How C-Level Managers Are Looking for Jobs

The global pandemic has thrown even top leaders and managers into the job market, often through no fault of their own. How to regroup and land a new position requires a certain savviness. Monika Ciesielska, president of IMSA Search Global Partners, discusses how to use your network, recommendations, and LinkedIn to your best advantage.

June 8, 2020 – COVID-19 took everyone by surprise, wreaking havoc not only in terms of health, but also in terms of work. Only a few months back, business leaders were making strategic decisions about their company’s development and outlined competencies to be filled in recruitment processes. Today, in many industries, strategic decisions are still being made, but they often concern completely different areas.

“Both my colleagues and myself are currently receiving far more calls from candidates than from clients,” said Monika Ciesielska, president of IMSA Search Global Partners, in a new report. “Representatives of both groups are often the same people: CEOs and HR managers who have changed the role of the client to that of the candidate.”

“The crisis is a fact, although many industries are being affected differently,” she said. “The effects of the crisis are company liquidations and cost-cutting, which regard not only specialized positions but also high-level ones.” How do or how should managers look for a job in this environment? Ms. Ciesielska has some thoughts.

Networking and Recommendations

“There is no stronger tool in the job search process, as well as in the process of finding candidates in the recruitment processes commissioned to headhunters, than market recommendations,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “An effective headhunter recruiting at higher levels relies primarily on a network of contacts built up over years, from which they gather recommendations of the strongest candidates in the market. For example, my network on LinkedIn is made up of 27,000 connections. Do I know all these people? Of course not, but I know those to whom I will be returning with professional offers, and these are representatives of management staff, as well as those whom I will ask for recommendations now or in the future.”

The IMSA report gave the example of a managing director who has lost their job but will not start their search by looking through job offers. Why? Because they won’t find anything this way. “These types of offers are in the hands of headhunters, and we don’t publish job offers online,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “The candidate will also not send their resume to the headhunters in first order, because they will fear, often rightly so, that they will be branded as a manager for whom “something didn’t work out.”


Monika Ciesielska is president at IMSA Search Global Partners, an international network of headhunters. She is also the founder and co-owner at Carpenter Consulting. For over 15 years, Ms. Ciesielska has recruited managers, executives and board members, mainly related to sales, online and offline marketing, IT, law, manufacturing, PR / communications and purchasing, while cooperating with companies representing each industry, international corporations and large Polish accounts.


It will therefore be important to use business networks. “However, before you make a few calls, you will need to answer a number of important questions about your expected job, the position you are interested in, your company culture, your industry and many others that will enable you to determine your career goal,” said Ms. Ciesielska. “In the next step, they will contact a group of selected managers, signaling their readiness to take on a new challenge, while gathering information about available job offers.”

The Networking Tree

“Many years ago, I participated in a training course during which I learned the term networking tree,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “The use of the networking tree is about reaching the decision-maker in a company that is of interest directly, using the people connected to it.”

Related: Companies Planning Big Comeback Post-Pandemic Crisis

Ms. Ciesielska said to imagine a situation in which the managing director is told that company XYZ is looking for a CEO, so far unofficially. There are two ways to reach the decision-makers:

1. Using the LinkedIn – and contacting the board members at the company’s headquarters, including the global HR director, to signal our readiness to take on the role.

2. Using the Networking Tree – checking out a personal network of contacts at XYZ. We may not know anyone at this company, but we might know someone who knows someone on the board of directors. Contacting the first person in the chain of connections will result in talking to the next person. The use of this contact may lead to others. This is how we become a candidate by recommendation.

Contact with a Group of C-Level Headhunters

“I’m going back to the topic of sending a message and resume to a group of headhunters,” said Ms. Ciesielska, noting an article in which one of her colleagues spoke about sending a resume to headhunters: “The worst thing a candidate for a higher position can do is to send their resume to headhunters.”


Leveraging Your Network and Discovering What Matters Most in Your Career
For many, these days of self-quarantine and work-from-home have allowed more time for self-reflection and consideration of how best to advance one’s career. Two of the pillars of getting to the place one wants to be professionally are networking and understanding what matters most to you in your work. RevelOne, a specialized marketing recruiting and strategy firm in Denver, CO, recently delved into these key areas in separate reports.’


“There is definitely some truth to this, because our first thought is – what went wrong,” she said. “However, it is quite stereotypical to assume in advance that a negative situation has happened. Negative, meaning the candidate’s fault. A lot could have happened: unethical behavior of the owners, the imposition of a strategy, the implementation of which would have been detrimental to the well-being of the team, loss of financing in the company. The headhunter’s task is to verify the reasons behind their need to change their job. Nevertheless, I agree with my colleague that we are the ones to ‘chase the rabbit,’ not the other way around. That’s why we more often get our hands on resumes of B-level candidates. CEO applications are rare.”

Related: Conducting Executive Searches During a Pandemic

“However, it is not harmful, and is even advisable, to be visible in the labor market,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “It is worth having headhunters in the network of contacts, who can have access to job offers we are interested in, and it is best to know them personally. C-level candidates take great care to build lasting business relationships with headhunters. As a result, they are always on the ball and do not leave the market despite their stable position in the organization. This model results in a client also becoming our candidate.”

Either You Are on LinkedIn or You Don’t Exist?

“Strong words that trigger a desire to immediately leave this network and certainly definitely do not encourage you to set up a profile,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “The fact is, there are no top executives on this portal. Is that a mistake? Not necessarily. The unexpected creation of a profile on LinkedIn by the CEO of a publicly listed company could cause an unjustified suspicion that they are opening up to the possibility of changing their job. Such an action could even lead to a decrease in the value of stocks on the stock exchange. This is one of the reasons why C-level recruitment processes must remain confidential.”

“I advise to use LinkedIn as a strong point in the job search process,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “A well-prepared profile on LinkedIn basically replaces a resume. It is worth developing it in a clear manner, emphasizing our skills and experience. A systematically built network of contacts will broaden our ‘reach,’ which is tantamount to the visibility of our profile in the process of searching for it before researchers. Let’s not forget about having headhunters in our contacts. Their network will then become our network.”

Be Ready. Always.

Depending on our professional position on the labor market, the power of the network, the market situation and many other aspects, we will find a job sooner or later. “However, let us remember that fewer managerial positions are available on the market than specialist ones,” said Ms. Ciesielska. “Fortunately, the labor market is never dead, even in a recession. Not every manager can handle a crisis situation and a competent successor will be sought. Some positions will be liquidated, but new ones will be created, requiring a different set of skills.”

“It is worth being prepared for different situations and not acting ad hoc,” Ms. Ciesielska said. “Therefore, always be ready for a change and be prepared so that you find yourself in a situation where finding a new job will only require two calls as quickly as possible.”

Related: 10 Tips for Networking with Executive Recruiters During COVID-19

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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