If you’ve always been recruited, or jobs just “found” you in the past, you might find things have changed.

You’ll now face an increasingly competitive battlefield in the race for a new C-suite or leadership job. 

Here’s why: After the economic ups and downs of the past 10+ years, many executives have gotten serious about job search, taking the time to market themselves with a carefully constructed brand message on social media.

At the same time, they’ve become more aware of what works on a resume and how to leverage personal connections, especially in a crowded market.

As a result, your CXO job search now looks much different than just 5 years ago – and putting out a hastily created resume, weak LinkedIn Profile, or half-hearted networking effort won’t suffice.

Take these 5 steps to face (and conquer) the new reality of executive job search:

1 – Undertake a thorough exercise in personal branding for your resume.

Still adding new jobs to that old resume – pushing down older positions? It’s time to upgrade.

Executive resume trends have changed so much that you might not realize how to pull out all the stops to showcase your skills.

Powerful language, graphic elements, and concise success stories now take center stage (as you can see in this example of a Chief Revenue Officer resume), enabling you to  position yourself at an executive (not mid-career) level.

Spend time gathering top career achievements, adding metrics to frame your results. Note the budgets you’ve managed, initiatives you’ve led, and promotions earned, as well as the accolades behind them. You can even pull in “sound bite” quotes from your references to further emphasize your ROI.

No matter what you’ve achieved, you must distill accomplishments into short, potent sentences – because recruiters aren’t willing to navigate 6+ pages in their quest for a new leader.

2 – Cultivate and grow your executive network more than ever.

By staying active with highly visible positions on Boards and professional associations, you’ll be more likely to become recommended to a recruiter or business owner who needs your expertise.

You’ll also gain near-immediate credibility by volunteering for a position or speaking engagement within an industry group.

You can elevate your reputation as a thought leader by publishing content or white papers for industry journals, or on LinkedIn. You can amass followers by promoting and commenting on similar articles, particularly those that align with your leadership brand.

3 – Make LinkedIn a strong tool in your job-hunting arsenal.

 LinkedIn writing

Ignored LinkedIn because you don’t know how to use it? Barely filled in your Profile?

Don’t wait any longer, because it’s one of the first places employers will be checking you out! Get your LinkedIn Profile updated as soon as possible, adding career wins  aligned with your executive status.

Write a powerful, relevant Headline and Summary to position yourself at the right level. Learn how to join and use Groups, Status Updates, and other site functions, without waiting for the “right” time. (Hint: there is no right time.)

Accept connections from other LinkedIn users and issue a few of your own. Be careful not to show your frustration with social media during the learning curve, as this will brand you in a negative light.

4 – Contact recruiters – but remember to pay it forward.

Haven’t taken a recruiter’s call in years? Reconsider.

There’s a continual need for talented C-suite leaders who can guide strategic decisions, implement emerging technologies, transform sales organizations, and mentor the next generation.

Picking up the phone and passing along credible names to a recruiter can be a good move, especially if you want to be among those courted for a new 6 or 7 figure position. Staying on the headhunter’s radar can pay off in both your near and long-term future.

When you’re discussing opportunities with a recruiter, maintain your best professional demeanor; remember they’re working for the client corporation, NOT you. While a recruiter can act as a job-search partner, they’ll also pass along any negative impressions of you as a candidate.

5 – Accept changes in your industry – and in the job search.

Your line of work or industry may have undergone substantial changes in the past few years, making your desired role harder to find or difficult to sustain at the same salary level. Here’s where looking at tangent industries, transferable skills, and new professional contacts will serve you better than trying to re-create the job search of years past.

If you’re not sure why the phone fails to ring, ask colleagues for feedback on your C-suite job search tactics, or search LinkedIn to gauge your ROI against the competition.

You might uncover alternatives to the roles you planned to pursue, or a slightly different industry in which to concentrate your efforts.

Continue to spread the word about your expertise through social media and by making high-value contacts, rather than limiting your activity to job posting responses.


In a nutshell, it’s not your father’s job search anymore.

Your digital identity, reputation, adaptability, and networking efforts – not to mention your executive resume – have all taken on considerably more weight in the past few years.

You’ll get better results by adapting your executive job search tactics accordingly.