Executive Job Search

EXECUTIVE JOB SEARCH before biologically maximizedA BIOLOGICALLY MAXIMIZED JOB SEARCH     TODAY’S EXECUTIVE JOB SEARCH STRATEGY     The Hidden Job Market     Networking or ‘stockpiling people’ for information and referrals     Damage and dangers from job search networking     Give-to-get networking     Executive job search networks and job search work teams     Psychological counseling for employer damage control

Today’s job search strategies seem to have been developed by non-executives and inflicted on executives by an industry committed to promoting them despite their historical failure.  How can 1-2 years of daily damage and devaluing for executives to sell themselves into a new job signify success?  Job replacement used to be a career exception.  Serial job replacement is now the rule.  If we can accept that reality, we can stop trying to apply patches to the inefficiencies and damages inherent in today’s job search protocol.  It is time for a total re-write.  Proactive serial job replacement needs to be fully integrated into all career management strategy. 

I have dedicated decades to executive career maximization.  I have known many executives before and after job search.  I used to be able to just pick up the pieces of the battle-worn job searcher once they returned to employment where my invoices were again covered.  Unfortunately, I reached a tipping point.  The destruction of an executive’s esprit de corps during job search is too heart-wrenching.  There is too much loss on every side.  Some never recover either their former glory or their former performance levels.  Some are never able to reinstate their previous quality of life personally or professionally.  Too many are permanently scarred.  I felt compelled to create a new less damaging and more efficient job search protocol.

Putting aside the personal devastation for each executive for a moment, it seems to me that this is no way to run the planet.  How does it make sense to have your best and your brightest out of commission for a couple of years?  Or irreparably damaged, for that matter?  These are our world-changers.  We need them doing what they do, not destroyed by a job search seeking the opportunity to do what they do.  If you were running the world the way you run your company, maximizing your human resources is management 101.  Downtime of our leaders is a waste of key human assets.

In addition, the economy and the career needs of individuals are increasing the number of jobs if not careers that we have over a lifetime.  Clearly we need improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness, and humanity of our job search protocol.  It is time to stop tweaking the make-shift protocol that was designed decades ago to address the occasional need for job search.  What was the exception is now the rule for the majority.  We must now accept serial job replacement as a career constant.

Consequently, we must now formally invent an appropriate job search protocol that is fully integrated into life-time career management strategies.  We need to make serial job replacement workable, rewarding, purposeful, and profitable.  Ideally we need a method of serial job replacement which is high-growth, high-speed, and nourishing and fulfilling in and of itself.  We need a paradigm shift in job search protocols.

A BIOLOGICALLY MAXIMIZED JOB SEARCH

The paradigm shift into the biologically maximized career introduced in my previous posts, gave me a completely novel context from which to recommend job search strategy.  What would a biologically maximized job search look like for executives?   But wait.  Biological maximization is holistic.  There would not be the need for a separate job search process.  It would already be integrated.

Job losses or leaps would simply be part of neutral system corrections to improve system maximization or to solve maximization challenges.  Therefore they could be foreseeable.  They could be capitalized upon as with all partnering with the maximizing machinery.  What could these neutral system corrections be used for?  Quantum leaps in growth? Repositioning for greater performance?  Wealth creation?  Could it be that we could not just protect ourselves from the damage of today’s job search but become so good at serial job replacement that it could be proactively used for profit and gain?

I therefore sought to create a high-growth, high-speed, job search process that actually accelerated executive careers and the growth of their baseline functionality.  This became so exciting and successful that I gradually began to build proactive job replacement into my career maximization strategies.  Soon every client employment contract was negotiated to maximize the benefits of a new serial job replacement process.  Serial severance packages and signing bonuses became a pivotal wealth-creation tool and a signature of my executive career partnering services.

This was indeed excellent lemonade from what had previously been a serious career lemon.  However, one must be very good at job creation or job replacement before one may partake of this lemonade.  I will need to provide extensive instructions to help you to make this paradigm shift with serial job replacement proficiency.

Therefore, I have broken these instructions up into a number of articles.  This first article merely gives us a common understanding of today’s executive job search and indicates some of its inefficiencies and damaging aspects.  The next article provides a comparison of today’s executive job search with that of the new biologically maximizing paradigm.  Articles beyond that will start to get more practical to help those wanting to apply the new model.  Let’s get started.

TODAY’S EXECUTIVE JOB SEARCH STRATEGY

Today’s job search strategies seem to be based on the sales approaches of the insurance industry developed sixty years ago.  Cold-calling and relationship-building techniques that are used to build entire insurance-agent careers are applied to a small job-search project. The same amount of time and effort required to develop a network to launch the lifetime career of a real estate, insurance or executive search agent must be applied to develop a network for a single job search project.

With this much front-end effort, the ROI will therefore be considerably less for this job search project.  This is especially the case when neither the development of the skills nor the end products are likely to be more than nice-to-haves when one returns to one’s real career.  Obviously today’s job search protocol is massively inefficient.

