Traditional job search techniques lose some of their pertinence the higher you get on the corporate ladder. Promotions have moved you into new roles. Recruiters have lured you to new companies. The number of jobs you’re interested in has been culled to a handful of hyper-competitive executive positions. It’s been a few years since you’ve browsed the classifieds or handed out your resume.

It’s time to start a new executive job search. So where do you begin?

Executive Job Boards

“10% or fewer of jobs at the executive level are landed through job boards,” writes Executive Job Search Strategist Meg Guisseppi. So why start here?

It’s true that most companies would rather not hire executives that come in via a job board application. Given the level of corporate responsibility entrusted to executives, unknown online applicants will rarely be valued as highly as referrals or all-star candidates targeted by a corporate recruiter. Most of these positions are never even posted to job boards.

That said, job boards are still a good starting point. If anything, it’s the most direct tip-off as to where opportunity exists. Even if you opt not to submit an application through the job board, seeing a job listing can show you where to direct your networking efforts. Who do you know at the company? What mutual connections do you share with key decision makers?

Here are a few job boards catered to executives:

These are paid services that offer job boards curated with high-paying executive positions, plus other features. For instance, the Ladders has a great resume builder. Ivy Execs and ExecuNet offer career consultations over the phone. Experteer lets you see when headhunters look at your candidate profile. All claim that resumes uploaded to their sites get special attention from a network of executive recruiters.

However, high paying executive-level job postings aren’t limited to those sites. They can turn up on LinkedIn, Indeed, or other job sites you’ve never heard of. The most efficient way to search all of these sites at once is through Google for Jobs.

To access Google for Jobs, just google “[Job Title] jobs [Location].” For example, “chief operating officer jobs denver.”


The hidden job market affects all job seekers, but it takes on new meaning at the executive level. This is why Joe Meyer started ExecThread.

“The reality is, finding great opportunities at the executive-level meant searching for something unlisted, since the best jobs aren’t publicly-posted. To find the right openings you had to either be approached by an executive recruiter, or hear through word-of-mouth,” Meyer was quoted at HuffPost. “Both scenarios are out of your direct control, and it’s a very time consuming and highly inefficient process to find these ‘hidden’ jobs.”

One way that executives find out about open positions is by being contacted through recruiters. With ExecThread, these recruiter interactions and other information are crowdsourced and shared with its members. Jobs can be searched like other job boards, but additional details (such as the name of the hiring manager) are only unlocked when a user redeems points earned by contributing other unlisted jobs and data to the board.

Admission to ExecThread isn’t a given. Executives must apply and be approved.

Attract Executive Recruiters on LinkedIn

When it comes to important executive positions, incoming job applications aren’t a priority for headhunters and corporate recruiters. They’re searching online and making calls looking for the best possible candidate, period.

To land a top level job, it must be easy for executive recruiters to find you! This starts by having a strong web presence and writing a great LinkedIn profile. For starters:

  • Take a professional profile photo
  • Make sure all sections are filled out and up to date
  • Utilize the summary section to tell your story and demonstrate your expertise
  • Fill out each of your experience sections to describe your key duties and accomplishments
  • Ensure that your education section is complete and up to date

For in-depth tips and examples tailored to your profile, check out Jobscan’s LinkedIn Optimization tool. An optimized LinkedIn profile helps you…

  • Avoid recruiter filters by setting your location and industry
  • Appear in more recruiter searches by using targeted skills and keywords in critical sections
  • Communicate your worth by highlighting unique skills and expertise in your headline
  • Demonstrate your impact to the bottom line through measurable results
  • Take advantage of every opportunity by using all the characters available in your headline, summary, and other sections

A complete LinkedIn profile shows recruiters that you’re serious about your work. A search-optimized profile ensures that you’re easy to find.

Put Yourself Out There

Effective networking is always going to be one of the best ways to find executive jobs. Schedule phone calls, lunches, and outings with past associates to catch up and learn what’s happening with the leadership at various companies. Attend industry conferences, conventions, and meetups. Get facetime with as many people as possible.

Here are some other ways to network and position yourself for an opportunity:

Facilitate and Give Back

We want to help those who have helped us. Open up opportunities for yourself by creating opportunities for others.

Introduce people in your network who could benefit from knowing each other. Use your influence to refer a talented associate for an open position outside of your skillset. Mentor a junior executive or up-and-comer in your industry.

These conversations will help you stay in the loop with different companies, attract other networking opportunities, and establish goodwill.

Be a Thought Leader on LinkedIn

After writing a profile full of experience, results, and accomplishments, start establishing yourself as an industry thought leader on LinkedIn. This will help you grow your network and prove to employers that you are still on the cutting edge of industry news and aren’t a technophobe.

Start by sharing articles related to your industry or position and add your take. There are even tools like that makes it easier to find and distribute relevant articles to your network. Share stories from your past work and leadership experiences and the lessons you learned from each. Engage with other users.

Become an Executive or Management Consultant

Consulting gigs are a great way to bridge an employment gap. These engagements demonstrate your drive and executive skills while continuing to build your experience.

Create opportunities by being generous with your experience while networking. Giving advice and sharing ideas on specific business issues proves to others in your professional network that you have a deep well of knowledge to draw from and are an effective problem solver. When your network needs to bring in some executive muscle on an interim or contract basis, they’ll know who to call. Those opportunities can turn into permanent positions in some cases.

On your LinkedIn profile, addend your headline with “Consultant” to turn up in search results. Emphasize keywords like “strategy,” “change management,” and industry-specific skills relevant to your skillset throughout your profile.

There is an old rule of thumb that a job search should take one month for every $10,000 you hope to earn. That really adds up once you get to the executive level. The scarcity of positions can lead to a long executive job search that’s only drawn out by ineffective practices or sitting around waiting for something to happen. Diversify your tactics and get yourself out there.

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