How To Tap into the Hidden Executive Job Market by Connecting with Venture Capital & Private Equity Investors

If you are an executive in the job market, you are probably aware of how important it can be to tap into your network to learn about and pursue unadvertised executive opportunities.

Survey after survey finds the same: between 80-90% of executive jobs, especially those in the C-suite, will never even be advertised.

Would you rather work smarter or harder?

The harder way to a new executive job is to compete with the hordes of executives vying for the 10-20% of advertised openings. The smarter way is to use your network to find a backdoor and gain access to the “hidden” unadvertised jobs.

The hidden executive job market is a goldmine of opportunity, but what if your own connections fall flat and fail to turn up any concrete opportunities? What then?

Well, the first answer is simply a reminder that networking is a continuous activity. Don’t give up. Keep working at connecting with well-connected people who will refer you to other well-connected people.

But do you have any options for tapping into the hidden executive job market beyond your own network?

Simply put, yes. Depending on your executive job search goals, one little-used possibility that you may not have thought of is networking with venture capital and private equity investors.

What Executive Job Seekers Must Know About Venture Capital vs Private Equity Investors

Before you dive in headfirst as an executive job hunter, it is important to understand exactly what private equity investors and venture capital investors do and how they differ from each other.

  • Venture Capital (VC) investors tend to come in during the startup phases of a high-growth-potential company.VC investors provide much-needed funds for startups to grow and expand in exchange for a minority-stake equity share of the company. VC investors may also provide knowledge and expertise to the companies they invest in. They often invest for the long-term and are interested in the long-term growth and success of the companies.

  • Private Equity (PE) investors are typically involved with more mature private companies that are struggling and have room for improvement. For example, they invest in companies that are unprofitable or in a downward slide but could be transformed by streamlining operations or other performance improvements. Rather than investing in just a share of the company as VC investors do, PE investors will typically buyout 100% ownership of the company. The goal of private equity investors is usually turning the company around then quickly selling it for a profit.

The similarity of interest to executive job hunters is that both these types of investors deal only with privately held companies. If your goal as an executive job seeker is to land your next job with a large public company, this might not be the most fruitful strategy for you. But…

  • if you are an executive whose value proposition includes helping drive companies through commercialization and high-growth phases, or

  • if you have proven change management skills and can help turn around and revive failing companies or companies requiring transformation

…networking with individuals involved in VC and PE investing may be incredibly valuable and a way of opening doors to the executive hidden job market that you never would have known about otherwise.

Strategies for Approaching VC and PE Investors as a Job Seeker

When PE investors get involved in a company, it almost always involves a turnover of the leadership team. VC investors don’t typically get involved in the day-to-day management of a company, but do provide expertise and advisory to the executive team.

In both cases, given their extensive involvement in the companies in which they invest, VC and PE investors are aware of the leadership needs of the companies and may be in a position to introduce or refer you as a candidate to meet those needs. However, even if those companies are fully staffed, don’t discount the value of being connected with well-connected people. VC and PE investors are likely to have extensive industry knowledge and connections that could be useful to you as another door to the hidden executive job market.

All well and good, you may be thinking, but how do you actually gain access to venture capital and private equity investors?

You can do some research to find those firms that invest in industries of interest to you (Google is your friend) and then reach out to each individually, to introduce yourself. If you have a lot of time on your hands this very personal approach might appeal to you. Just be prepared to spend a significant amount of time and effort.

But, if you are like most of the executives we work with, your time is very limited and such a time-consuming project is an impossibility.

This is where the team at Distinctive Career Services can help.

Our resume distribution services to VC and PE investors can save you countless hours and provide the shortcut way to introduce yourself to investors nationwide…hundreds or even thousands of them who have investment interest in the industries of interest to you.

What is involved in this service?

First, you’ll want to make sure your executive resume is in top-notch shape, so if we haven’t yet helped you develop and write your resume, we encourage you to reach out to us for a free consultation so we can discuss what is needed and the next steps.

Then, with your resume ready, and with a thorough understanding of your executive job search goals, we will put together a contact list of VC and PE investors who invest in the industries of interest to you. This list could range anywhere from 100 to 3,000 contacts depending on your goals.

As part of our service, we write an introductory letter for you. You can view example letters written to introduce executive clients to PE and VC investors here. Then we send  (via email) the letter and your resume to each contact on your behalf and provide you with the contact information for each should you wish to follow up on the distribution.

In short, while it is not a strategy that is right for everyone, if you are an executive or senior manager who is interested in the types of companies VC and PE investors invest in, our resume distribution service will save you countless hours of time and may be exactly the infusion you need to jumpstart your executive job search and gain access to the executive hidden job market.

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit

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