Don't Risk Failure in Your Executive Job Search

By Debra Feldman '74PH of the Columbia Career Coaches Network

You got where you are today by virtue of hard work and producing results. If you don’t get the strategy right and execute it correctly, a project fails. This success principle applies to your personal career: you need the right job search strategy to support an effective campaign effort. If either your job search strategy (focus or target) is wrong or your job search execution (tasks and activities) is inadequate, your job search can’t succeed. In other words, if you don’t know where you are going, then you are not going to get anywhere.

In business, bad strategy isn’t tolerated. Why would you continue to execute a job search that isn’t working?

In business, bad strategy isn’t tolerated. Why would you continue to execute a job search that isn’t working? Maybe because you don’t know what you are doing wrong or how to fix it. This plan should help re-set your job search on the right track and accelerate progress towards the next opportunity you want.

  1. Identify the correct go-to-market strategy: identify where you excel and what makes you better than the competition, describe what you want in a new role (industry, responsibilities, authority, compensation, location, future potential, corporate structure, etc.)
  2. Name companies where your knowledge, skills, etc. are needed to increase revenues, reduce costs or improve processes
  3. Prepare a presentation for each prospective target opportunity that clearly shows how you can help and reassures that you do not pose a risk to that organization.
  4. Communicate your potential value one-to-one with a hiring decision maker or someone that can influence the hiring authority.
  5. Follow up after the initial contact to make sure your interest is noted.
  6. Stay in touch on a regular basis with the goal of developing a networking relationship if not a new career opportunity.
  7. Repeat until you have accepted a new job offer that satisfies your specifications and fulfills your requirements.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review reported that strategy and execution are skills that go hand-in-hand. Executives that are strong in one, are strong in the other. When it comes to job search strategy and job search execution, you can’t separate the two: success requires the right strategy supporting a well-implemented plan. There is a science to defining the best job search strategy for each candidate and an art to executing a campaign that relies on initiating and cultivating relationships with key decision makers. 


Debra Feldman is a part of the Columbia Career Coaches Network – a group of over 20 accredited professional alumni career coaches who provide fee-based consulting and volunteer for the Columbia Alumni Association’s free professional development programs throughout the year.

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