Post-COVID Job Search Tips for the Executive

2020, what a whirlwind. We saw record unemployment rates across the country, a massive shift in industry and supply chain demand, and a worldwide disruption in economic activity. Even though things are looking and feeling less bleak more than a year later, the pandemic has changed everything, including the executive job search. The good news is that just like everything else that was uprooted, selection and hiring processes have adapted, and a “new normal” is emerging. We are starting to understand our new world and how to best move forward.

What is the same?

Jobs still need to be done, businesses still need leaders, and companies are still hiring. The general selection process and tools remain intact. Resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles persist as the primary supporting job search documents, and employers continue to conduct interviews. The hidden job market still accounts for the vast majority of available opportunities, and networking prevails as the most effective way to discover appropriate opportunities and land a new position.

What can you expect from your executive job search today?

With record unemployment rates, job competition has increased dramatically. Where a typical job posting used to bring in a couple hundred applications, employers are now seeing thousands of submissions. Timelines and communications with job seekers may be delayed due to the number of candidates and the new working environments of the selection team. Almost all interviews and introductions are conducted online, and new employees are often beginning employment remotely, without in-person onboarding.

What executive experience is most in demand?

The top items on the minds of executive recruiters and businesses looking to hire executives are remote team management and experience managing through crisis and fluctuating economic climates.

With much of the workforce now forced into completely new working environments, team members are rarely in the same physical location. The ability to engage and inspire coworkers into action and performance without seeing them face-to-face is a necessity. Highlight your experience managing remote teams in your resume by laying out how many employees you managed, where they were located, and what techniques you used to connect with them. Positive remote employee engagement survey results would help in demonstrating your ability to lead remote teams as well.

Corporate Board Member’s March Director Confidence Index survey indicates that economic conditions over the next year are looking positive, but after a year of rapid transitions and reactive decision-making, there is still a fair bit of uncertainty. Any organization looking to bring on a new executive leader will need to be confident that their chosen candidate can manage through social and financial upheaval. You can emphasize your exposure on your resume by describing how you have handled emergencies and shifting priorities in the past, as well as any results from turning around struggling departments, regions, or businesses.

What can you do to increase success in your executive job search?

  1. Tap into the hidden job market by bolstering your LinkedIn network. In addition to being a job board, LinkedIn is a phenomenal database of organizations, professionals, and communities, most of whom are also interested in growing their networks. Start by following companies that you are interested in working with and begin engaging with their updates. Find specific people to connect with by searching for broad terms such as “recruiter, talent acquisition, senior executive recruiter,” or “hiring manager,” and then filter the results by position title, industry, or location. You can even find groups aligned with your current career goals and send connection requests to group members. By filling your network with recruiters, PE partners, key executives, and HR executives, you will stay top of mind when someone in your network needs an executive with your skills.
  2. Prepare yourself for virtual interviews. While they weren’t unheard of before COVID-19, they have certainly become the number one method of conducting pre-employment conversations. It may not seem like a huge change but communicating via video is another ball game entirely. A huge amount of communication is lost over video when compared to connecting face-to-face. Even though you have the freedom to sit at your kitchen table or on your living room couch, you still need to prepare for the conversation and maintain a professional representation. Follow instructions, test your technology beforehand, dress as if you were going into the workplace, be aware of your body language, and think about what will be seen behind you on camera. Do whatever you can to minimize distractions and interruptions and look at the camera instead of the computer screen. Keep in mind that you’re talking to real people on the other end of the computer, so be sure to plan your responses and practice your key talking points, just as you would if you were heading into an office.
  3. Make sure your job search documents are strategically aligned to your target job. Despite so much change in the world, your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and any other job search documents are still the fundamental tools of introduction during a job search, and competition is fierce, so you need to stand out. If you aren’t having any luck starting conversations, consider hiring a professional executive resume writer to boost the impact of your initial impression.

Can a professional writer help?

Click here to set up a 15-minute introductory call and find out how we can create a powerful executive resume, cover letter, bio or LinkedIn profile for you. I offer several executive resume writing services that also include coaching, as well as resume distribution, and more. Let me help you create a strategy that works for you.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member aiming to elevate your career and maximize your compensation, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.