Learn what a CEO/COO candidate does to make himself stand out from the masses in this tough job market.

Hard work, being extraordinarily strategic, and impressing the potential boss even before the dance begins has allowed this job seeker to have 5 interviews in his first month on the market.

In addition to my continuing blogs on “Networking Nancy”, I would like to introduce “CEO Charlie” and his background. Again, due to the very real nature of the details in these blogs, I will refrain from using their real names as well as generalizing some information that may reveal their identity. However, these executives have willingly participated in this series in hopes that they may get your ideas, feedback, and support in their job search. They also hope that their story may help and encourage anyone that may be going through something similar.

In Transition: 5 weeks
Last Job: COO for a $125MM technology firm
Last Base Salary: Base of $250K
# of Interviews: 5 interviews with 4 discrete opportunities (1 with a 2nd round already)
  • CEO of a technology company with revenues between $30MM and $200MM
  • President / GM of a strategically important division of a larger firm
Weekly Activities:
Job Search Plan:
  • 25 letters per week; researches companies and then writes a custom letter with a bound copy of his special report.
  • 2 networking meetings face-to-face per week, typically with people that are employed; coffees with fellow execs in transition during course of the week.
  • Gets out of the house everyday for a meeting.
  • Will either set up his own transition accountability group or join the McDermott & Bull Executive Network transition groups.
  • Reads 3 newspapers per day – The LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post – 6 industry newsletters, and 2 clipping services.
  • Spends 1 hour every morning on LinkedIn participating in group discussions.

CEO Charlie builds custom resumes for a particular job that speaks to the needs of the company vis-a-vis his experience. Every resume is customized to a specific opportunity, and therefore no generic resumes or cover letters are ever sent. Shouldn’t everyone be doing this?

Special Reports: Charlie learned the concept from John Hall and it’s been a huge tool for him. He recently got a meeting with an industry leader that he could never meet with before sending him a special report and getting a meeting at the industry conference. This CEO has said he’s never responded to the hundreds of resumes he has received. He also did a document for the CEO that shows his qualifications for each company and analysis of their future strategic imperatives. These two concepts have gotten him two jobs in the past and he is convinced that it will help him land his future job.

What would you tell Charlie? Charlie feels he might be threatening CEOs as possibly a stronger candidate for their jobs, even though in many cases, he’s seeking to support them and be a strong #2, which everyone could use in this economy, right? Question: If you were Charlie, how would you handle this dilemma? Help him out by sharing your perspective below.

  • Should Charlie target Board members in the event the Board is not happy with the CEO’s performance and might be contemplating a change, or continue to market himself as a great strategic partner/problem solver to the CEO?
  • If he was to target Board members, how does Charlie reach Board members?
  • How can he impress a CEO without threatening him/her that he might be better for their job?

Follow my blog on CEO Charlie’s travels through the job search maze and please share your thoughts. In my next blog, I will share about Charlie’s concerns about being too focused on one industry that’s still in decline, or becoming unfocused and not effectively building his brand. Stay tuned.