Common Mistakes When Making an Executive Career Move


Common Mistakes When Making an Executive Career Move

For many senior players, formal job applications are a thing of the past, and reputation and relationships are more important than a standard CV. Naturally, as executives progress further in their careers, the opportunities available become more scarce, and although the talent pool narrows as well, this inevitably leads to a number of highly qualified and experienced people all vying for the same positions. Add to this the challenge of a rapidly changing job market, and it’s apparent that making a career move can be a challenging feat.

Before embarking down the path of seeking new career opportunities, be aware of these common mistakes many executives make so you can avoid them in your career search.

Not Nurturing a Visible Personal Brand

At the c-suite level, people have an extensive list of achievements and skills acquired throughout their career. However, the challenge can sometimes come in knowing how to differentiate themselves from competitors and demonstrate their value to the market.

Personal branding focuses on how someone wants to be known in their industry. For example, an executive may ask themselves whether they are an innovator, a disruptor or a safe set of hands? When companies approach them, is it to fix people problems or is it when the organisation is in financial distress? It’s important to avoid trying to be everything to everyone, and instead, select a niche and promote that as the core differentiator.

They can then tailor their CV and online presence to reflect and back up that brand. Continue to do this offline as well, ensuring that personal interactions such as networking, conference speeches and the job interviews consolidate that professional persona.

Failing to Maximise Your Online Presence

One of the biggest mistakes that many executives make is underestimating the power of digital media. As we mentioned above, a strong online professional presence is essential for projecting a personal brand that attracts new opportunities.

While most people know that LinkedIn is an essential networking tool, many forget that it also provides opportunities to post thought leadership articles about your areas of expertise. It’s important that executives are not just passive consumers of social media, but are also producing and contributing their own content. Writing and sharing opinion pieces about their industry positions them as trustworthy and credible whilst also showing the market that they are across the latest topics of interest. It can also be valuable to share success stories or case studies about recent projects or business developments.

Traditional marketing techniques such as contributing to journals and speaking at conferences can also be amplified through digital channels and can extend the reach of a senior professional’s online profile. Think about converting conference presentation slides into online training modules, and sharing articles written on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Focusing Too Much on Base Salary

Salary negotiation is a common step when securing a new career opportunity, and it’s important for executives to assess their worth in the current market, such as by using an online industry benchmarking tool or by speaking to colleagues. However, it’s also important to consider the overall package on offer and not focus on simply increasing the base salary figure, as many c-suite professionals may prematurely dismiss otherwise-promising opportunities because they do not meet their salary expectations.

When weighing their options, executives should identify the benefits and perks that are important to them, such as flexible working conditions, travel perks and termination provisions. They may also consider negotiating profit shares or equity in the company, especially if they are working with a start-up business, as well as bonus options linked to company performance. All of which can play a big part in your success and happiness in the role.

Not Engaging the Experts

Working with external specialists can help take the guesswork out of career management. Executives can benefit from engaging a professional resume writer to create a bespoke document that reflects their personal brand and sells their unique skills to employers. Likewise, a session with a career coach could be invaluable in determining attainable, long term goals.

OnTalent has Executive Coaching & Mentoring programs that are designed to help leaders and executives define their path for success. When you’re ready to make the leap, our experienced executive search and recruitment team can provide the guidance and support you need to secure your next c-suite role.


The path to finding a new executive position can be smoothly managed by avoiding these common executive job search mistakes. Spending some time upfront on your personal brand and online presence means you are already positioning yourself to the market and will increase your chances of being headhunted.

Contact our recruitment partners specialising in executive jobs and start the journey to obtaining your next senior role.

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