Director Lands C-Level Job By Tracking Trends

David White used Ladders and his knowledge of the market to land a CIO position near his home in Wisconsin.


David White was under no illusions that his position as director of project management for a large Wisconsin health-insurance provider would be permanent. As a former consultant, 46-year-old White reviewed local and national job boards daily to gauge market conditions and get a feel for career and employment trends.

When another project-management job opened up on Ladders with one of the largest HMOs in the area, the OpsLadder member jumped at the opportunity.

“These director of project management jobs don’t open up often, and it was with one of three companies that I’d said I would love to work for if a position ever opened up,” White said.

White, who lives about 20 minutes north of Madison, Wis., signed on for a two-year contract and said he and his team were on track to finish when he realized that he may have done his job a little too well.

“We’d done so well on this project that I knew it was just a matter of time before they would have to downsize the project team,” White said. “I knew this was coming — we had about 71 positions that were going to be removed.”

White took an early “out” from his contract and after searching the job boards, located and landed a full-time position as a chief information officer with a large public accounting firm in the Madison area.

“I hooked up with this new CIO position in about 35 days,” he said. “Even in the midst of the economic crisis that was getting worse in November of last year, I knew that with my skills and my knowledge of trends in the market that I’d be able to find something without a problem,” he said.

An insider advantage

White said his knowledge of employment trends and other career information definitely gave him an advantage over other job seekers, since it allowed him to set realistic expectations about potential opportunities, salaries and benefits and the length of time it would take to secure a new position.

He said Ladders was an invaluable resource, and that as the number of available jobs decreased, many other employment sites and recruiters would go to great lengths to appeal to job hunters.

“On every job board I was tracking, I saw that the number of available jobs was dwindling,” White said. “Another thing I noticed is that often, numerous recruiting firms would post the same position, but word the posting differently so it would look like they had a number of jobs available.”

He said he realized quickly that if a position went up on Ladders, he could be certain that the position was unique and that the organization was completely serious about finding the right fit to fill that specific role.

“Many times, you’d see a position go up on a job board, and you’d interview and follow up only to find that the company had filled the position from within,” he said. “Many companies are required to post jobs internally first, but these kinds of ‘false positions’ don’t really help job seekers.”

Keeping track of employment trends

In his current CIO position, White said he still keeps a close eye on online employment sites to help him perform his duties and ensure his new company is doing the best job it can for its employees.

“I have to understand the stresses that are impacting my employees, how high the demand is for their specific skills, and whether or not we’re in danger of losing valuable folks because salaries and benefits are better elsewhere.”

Keeping charts and data from sites like Ladders and constantly reviewing the site’s extensive resource library can also help White understand what his company will need to offer when building teams to tackle projects, how long it might take to fill specific positions, and what current pay rates and salaries potential employees can expect, he said.

“It’s really a fantastic ‘human capital forecaster,’” White said.