Employees at all levels are facing a challenging road in the months ahead. Layoffs, inflation, the labor shortage, and chip shortages all contribute to uncertainty in the job market. Countless individuals are already on the hunt for new jobs.
However, what about executives? How do executives navigate the employment search? Do they go to job boards and apply just like everyone else? Not exactly. Let’s break it down.
The Hidden Nature of C-Suite Jobs
On the surface, executives move from one job to the next just like everyone else. One day they’re at one company, and then, after a series of interviews and evaluations, they move on to a new position.
On closer examination, though, it becomes clear that most C-suite executives don’t “hunt” for a job in the traditional sense of the word. They aren’t found scouring job boards or parsing over the latest employment listings.
Instead, C-suite professionals willing to shift between employers enter a different process. They position themselves favorably and are “courted” by companies in need of quality leadership. Often the process of hiring these candidates takes place through recruiters on platforms like social media and search engines. At times, hiring experts and candidates meet halfway at middle-ground points like Google searches and LinkedIn profiles, where they assess one another and consider different employment options. At other times, candidates are already plugged into a recruiter’s network and work directly with them to find a placement in a new position.
Why the dance? Why all of the positioning, searching, and counter-searching? Because executive positions are often too rare and complex to post to an ordinary job board. Instead, a naturally small pool of available executive professionals is carefully paired and connected to a similarly limited number of quietly open positions.
LinkedIn profile developer Arno Markus refers to this group of rare, upper-tier executive listings as a “hidden job market.”
Rather than apply directly to a position, an executive looking for work will often spruce up their own candidacy. They might connect with a recruiter in their field. They could also add certain keywords to their online profiles, cultivate a consistent online portfolio, or work on developing an attractive personal brand.
Consider these activities akin to a peacock showing off its tail feathers. They’re looking for attention. When an executive cleans up their online presence, the end goal of this activity is usually to bring the best position to them rather than the other way around.
Passive Candidates Are Not Even Looking for Their Next Job
At times, executive candidates aren’t even actively looking for work. These passive candidates are willing to move if the right opportunity comes along. But they’re hardly checking in on Glassdoor listings or getting emails from Indeed with the latest job postings.
Professional advancement site The Muse points out that, at times, disgruntled or antsy top-level candidates are already at the peak of the pyramid at their own company. In those cases, they may be willing to accept a new position, but they aren’t ready to jump ship yet. In fact, they often try to position themselves to receive offers without letting their own coworkers know about it.
In those cases, they won’t necessarily be looking anywhere for a new position yet. Companies will need to do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to identifying passive executives, assessing if they’re a good fit, and pursuing them with an attractive job offer.
Executive Recruiters Are the Ideal Middle-Man
The executive job search is a unique process and one that is difficult to engage in on your own. It doesn’t matter if you’re a company looking to fill a position or an executive ready for your next challenge. If you want to find the best fit, it’s important to tap into the professional tools, network, and expertise of an executive recruiter in your industry. They’ll be able to shorten the recruitment process (which can save significant resources) and find the highest quality candidate for each role.
“If you want to find the best fit, it’s important to tap into the professional tools, network, and expertise of an executive recruiter in your industry.”
At Stanton Chase, our team is familiar with navigating the nuances of executive recruitment in multiple industries. From supply chain to tech to entertainment and beyond, we have significant experience filling client needs with the best executive candidates available.
Throughout our time as an executive recruitment firm, we’ve seen how profoundly unique the executive job search is compared to the pursuit of traditional employment opportunities. Whether they’re actively searching for work or they’re passive talent waiting to be discovered, executives engage in the job market differently. If you’re either searching for a top-level candidate or you’re an executive yourself, remember to invest in the specific network and tools required to find success.
If you’re an executive looking for your next challenge, click here to submit your CV to Stanton Chase’s network.
If you’re looking for your next groundbreaking executive hire, click here to reach out to one of our Executive Search Consultants.
About the Author
Peter Deragon is a Managing Director at Stanton Chase Los Angeles. He is also the Global Practice Leader of our Supply Chain, Logistics, and Transportation Practice Group. Additionally, Peter is active in the CFO Practice Group and financial services, where he started his career.