Author Archives: rsronline

“Essential” Senior Executive Job Hunting Package

“Ken, you have convinced me. I want to add a mailing strategy to my job campaign.
I need your help, but I’m not ready for a full coaching program. How can you help me?”

I’m not going to turn you away. Yes, I can still help you. A lot. I’ve put together a “self-help” program that includes many of the resources I provide my full-program individual clients. This “essential” package includes everything you need to execute a full mailing strategy. “Do-it-yourself.” (Note: These are strategies and resources not available from outplacement firms. Sorry; get them from me).

There’s a lot included. At $1,000, it’s not cheap, but (if you could assemble all these resources yourself; it’s doubtful you could do that) it’s conservatively worth over $2,700.

This is my best deal for senior executive job hunters (Please see pricing page for detail. (need link to Ken Cole’s “Essential” Senior Executive Job Hunting Package page)

All my full program individual clients start with this aggressive coaching/resource program. Consider it a “date” before marriage. If we decide (this is a joint decision – I pick my clients carefully) a full program is right for you, I’ll deduct the $1,000 from my full program fee.

Full Website Membership $250
D&B Data $0.27/lead x 3500 $945

  • Example: 2500 regular CEOs
  • 500 financially-stressed CEOs
  • 500 early stage company CEOs
  • Excel format mail-merge ready)

Headhunter Data Up to 1500 firms (non-members limited to 500 firms) $300

Search Researcher Data eBook edition of The Executive Search Research Directory Excel format mail-merge ready $125

Hour of Individual 

Consulting $250

  • Critique of current/past/planned activity
  • Four-channel personal plan/prescription
  • Full resource review. Deep dive demo on Dun & Bradstreet’s
  • Zapdata website

Practice Executive Search

Interview $50

Letter edit/critique $500

  • Off-line followup
  • (as many exchanges as are necessary until both are happy with the final product)

D&B Reports $375

  • For due diligence/interview preparation
  • 3 @ $119 each


This is too expensive and complicated for e-commerce (no “BUY NOW” button for the “Essential” package), so please call me (850-235-3733) or email to discuss.

Corporate Visitor

Thank you for visiting the website. Before reading any more, please click here About Us for Cole’s Bio so you’ll have an understanding of my background and perspective.

There are several ways I might be able to assist you. These are not prioritized. Please click on the areas of interest for full (longer descriptions) ––

The Executive Search Research Directory. I am the national authority on freelance executive search research assistants, publishing the definitive directory since 1985. If you have an executive search research consultant on your staff, you might be able to handle many searches in-house, at retainer search firm quality, at considerable savings to your company. This is also a highly useful resource for departing senior executives. Ecommerce enabled.

Executive Search Firms by expertise, arranged geographically. We have the most extensive database of “stealthy” search consultants (many with major retainer firm experience). Use this data to investigate/select search firms for special or unusual requirements. Also useful for departing managers, individual contributors, senior staff, and executives conducting job campaigns who want to make the “stealthy” search consultants aware of their availability. Ecommerce enabled for Excel spreadsheet downloads (mail-merge).

“Essential” Resource Package for departing executives. “Self-help” resources for job hunting senior executives, many of which are not available from outplacement firms at any price. (Prerequisite for my full coaching services).

Corporate-sponsored Senior Executive Job Hunting Coaching (“turnkey” programs). Alternative to outplacement; I am a marketing expert and senior executive coach, not an outplacement consultant. My services are appropriate for the most senior executives (typically C-level). The average compensation of my individual clients since 2004 is $460 thousand + (base plus incentive at budget of campaigns successfully completed). I have been named the #1 senior executive job hunting coach in the country by multiple senior executive groups.

Retainer executive search. My expertise is competitive with/comparable to the major retainer search firms. I prefer senior executive assignments where the highest level of confidentiality is required –– sensitive assignments, replacement of an incumbent, “re-start” of failed searches, and similar.
Full Site Membership

Executive Search Consultant Visitor

Welcome, fellow headhunter. I’ve been one/called myself one since 1979, before some reading this were born. Sorry if you’re uncomfortable with the handle –– That’s what everyone else calls you; I suggest you get used to the name. It just might add to your longevity in the business.
Since 1980, I have written about executive search and for executive search consultants. In the search community, I am best known for the Executive Search Research Directory, the industry standard directory of freelance search research assistants, published since 1985, now available as a web-based reference. (See Products & Resources; also click here for the Introduction to ESRD.)

