You have to go out and market yourself. Create a compelling CV and portfolio. Remember, you won’t be able to reach the top if you are not great. And lastly, do not be afraid to seek help. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of maturity. It only means that you acknowledge the fact that you don’t know everything, but you are willing to learn new things to stay competitive.

Other people’s perception

Most people think that living as a CEO is very easy because everything seems to be in your hands. You might raise some eyebrows once you tell them that you are currently looking for a job. This is surreal for them because of their perception that you have everything and you can’t simply get fired.

One way to deal with this is to narrate your departure from the organization and assure them that you have no hard feelings. Project a positive attitude and explain to them your current situation in a sincere and relaxed manner. In this way, it would be easy for you to convince them that the challenge is real, but they shouldn’t be intimidated.

It is important to note that everyone faces different types of challenges. It is up to us how graceful we handle these situations and how we will move forward until we find the perfect job. By understanding and following these steps, it will help reduce your anxiety and frustration.

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