How to Survive and Thrive in the Executive Job Market!

When it comes to executive job searching the choice is either to follow the crowd and react to opportunities you’re given, or to proactively pursue what you really want whether it’s currently advertised or not. Here’s some helpful insight.

While the majority of professionals obsess over their CV / resume and then position it on executive job boards and in front of executive recruiters, the minority explore opportunities in the ‘hidden job market.’

This is the place where high-probability career opportunities always exist before ever being advertised or positioned by executive search firms.

Finding success in the executive job market doesn’t start with your CV / resume. Success begins with the strong foundations of environment and psychology, closely followed by planning:

  • Environment – understanding how the executive job market really works.
  • Psychology – how what you believe, impacts how you think and the consistent action you’re prepared to take.
  • Planning – defining the executive position you really want and then putting a plan in place to uncover it.
  • Process – all of the things you would normally expect to hear about when it comes to successful executive job search – CVs / resumes, cover letters, social media strategies, interview technique and offer negotiation, but done differently.

To me, it is environment and psychology which are the most important components of any successful executive job search strategy. Together, they form the foundations for everything you choose to do, and how you react to things that happen to you or don’t happen to you.

The foundations are key to both surviving and thriving in the executive job market, so let’s look at both in a bit more detail.

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A good job is hard to find. Every few years, it seems, one sector comes to dominate all others. Right now, healthcare is in – and that means eight out of the top 10 jobs right now can be found in this field. Let’s take a look ahead.


Until you understand your environment, it’s difficult to position yourself correctly. Put another way, until you understand the rules of the game and how it’s played, it’s very difficult to win!

Before ever placing an advert on a job board or engaging the services of a recruiter, employers often have conversations closer to home to try and find the person they’re looking for. These conversations are designed to reduce the time and financial outlay of any recruitment process, and to reduce the risk of making the wrong hiring decision.

Conversation one – takes place with their peer group or friends – who do they know that might be right for the business?

Conversation two – with their extended network, including professional advisors – who do they know that they could recommend?

Conversation three – with job boards or executive recruiters – paid services if conversations one and two fail to yield results.

Employers often prefer conversations one and two because referrals here come with an implicit recommendation. We generally avoid making an unqualified recommendation within our networks, because if we did our network would cease to be our network fairly quickly.

The first two conversations can also yield quicker results and often result in a successful hire at zero cost. This is the hidden job market, where a high proportion of executive opportunities are positioned and filled before they’re ever made public. As a candidate looking for a new position, it’s important that you have a strategy to tap into this realm.

As an aside, though, let me say this: The big game changer in recent years has been LinkedIn. Employers now have a database at their fingertips that gives them direct access to the hidden market. Here, LinkedIn ‘recommendations’ and ‘contacts in common’ serve as the implicit recommendation. If you’re seriously looking to advance your career, having a LinkedIn profile is absolutely essential. As I said in my first book: ‘If you don’t exist in cyberspace, you don’t exist at all!’


If executive job searching were a flight, it would be a long-haul one. It takes time to reach your destination and it’s likely you’ll experience turbulence along the way.

The turbulence is the rejection everyone faces on his or her journey to the job offer. It’s an inevitable part of the process of finding and securing a new executive position.

The nature of the executive job market is that it’s highly likely you’ll face more rejection than you will success. Success in the form of an offer comes at the end of a process you can never be 100 percent certain how long will run. The stepping stones to this offer are the rejection along the way, which either stop you in your tracks or provide the motivation and education to keep going.

What’s more, executive job searching is personal. It happens to you as an individual and not to the organization you work for, which is what makes it so difficult. As human beings negative self-talk, self-sabotage and the need for confirmation are all biases that if left unchecked can hurt you in your pursuit of a new executive position.

Jobs of the Future: Skills You Need to Stay Relevant
‘Once you stop learning, you start dying.’ This statement was quoted by Albert Einstein and it still applies to several areas of our Lives. In the dynamic world we live in today, things change constantly. New jobs are now being invented overnight. So looking ahead, we need to think about the skills we’ll need to learn today in order to have a better future tomorrow. Here’s 10 things to consider.

Understanding how your mind works and that all action is based on beliefs is key in determining success or failure in the executive job market. Believing in the hidden market and the ability to focus on the process of your executive job search (not just the prize) over an extended period of time are what delivers results.

Successful executive job searching has very little to do with your CV / resume and starts with the strong foundations of environment and psychology.

Environment is external to you and concerns itself with how the executive job market really works. Psychology on the other hand is internal and involves an understanding of how you work. They are two sides of the same coin and completely interdependent.

To survive and thrive in the executive job market it’s not your CV / resume, but the foundations that must form the starting point.

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Simon Gray qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG, before moving into the financial recruitment sector. Now through Career Codex Limited he helps clients from across the world to find success in the executive job market. Simon is the author of three books, including Super Secrets of Successful Executive Job Search , which at the time of writing has over 40 five-star reviews on Amazon.

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