How to Leverage Your Network in a Job Executive Search

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Apr 13, 2024
Landing a top-level job often hinges on who you know and who knows you. Here's a straightforward guide to leveraging your network in an executive job search:
A magnifying glass focusing on the word "Jobs" in a newspaper.

Landing a top-level job often hinges on who you know and who knows you. Here’s a straightforward guide to understand how to leverage your network in a job executive search:

  • Understand the Executive Job Market: Top jobs are rarely advertised and rely heavily on internal promotions and recommendations.
  • Build Your Network Strategically: Focus on connecting with influencers in your industry and nurturing relationships with people you already know.
  • Engage with Executive Search Firms: Establish good relationships with headhunters who specialize in your field.
  • Use Online Platforms for Networking: Make your LinkedIn profile stand out and actively participate in industry-related conversations.
  • Network Into an Executive Job: Directly reach out to hiring managers and ask for introductions and referrals from your network.
  • Nurture and Maintain Your Network: Adopt a generous mindset, set reminders to follow up, and focus on quality over quantity.

By following these steps, you can make your job search more effective and increase your chances of landing an executive position. Remember, it’s about making genuine connections and ensuring the right people are aware of your skills and career aspirations.

Building Your Network Strategically to Help you in a Job Executive Search

Identify Your Target Companies and Roles

When you’re on a Job Executive Search, it’s smart to have a plan about which companies you’d like to work for. Take some time to think about the companies you admire and the kind of job you want there. Look into what these jobs need – like what skills or experience you should have.

Use websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn to learn about:

  • What the company wants to achieve
  • What challenges they’re facing
  • Who are the big shots in the company
  • The skills and experience you need for the job

Knowing this stuff helps you talk about why you’re a good match for the job and the company when you’re networking.

Connect with Industry Influencers

After figuring out where you want to work and the role you want, find people who know a lot about your field and can introduce you to the right folks. These could be:

  • People you used to work with or for
  • People you went to school with
  • Members of groups related to your work
  • People you meet at conferences
  • Recruiters who specialize in big jobs

Try to talk to people who are in charge or know a lot about hiring. Offer to meet for coffee, ask them smart questions about what’s going on in your field, and see if there’s a way you can help them too.

Online, you can also get noticed by commenting on their posts or sharing interesting stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter. This shows you’re keeping up with your industry.

Nurture Dormant Connections

Don’t wait until you need a job to talk to people in your network. Keep in touch with old colleagues, bosses, and anyone else you’ve worked with before. It’s not good to lose contact.

Make plans to catch up over coffee or a quick online chat. Talk about what’s new with them and share useful tips or job openings. By keeping your network alive, you’ll have people ready to help when you’re looking for that next big opportunity.

Engaging with Job Executive Search Firms

Executive search firms, or headhunters, can really help you find top-level jobs that aren’t advertised anywhere else. But to make the most of these firms, you need to know how to work with them well.

Return Calls and Request Informational Interviews
  • Always get back to them when they reach out, even if you’re not looking for a job right now. Talking to them helps build a good relationship.
  • Ask for meetings to learn more about what they do, who they work for, and what jobs they’re trying to fill. Show you’re interested by asking smart questions.
  • Catching up over coffee every now and then can keep the connection strong, so they’ll think of you when a suitable job comes up.
Clearly Communicate Your Background and Goals
  • Prepare a short and clear description of what you’ve done in your career, what you’re good at, and what kind of job you’re looking for. This helps them understand how they can help you.
  • Talk about your big wins at work, using numbers if you can, like how much money you saved your company.
  • Be clear about the kind of job you want. This way, they’ll know to contact you when something right comes up.
Share Industry Insights and Contacts
  • If they’re looking for info or contacts in your industry, help them out. This shows you know your stuff and are willing to help.
  • If you know great people who might fit other jobs they’re working on, introduce them. Just make sure those people are actually a good fit.
  • Once they’re helping you with a job application, let them do their thing. Trusting them is important for a good working relationship.

In short, working with headhunters can open up great job opportunities, but it’s all about building a strong, helpful relationship with them over time. With the right approach, these recruiters can be a big help in your job search.

Using Online Platforms for Job Executive Search and Networking

Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

Your LinkedIn profile should clearly show your work experience and what you’re good at. Make sure to list all your past jobs and big achievements. Use words that employers might search for. In the intro, quickly explain why you’re valuable.

Follow people who are important in your field and support your connections by endorsing their skills. This shows you know your stuff.

Talk to People Online

When you see interesting posts, join the conversation by commenting or sharing them. This makes more people see your name and think of you as a leader in your field.

If you find someone working at a company you like, don’t hesitate to send them a message. Ask about their experience and see if they can introduce you to others who might help.

Show What You Know

Post your own thoughts and advice regularly. This could be about articles you’ve read, events you’ve attended, or your take on industry news.

React to posts from companies you’re interested in. This shows you’re paying attention to what they do. People in charge notice when you actively participate.

Starting conversations about topics you care about helps you stand out. It shows you’re passionate and knowledgeable, making recruiters think of you for top jobs.

In short, spending time on LinkedIn to share your knowledge and talk to people can really help. It makes you more visible and connects you to the right people for executive jobs. Make sure your profile is complete and shows off your skills and experience.

