Landing Your Next Executive Role Is Within Your Control

What I’ve learned from working with many executive leaders is that there is no clearer link than the one between success and accountability.

Successful organizations have accountability embedded in their DNA.

When an organization as a whole believes and acts as though it is operating exclusively at the mercy of external forces, it can’t deliver. When systems of accountability are introduced that bring clarity to what high performance looks like, the organization can deliver.

Let’s apply this to executive job search

With a job search, you can move through your transition believing that you are at the whim of “a difficult market,” “not enough executive positions,” “no opportunities in my area,” or “no response when I apply for a role.”

But there is another way.

You can create systems of accountability and redefine success in such a way that you are 100% in control of achieving it or not.

Enter the Hidden Job Market

Career coaches often refer to the Hidden Job Market as the number one source of jobs and career ascent.

What is the Hidden Job Market? It consists of all the positions that are filled for which job ads are never even published. You can see an excellent visual for this on Lou Adler’s post on Hire Economics.

Adler shows that companies fill positions using a step-wise format:

  • Step 1: Preferred Approach: They identify existing employees who could fill the role. 10% of positions are filled this way.
  • Step 2: Second Choice: They identify candidates within close proximity to the organization (i.e., those people who are within the close networks of insiders). This accounts for 45% of positions filled!
  • Step 3: Getting Desperate: They search through their existing resume database. 15% of roles are filled this way.
  • Step 4: Last Resort. They post a job ad. 30% of positions are filled this way.

How does this apply to injecting accountability into my job search?

If you stay stuck in the mindset of “there aren’t enough jobs,” “I’m getting no responses to my applications,” and “the market sucks right now!” you are only thinking about Steps 3 and 4, which are actually a company’s last resort to filling a role, after they’ve exhausted their Preferred Approach and Second Choice – the candidates they already know.

Steps 3 and 4 are also the areas where you as a job seeker exercise minimal control. You have no say in what jobs get posted or how many exceptional candidates apply.

You become one in hundreds, maybe thousands of applicants with only your resume to differentiate you. Not exactly good odds, even with a stellar resume!

Let’s make matters worse. Let’s imagine that after a job gets posted, 5 or 6 qualified candidates apply who know people on the inside and make those relationships known.


Interview pool created.

And you are out.

So, what CAN you control?

You can’t control the jobs that get posted or the candidates who apply for them or who they know. But you can control your proximity to the company and increase your chances of accessing opportunities in Step 2: the 45% of positions that are filled through networking before a job ad is ever posted. You can also control your likelihood of forming part of the interview pool when a job has been posted (Step 4).

The answer lies in your ability to build relationships within the companies you would like to work for.

You can own that responsibility 100%. No more thinking you are at the mercy of the market.

Now, think back about how you may have created or been a part of cultures of accountability within the organizations you’ve worked for. There were probably KPIs for your teams that defined what successful performance looked like, separate from outcomes.

Do the same for your executive job search. Here are examples of daily, weekly, and monthly metrics you can establish:

– Number of well-connected people in your current network you catch up with.

– Number of people within your target companies you invite to connect or follow on LinkedIn.

– Number of people within your target companies you approach for a brief meeting.

– Number of likes and comments you post on target people’s social media activity.

– Number of networking events you attend weekly or monthly.

– Number of overall hours dedicated weekly to professional relationship building.

These are a few ideas. Make up your own list of target KPIs depending on the time you have available to dedicate to your job search each day.

Do this and you will inject accountability into your job search and take control of it.

It is in your power to find your next position.

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