You cannot be a search consultant or astronaut, or POTUS, or heart surgeon) without a jumbo ego; I learned long ago there’s no payoff for you or me by challenging yours. On the other hand, I’ve made a number of your colleagues a lot of money with several little “inventions” that have come out of my “laboratory.”

Reciprocal Arrangements. Think: The real estate model. Successful brokers share fees. Some are better at creating listing than they are at finding buyers. Others have more buyers than listings. While it’s great to our listing to our buyer, the successful business model is built on fee splits –– All of nothing is nothing, but half is half. (I’ve done at least my share of “splits” over the years. As a wise old headhunter once coached me –– “The ‘trick’ is to take half of someone else’s fee, instead of giving up half of yours.”)

Want to know who in your area of expertise will “consider” reciprocal arrangements? I’ve kept track of this for 30+ years. WE provide this info to search consultants, but not to job hunters or corporate buyers. Click Search Consultants By Expertise, Arranged Geographically to order and download your data, then call me for the “code.”

Search Research Assistants. Imagine you are a senior consultant, managing director, or partner in a major search firm (If you are one of those, stand by; I’ll get to you next). After you’ve consulted with your client, you have settled on the “search specifications” –– the description of the successful candidate (among other things). Then, you turn your specs over to a highly-qualified research assistant for candidate locating, screening, and development. She (about 95% are female) works the problem and her magic; after a week or two, she presents you with a slate of qualified candidates for your detailed interviewing and consideration.

Interesting? I have some important news for solo retainer search consultants and smaller firms that cannot afford to employ this sort of research talent:

The best researchers –– most of whom started with a major retainer firm –– are available to assist you as freelancers on a project/hourly basis.
We published our first ESRD/Executive Search Research Directory in 1985. Through eleven (11) editions, ESRD became the “industry standard” reference, classifying all known freelance search research assistants available for candidate locating, screening, qualifying, candidate development, etc. In 2010, we converted from hard-copy to a yearly subscription web-based product ($125).

For a hard copy ESRD sample (old edition of our choice), send $10 (cash/check) to Executive Search Research Directory, P.O. Box 9433, Panama City Beach, FL 32417.

Job Hunting Senior Executive

You need a great new senior executive position. Through some sort of a referral–someone told you about what I have done for other senior executives like you, you found me on the Internet, you read something about job hunting strategy I have written, or you heard me speak to your group somewhere–you made it to my website. Welcome–This is going to be like finding ice water at the oasis while you’ve been stumbling around lost in the desert, dying of thirst.

Please drink deep. You’re going to need the water, because you are embarking on a long, hot march. You are in the competitive struggle of your life. Senior executive job hunting has never been more difficult than it is today. I speak with some authority on this –– I have been studying it and coaching senior executives over 30 years. How you go about finding a new job this time may very well affect your earning power for the rest of your business life and career. The position you want is out there, but if you do not go about this quest properly, someone else will find it and take it away from you. I can’t save or help everyone, but I might be able to help you. The strategy I teach is very different from the toxic, polluted water others have been forcing on you – literally ice water versus pond scum.

Here’s the quick-start intro. Listen to the audio version of our basic strategy seminar (about 90 minutes of audio and Power Point): Ken Cole’s Job Hunting Strategy.
In my opinion, you’ve been scammed by an army of “rear echelon” advisors (Here they are: risk averse bureaucrats, HR executives and outplacement consultants –– most of whom were HR executives –– and naive, young business writers fixated on networking and “social media” who continuously recycle what they hear from the bureaucrats, HR executives, and outplacement consultants), when what you needed was a better plan, weapons, ammunition, food, water, and someone to fight at your side. This risk averse “army” of incompetent advisors is big and noisy, but that doesn’t make their advice correct, or add to their credibility. Instead, I suggest that you should become the VP Sales & Marketing –– The CMO–– of your job campaign, add the sort of marketing planning and action you would use to introduce a new product or service to the marketplace, and take charge of your future. Most of the executives I know and have met are “warriors” in the business sense. Why let a desk jockey advise you on how to fight?

