“How do job search strategies change with seniority?”


Author: Larry Medina (Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations) at ESSEC Asia-Pacific


This week, I will look at how the market is different depending on seniority and how your strategies need to change. 

MBAs and Executive MBAs graduates have anywhere from 3 years to 30-plus years of experience. Occasionally, an EMBA will ask why the school does not do on-campus recruitment activities for them. This is because there are differences in the job market for more senior candidates.  

Let’s look at it in three broad categories: Firstly, junior roles including entry-level position; second, mid-level roles; and third, executive-level which includes c-suite roles such as CEO, CFO, COO, Director and c-minus one roles that report to them. 

Junior roles 

The most traditional routes for finding a job are through on-campus recruitment activities or job boards for junior candidates. Job boards can come from conventional online sites or even platforms such as Telegram and WeChat. 

Networking can still be useful and is recommended. However, companies hire en-masse and filter bulk applications. The critical assets in a job search are still your résumé, cover letter, elevator pitch, and interview skills.  

Mid-career roles 

For mid-career, the landscape starts to shift. Please remember that there are fewer roles if your next move is into a supervisory or managerial seat.  

At this point, word-of-mouth, referrals, and networking increase in importance as you move up the organization hierarchy.  

Job boards are still prevalent, but most companies do put significant weight on staff referrals. 

At this level, executive search or headhunters come into play to fill demanding roles. I will discuss how to engage with executive search in a future tip.  

Senior-level roles

For senior-level roles, the landscape shifts even more. For example, if someone reporting to the COO resigns, does the COO go to campus to recruit or call the three to five people that she has worked with previously, met at conferences, or former-school mates that she knows can do the job already?  

The answer is obvious; she calls people that she knows. If the position is harder to fill because of specific requirements, the next step is to engage executive search to find the right candidates.  

If you are targeting senior roles, please remember that there are fewer roles, and many times these roles are filled internally; so, patience and planning are important. 

The recommendation is to focus on networking and building relationships with executive search.  However, remember that executive search is of limited use when trying to switch careers.  

Companies do not pay headhunters to find the non-conventional candidates — square peg for a square hole.


To recap, it is important to understand how the job market operates depending on your level of experience and the position within the hierarchy you are targeting.  Using a poor strategy or having the wrong expectations will be frustrating.  

To all my dear followers, I will be taking a two-week hiatus for the Lunar New Year.  I wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous Year of the Ox! 

 Larry Medina is the Head of Career Services, Alumni & Corporate Relations at ESSEC Asia-Pacific Business School. For more career tips, follow #careertipswithlarry.  Read previous tips from this series.

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