To find your next executive position, you need to pick a job search strategy that sounds like a wide receiver play, even if it’s not in any job search strategy “playbook” like “Welcome to the NFL … Here’s Your First Playbook.” No single strategy is right for everyone, but everyone needs to call a play that’s most likely to end in a completion … a good job.

Seven Job Search Strategy Options

Go Deep

Emphasize your extensive knowledge in a specific category and specific function.


  • One category.
  • One specific function.
  • One dozen companies to start and expand in stages.
  • Two dozen top executives, hiring managers and key influencers in the targeted category and expand in stages.

If you pick going deep, it is likely that you’ve worked many years in a specific category, maybe well-known, and have already established valuable contacts.


  • One rationale.
  • One set of harmonized tools, including your “hook”, story, LinkedIn, resume, bio, direct mail letter, and voicemail.
  • A game plan to be even better known and desired by your target category.

Of course, you can go deep in only the category or the specific function, but this strategy doesn’t have as much power.

Go Wide

You have a wide range of desirable skills developed working in several categories and related functions.

You’re probably selling:

  • Extensive knowledge developed from multiple categories that gives you superior innovation and decision-making capabilities compared with what could be developed from a career in only one category.
  • Management skills more than functional expertise that you likely would have developed more in a narrower career.

This approach can be difficult because you don’t have a tight focus for networking or positioning. Be careful not to sell yourself as being capable of doing too much (functionally) for too many (categories).


You can apply your functional expertise across many categories. This strategy works best for executives who obviously are very talented in a specific function that is transferable to other categories that have a perceived need for your skills.

Everything you do needs to sell your exceptional expertise and show how the skills are transferable and beneficial to the categories you are approaching. The message is strongest when the connection is most obvious.

One trick is to find categories which believe they’re behind in your area of expertise.


Start in a predetermined direction, reevaluate, and come back closer to your last job … perhaps even staying in your current job if that’s an option.

Sometimes looking around can convince you that staying where you are is the best decision, at least for now.

Stop & Go

This may be less of a strategy than a half time adjustment. The first strategy doesn’t always work, and you may need to change it.

It is important to have written goals and a timetable so you can measure your progress and know when to make strategic as well as tactical changes.

Hail Mary

This is a non-strategic play. Sometimes there’s an opportunity with the potential to score. Go for it.

Screen Pass

This is also more a tactic than a strategy but still valuable. If the football play is to pass the ball to a player with blockers in front, the job search equivalent is to line up quality networking and references in advance of the active job search to help pave your way to a new job.

If none of these “football plays” works for you, then use another sport you follow to guide your search.