Before listening too hard to any “advisor” or job hunting coach (or acting on their advice), I suggest that you learn something about their background. Head in the other direction from anyone who is not candid with you about this. Ditto for fluffy foolishness. Click on this link for Cole’s Full Bio; I’ll be happy to discuss my background with any senior executive interested.

Special point. I make certain to cover this at every opportunity: I am not anti-networking. Networking delivers many senior executive positions. I coach my individual clients on their networking strategy and all clients work this channel intensely. However: Among my clients –– all of whom networked intensely (I know that –– I coached them) –– 73% found their positions through other means. That means you are neglecting nearly three-quarters of the market if you rely on networking and Internet postings.
The highlight/takeaway of this website –– I’m going to open up that 73% of the market to you that has been closed to you. It’s not an easy transition, but I’ve taught thousands of your contemporaries how to do it. I’ll teach you, too, if you’ll let me.

Next Stops. Want some food, water, ammo, weapons, and a better plan? Click on Products & Resources. Then, take your time with the rest of the site. Please call me (850-235-3733) to discuss your situation and job campaign to date (no charge for this initial consultation. If I think I can help you, I’ll tell you).

Best regards and good luck with your job campaign.

Ken Cole

Important final thought: As great an executive as you are, you will not make enough job changes across your career to get good at it. There is simply too much to know, there are too many specialized skills to learn, and the time it would take to get up-to-speed is both too expensive and better used somewhere else. Opportunity cost is the largest expense you face. If you have processed and understand that, I’ll help you minimize it.

Quick Start Introduction

You need a great new senior executive position. Through some sort of a referral–someone told you about what I have done for other senior executives like you, you found me on the Internet, you read something about job hunting strategy I have written, or you heard me speak to your group somewhere–you made it to my website. Welcome–This is going to be like finding the ice water oasis while you\’ve been stumbling around lost in the desert, dying of thirst.

Please drink deep. You\’re going to need the water, because you are in the competitive struggle of your life. How you go about finding a new job this time may very well affect your earning power for the rest of your business life and career. I can\’t save or help everyone, but I might be able to help you. The strategy I teach is very different from the toxic, polluted water others have been forcing on you.

Here’s the quick-start intro. Listen to the audio version of our basic strategy seminar (click the link to launch in a new window):

Part I

Part II

Part III

Kenneth J. Cole Mini-BIOGRAPHY

Ken Cole is a nationally recognized expert in executive search, senior executive job hunting strategy and freelance executive search research. He has been a retainer search consultant since 1979. Cole earned his MBA from The University of Chicago’s Executive Program(50th Group – 1983).

His published works include The Headhunter Strategy, The Executive Search Research Directory and The Euro Directory – Executive Search & Selection Firms in Europe. As a speaker and senior executive job hunting coach/strategist, he has assisted thousands of executives in finding new positions through resources published, seminars taught, and individual job campaigns. Several senior executive networking groups have named him the #1 senior executive job hunting coach in the U.S.A.

Cole is the founder, first president and the only honorary life member of NAER/The National Association of Executive Recruiters and is the recognized national authority on retainer-based freelance executive search research. Cole is a Viet Nam veteran (Major and US Army helicopter pilot, aircraft commander, and instructor pilot) with 987 combat flight hours and holds the Master Army Aviator rating, the Army’s highest aeronautical designation.

For Cole’s full biography, please click the “About/Contact Us” link.

Members Option link here.

The Recruiting & Search Report

Since 1984, I have assisted over 100,000 executives, managers, and professionals with their searches for new employment, through seminars (general sessions, business schools, telephone conference calls, and major networking groups), resources I have published (lists of executive search firms and executive search research assistants and columns on a variety of job hunting subjects), and individual consulting (from a basic one hour program to full turnkey campaigns).

With my clients, I have learned many, many lessons, not the least of which is that far too many executives spend much more time in the market than necessary because the bulk of “standard” advice available is either superficial or defective.  It doesn\’t have to be that way.  My personal mission is to provide you with higher quality strategy and advice – state-of-the-art marketing-driven – to enable you to capture a superior position (better company, better location, higher compensation) in less time, for less of your hard-earned money, than anyone else.

