March 6, 2014 6:03 am

If I was ... a senior executive out of work

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments
Lewis Maleh, founder of Bentley Lewis

Lewis Maleh is founder of Bentley Lewis, an executive recruitment firm. He puts himself in the position of a business leader in need of a job:

Over the past few years, it has been increasingly difficult for senior executives to find the next position. There are of course fewer available positions the further up the ladder you go, increased competition and an increasingly long interview process.

If I was a senior executive out of work, I would accept that it can be both mentally and physically tiring – especially if I worked in a niche sector, as boards and regulatory bodies tend to prefer people with relevant experience. I know that hiring managers tend to be reluctant to take a risk on someone without direct sector experience.

I would focus on networking and perseverance. Most senior vacant positions are not advertised and headhunters tend to use their own networks to source suitably qualified candidates for their long lists.

It sounds difficult and daunting, but I would explore a great number of options to widen my search and give myself the best chance of landing the next role.

First, there are the traditional avenues that all need to be covered. I would make sure I am noticed by all the right headhunters and that I have spoken to key people in boutique search firms. Everyone has their own client base and given that most top roles are given to one headhunter on a retained basis, it is vital to be known by the right people. This would give me access to opportunities from the unadvertised market.

Second, staying in touch with friends and old colleagues is vital. Some headhunters don’t accept unsolicited approaches, so I would ask for personal introductions to firms and individuals that people in my close network have used in the past.

Some employers might try to find candidates via their own networks – and these can be tapped into from the most unlikely of sources. I know a number of extremely proactive people who manage to secure interviews and have landed jobs by using their own network.

I would keep myself active and up to date, because those are key attributes of the candidates who most easily find jobs and who are in the best frame of mind for the big interviews. I would want to be working if possible, even in a less-than-ideal role or on a short-term contract.

It would also be important to consider working with start-ups or high growth businesses. It might not be the ideal C-suite role I am looking for in the banking sector, but there would be great benefits for both parties. It is a great way to learn and develop new ideas and products and add value to enterprises, using my experience.

I have seen an increasing number of senior executives taking this route on an interim basis or deciding to pursue a portfolio career.

Staying connected with my sector would be another high priority. It is a great way to find out about potential vacancies and people who might be about to resign.

In addition to online research, I would regularly attend networking events and seminars to make sure I am up date to with the latest industry developments. Interviews at senior management level always involve some degree of discussion about the sector, making it important to stay plugged in.

Social media websites are effective tools for finding new opportunities globally. I would keep my LinkedIn profile up to date and expect this to result in more approaches by headhunters and internal sourcing teams.

I would also use professional network Xing if I was interested in working in mainland Europe, especially German-speaking countries. Twitter and Facebook can be useful, depending on the sector, and I would want to receive notifications from job websites.

Searching for a senior position is challenging and can take time. But I think with effort and an improving economy, I would find opportunities.

Related Topics

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments
SHARE THIS QUOTE