7 Crucial Mistakes That Executive-Level Job Seekers Need To Avoid

How to make the cut.

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If you're on the hunt for a new executive role, this article will help you prepare.

Irene McConnell
4 min read

One admission I hear repeatedly from successful business leaders may surprise you. When it comes to the ins and outs of today’s job search, they flounder. Maybe you can relate.

You see, most senior leaders have built their careers through word-of-mouth.

A friend of a friend had the perfect opportunity for them. Or, they were simply “tapped on the shoulder” at their current company.

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And so it went, for years.  

They remained safely in their job search comfort zone – never having to update their resumes, never having to venture out into the great competitive unknown.

The Good Old Days Are Gone.

If you haven’t looked for a job in the last 10 years, or you’ve only recently dipped your toe in the proverbial waters, you no doubt realise how much the job search landscape has changed.

But the good news is I’m here to help. Consider this post your pocket-guide to a successful venture forward.

7 Mistakes To Avoid During Job Search.

As you begin to look for your next senior leadership role, be mindful not to commit the following errors of judgement.


1. Being Vague About Your Career Goals.

Yes, you’re an experienced leader. And yes, you could probably succeed at many things. However, that’s not going to help you (or an executive recruiter) decide what you should or should not apply for.

First order of business is to be clear on the kind of work you want to do, where you want to do it, and at which organisations.

This degree of clarity will also serve to strengthen your resume and cover letter, rescuing them from the throes of generic mediocrity.

Did I mention that we write the best executive resumes in Australia?


2. Not Having A Polished Online Presence.

If you’re still neglecting your professional online presence, it’s time to step into the digital age.

Executive recruiters and hiring managers will be searching on LinkedIn and Twitter for viable leadership talent.

And if you’re not there – or you’re not presenting yourself in the best possible light – the opportunity will pass you by.

At the bare minimum, make sure that your headshot is sharp and your LinkedIn profile summary clearly explains which organisational problems you’re known for solving.

(Related Article: LinkedIn vs Resume: The Key Differences).

Plus, social media is one of the most effective ways of establishing thought leadership.

Take a leaf from the book of Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, who has penned (no pun intended) over 15 articles on his LinkedIn profile, including his recent controversial announcement of telco’s radical restructure plan


3. Failure To Commit.

Remember the old adage “finding a job is a full-time job”?

Well, as a business leader, the level of commitment required is even more intense. It’s a simple matter of math.

At your level of seniority, there are far fewer suitable job openings to choose from.

So it’s crucial that you block off time in your busy schedule for your job search.

Activities such as networking, searching specific company sites that interest you and getting clear on your goals aren’t quick feats. All of these demand devoted time and energy.

Creating, and committing to, a schedule is especially necessary if you are looking for work while you continue to work.

Bring your A-Game to this task, just as you have throughout your career.


4. Applying Only To Advertised Jobs.

Don’t limit yourself to jobs you see online. The truth is, only 30% of available jobs are ever actually advertised. And at your level, this percentage is likely even lower.

This is yet another reason your online/social media presence is so key. It allows you to tap into a ‘hidden’ job market, i.e. jobs you will only learn about through your online contacts.

Kind of like a virtual tap on the shoulder, if you will.

Here’s an easy way to begin. Research companies that interest you on LinkedIn. Connect with someone there, or follow the company.

Knowing what they’re up to could be your first step toward developing relationships with their executive influencers, or with their executive recruiters.


5. Neglecting Your Current Network.

While you pursue new connections, don’t forget where you came from. Tap into the breadth of the network you’ve cultivated throughout your career.

Remember those you trust the most.

Let them know you’re seeking new challenges (be as specific as possible) and they may provide you with leads or inform you of opportunities that never made it into a job ad.


6. Using An Old Resume Or Cover Letter.

I know, I know. It’s been years since you needed a resume or cover letter. But, by now you no doubt realise those days are gone. So don’t let an outdated anything hold you back.

Make sure your resume and cover letter include your latest accomplishments and that they look progressive in style, format, and content.

Know that more than likely, your resume will never be printed. So submit one that is optimised for mobile.

Lastly, remember to tailor them to the position you’re applying for. Again, beware appearing generic. Ensure that your experience, goals and unique commercial value come through in the end result.

(Related Article: Top 10 Resume Tips For Executives & Senior Managers).


7. Getting Stuck In The Past.

I’m really hammering this point home. The way you moved up the ladder earlier in your career will look very different today.

From searching and applying for jobs online, to building social networks to uncover those hidden job opportunities, the internet and technology rule the day. Befriend them.


Key Point To Remember.

There’s no need to go it alone. Arielle Executive can significantly cut your job search time and dramatically increase your available options. 

We can help you navigate the executive job search process and ensure that you get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.

But most importantly, Arielle Executive can guide you in strategically planning your job search – so that your next move takes you precisely where you want to be.

Famous sports coach Yogi Berra put it best:

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else.


– Irene


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