Over the past several years, I have written a number of columns on issues and strategies designed to assist you with your job campaign.  I have included the columns on some of the more popular subjects.  I suggest that you check this space from time to time over the course of your job campaign, because we will continuously add new content.

Suggested Step 1:  Watch this short video introduction

Suggested Step 2:  Listen to the audio version of our basic strategy seminar (click the link to launch in a new window):

Suggested Step 3:  Review archived email columns and other subjects on the Deeper Dive  (individual subjects covered in detail) page.


kennethjcole at aol dot com

P.O. Box 9433 | Panama City Beach, FL 32417 | (850) 235-3733
FAX 850-233-9695 | 24-Hour Order Line


Play Golf Like Kim Jong-il

And bowl, too. Even though this information is several years old now (it was first reported in 2004), it\’s so good (and relevant to your job campaign), I\’m going to mention it here and in my new book–as conclusive evidence of my interest in athletic accomplishments of world leaders, the accuracy of the media, how important statistics will assist you in your job campaign, etc.

Our “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il of North Korea (officially \”Eternal President\” and \”Supreme Leader\” of the DPRK/ Democratic People\’s Republic of Korea) decided to play golf on North Korea\’s sole course outside of Pyongyang–officially 7000 meters long. On his first time out, he stroked five (5) holes-in-one and was 38-under. Not bad; not bad at all. DPRK media report he routinely scores 3-4 aces every time he plays, so he is clearly the best golfer in the world. At 5′ 3″, he can really hammer the ball. And, his athletic prowess extends to bowling, too. On his very first trip to a bowling alley–I guess there must be one of those somewhere in the DPRK workers’ paradise–he bowled a perfect game. (I don\’t expect you take my word for this. Google: Kim Jong-il golf).


The next time you see job hunting statistics reported in the media–networking success rates, how amazingly effective the job boards are, and the remarkable stories associated with the emerging “social media” (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and the like come to mind)–I would like you to remember Kim’s exceptional golfing/bowling prowess and how the hard-working (totally competent/disinterested) media have been able to report it to us.


Kenneth J. Cole
Executive Search Consultant
P.O. Box 9433
Panama City Beach, FL 32417

P.S. Please keep the questions coming. As usual, please forward this email to your job hunting colleagues and networking groups. If you receive a forwarded copy, please email me to be placed on the email list.

Writing Lesson?

Just after Mama was let out of jail–but before she was run over by the train–she taught me an important lesson. Want to hear about what it did for my little sister?

I had a great conversation with one of my oldest customers yesterday–for 20+ years, he has been using my headhunter data and other senior executive job-hunting resources–who has turned into a good friend along the way. He told me about a conversation he’d just had with a “non-believing” operations executive–definitely NOT a “believing” sales/marketing exec. “What do you mean you can\’t see the difference between regular writing and promotional copy? Ken shows you how to write better every time he sends you an email.”

And, that\’s true. I do my level best to teach promotional copywriting with most columns I send you, and I intentionally slip in a little example with each message (even this one). Want some more? Maybe a deep drink from the firehose? Next Thursday night (March 18, 8-9:30 pm EST–don\’t forget to spring ahead this weekend) I\’m going to teach a special class on writing breakthrough letters to headhunters and CEOs.


Judging from the somniferous letters (look that up in your Funk & Wagnall\’s) I have read written by your colleagues (junior to you, senior to you, same as you), you would benefit from my wordsmithing class. Or, let\’s put it a little different way–If you would like to learn how to write letters that have a better chance of getting through the gatekeepers, then influencing CEOs and headhunters (thereby reaching the 73% of the senior executive job market now shut out to you)–You might want to listen in to this telephone conference call. Don\’t bother with it if you are already a professional copywriter (I don\’t need to help the competition).

Bob Stone–the famous copywriter and one of my heroes (I thought you would like that, Tom–He taught both of us a lot)–said something (wisdom of the ages, truly) I would like you to remember: Every time you write to anybody, more people almost responded than did. Let’s get ’em. I’ll show you how to get some of those “almosts” to call you. (I’ll read you highlights from several of my all-time favorite–and best performing–letters that delivered senior executive positions).

