5 Tips for Executives Exploring a Job Change

With the onslaught of Covid, people have been re-prioritizing their lives, wanting to do something of value, in a positive, collaborative environment. As a result of that, we have seen an increased number of senior leadership approaching us over the past couple of years. They are seeking support in exploring other opportunities, rather than gearing up for retirement.

Navigating a career change, especially later in life, is a complex and challenging task. However, if done right, a new career route can actually be extremely rewarding.

Let’s talk about 4 key ways to streamline and simplify your career transition as an executive.

Conduct Extensive Research

When considering leaving a high-paying, long-term job to pursue your personal passions, it is important  to invest the time and energy into  prioritizing what you are genuinely looking for, and then fully researching your options. Choices may include an entirely different career path,  or perhaps starting a business you always wanted to establish.

There are some terrific job sites such as Indeed and Simply Hired that collect all the jobs posted on the internet into one place.  This makes it easy to get a bird’s eye view of all job opportunities, categorized by geographic areas, compensation, areas of interest, etc.

Franchises are another option for someone that wants to start their own business, with the additional support that franchises offer.

The key to success is to be crystal clear on your ultimate goal!

Be Realistic about Earning Requirements

Obviously, the difference between exploring altruistic or volunteer options versus a career is… earnings. It is imperative to be practical on what your monthly overhead is, and to not gamble on something that you cannot afford to lose.

It is counter-productive to make a change to achieve greater satisfaction in life, only to be riddled in anxiety when you are not making enough to meet current expenses.

Other than many C-level roles, where the industry is often irrelevant and executive skills are easily transferrable,  it is more often the case that leaving the industry where you have the bulk of your experience typically results in reduced earnings.

Consider Start-Ups

One option that should be seriously considered, if you are in the wonderful position of betting on your success, is to consider joining a start-up.

Start-ups typically offer ownership, stock options or other types of incentives based on performance, as opposed to higher base salaries. This can be an amazing opportunity for someone that has the ability to postpone immediate earnings for greater potential down the road.

Few things are as rewarding as helping build a company and seeing it succeed. Being open to opportunities within start-ups can open up a myriad of choices that will leverage your experience and track record, while essentially offering a lottery ticket to substantial earnings. And unlike regular lottery tickets, with start-ups, you essentially play a key role in determing if you win or not.

Don’t Overestimate Yourself!

As an experienced employee, who has years of experience under your belt, taking the I know it all approach can become a significant obstruction in your career change.

Do not overestimate yourself, your talent, and your capabilities.

An unrealistic and excessively optimistic view of one’s professional self reduces your ability to learn and develop.

Are you coachable? Are you open to learning new ways of doing things? These characteristics are of paramount importance when considering taking a leap into unknown territory.

Be honest with yourself. If there is room for improvement, make a point of building up those areas of deficit.

Focus on Long-Term Goals

It is not uncommon for executives to become dissatisfied and unchallenged by their jobs. Especially since Covid, people are re-evaluating where they invest their precious time; who they are working for and with; what they are achieving and what their legacy will be; and occasionally are determing that there is room for improvement.

Regardless of how you rank Faith, Family, and Health…Career is always going to be in the top 4 in terms of quality of life.

Life is simply too short to invest 1/3 of your time doing something that is not a positive aspect of your life. Not to mention the fact that after 25 years of recruiting,  I have yet to meet someone that excels in a role that they despise!

In order to end up in a better place than you currently are, the first step needs to be determining what you want to be doing and where you want to end up.

As recruiters, we always want to understand a candidate’s primary motivators prior to making a match.

Strategic career changes should include 3 primary components;

1 )  Career Path….Where a role will Position you 1, 3, &  5 years down the line


2. )  What your Quality of Life would look like, encompassing everything from who you are working for, who you are working with, travel commitments, commute times, work-from-home options, etc. 


3.) And finally, the 3rd component should be Compensation. Yes, it is certainly important! But money should never be the ONLY reason to contemplate making a change


Executives who want to explore other opportunities should be open to repackaging their experiences, building an expanded network, and striving to become more self-aware. All of these things are fundamentally important to gauge your strengths and weaknesses for the next phase, and to position yourself for success!

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants. You can reach Ann directly at 888-866-7276 or email her at .

Jaami Clement is an Executive Recruiter with ISC. You can reach Jaami directly at 888-866-6625 or email her at .