The job search mistakes executive coaches want you to avoid

Despite having years of experience, you may be making some very obvious job search mistakes that executive coaches can spot immediately.

The job search mistakes executive coaches want you to avoid

You’ve been working for years. You’ve got tons of experience and you’re good at what you do. But that doesn’t mean you’re good at finding a new job.

In fact, you may be worse at it than someone straight out of college, because it may have been years since you’ve had to peruse the want ads (and if you’re still calling them “want ads” you should definitely keep reading).

Executive coaches—career gurus who help senior executives manage their careers—have insight into where you might be going astray. We asked our experts for the top job search missteps they frequently see experienced workers making.

You’re networking all wrong

Today, especially for more senior level candidates, it’s not just about the CV but also about making a connection with someone and demonstrating your value to your industry. How to do that, you ask?

Participate in a panel discussion thrown by your alumni or industry association. Or even better: Organize a panel discussion yourself.

“It gives you an opportunity to talk to people at higher levels than you, and they’ll take your call because you’re doing something constructive,” says Joshua Spodek, an adjunct professor of leadership and entrepreneurship at NYU and author of Leadership Step by Step: Become the Person Others Follow.

Your professional online profile isn’t up to date

“You want to update your profile any time you start a new job—not just when you need one—and you want to highlight in your profile not only what you’ve done but also what you’d love to be doing more of,” says Maggie Mistal, a career consultant and executive coach in New York City.

“For example, if you want more leadership responsibility, highlight where you’ve lead successfully, and make sure ‘leadership’ is listed in your skills,” Mistal recommends. And remember to keep your resume up-to-date. Recruiters will notice you online if your profile and skills are current.

You should also be using social media to stay current on trends, thought leaders, and events in your industry. Follow influencers online, share interesting articles and blog posts with your followers on social media, and make sure you're using a recent picture in your profile. A Twitter egg is an instant red flag that you're not staying up to date online. 

You assume the recruiter is your advocate

A headhunter or executive recruiter may have multiple candidates for a position—so they’re not necessarily focused on making sure that you land the job.

“You need to treat them just as you would any person you’re interacting with as the potential employer,” Mistal says.

“Treat every conversation with them as you would with an interviewer. You’ve got to sell the executive recruiter on your merits and you need to focus on building that relationship, too.”

You’re not asking the right questions

At this stage in your career, when an interviewer asks you if you have any questions for her, don’t attempt the usual patter.

“A lot of people use that time to show off what they’ve learned about the company,” Spodek says. “But now’s the time to ask, ‘Why is this position vacant? Do you like working here?’ People right out of school never ask questions like that because they’re afraid to.”

You don’t have good interview answers, either

This isn’t your first time at the job search rodeo. You’ve likely heard many of these interview questions before, so have some good responses at the ready.

“I was having a conversation with a senior executive and I asked him, ‘What would you share as being your strengths in leadership?’ and I was stunned he hadn’t thought of that,” says Cheryl Procter-Rogers, a PR strategist and executive coach in the Chicago area.

“Going into an interview setting, you must really be clear on your strengths and have stories that support and demonstrate them.”  Make sure you don’t get stumped. Practice your responses to our top 100 most-asked interview questions.

You didn’t consider whether the job matches you

“As people get older, they settle more into their own temperament, so there’s less of a desire and less of an ability to adapt to a culture that’s very different from your own personality,” says Jude Miller Burke, Ph.D., a business psychologist, executive coach, and author of The Adversity Advantage.

“You really need to learn as much as you can about the culture to see if it’s a good fit,” advises Burke. When you’re researching a company, pay attention to the corporate vibe as well as the job stats. Talk to people who work there or research it online at sites like

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