Fifty bucks ($50) to listen in. I\’m so sure you\’ll find the call a lot more valuable than that, I won’t run your charge until Friday (after the session). If you tell me if it wasn’t worth at least that to you, the session is free.


Please reply to this message with credit card billing instructions and I will send you the dial-in info.


Kenneth J. Cole
Executive Search Consultant
P.O. Box 9433
Panama City Beach, FL 32417

P.S. Please keep the questions coming. As usual, please forward this email to your job hunting colleagues and networking groups. If you receive a forwarded copy, please email me to be placed on the email list.

May Seminars

I will be speaking at the Chicago ENG/Executive Networking Group meeting on Thursday, May 12. I have spoken to this group many times and it is a favorite venue for me. (See for meeting details). ENG is the premier senior executive networking group in the country. I hope to see you there if you can attend.

I will be arriving Wednesday afternoon and will have several hours available for individual coaching sessions (staying at the O’Hare Hilton). On Friday morning May 13, I will conduct an advanced session on writing breakthrough letters and advanced interviewing techniques (attending the Thursday ENG meeting or another of my seminars is a prerequisite as the advanced session builds on the basic strategy taught the day before).

At the advanced session, I will have portfolios of my most powerful breakthrough letters written over the years we will use in class (not to be copied or leave the room) that have delivered C-level positions from mailings to CEOs, private equity managing directors, and executive search consultants. We will concentrate on letter-writing techniques designed to bypass gatekeepers and cause the decision-makers to act in your favor. (Expensive and time-consuming mailings make very little sense when your letters are intercepted/rejected by gatekeepers). In the interviewing portion of the advanced session, we will examine and rehearse answers to the toughest/trickiest questions asked by executive search consultants and others.

(The answer to the “What are your income expectations?” question is worth many times the advanced session tuition, by itself).

Please call me to discuss an individual meeting or the advanced session if you are interested.

