Mistakes That Will Keep You From Being Hired For Senior Positions

Mistakes That Will Keep You From Being Hired For Senior Positions

There are many reasons why a job search doesn’t result in the job you want.   Having successfully completed searches for Director and C-level positions, there are a few key differences between hiring at the senior levels and hiring in general. You will struggle to find the position you want if you are unaware of these distinctions or if you do not customize your efforts enough for executive roles.


You Put Too Much Emphasis on Your Resume to Get a Job

Few searches I was involved with began with a resume screening. People were referred to me or were sought out by me via “searching” and networking. Sm  ome came to me via LinkedIn. Too many job seekers place a higher priority on their resume than on improving their LinkedIn profile, which I believe is a mistake in general and an even bigger one as they become more senior. 


You Aren’t Finding Out About the Position Early Enough in the Search

Many focus on networking in addition to resume revisions which is fine if they right contacts. Are you reaching out to senior-level decision-makers and influencers in the recruiting process? This usually refers to C-level executives, Board members, or investors at the highest levels. 

Are your peers informed of opportunities and willing to share?   If they aren’t, you could end up spinning your wheels and having a lot of pointless conversations. re you overlooking former junior colleagues who may now be in entirely different positions and more senior than you remember them? Usually senior positions are promoted by word of mouth. If you apply for a position via a job opening, you’ll most likely be joining a short list of applicants who have already piqued the hiring team’s interest and swimming in an ocean of late arrivals.


You Are Not As Experienced As You Think You Are.

Let’s say your resume, LinkedIn profile, or a recommendation from a contact gets you noticed by a hiring manager or executive recruiter. You could still be passed over for interviews if you aren’t qualified for the role. Employers prefer tried-and-true products. Managing a smaller team will not be enough if you’re moving into a position where you’ll be in charge of a 100-person team. Candidates who have handled a budget previously are preferred if the role has P&L responsibility. Managing a project team or budget is as having direct reports or a P&L.


Your Background Does Not Fit the Job Reqs 

Employers often favor experiences of a similar nature, such as a competitor, similar-sized company (i.e., experience at a startup if the job is at a startup), and sector. This is also the case for individual contributor roles, and it is even more so for senior positions. The amount of expertise that fit varies depending on the role. Knowing a manager’s and a company’s preferences and complexities is another reason why your network can be so valuable for senior positions.


You Don’t Emphasize the Right Experience

You’ll have a lot of work and years under your belt by the time you’ve accumulated enough experience to be considered for senior positions. Your current position may have a lot of moving parts, and because it’s the most recent experience, it’s the most critical to be able to explain convincingly. Even if you do a lot of things, you must be able to explain what you do in a succinct manner. You must understand the projects, positions, and outcomes are most important to the prospective employer. This is not so easy that you can prepare the night before.


It may be difficult to identify which of these mistakes you are making, but identifying them is the first step. To get honest input on how you’re doing in your job search and what needs to improve, work with a coach, mentor or knowledgeable trusted adviser. It may be an issue with your marketing, networking, interviewing, or even how you choose the opportunities you pursue. Before you burn out and/ or exhaust all of your leads, identify the problem areas and solve them.



JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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