The 36-week job hunt

In the current economy, being out of a job for an extended period no longer carries the stigma it once did for top managers, according to a new survey. Executives polled felt that, on average, a senior manager could be out of work nine months before his or her career prospects were adversely affected.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on telephone interviews with 100 senior executives across Canada. Executives were asked, “How long, in months, can a top manager remain unemployed before it hurts his or her career?” The mean response was nine months.

“In today's turbulent economy, most hiring managers understand that many exceptional candidates are currently unemployed,” says David King, executive vice president of Robert Half Management Resources. “With a larger talent pool available, companies have the opportunity to hire experienced workers who were previously unobtainable.”

King notes that despite pockets of opportunity, the job market remains challenging, and extended searches aren't unusual. “Companies need new hires who will hit the ground running and make immediate contributions to the firm. Professionals can minimize the effects of their employment gap by pursuing project work, volunteering and taking classes to sharpen their skills and remain competitive.”

These five additional tips also benefit the senior-level job-seeker:

1.  Be flexible. You may not find a job that is an exact match with the one you held before. Explore ways to apply your expertise in new areas and highlight your transferable skills.

2.  Network effectively. Make sure your network includes people at varying experience levels as well as those outside your industry. Use social networking websites such as LinkedIn to extend your reach.

3.  Know the company. The more you can uncover about a business’ strengths and weaknesses as well as its corporate culture, the better you can tailor your application materials to the firm’s exact needs.

4.  Consider relocating. Be open to opportunities in other cities or provinces, particularly if your skills are highly specialized or few job openings exist locally.

5.  Stay positive. Finding a management position can take longer simply because there are fewer positions available at any given time. Try not to become discouraged or it will undermine your confidence.  

Robert Half Management Resources is a premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals to supplement companies’ project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 150 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at