Networking Into a Job Executive Search

Identify and Contact Hiring Managers

When you’re eyeing a job at a specific company, take some time to figure out who the key people are – the ones who decide who gets hired. You can usually find their names on the company’s website or LinkedIn.

Once you’ve got their names, think about how to reach out to them. You could:

  • Send a friendly LinkedIn message explaining who you are and why you’re interested in the company
  • Drop them an email to introduce yourself and ask if they’d be up for a quick chat about the team and any job openings
  • See if you have any friends or contacts who can introduce you to them

Your goal is to make a good first impression by showing how well you’d fit with what the company needs.

Ask for Introductions and Referrals

Use your network to get in touch with hiring managers at the companies you’re interested in.

  • Find out if anyone you know has connections at the company and tell them you’re looking for new opportunities
  • Ask if they’d be okay with introducing you, mentioning your strengths
  • Offer to send them your updated resume or LinkedIn profile to pass along

Getting recommended by someone who already works there can make you stand out as a strong candidate.

Be sure to thank them for their help and offer to help them out in the future.

Be Helpful to Referring Employees

When someone from the company refers you, make sure to be helpful in return.

  • Ask them about their job, what they’re working towards, and what challenges they’re facing
  • Share any useful tips, resources, or contacts that could help them
  • Show you’re interested in the company’s success, not just your own job

This approach shows you’re a team player, which is exactly what hiring managers are looking for in executive roles. Remember to keep in touch to maintain a good relationship.

Nurturing and Maintaining Your Network

Adopt a Generous Mindset

Help others without waiting for them to help you first. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Introduce people in your network to each other if you think they can benefit from knowing one another.
  • Share helpful tips, industry news, or useful strategies you’ve learned with people you know.
  • When someone you know achieves something great, send them a message to congratulate them.

By helping others, you’ll be the first person they think of when an opportunity comes up.

Set Reminders to Follow Up

Don’t let people forget about you. Use reminders to keep in touch.

  • Remember important dates like birthdays and reach out to say congrats or offer support during big life events.
  • Set up times every month or every few months to catch up on work news or just chat.
  • Pay attention to news about companies your contacts work at and respond to them when something big happens.

Regular check-ins show you care about your connections.

Aim for Quality over Quantity

It’s better to have a few close, helpful contacts than lots of shallow connections.

  • Pick 3-5 people who have been really helpful and can be in the future, too.
  • These key contacts should help you move towards your career goals.
  • Make sure these relationships are a two-way street, where both of you help each other out.

Focusing on a few strong relationships is more effective than spreading yourself too thin.

Real-World Job Executive Search Networking Success Stories

Here are some true stories of how people used their networks to get great jobs:

Sarah Lands Dream Job Through Former Colleague Referral

Sarah was looking for a big step up in her career to become a VP of Operations at a tech company. She reached out to James, a friend who worked at the company she liked. They met for coffee, and Sarah asked him about the company and its plans.

When a VP job opened up, James remembered Sarah and told the hiring manager about her. Sarah showed how her skills were a perfect match for what the company needed. Thanks to James’ help and her own preparation, Sarah got the job quickly.

Andre Discovers Hidden CMO Job Through Industry Networking

Andre wanted to move up to a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role. He made it a point to meet people who worked in marketing and talked to recruiters.

At an event, a recruiter told him about a CMO job that wasn’t advertised yet. Andre made sure his resume and interview showed how he could help the company grow. Soon, he was talking to the CEO about the job and got it because he was proactive and understood what the company was looking for.

Alicia Gets Noticed Through Thought Leadership and Lands CHRO Role

Alicia was aiming to become a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). She started sharing her knowledge online, talking about HR trends and ideas. She also interacted with companies she was interested in on social media.

The head of HR at a company she liked saw her posts and reached out about a CHRO job. Alicia’s online activity had shown she was knowledgeable and a good fit for the role. This helped her get noticed and land the job.


Networking is super important when you are in a job executive search, but it’s not always easy. It’s about making good connections in your field over time. This way, you can find out about jobs that aren’t listed anywhere and have people who can vouch for you when you’re looking for work.

Here’s what you should remember:

  • Figure out which companies and jobs you’re interested in so you can explain why you’re a good match
  • Talk to people who are well-known in your industry and can introduce you to the right folks
  • Keep in touch with people you already know before you need their help
  • Get to know headhunters because they can tell you about jobs that aren’t advertised
  • Be active on LinkedIn to catch the eye of people hiring
  • Try to talk directly to the people making hiring decisions
  • Ask your contacts to introduce you to people at the companies you like
  • Always be ready to help others in your network
  • Set reminders to check in with your contacts so you don’t forget about them

The stories we shared prove that with hard work and some help from inside, you can find an executive job that suits you.

Start now by reaching out to three people who might be good to know. Share something interesting, suggest meeting up, or just drop a message to say hello. Rekindle old friendships and be ready to lend a hand when needed.

By keeping up with your networking, you’ll make it more likely that the right people will think of you when big opportunities come up. Be patient and focus on making real connections, not just looking out for yourself. With the right approach, your network can really help your career move up.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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