Top 10 Executive Job Search Skills for 2022

This article appears in our Q1 2022 issue of Finance Transformation Magazine. To download the issue, click here

Andrew MacAskill, Founder of Executive Career Jump and recently named LinkedIn Changemaker for Careers and Unemployment, provides Finance Leaders with the top 10 executive job search skills they must master for success in 2022!

If the last two years have taught us anything it is that the job search game has changed, and it can be a brutal game at times. As the bestselling author of The Job Search Playbook, I am fascinated by the new nuances every executive in transition now faces.

You may be made redundant, successfully exited, have relocated, been blindsided or totally outmanoeuvred by that sociopath politician in the office. Either way becoming available for work is all pretty rough and takes its toll on you, your family and your confidence no matter how tough or resilient you believed you were.

I can best sum it up by saying that many of the finance executives I work with feel dethroned. They feel lost and unable to get clarity grappling with what they really want next in their careers.

The mental fog is really challenging. It works almost like grief in that you can think you are okay one minute but then suddenly out of nowhere a wave of bad feeling overcomes you. To emphasise the severity of this problem the research suggests those involved in redundancy are 6 times more likely to require medication for their mental health. It's serious stuff!

To further compound this the job market has changed and what I am finding is that quite simply, many leaders are not up to date or educated on social media.

Some have outgrown their network and find that most of their contacts are of a similar level to themselves so unable to help. Plenty will face new assessments or be confronted with AI during applications and most get underwhelmed by the initial response from headhunters.

I have made it my personal mission to make sure that people are able to navigate the job search chaos and perform at their best during the big moments.

Based on 15 years' worth of experience and significant research what I am sharing below are the top 10 essential skills you need to master if you are an executive who finds themselves on the job market in 2022:

1. Self-Reflection

The goal here is to look for clues as to your preferred future direction by analysing your current mindset and your career to date. Ask yourself these 5 key questions:

• Where have I been most fulfilled in my career and why?

• Should I run my own business?

• Is it the current role or work environment that is making me unhappy?

• Who do I admire or envy and what is this telling me?

• What would I do with my career if I wasn't scared?

Think these questions through, discuss them with people who know you, and create mind maps, but most importantly be 100% honest with yourself. This will help you get to a point of clarity before you do anything else.

2. Use your Business Skills

This is the big one, use your own Business Skills to drive your job search! A complete mindset shift for many senior job seekers.

Way too many normally action orientated leaders go passive when they become unemployed and find themselves sat on the bench. The best way to progress your job search is to own it, plan it and use your business skills to run it like a project. This will make you more productive and maintain your self-worth and identity.

So get it mapped out, schedule your diary, set yourself targets and incentives based on quality outcomes and get executing at pace.

3. Control the Ego!

Job searching causes the ego to spike and it can get ugly. That feeling of a loss of identity and status can play havoc and cause you to get in your own way, not ask for help or live in denial that you are on the job market at all. The first battle you need to win is with yourself!

4. Nurture Reciprocity

There is an amazing amount of reciprocity that can be uncovered if you approach meetings and networking with a view as to how you can add value to the other person rather than spray them your CV or beg for a job.

Look to add as much value as you can and you will be amazed what might come back to you in terms of opportunities.

5. Multi Stakeholder Interviewing

Executive hires require meeting bosses, boards, investors, HR and team members. Practice presenting telling your story, knowing your numbers and asking questions that allow you to uncover what each stakeholder is looking for and needs.

6. Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an unbelievable free resource so use it to produce content, expand your network, showcase your knowledge, serve others, and apply for roles.

Getting active (not lost!) on LinkedIn is a great skill to master for your job searching activity. Get this right and you will build a personal brand that you take with you into role whilst generating opportunities.

7. Work Effectively with Headhunters

Prior to setting up Executive Career Jump I ran executive search businesses all over the world. The difference in candidates who worked well with us versus those who resented us and didn't engage well, was staggering.

I fully understand going through an intermediary can be frustrating, especially when the communication drops off. However, Headhunters can, for free help you attract opportunity, and they will be better placed and more likely to sell you well if they buy in to you as a person and feel respected.

So, engage with them effectively and work out how you can add value to them, and they just might be the conduit to your next opportunity.

8. Extreme Self Awareness

Being on the job market is not a time to kid yourself. You need to show extreme self-awareness in terms of what you should do next.

If you were great at sales but have now failed twice in leadership then take the hint, if you are not willing to comply and borderline unemployable then set up your own business. If you were stressed and miserable in your previous role then dig deep to find out why and don't repeat it.

9. Interviews are a 2-way Process

The most keen and desperate leaders rarely get picked. They come across as inauthentic and lacking gravitas. So, make sure you interview the company as much as they do you. They will judge you as much on the questions you ask as they do the answers you give.

10. Enjoy the Time Out

Take time to spend time with family get fit or learn that language that you have all fancied learning. Your time out is precious. You and I both know once you throw yourself in to a new challenge that you will find yourself time poor again pretty quickly!

About the author: Andrew MacAskill

Andrew is the Founder of the award-winning careers platform Executive Career Jump, The Bestselling Author of The Job Search Playbook and the official 2021 LinkedIn Changemaker for Careers and Unemployment.