Where to Find Executive-Level Jobs

Not all job search methods are equally productive, especially at the executive level. Spend most of your job search time growing your network rather than searching job boards. Activities that increase your chances of referrals and connecting with the right executive search consultants will make you the most visible for executive jobs. Many executive positions are not even posted on job boards as they’re confidential or employers are simply weary of wading through a flood of resumes. 


Employers regularly note that referrals have the highest hire rate, particularly when the source of the referred hire is a well-respected, happy employee. Referred hires save companies time and money in the long run. If you’re an executive in need of a quick job transition, you’ll be glad that you prepared ahead of time by building up your network while you were happily employed. Once you’re ready to look for a new role, you can feel out your network to find out what’s going on in the marketplace and where there is a need for your particular set of skills and experience.

Informational Interviews

As another proactive job search strategy, informational interviews can often be attained through referrals or by meeting someone at a target organization through networking. Once you identify employees from your “right fit” companies, you can seek out more information about the company and its current challenges to ascertain if there’s an opening that fits your skills and experience. 

Become a Successor

Most organizations only have so many positions, many of which remain filled. Options can be limited if you’re interested in moving up, but want to stay at the same organization. Yet, in some cases you may catch whiff of a potential opening of interest coming up within the next year or two. Maybe the CEO has announced his retirement or the CMO’s performance has been unsatisfactory. In this situation, you can network with key decision makers within the organization, on the board, or sometimes even the person leaving the role themselves to ensure you’re kept in mind as a possible successor. 

Face-to-Face Networking

In-person networking at events or meetings is still one of the most impactful ways to expand your network. During these conversations, it’s best to focus on the other person and find out what you can do to help them. Then, exchange contact details to continue the conversation further either online, via phone, or during another event or meeting. After you’ve started a mutually beneficial relationship, you can let them know that you’re looking for new career opportunities.

Social Media

Keeping active on social media is a long-term job search strategy that should begin before you even start looking for your next role. Through social media, you can publish thought leadership and showcase your experience, accomplishments, and skills. Having an active presence on LinkedIn is an absolute must for contemporary executives even if they’re not actively looking. That’s because executive search professionals, hiring managers, and even corporate boards will source a candidate through online searches and social media in addition to checking up on the candidate’s background.
Beyond simply having a profile on social media networks, you can leverage these sites to expand your professional network. Do this by joining groups, discussions, and commenting and sharing other people’s content. If you start to become a recognized contributor in a specific area of a social media site, you may even be asked to panel events, participate in journalist interviews, or connect further with other professionals in your industry.

Job Boards and Databases

Unlike the previously mentioned job search activities, job boards and generic databases give the feeling of having accomplished something quickly. That’s because you can post your resume to numerous job postings and databases within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, this kind of job search activity rarely amounts to much – networking usually provides better leads. Large generic career sites have thousands of candidates in their databases and are often geared to entry-level and mid-management positions. Instead of putting your focus on generic job boards and databases, look for those that are more exclusive and focused on executive-level opportunities, particular occupations, industries, or job functions.

Cold Outreach

Emailing your resume to a large list of search consultants or contacts through a mass mailing is never an effective strategy. To be successful, you must narrow down your list and contact each person individually. If you’re looking to contact an executive search consultant or a key executive at one of your target companies, you may be tempted to send them an unsolicited resume, but the better option would be to research them and find out what you have in common, whether it’s an interest in the same sports team, a common connection, or an association membership. In many cases, cold outreach may not be the best time to send over your resume; instead you should attempt to make a genuine connection that could eventually lead to a valuable networking asset. Lastly on this, think about the method of outreach; maybe you’ll stand out more to this cold contact if you connect with them on Twitter first or meet them at an association event.

Download Part Two of The Ultimate Executive Career Guide series to learn more about creating your job search strategy.


The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Connecting with Executive Search

As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:
- Learn about executive search and how it differs from other forms of recruiting
- Discover the best ways to connect with executive search professionals
- Understand how the search process works
- Implement strategies that will help you become visible to the search community
- And more!

Download Now!

About the author

BlueSteps's picture

About BlueSteps

BlueSteps empowers executives to reach their career goals with strategic career planning.


At BlueSteps, we thoughtfully create career management solutions that are designed to help leaders advance their careers, stay on track to build a long-term career playbook, and become a strong leader. Our tools and resources will help you:
  • Advance your career with tools to keep you on track. 
  • Access insider job market intelligence from the experts.
  • Identify and network with the right recruiters.
  • Discover executive jobs and board positions not found elsewhere.
  • Connect with world class career advisors for support when you need it.

Start Owning Your Career Journey >>

Other posts by this author

Share your thoughts


Hi Julia!

I love your article!

I couldn't disagree more on your last point though - cold outreach. Here is why:

Let's look at the numbers: 300k to 400k executive positions that compensate above $250K are filled each month in the US (Bureau of Labor Statistics). 95% of those positions are filled before they are advertised. Approx. 95% of executive job seekers are pursuing online job boards as part of their strategy. Recruiting firms hold approx.. 10% to 15% of the un-posted jobs.

Understanding this, it makes overwhelming statistical sense for those executives who have a clear vision of the title/industry/company size they wish to pursue to (at the very least) understand how to go about approaching a company that is growing/moving/expanding directly.

Executive job seekers tend to loose sight of the fact that companies have the same troubles regarding finding and retaining key talent - as executives have vetting quality opportunities! Organically making that magnetic connection can save a company both time and money and in the right circumstances be a very attractive invitation and the initiative deeply appreciated!

I have been helping 6-and-7-figure executives do this for years with tremendous success. There is an art to it - but it is a very effective strategy that gets the transition done and flushes out quality opportunities when compared to a longer tail strategy such as networking. Networking- although it can be effective - statistically results in an average job search of 18 months.

I agree with you - layering in 2 or 3 strategies that work best for each executive is the best way to leverage the market. search. I share this information because I believe in the importance of empowering executives with the truth - especially when it means they can retain their natural inclination to lead.

BlueSteps's picture

Hi Mary, I agree with what you've said in theory, which is why the "Cold Outreach" section of this post does not say that cold outreach should never be done - rather it says that executives should not mass mail the exact same letter with their resume to recruiters or companies. Recruiters can spot these from a mile away and can tell that you had no actual interest in them or their company before reaching out. "To be successful, you must narrow down your list and contact each person individually." It's also good to note that since recruiters' inboxes are flooded with this type of cold outreach everyday that a more creative, personal approach may be necessary.

Julia I agree it does have to look like it is going to that key decision maker .. individually. But groups of emails or mass emails to gain leverage HAS been successful for my clients. :)

BlueSteps's picture

Very interesting - good to hear other's perspectives!

Hi Julia, your article is great....simple yet to the point. Cold outreach...I agree 100% is not an effective way to go.....it only leads to multiple one way emails. Thought leadership on LinkedIn and social media sites gives new openings till one lands a job....it makes you think....keeps you involved....builds a new network....regards, Vijay

BlueSteps's picture

Thanks, Vijay!

Stay Connected