It’s no secret that most senior-level roles are secured via the hidden job market, making who you know and who your profile is visible to extremely critical if you are looking to undergo an Executive career transition. Knowing exactly who the right people are and making an impression on them are two of the most critical steps in accessing these roles and are the biggest hurdles most executives face. When done right however they often uncover many more promising and rewarding meetings, discussion and opportunities.
Here are three key activities you should focus on to be more effective when seeking out those unknown or hidden opportunities.
You would never go to market with a product that no one wanted to buy. Instead, you would look at trends in your target market, find out what your target consumers’ needs are, come up with a strategy for how to position your product and how to reach them, test and retest to ensure you are putting the best possible product out there, and then you’d go to market. If you would invest all of this time and effort into perfecting and aligning a product that is going to represent your business and bring in value, why would you not think of yourself in the same way when you as a senior executive will need to bring value to whatever organisation you are aiming to join?
Having a value proposition in general is a bare minimum requirement but having the right value proposition and making it unique is another thing entirely. You need to approach this stage critically and do your research. Things move swiftly especially so in today’s digitally driven and continuously disrupted marketplace. The demands that were present in the market when you were last looking for a role have certainly changed since then, even if it was only a short while ago that you last searched. You need to be up to date with what is happening now and what the needs of your industry, desired organisation, or target role are at this point and time and moving forward.
A good starting point is our Career Growth Index, which can help you determine your readiness to take the next step in your career and where you need to invest more time to be market ready . Based on the insights you glean from the Index and your own research into the market, you can then determine how you align with your career objectives. Knowing this information will allow you to better target your search and determine who the ‘right people’ are in terms of your specific goals, what matters to them, and how you need to position yourself and communicate your value during any discussions.
LinkedIn currently has approximately 830 million registered members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. With recent stats showing that approximately 50 million people searching for jobs on the site every week, it comes as no surprise that 87% of those looking for talent regularly use the platform. The value of this particular social network should not be overlooked, as a study found that 122 million people received an interview through LinkedIn with 35.5 million having been hired by a person they connected with on the site.
Having a presence online is a basic requirement for today’s senior executive, especially those in transition. But are you using it properly? Are you establishing yourself as a thought leader? Are you expanding your network and making introductions? Are you using it for research and to prepare for any meetings or interviews?
So much of today’s executive job search is conducted digitally, and therefore how you present yourself online and leverage the tools at your disposal can make all the difference in being seen by the right people and ultimately securing a new opportunity. You need to be thinking carefully about the information on your profile, the content you are sharing and interacting with, and the people you are connecting with or messaging as all these factors come into play when looking at career progression. In our coaching programmes, we focus on the digital element of the search very heavily with our clients to help them secure new roles, promotions, and NED opportunities with much success. This has become one of the most valuable focus areas for attracting the right attention, and while it may be time consuming, getting it right really pays off.
An executive job search needs a compelling value proposition seen by potential employers at scale. It can be a numbers game. The more of the right people you can get in front of, the more likely your success. Back in 2021, LinkedIn began applying limits to the number of connection requests you can send to 100 per week. Prior to this, you could send hundreds of requests each week and grow your network exponentially in a short amount of time. While the old way was great in theory for building a large network, quantity does not ensure quality.
Building a valuable network takes a lot of time and effort. To begin, you need to find the members of the audiences you have decided to target. This might be recruiters, current executives, influencers in your industry, or other key figures you identified in your research. It is much smarter to invest the time and effort in connecting with these individuals rather than making many connections that may not lead anywhere. As a current senior executive, you probably have a pretty good idea of who the decision makers are in the hiring process and who you likely need to influence. Do not be afraid to send a connection request to these people. Instead of connecting with any and everybody, cast a wide net within your target group. Try to find as many of these decision makers as you possibly can and take a shot at connecting with them. The worst that can happen is that they decline the request, which will add to your learning and enable you to relook at your messaging and improve this for future approaches.
Having the right people in your network is a great way to expose them to your thought leadership content and create some name recognition. But connection should be just the beginning. No one is going to offer you an opportunity simply for connecting with them. You need to warm up that pipeline with conversation and value. It can be as simple as starting by sending a brief ‘thank you for connecting’ message with a short elevator pitch relating to your market research. Either way, do not let the connection go cold through lack of communication.
That said, sending numerous connection requests and engaging those who accept can be time consuming. Many senior executives search for their next opportunity while already employed or while juggling other obligations, and therefore may not have the time to dedicate to this level of activity. If you are in this situation you may want to consider an automation service driven by the latest targeting technologies. Through a trusted technology partner, Rialto provides a skilled and customised service that handles much of the targeting process automatically by finding connections to key audience targets and engaging them. This allows you to focus on nurturing that relationship and drawing mutual value from it. This method typically creates between 45-75 openings within a three-month period for our clients, who have been able to secure some amazing opportunities as a result. This service aimed at lightening the initial load can be of major benefit to busy executives who want to make the most of their networking efforts but may not have the time to commit to the time consuming targeting and market segmentation requirements that will support success.
Finding hidden opportunities and building a mutually valuable network does not happen overnight, but with the right time investment and focus it can be done. If you would like our experts’ support in developing a stronger individual profile and personal brand awareness to support your career progression, explore our career transition services and get in touch with our team.