Back in the day, there used to be executive headhunters because it was difficult to find jobs. Then with the internet, there were executive job search that were only for jobs over 100k.

Today, if they are not confidential, executive jobs are posted on all of the same job search websites as other jobs. And yes, there are headhunters who only fill C level and exec roles.

Confidentiality is key. When you are an executive and apply online, you lose the ability to control the confidentiality of your job search.  With the epidemic of backdoor references, you have to count on people you’d never think would reveal that you confidentially applied to a job at their company – Recruiters, Hiring Managers – asking others at your very company if you are a decent human being.

Also, beware because if you are working with a headhunter, you need to know that many will do more backdoor reference checks than a corporate inhouse Recruiter. It’s not ok but it happens constantly.

I instruct my clients to be very careful about applying online. Attempt to reach out to the job posted to discuss first instead of just blindly applying and praying for the best. Better yet, if you have a contact at the company, it’s always best if you are an employee referral first. That’s the social proof they are already seeking so the chances of them going for yet another reference goes down before you ever talk to them.

Many executives are shocked at how difficult it is to get someone to just talk to them. To do an introductory exploratory call. That’s what made Recruiting so much fun and so productive. Short, fact finding calls around candidate toolkits that allowed a human Recruiter to better match a candidate to open jobs.

My All Time Favorite Executive Job Search Websites (Well as of today….and things change constantly in job search.)

  1. LinkedIn

Optimize your LinkedIn profile. It’s that basic. As an Executive, Your LinkedIn profile is lot of things. It’s your personal website for your career. It’s a platform to run a continuous job search without doing anything. It provides social proof that you are at the executive level if you have thoroughly configured your profile and all relevant fields. It’s a job board with new executive jobs posted daily.  It has job agents to notify you when new jobs are posted daily or weekly.  You can QuickApply using the resume you have aligned with your profile. And it’s a candidate database goldmine for Executive Recruiters.

One of the biggest issues I see with executives is not having a strategy on their LinkedIn account settings and privacy. For example, if you are at the VP or C level, it’s important to configure your account to not update your network and connections on changes to your profile. Why? When you are editing and updating your profile, and save it, you don’t want your network to receive notification every time you update and save. That’s essentially broadcasting that you are in a job search to everyone.

Second, you shouldn’t connect on LinkedIn to anyone you don’t know, aren’t on good terms, have no regard or respect etc….so many people even execs seem to not have a LinkedIn connection strategy. My philosophy is that your connections should only be people you know, trust and like – and vice versa. If the person doesn’t meet that criteria, they shouldn’t be a connection.

Even at the executive level, job seekers get ghosted by employers because a hiring manager or Recruiter obtains an unauthorized backdoor off the record reference from some people who never managed the candidate. So much damage is done by these highly unethical unauthorized references and it happens to candidates for top jobs. So clean up your connections.

Third, LinkedIn has millions of Recruiters mining the backend of the database of 600 million people using their product LinkedIn Recruiter. So ensure that you have populated all of the fields accurately including skills. That means update your skills section every quarter adding new software and skills. Even for executives.

  1. Glassdoor

I love Glassdoor’s job search functionality for job seekers. First, you can set up a job agent to notify you daily or weekly when new jobs are posted.  Second, you can configure it to not publicly display your resume – a huge benefit for executive level job seekers.  Your resume will only appear when you apply for a specific job posting.  Glassdoor provides a great mix of confidentiality and notifications.

  1. ZipRecruiter

Yup, that’s right. ZipRecruiter. Why? Because it’s got amazing AI functionality. Like it will notify you when the company views your resume. It will notify you if they haven’t even viewed it for weeks. Your resume doesn’t go into the resume black hole.  They have a guy named Phil. Who’s not really a person. He’s AI and he keeps track of how you are treated as a candidate and acts like he actually cares if your resume was viewed. More than you get from most companies.

ZipRecruiter allows you to set up job agents as well to notify you about new jobs and the accuracy is very high.

  1. StartWire

StartWire is amazing. It’s really one of the few job aggregators because it will aggregate across all job search sites including Indeed, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Company Careers sites, etc….Indeed does not do that. Also it will spellcheck your resume – huge issue for everyone including executives. If you think it’s a deal breaker to have a typo in your resume at the individual contributor level, imagine when you are a CIO. Typos happen. Try to set up your tools to help you help yourself.

  1. Lensa

Lensa is a newer site that says it scan 10M+ jobs daily. Not bad. It’s a very accurate aggregator and you really only get the jobs that match your criteria. It doesn’t put individual contributor jobs mixed in with VP and C level jobs. The accuracy is far higher than some of the older aggregators like Indeed. It also has a Work Style Assessment that generates a Soft Skills report to better match you to jobs and work environments.

So forget headhunters. Those days are over. If you are an executive, be your own headhunter and take control of your job search.