More On Letter Writing

This should help a bit if you are having trouble creating breakthrough letters to influence your CEO and headhunter prospects. (If you are not having trouble–If you already know everything you need to know about letter writing, for example–you are already a professional copywriter and I cannot teach you anything about wordsmithing. But, wait a minute–I AM a copywriter. I’ve written hundreds of these letters over the past thirty years and they give ME plenty of trouble. PLENTY. Maybe we should trade places. Or, you should teach me. Or, maybe I don’t know what I’m writing about).
(Why should you believe me about any of this? This is not an abstraction for me–Hundreds of executives have paid me several $millions over the past thirty years to write breakthrough letters for them. Want to see some of those letters and what worked? Keep reading and I’ll have a suggestion on how you can do that).
Readability vs. content. Think of these as qualities at opposite ends of a scale–As letter content goes up, readability goes down. As letter readability goes up, content goes down. This very simple point defeats a large number of very smart executives. Complicated letters (high in content) might seem to highlight your intellect, but simple letters (more readable) work better. Complicated letters are not read or acted upon. Simple is better. It took me a long time to learn this; maybe this column will shorten the time for you.
Here are the whys:
The person reading your letter is as likely as not to have less IQ points than you. Let’s stipulate that any senior executive needs to be pretty smart to capture the position; I’m OK with that. But, you’re smart, too. Reflect across your career to the number of people senior to you whose intellects you have questioned–There are certainly plenty like that on your target list. At least a goodly number are even smarter than you (believe it or not). Smart/less smart doesn’t make that much difference–All can have a position for you. You need to be able to break through to all of them. This leads to the trump card/suit–
However intelligent your reader might be (the same as you, smarter, or less), he or she will employ much less cognitive ability reading the letter than you spent writing it. Or, he or she will not bother to read yet one more complicated letter from yet one more job hunter.
Now, let’s take a little side trip for another military tale you might find entertaining and useful (many of you have told me you like the flying stories–This one goes back to when I started as a draftee and before I was an army helicopter pilot). In 1967, I found myself as a Private E-1 at Ft. Polk, LA after the SMU Dean of Students dutifully notified my draft board (#39; Fairfax, VA) he had placed me on academic probation. This was of course before the Viet Nam War started winding down and Sam switched to the draft lottery system–“Acky-Pro” meant instant draft notice, if you had a pulse. This was nearly instant for me; it took only a couple of weeks to get the notice and send me winging (on the old TTA/Trans-Texas Airlines–SWA’s grandfather–DC-3) from Love Field to Ft. Polk.
My BCT (basic combat training) company was the flower of American youth–mostly other draftees from the South Dallas ” ‘hood,” a big group from Puerto Rico (about half of our drill sergeants spoke Spanish), a few members of the Minnesota National Guard (politicians’ sons?), and yours truly (I recall zero collegiately-challenged kindred spirits, so I stuck out). We all learned to shoot, move, and communicate, as they say.
For the uninitiated, a big part of army basic training is learning how to fight with the bayonet–you know, the knife that attaches to the end of a rifle. We spent part of the day for several weeks on this–slashes, thrusts, butt strokes, parries, and so forth. Bayonet fighting really hasn’t changed much for several thousand years–before there were rifles, there were sticks (pikes, spears) with sharp points–so the army (and the Marine Corps, too) has gotten pretty good at it (training soldiers/marines how to swing them and fight in hand-to-hand combat).
“Pugil stick” training is the climax of bayonet training. You might have seen the pictures. This is where–in a non-lethal way–the trainee gets to apply all the bayonet training. Two trainees–protected by football helmet, chest protector, and so forth–square off in the middle of a ring and try to “kill” the other person. The pugil stick has a big boxing glove thing at either end, so (theoretically) no trainee can be killed literally.
There are plenty of knockouts, however. I came close–to being knocked out, not disposing of my adversary. I can say truthfully that this experience assisted me in selecting helicopter flying as my career field (although I did make it through Infantry OCS, stories for another day). I was pretty well pounded by South Dallas.
At the conclusion of the very intense exercise (whew!), Drill Sergeant Harrigan (never learned his first name, sorry) assembled his platoon of about thirty trainees for a little pep talk. If you don’t know much about the military, the institutional strength comes from the NCOs. (Listen to what they say; you might need it). We were about to get a lesson–call it NCO “Wisdom of the Ages”–that has stuck with me to this day.
“If you ever find yourself in a hand-to-hand combat situation, I want you to forget everything I have taught you about bayonet training these past few weeks,” SSG Harrigan said to his platoon.
Where is he going with this?, I wondered. What have we been doing, anyway?
“Before you start swinging that bayonet at the NVA, North Korean, or Russian, I want you to reach down to the ground, pick up a handful of dirt, and throw it in his face.”
There you have it–NCO Wisdom of the Ages–
1. It’s very difficult to fight with the bayonet when you cannot see.
2. That other guy just might be better at it than you are (unless he cannot see; then you’re much better).
3. There are no “rules” in bayonet fighting. Winning is what matters.
Now, let’s apply that NCO wisdom (and this little shaggy dog story) to your CEO letter writing.
1. Let’s create a breakthrough advantage in your letters that works for you, not the other guy (who just might be a better fighter than you).
2. Is the hand-to-hand combat example appropriate here? (If you say “no,” in my opinion, you have not yet grasped just how difficult a situation you are really in–I believe it is the competitive struggle of your life).
3. There are no “rules” in letter-writing, either. The breakthrough is what matters.
I know there are enough executives reading this who want to see what I’m talking about, so I’m offering up an opportunity to show you some of my work–some amazing letters, if I say so myself–that have broken through the gatekeepers and delivered interviews with major-company CEOs. Here’s the offer–
Saturday, December 18. I will rent a conference room (Delta SkyClub) at ATL and bring with me a portfolio of the letters (to use in class, not to leave the room). We’ll have a little course in hand-to-hand letter-writing bayonet training–basic combat letter writing. I’ll teach you some copywriting techniques you won’t forget. These just might be handy in your job campaign.
There is no risk to you (other than burning up some of those hoarded ff miles and missing a couple of minor bowl games). Bring a $250 check with you. I will close my eyes and pass the hat at the end of the session and see how many thought the session was worth the expense. Take your check home with you if the session wasn’t worth a lot more than that to you. Bring your best letter along with you and we will go to work on it, too.
This should be fun. I think about a dozen will be the limit. Please reply to this note if you will be there.
Best regards. I might have another column or two before Christmas, but if this is it, please have a blessed holiday with your family.