Advice: How do I tap into unadvertised job vacancies for senior positions?

Raise your profile to be in the running for senior posts, advises InterExec's Kit Scott-Brown

Q. How do I tap into unadvertised job vacancies for senior positions?

A. Seeking a new job at a senior level is often a catch-22 situation. On the one hand, your seniority and experience make you highly employable; on the other, no company wants to publicize that it is floundering without a senior IR director, so the positions go unadvertised.

We have conducted research into the executive job market, which revealed that almost all positions up to £125,000 ($199,000) a year are advertised and 50 percent of vacancies paying £125,000-£150,000 are advertised. But just 5 percent of positions paying more than £150,000 are advertised, and are therefore in the control of around 4,000 executive recruiters in the UK, and that a similar situation exists internationally.

This makes recruiters gatekeepers to executive positions so it is important to be on their radar. But each recruitment agency typically looks after only about 20 companies, so you may need to be on the books of several in order to ensure visibility.

The problem is that, contrary to popular belief, recruiters don’t want hundreds of candidates on their books because it typically takes two days to sign up a new candidate – interviewing, validating CVs, taking references, and so on – which is all profit-eroding.

You may well have had recruitment agencies courting you in the past in your domestic market, but due to the recession they are no more: in the UK almost a third of recruiters have left the industry in the past couple of years. You face a similar problem if you are looking to move country as it is unlikely you will be on the radar of a recruiter in your chosen destination.

It is vital, therefore, that you stand out from the crowd, and you may need to raise your profile: become a thought leader by writing in both domestic and international journals, and see whether you can break into public speaking and get involved with industry associations. Quite simply, give recruiters a reason to spend their time and money putting you on their books, and give them extra reasons to help them sell you to their clients.

Engage in some networking: recruiters often prioritize referred candidates. And keep in contact with former senior colleagues and your alumni network, which can also increase recruitment agency visibility. You may also want to consider employing your own agent, much like a sports or literary agent, to help you gain access to the recruitment community.

Kit Scott-Brown is CEO of recruitment firm InterExec.

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