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Do you have any advice for CEO's? 


I'm an ex-CEO and CIO who has worked in many different environments and product areas, so I have diversified experience. I've been using headhunters, who have generated about 20 possibilities and six interviews. As you've indicated before, this is a fairly passive approach because I haven't targeted a company or tried to get an interview directly. Frankly, I'm not sure who to contact because of the high-level position I'm looking for. I can't exactly call the CEO and tell him I want his job!

Why are manhole covers round?

There are tons of books offering "top answers to top interview questions
." I've always contended that a job candidate should just slide one of those babies across the desk to the interviewer. "Here are the questions. Here are the answers. Who needs an interview?"

We all get our fill of the top 10 stupid interview questions in job interviews. Long-time Ask The Headhunter reader Steve Amoia captures the collective angst -- and delivers a sound thrashing to lazy interviewers with his Answers to Interview Questions. Read 'em and weep yourself silly. (Thanks for saving us all a few bucks on those Q&A books, Steve. When your answers aren't just painfully funny, they're painfully honest!)

-- Nick   

Should I send letters or call the nominating committee of the board? Also, if I want to let the venture capital community know I'm available, should I send out letters to those who specialize in the fields I'd be interested in, or do they solely use headhunters? Do you have any special advice for someone in my category, where the universe of open positions is relatively small and specialized? Thanks for your thoughts!

Nick's Reply
The best way to get to the people at the very top (the board, for example) is to identify the professionals who service the board. That is, lawyers, venture capitalists, bankers, CPA's and so on. Of course, this means you must pick some target companies to start with -- and that's critical. This is one way to get introduced to board members, and that's how you'll develop the kind of insider contacts that will ultimately put you on the roster.

As you've pointed out, such positions aren't very common. That's why the long-term investment I'm suggesting pays off best. The other benefit of getting to know both the peripheral people and the board members is that they all have insider access to many companies, and that's what you want. You likely don't know the company that may hire you a year from now. But these other good folks probably do.

Headhunters will indeed be used to fill many of the positions you're interested in. But headhunters are often directed by their clients to chase down candidates who are already of interest to management. That is, management knows who it wants, but prefers to have a headhunter make the contact. If you establish yourself with board-level executives now, you'll be on their radar screen next year, and the headhunters will be becoming to you. Even if this route doesn't pay off directly for you, who do you think headhunters call when they're seeking candidates for an assignment? They call old clients and top-level managers they know.

Avoid letters to people you don't know; use the contacts you've developed to get introduced. A personal call works best -- it's immediate and it's compelling. It also reveals you as a person of action. A letter shows respect and that you're cultured, but it's also the slowest form of communication nowadays. Some people I've coached have landed interviews and job offers by using e-mail to contact a CEO or a chairman. That might seem brash, but if you've got something valuable to say to the chairman, a brief e-mail can do wonders.

One very good way to meet venture capitalists is to attend local venture breakfasts. The entrepreneurs are there for funding, and the professionals who service them are there, too: the lawyers, bankers and CPA's I mentioned earlier. And those are all people you need to meet. They are sources of information and introductions.

Once you get in the door, I think you'll find the "stand and deliver" techniques we discuss here on Ask The Headhunter to be very helpful. But first you need to develop the sources who will get you in the door.

Nick Corcodilos
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