WHAT THE RESEARCH TOLD US...

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2 1 INTRODUCTION In late 2014, we commissioned PFA Research to undertake independent research into the senior level job market, to gain a clear insight into how today s market works from a candidate and recruiter s perspective and gauge the awareness and understanding of the benefits of career development support. PFA Research interviewed over 100 candidates looking for senior executive positions, to understand the opportunities and challenges they faced, and they also talked to 19 different recruitment agencies and headhunters to gain valuable views from those who are responsible for recruiting for senior level positions. WHAT THE RESEARCH TOLD US... This report illustrates some of the key findings from this research, compares candidate and recruiter perspectives on the job market, and explains what this means for you as a senior executive job seeker. We ll share some surprising statistics; explore obstacles commonly cited by senior executives; consider the expectations amongst recruiters; provide insight into how you can become a well-prepared candidate and what it takes to achieve career success.

3 2 FINDING YOUR NEXT SENIOR ROLE CAN TAKE LONGER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK 51% of candidates had been looking for their new role for four months or longer, with 1 in 10 still looking after 12 months; For 42%, they had been looking for longer than expected Nevertheless, candidates remain largely confident and many feel they can be choosy with opportunities that come their way. The research highlighted that many candidates seeking new senior roles have unrealistic expectations of finding a new role quickly and they are unprepared for commonly experienced obstacles. 67% thought they would find a new role within another three months A third of candidates had been offered a position but had elected not to accept it, because: o The role was not what they had thought it was (35%) o The role just didn t feel right (35%) o The salary/package was not sufficient (26%) o They were not willing to travel/relocate (15%)

4 3 When it comes to salary/package, recruiters have seen candidates adjusting their expectations downwards, the longer they are looking for a position: If they are out of work now [November] and have found work by January, all is good. If they are still out of work by mid-january you will see how it changes what they expect in a company car or package. All depending on how long they have been looking for. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: The whole process of finding your next role can take longer than you may think at the start, so we suggest not waiting start to engage with recruiters, companies, and peer networks as soon as your employment status changes and, importantly, continue to nurture and grow your network whilst in a role too. Ensure your expectations are realistic and think twice before you turn down that job offer because the salary isn t sufficient your actions might just result in many more months of job searching only to settle for a role with a lesser salary/package six months down the line. Remember, it is often necessary to relocate to progress. It s important to weigh this up. This is also where professional career development support comes into its own a small investment at the start will help you find a new role more quickly and at a reasonable salary level before your knowledge starts to wain and you become less marketable the longer you ve been out of the job scene.

5 4 WHAT S REALLY HOLDING CANDIDATES BACK IN THEIR EXECUTIVE JOB SEARCH? Candidates cite significant obstacles faced in securing a new position, most commonly: Communicating what they have to offer Lack of an existing network or their ability to network successfully Perceived lack of suitable vacancies Clients want people from within the same sector and are not at all interested in those who haven t worked in that sector before. Roles being too specific in their requirements Being out of touch through long unemployment or out of their home country for too long A sense of age discrimination Being over qualified or experienced Issues working successfully with recruitment agencies

6 5 Whilst recruiters opinions largely reflected those of candidates, their responses also highlighted a lack of awareness amongst candidates: You find that a lot of people aren t aware of the types of opportunities out there, they are not that prepared for roles that are not advertised. They tend not to have particularly good CV s or the ability to communicate their achievements.

7 6 The candidates that have been in roles for long periods of time tend not to be up to date with the market and struggle to network....if they were made redundant there's an ethos of just getting back into a role the next day, I think there's a need to step back and reassess their situation before finding a new role. They all think their CV is great, but with a candidate they need to be really clear on what they want to do next.

8 7 Recruiters also expressed that too many candidates are dependent upon advertised jobs (expecting jobs to come to them rather than going out to find them), are unable to prepare a quality CV, or present themselves professionally. 43% of candidates believed their next role would come from an advertised position and 37% thought it would come from an unadvertised hidden market. Yet, an astonishing 70% of senior executive roles are never advertised. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: Senior level candidates often believe there are significant obstacles in their job search. From a recruiters perspective, many of these centre on job search skills and awareness and therefore, can be overcome with professional guidance. If you perceive age or experience to be a barrier in your executive job search, we suggest putting on the blinkers, and focusing on your value to the role. Remember, many recruiters are shocked at the general lack of preparation, poor CV and an inability to communicate achievements; get this right and you re a strong candidate for the role, regardless of what you perceive might be limiting factors. You may have experienced some issues around working with recruiters. This can be alleviated through greater understanding of the processes and priorities of their business model (servicing their clients). It s also important to recognise that the process is not linear; it takes time for recruiters to hear back from their clients. It s appropriate to send the odd to check on progress and we can help you understand more about the recruitment process.

