Executive Career Advice

Career Tips to Accelerate Your Career Success

We reveal how long your executive job search could take

Executive career advice

To inform our approach around executive career advice, we commissioned PFA Research to undertake independent research into the senior level job market, to gain a clear insight into how today’s market works from a candidate and recruiter’s perspective and gauge the awareness and understanding of the benefits of career development support.

Over 100 candidates looking for senior executive positions were interviewed, to understand the opportunities and challenges they faced, and they also talked in-depth to 20 recruitment agencies and executive headhunters to gain valuable views from those who are responsible for recruiting for senior level positions.

This report extract illustrates some of the key findings from this research, compares candidate and recruiter perspectives on the job market, and explains what this means for you as a senior executive job seeker. We’ll share some surprising statistics; explore obstacles commonly cited by senior executives; consider the expectations amongst recruiters; provide insight into how you can become a well-prepared candidate and what it takes to achieve career success.

What did the research reveal?…


The research highlighted that many candidates seeking new senior roles have unrealistic expectations of finding a new role quickly and they are unprepared for commonly experienced obstacles.

  • 51% of candidates had been looking for their new role for four months or longer, with 1 in 10 still looking after 12months;
  • For 42%, they had been looking for longer than expected
  • Nevertheless, candidates remain largely confident and many feel they can be choosy with opportunities that come their way.
  • 67% thought they would find a new role within another three months
  • A third of candidates had been offered a position but had elected not to accept it, because:
  • The role was not what they had thought it was (35%)
  • The role just didn’t feel right (35%)
  • The salary/package was not sufficient (26%)
  • They were not willing to travel/relocate (15%)

When it comes to salary/package, recruiters have seen candidates adjusting their expectations downwards, the longer they are looking for a position:

Recruiter Quote: “If they are out of work now [e.g. November] and have found work by January, all is good. If they are still out of work by mid-January, you will see how it changes what they expect in a company or package. Everything depends on how long they have been looking for.”


The whole process of finding your next role can take longer than you may think at the start, so we suggest not waiting – start to build your brand, engage with recruiters, companies, and peer networks as soon as your employment status changes and, importantly, continue to nurture and grow your network whilst in a role too.

Ensure your expectations are realistic and think twice before you turn down that job offer because the salary isn’t sufficient – your actions might just result in many more months of job searching only to settle for a role with a lesser salary/package six months down the line. Remember, it is often necessary to relocate to progress. It’s important to weigh this up.

This is also where executive career coaching comes into its own – a small investment at the start will help you find a new role more quickly and at a reasonable salary level before your knowledge starts to wain and you become less marketable the longer you’ve been out of the job scene.


Candidates cite significant obstacles faced in securing a new position, most commonly:

  • Communicating what they have to offer
  • Lack of an existing network or their ability to network successfully
  • Perceived lack of suitable vacancies
  • Roles being too specific in their requirements
  • Being out of touch through long unemployment or out of their home country for too long
  • A sense of age discrimination
  • Being over qualified or experienced
  • Issues working successfully with recruitment agencies

Recruiter Quote: “Clients want people from within the same sector and are not at all interested in those who haven’t worked in that sector before.”

However, there are solutions to these problems (in short, becoming a well-prepared candidate!). If you’d like to find out more to get a full copy of the report with our compliments.

We’re sure this will help you in your executive job search.

If you’d like to have a chat about your own situation, you can book a confidential exploratory call.

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