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  • Writer's pictureLeeanne Carson-Hughes

The Savvy Leader #4 How to land your next senior role

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

How to land your next senior leadership role

Landing your next role has got a lot more difficult!

Simply applying for an advertised job when you are looking to step up to a new senior role is unlikely to yield you the results you hope for. In many cases you may not get an interview and yet you know you have all the skills, experience and enthusiasm needed for that role.

Or perhaps you make it to the shortlist but don’t win the role.

The traditional path

When looking for a new senior leadership role, most people will focus on tiding up their CV, write a clever cover letter, apply for advertised roles or maybe contact a few recruiters. Job done!

Occasionally applying for an advertised role is enough, but usually it is because you have done a bunch of other stuff outlined below.

Sorry to say, but if all you do is the CV and application thing you will rarely land your next big role.


There is such a high need to get senior recruitments right, because the impact to all parties when something goes wrong, is high as is the impact when it goes well.

Recruiting senior roles has evolved and become very sophisticated and rightly so. It now takes tactical preparation. And naturally it is a hugely competitive space at the top.

You will need to up your game!

The new path to successfully landing your next role

I checked out a bunch of research and pulled from my 20 years as an Executive HR leader and here is a summary of my findings: You will need:

· To have a visible and positive profile/reputation.

· To stand out or even stand up for something and you don’t want to be vanilla.

· To be well connected to relevant people.

· To have a two-way relationship with key recruiters in your industry / city.

· To have something interesting to offer – perhaps you have led a complex project or implemented a large new system.

· To show you can add value with your strategic thinking and problem solving capability and be current in the likes of technology, data, social and environmental initiatives.

To get your next big role you need to play the long game and you need to start preparing as early as possible.

Here are four action areas to consider that will help you land your next big role

1. Connection + Attention Whether you like it or not you need to get connected and LinkedIn is an effective way to do this. The platform has changed significantly over the past year and you need to be active on it and have a high quality profile.

Top recruiters will either be looking for candidates on there for their search assignments or be looking you up if you apply.

Ideally you will have at least 500 connections. This means there is a chance that you are connected to someone who knows someone and that gives hiring managers a degree of comfort early in the process.

To get further attention, I also suggest you get commenting or contributing regularly and make the most of all the features available to you (like the” I am open to new opportunities” button).

You can also be a speaker at an event or conference and continue with traditional networking events.

Also consider what roles you can play in your Industry bodies. A chair role or being on an Industry Board is a great way to raise your profile, get attention and more connections.

It is likely that your next role may involve someone in your wider network in some way, so get connecting!

2. Be tactical about the organisations and roles you apply for It is important to be tactical about what the organisation and role may do for your long-term career. Here are some ways to think about your different options:

Soft landing: Looking for a role that is a sidestep but is easier to land and is often helpful when shifting industries.

Sandbox: Think of these organisations as opportunities to build skills and expertise in a space that is a little more forgiving when you try new things. They may not be as attractive to other applicants but serve a good purpose for you.

Stepping-stone: You may have the right expertise and the role is not everything you want but it does gets you a step closer. They can be helpful roles for 2-3 years and can look really good on your CV.

Dream: Perfect company and role. But it is also likely that this is the case for many other applicants. You will need to have a fully developed set of expertise (that you can gain from the other 3 options above) and a wide range of contacts to land these roles. 3. Key recruiters are a valuable two-way relationship You can engage key recruiters in your quest for a new role but you also need to contribute to this relationship. Go to or speak at their events, share market intel, introduce candidates and do reference checks when asked.

While your application and CV is valuable to a recruiter – a deeper long-term relationship is more so for both parties. 4. Build your strategic thinking muscle and business fundamental expertise Forbes reported that most candidates are going to enter the recruitment process with a goal to show the interviewers what they know and how that knowledge will help them succeed in the job.

But you need to enter the recruitment process and interview with a goal to show the interviewers how you think as well.

How are you keeping up to date with technology, data, social initiatives, environmental changes and business fundamentals and how will you bring this value to the role you are applying for.

An article in the HBR (The New Path to C Suite) states “Once people reach the C-suite, technical and functional expertise matters less than leadership skills and a strong grasp of business fundamentals.”

So, refining your leadership style and building business fundamental expertise in your current roles will also make you a more attractive candidate. Final thoughts Landing your next senior leader role is no longer a case of simply tarting up your CV and applying.

It requires you to play a long game, take tactical planful steps and to constantly build new thinking, expertise and connections.

But…all this “work” also makes you a better leader today. It will build your strategic thinking muscle and improve your overall expertise and performance.

This is what will make you a better candidate for the next big role.

There is a better way to lead and to grow a successful career.

Go for it.

Whenever you are ready these are the ways I help ambitious senior leaders gain expertise and build successful careers and build better organisations.

  • Participate in one of my coaching programmes.

  • Subscribe to The Savvy Leader newsletter and get actionable tips every month.

  • Check out the free resources and previous newsletters on my website.

  • Follow me on LinkedIn where I share insights regularly.

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