9 8 THE BAR HAS BEEN RAISED; SO HOW CAN YOU MEET NEW EXPECTATIONS? On the other side of the coin, recruiters express a need for candidates to: Improve their understanding of today s competitive jobs market and employer expectations Enhance their self-awareness; develop a realistic view of their aims and what they can bring to a company Take a targeted approach to company research and develop a sound knowledge of their market Candidates thought that help to find unadvertised roles/access the hidden jobs market, building up a successful network, and good information about the roles/companies being applied for would be most valuable to them. Recognise changes in the jobs market and position themselves accordingly Improve the quality of their CV and effectively communicate their achievements Be pro-active; approach the right people and get connected on LinkedIn

10 What they probably all need to recognise is the bar has been raised. What you could viably get in terms of a role 5 years ago - so much more is required now. Expectations of clients are much higher now and they are not prepared to take risks and aren t afraid to wait for the right candidates. 9 I used to see very senior candidates that are very blasé; they were fortunate enough to fall into roles and had an easy career path, they didn t appreciate the nature of getting roles so when the recession hit it woke them up as to how tough it is now. The more savvy ones saw the changes and positioned themselves accordingly. I find candidates are more prepared now but we make sure everyone is well prepared for roles we put them forward for. I think self-awareness is the difference between those who are prepared and those who are not. Have a more targeted approach in terms of the companies they research because if candidates get an insight through networking into an organisation and feel they can fit into that role then that usually means the company will see them as a good fit.

11 10 Recruiters couldn t stress enough the value of effective networking as an important life skill (not just when looking for a new job), to extend networks through tools such as LinkedIn and not rely on out of date connections. Candidates should not wait for positions to arrive at their feet but should actively be visible, go out of their way to speak to people, make themselves open to approaches and invitations. It's about building a long term relationship, cold calling or just asking for jobs doesn't work, whereas building a relationship means that when roles do come up they are more likely to be considered. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: Both candidates and recruiters highlight the need for awareness-raising around the unadvertised (hidden) jobs market, as most candidates assumed a role would come from an advertised position % of jobs are found within this hidden jobs market so it s vital you spend time learning how to navigate this. To begin, we have written a report around the hidden jobs market which provides valuable insights into how to access unadvertised jobs. One key area to develop your skills in is networking and this includes using online tools such as LinkedIn. Taking the time to develop relationships with peers, recruiters and key players in your industry can have surprising results and you should aim to continue this process throughout your whole career, whether you are engaged in an active job search or not. Recruiters say there s a lack of realisation that the bar has now been raised and that subsequently as a candidate your value proposition needs presenting in a sharper, more confident way. Effectively communicating this is critical in presenting yourself as a competent candidate. Write and rehearse your elevator pitch in this respect.

12 11 BECOME A WELL-PREPARED CANDIDATE Just over a third of candidates (35%) had used some form of personal development or support services during their search for a new job 30% of candidates had used a coaching service and the vast majority said it included advice/help with CVs and interviewing technique Despite the evident need for candidates to develop their job search skills, many candidates tend to avoid seeking professional guidance. Two thirds of candidates were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the coaching they had received, with just 17% dissatisfied Only 17% of those who had used a career development service had used a professional CV writing service Of the candidates that had not used a career coaching service, over three quarters had not ever considered it and the main reasons were they thought they had no need/ didn t see the benefit and the cost

13 12 Recruiter responses highlighted that professional help would be beneficial to many candidates, allowing them to re-enter the market at a much earlier opportunity. Recruiters make sure candidates are well-prepared for the roles they put them forward for. As a result, it is the best prepared candidates that recruiters tend to work with: It s certainly easier to focus on those who are best prepared as it saves time. If you aren't prepared enough then someone else will be.

14 13 When recruiters were asked how well prepared they found candidates were for moving into new roles, most said they were poorly prepared and needed work to get them ready for a role. [The more prepared candidates] often have attended courses/coaching. This suggests again that the Return On Investment (ROI) of career coaching is easily demonstrated in being able to get a better (higher paid) role more quickly. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: You might believe that you are a well-prepared candidate, but how do you know? Recruiters and interviewers meet many candidates who consider themselves to be wellprepared - and they disagree! We all have blind spots. We don t know what we don t know. For you, this might be something around skills development; the way you present yourself; understanding the needs of recruiters, headhunters and hiring managers and how you meet those needs; or something very different. For that reason, it s vital that you gain feedback to discover areas in which you can improve to position yourself as the best candidate you can be. As one recruiter explained, self-awareness is the difference between those who are prepared and those who are not. With this in mind, you ll appreciate professional guidance is a valuable investment in yourself and is often the key to receiving an exciting job offer more quickly. If you re unable to engage career coaching services, be sure to seek support elsewhere. Friends, family, colleagues and trusted advisors will often provide useful suggestions/opinions that will help you to improve on the approach you re taking in your executive job search.

15 14 HOW WILL CAREER COACHING HELP YOU TO LAND YOUR NEXT ROLE? The research findings reflect some of the topics we can discuss in our complimentary, confidential & exploratory Career Strategy Call - an open and honest discussion around your career plans, and a few pointers to help you along the way. During that call we are also happy to discuss how we can help you as a senior executive, to land your next role faster. Give us a call on +44 (0) or me at to find out more. Thanks for reading, Steve Nicholls Managing Director Executive Connexions Ltd.

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