If you are looking to land a job as an executive, there are some job search rules that differ from a traditional search. If you want to “go big,” you need to think big and out of the box.

Here are four distinct differences and some suggested steps for success:

  1. You can’t rely on job boards; you have to network. Realistically, your next executive position, or your first one, is going to come from networking. That’s how many of the best jobs are found, and it’s even more true the higher up you go on the career ladder. This is partly because finding the right cultural fit is so important at the executive level. It's unlikely that you're going to get a position by applying to an online job board. In fact, you probably won't find most executive positions on job boards unless they are exclusively dedicated to C-Suite roles. The jobs posted on those sites will likely be a better fit at the right level, so spend time there instead of on Indeed or some other general job board.

A successful search comes from cultivating your network and researching companies while focusing on finding the right cultural fit. You have so much influence as an executive that it could be disastrous for you and the company if you get into a company that is not the right fit for you and vice versa. Make sure to engage your network during your search and ask for recommendations of companies that you can target or connections to other people. Not only is networking critical for the job search process, but it will also be a big part of your job. As an executive, you will be expected to be well-connected and knowledgeable about forming relationships and partnerships. If you are looking to move up into the C-Suite, start cultivating your network now.

  1. The search will take longer. An executive job search takes longer than a traditional job search. You’ll need to be patient; it's not uncommon for an executive job search to take six months to a year. I know that sounds terribly long, but it’s a realistic timeframe whether it’s to get your first executive position or to move from one C-level position to another. Because the emphasis is on digging deep to find the right company and industry for you, it's not going to be a quick fix.

  1. You need to update and leverage your documents. As an executive, your portfolio of documents should be reflective of your brand and have a professional quality that would be expected from C-Suite job seekers. You don't want to apply for an executive position with a subpar or outdated resume. Your resume, your cover letter, and your LinkedIn profile all reflect you, your brand, and your contributions. You need to make them stand out. One additional document you will need is an executive bio, which can be used for websites, press releases, and other marketing and self-promotion.

  1. Consider using an executive search firm. These agencies are typically free for you as the job seeker and often have access to positions that are not posted elsewhere. This enables you to get into the hidden job market while ensuring that you will be considered for positions at your desired level. Depending on the type of firm you use, there may or may not be an investment for you but typically there isn’t. Do a Google search for top executive search firms in your area and do your research before signing up for anything. This can be a viable option for getting more exposure and finding your desired executive role.

For more information on this topic, listen to Episode 141 of the Career UpRising podcast, Breaking into the C-Suite, Part 2: The Executive Job Search, on iTunes or at  The podcast archive is available on Apple Podcast and on my website at
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