In addition, today’s job search industry appears to have grown up around administrative staff and well-meaning counselors.  It emerged to protect firing employers with deep pockets.  There were few executives or strategists developing the field or taking into consideration how executives operate.  So again, it is not been designed for efficiency for the executive target market.

The average job seeker may find a new job in six to seven months.  Executives, however, may take one to two years.  U.S. Department of Labor statistics suggest job search duration may increase one month for each $10,000 in desired income.  Therefore, an executive making $150,000 would be expected to be in job search around fifteen months.

Imagine whom you might become in a year of fear, devaluing, humiliation, and most importantly, not doing meaningful work.   As I have alluded in a previous article with respect to Steve Jobs, the blocking of creative expression may be the greatest cause of illness in [high-achieving] executives”.  I do not like to even have my executive clients retire without some channel for the application of their strongest talents to meaningful work for the audience or context that will value it most.

Only about 15-20% of jobs are advertised on internet job banks and in other publications.  Responding to job advertisements is not a good use of executive time and talent.  Many are ill-equipped for the technical savvy and menial repetitive work required to pursue advertised jobs.  Not only may this approach dampen their spirits but it may damage their stature in their work communities.   Again, we are seeing the flaws of what has evolved as job search protocol.  These flaws likely would have been avoided if a protocol had been specifically designed for executives.

The Hidden Job Market

The hidden job market accounts for perhaps 80-85% of all executive hires.  Therefore, this should be a key target of any re-written job search protocol.  These are positions that are filled before they are advertised and may not even involve the Human Resources department.  The hiring manager makes the decision.  Perhaps s/he has an idea for growing the organization, and seeks a prospective employee through her/his network.  Perhaps someone has quit unexpectedly creating a gap that must be filled immediately. Or the company might have landed a major new client and needs to hire immediately.  There may be neither time nor money for either advertising the job or working through a recruiter.

Positions may also be created for candidates who come to an employer’s attention through employee recommendations, referrals from trusted associates, direct inquiries, and the networking efforts of a job seeker.  Therefore, contacting companies and their respective line decision-makers is a great way to gain inroads and initiate discussions that lead to interviews.  Any effective executive job search campaign should focus 80-100% of its time, resources, and strategy to addressing this hidden job market.  An opportunity-seeking mindset is therefore an asset.  Proposing a project may create the job for which you are hired.  Job creation then should be a key part of the job-search-protocol redesign.

Networking or ‘stockpiling people for information and referrals

The most touted strategy for looking for work in the ‘hidden job market’ is networking.  This is a marketing campaign where employers are the buyers, and you are the product. Cold marketing means that you apply to employers who do not know you.  Thus you are ‘going in cold.’   Warm marketing engages an intermediary known to the employer to introduce and vouchsafe for you.  As a result, you receive a ‘warm welcome’ instead of a cooler reception.

A lot of focus must be paid to defining the job you are seeking.  Next you research to find potential contacts associated with those companies.  And finally you need to have a strategy for getting to those contacts either for the job directly or to refer you or , at minimum, to join your network.  It is then ideal to have a customized resumé for each of those approaches.

Given the greater success of warm marketing referrals over cold calling, a networking strategy is promoted.  Networking is a way of leveraging the people you already know to get introduced to decision makers at employers you would consider working for.  When done with finesse, you are not asking your network contacts for a job.  Rather, you are seeking information that may lead to a job. 

Networking is about building and maintaining relationships with the people around us. Theoretically, the more people you know, the more people that the people you know are connected with, and the more relevant they are, the more powerful your network. Job-hunting is now billed as a contact sport.  And networking is obviously a numbers game.

As an information source, networking is pretty inefficient.  As suggested above, your ROI is going to be extremely low for the efforts invested to find, attract, and maintain the people in your network.  This will need to be addressed in any new job search protocol.  It would be more efficient to be able to access the right information at the right time rather than stockpiling people on the off-chance that they discover information that may help you with your job search.

Damage and dangers from job search networking

The most successful executives and managers are great networkers.  Unfortunately, many executive job seekers who use their work network for job search destroy the very relationships they need to actually do their new job once they get it.  Executives need a certain stature to operate at this most senior level.  Using their work network from their weakened state or stature as a job hunter may change how they are perceived by their network and, worse, how they perceive themselves.

Personal power is critical at executive levels and one may not recover either inside of oneself or outside with one’s network if you use your work network for your job search.  For example, if you have always been the magnanimous feeder of your network, asking for job-search favors outside of your usual protocol may make relationships awkward and reveal that relationships are limited to the existing protocol or formula or are not reciprocal.  Your relationships may not have the ability to adapt to a new formulation and the old channel is destroyed while you find this out.

My advice is to refrain from beating yourself up for not networking to find your desired job.  If you normally have good throughput, then you are likely not procrastinating when you avoid networking.  You are sensing real danger in pursuing this highly promoted job search strategy.

