231 talks about the difficulties faced by candidates applying for a senior post, and offers advice on how to overcome them.

If you look into the near future and find yourself searching for a new job, how do you see yourself going about it? How do you prepare for a fast-paced job market that is constantly changing? And how do you make sure you’re on top of your game, especially if you’re seeking a senior position?

Senior employees can find themselves in need of new positions either because they’re looking for a change, been laid off, or for other reasons that are out of their control. As senior employees might be doing the hiring and firing at their companies, they might very well know what they want from an employee. But are they prepared for the tables to be turned? Are they ready to be job seekers again?

Being a manger, it is often hard to find a suitable new position that is close to the one you already have or had. There are a lot of elements that go into being a manager, whether it’s your team, senior management, hiring and firing discretion, budgeting, etc. An attractive job description, a cool title, and a generous compensation package are not always sufficient for senior employees.

Through its extensive experience in the talent acquisition field, has compiled some of the challenges that most senior employees face when changing jobs, as well as the experts’ advice on how to overcome them.

Your ego and other people’s perception

Challenges: You might feel like you’ve lost your self-esteem and identity. You may also think that your situation is an embarrassment and that your image is now tarnished. It is hard to go from taking big decisions and having major control to becoming a job seeker trying to impress and please.

How to overcome them: Keep your everyday day activities going – family life, fitness, hobbies, etc. It is important to recognise your worth outside your job. Now, it is also vital to be open to learning new things and taking small risks and, most importantly, learn the power of taking baby steps by doing things right over and over again. Don’t forget to ask for support when you need it.

Your age and experience

Challenges: You may feel that employers perceiving you as being too old or “washed-up”. You may fear that you won’t get hired or won’t last for a long time because the company is not willing to invest in you by using terminology that you’re familiar with, e.g., “you’re overqualified. You’ve been an employer before and you know that a cultural mismatch can be disastrous, so you worry that you’re now the one not fitting in.

How to overcome them: Take the attention of your employer towards your exceptional qualifications, proven results, industry contacts and experience – not age. In addition, know the culture of the company (if no one there is over 35, don’t try to get hired at 64). Maintain and demonstrate your health, vitality, energy and enthusiasm, and avoid “the R word” (retirement) in conversations. Last but not least, be tech-savvy, up-to-date, and well-informed about your industry and digital tools that employers and companies use.

More competition at the top

Challenge: High-level job openings often get a lot of exposure within your industry. The more desirable the position, the more people are fighting for it.

How to overcome it: Research a company’s culture and weaknesses, understand both, and sell yourself as the person who will turn weaknesses into strengths. When meeting with the decision makers, you must demonstrate your ability to produce tangible business results by sharing your success stories.

Senior positions are filled internally

Challenges: Staff members have been working day and night for years at the company and have “paid their dues”. They are already in line to get the top jobs, especially if a big company has clear succession planning. Some companies might not want to take the risk of bringing an outsider into such an important position, so they may favour internal candidates.

How to overcome them: Explain how being from outside can be a strength; you can diversify the culture and bring a new perspective. But you must focus your search on companies that have a good track record of bringing in outside management personnel successfully. Another way to target your search is by approaching troubled companies that might need your fresh ideas.

Finding the right contacts

Challenges: When it comes to hiring seniors, human resources is of little to no help in this regard, so the barrier of entry might be much higher. Therefore it is only appropriate to speak and reach out to C-level executives (CEO, COO. CFO, CMO, CTO…etc.), who may feel threatened or look at you as their competition.

How to overcome them: When you manage getting in touch with senior managers, talk to them about ways you can help them reach their business goals. If there isn’t a vacancy at this level, new ones can be created for top talent by people at that level. It is also prudent to join and engage with executive networking programmes, boards of directors, and venture capital groups. These relationships can be your leverage with search firms and other professional contacts. Most importantly, focus on the solutions you will be bringing and the added value you offer.

Maintaining a high salary

Challenges: In an unstable economy, you may find it difficult to ask for a huge salary. Sometimes, companies look at the big number position and get distracted by it so much that they might see no value in hiring you. In addition, hiring someone at a high level with a high salary often requires lots of approvals from the board of directors, so the process can take a while and is not always successful.

How to overcome them: Be sure you talk to the right people since the ultimate decision makers are your go-to people. And when you do talk to them, focus on tangible results that can be measured in financial terms. That way you can demonstrate why your high salary is “worth it”. When a conversation develops into a salary negotiation, be familiar with the market average and obtain information on salaries paid for people in the position you’re seeking to fill. Moreover, try to negotiate other financial arrangements such as an equity partnership, revenue-based bonus, or a contract with terms that can compensate for lower pay. You can always find a solution that satisfies both parties. If you fail to do so, then that job is not for you.

Bonus tip: Sometimes, one’s lifestyle can be intimidating, so downplay your designer clothes and watch, and try to show hiring managers that money doesn’t define you.

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