In the current recession, an extended period of unemployment for top managers no longer carries the stigma it previously did, as a recent survey of executives said that on average, a senior manager could be jobless for as long as nine months before their careers became adversely affected.

The survey, developed by staffing concern Robert Half Management Resources, was based on interviews with 150 senior executives from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

 “Most hiring managers recognize the economy has sidelined many outstanding people,” said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “In fact, some companies are taking advantage of the current employment environment to hire experienced workers who would not have been available one year ago.”

McDonald advised management-level candidates to remain active professionally through project work, volunteering in an area of interest or by taking classes to keep their skills current..

Other additional tips for senior-level job seekers include:

• 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.

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

•  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.

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

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