Historically, how many times did overruling this resistance to action work out for you?  I suspect that it never did.  I trust your gut!  To back it up, use the Sourcing Your Savant exercise criteria to make a rational unemotional decision based on the historical evidence.  Remember, the job search industry began with counselors, administrative personnel, career managers, HR people, and executive search consultants.  Not an executive among them.  Trust your instincts and your history.  Operate from your strengths and your maximized state.

     Give-to-get networking

There must be mutual gain in networking.  Many executives have delicately balanced quid-pro-quo relationships in business.  This is how business has traditionally been done.  There may be permanent repercussions from seeking help from individuals in your work network.  ‘Friends’ in your last job may be competitively threatened personally or for their companies by placing you back into a powerful position.  Putting friendship aside, it may be a savvy business strategy for them to keep you from getting into a power position which may diminish their company’s profits.  Unfortunately, they may proactively pursue that strategy using their own work network to block your job search.  Your losses will be compounded if their work network is the same as yours.

However, your vendor networks may want exactly the opposite.  If you are likely to use a new job to bring them business, they will happily flex their executive muscle to put you into a position of power with one of their customers.  Many large vendors may even have the power and influence to have a current incumbent removed to create a vacancy for you.  At minimum, they may offer you an office and resources on their premises for your job search because it is in their interest to do so.  But understand, quid pro quo will be expected or there may be negative repercussions when you are re-employed.

Hopefully, the new job search design will not only circumvent the inefficiencies but the dangers of networking.  It would be ideal to formalize more direct sources of information into the new job-search-protocol redesign.  There are also a lot of undesirable menial and administrative tasks inherent in both networking itself and addressing the hidden job market.  These need to be eliminated or minimized in the new design.

     Executive job search networks and job search work teams

Support networks of fellow job seekers may be good for many.  I therefore differentiate them from both your network which supports your work and your main job search network where you are asking contacts for referrals, job information, or jobs.  These are pay-it-forward organizations where support and shared information are encouraged from peers in transition.  The intent is that job openings are shared and warm introductions of fellow members to potential employers are encouraged.   However, I think the real value is in the shared experience, shared learning, inspiration, and emotional support.  For the duration of your job search, these are your peers and colleagues.  This is a very different network which deserves cultivation.  Below are some examples:
HAPPEN Canada’s largest networking group for executives in career transition
The Executive Network Group of Greater Chicago
Exec-U-Net

Executives Network
Senior Executive Networking Group: New England
Technology Executives Networking Group
Technology Leaders Association
Kettering Executive Network

     Psychological counseling for employer damage control:
. . . . .The dangers of letting someone inside your head

Psychological counseling harks back to the origins of job search support where employers needed de-hires defused of the emotions which would cause them to initiate legal cases against them.  The laws have changed to make this less of a threat.  However, the inclusion of psychological practice persists.  Most executives know who they are and their strengths and weaknesses.  They will resiliently recover if they can quickly engage in thrilling work rather than the menial tasks inherent in today’s job search methodology.

If you have never needed someone messing with your head, protect yourself in your temporarily weakened jobless state.  You are an accomplished executive who deals with major challenges and setbacks every day.  Why start needing help now.  I am very protective of some psychological counselor suggesting flaws in one my clients as a cause of their job loss.  In my experience, psychological counseling is one of the major sources of damage in reviewing executive clients coming out of a traditional job search process.

Remember, in biological terms, the loss of a job is just a system correction.  That system could be the employer, the executive, the industry, or the markets.  You will come to know that these corrections are neutral and foreseeable by watching the signposts of the maximizing machinery.  Any ‘mistakes’  that seem to have been made by the executive are simply neutral reflections of the need for a system correction.  It could be that s/he needs to find a better context for continuing their biologically maximized career.  It could be that they made the leap to a wider expansion of impact, talent, and power around their greatest strengths and they need a bigger context that reflects their bigger system.  Again, the correction is neutral.

In the biologically maximized career, your de-hiring is a neutral information feedback event for moving to your next level of operation.  If you were-de-hired, there were likely many signposts in reality of a pending system correction.  As you learn these signposts, you will be able to proactively take action in the future to capitalize on the correction or to prevent or minimize negative or damaging events resulting from it.  This will make a commitment to serial job replacement not only possible, not only profitable, not only strategic, not only adaptive, but also safe.

I invite you to proceed to the next job search article to see a comparison of the old and new job search paradigms and protocols.

FURTHER READING
Serial Job Replacement –  A Career Game-Changer


About the Author
Lauren Holmes is a biological anthropologist who specializes in career, talent, and company maximization. She creates ‘biologically maximized careers’ especially for executives and talented high potentials. By extending one’s capabilities with those of surrounding biological systems, processes, and mechanisms it is possible to achieve beyond one’s potential.                    Contact Lauren

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