High-End Execs Take a Beating Too

High End Execs If you think the job market is tough for someone on your level, you should try being an unemployed executive. Over the past several years, the economy pushed 2.5 million executives out of the workforce, and not that many have been able to return.

Why do C-level executives have it so rough? "Today's employers are hiring, but they are not hiring 'Chiefs of Generally Everything' or executives who 'think it would be fun or the next great challenge,' or people with 'transferable skills,'" says author Colleen Aylward, president of executive search firm Devon James Associates. "Employers are hiring niche authorities, plug-and-play specialists -- those who have fixed the same problem many times in different ways."

Well, that certainly takes the wind out of a lot of suit sails. You know that guy who always runs around in designer clothes and claims to be a vice president of something, but you never quite understand what he does? Right now, he's probably doing nothing, and his chances are slim of doing anything productive in the near future -- unless he (or she) is willing to swallow some pride and adapt.

"The technology and strategy of executive search has changed so much in the last three years," she says "that these execs couldn't possibly have kept up if they were seriously heads-down working at their jobs."

In other words, if they were used to being approached and poached by headhunters in the past, they're going to have to adapt like the rest of us, and the kind of advice Aylward gives in her book, From Bedlam to Boardroom, applies to us all. "Times have changed," she says. "Executives can no longer expect to be tapped by a high-end search firm for their next job. It is their responsibility now and for their remaining career to craft and manage their online presence -- correctly positioning themselves to be found, validated and interviewed by employers."

The good old boys club is failing them as well, which is a relief to some of us who don't have access to it. "Relying on the buddy network is a bad idea," says Aylward, "as is the one-page-fits-all resume document. Additionally, full disclosure is a new and unsettling concept for executive job seekers."

At least we're all in this same, jobless boat together. It's rather comforting to know that a six-figure salary doesn't immunize you from unemployment, or intelligent, specialized hustle when it comes to the job search.

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