“Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.” Lao Tzu
Successful executive job search starts with your objective. Are you looking for that next big job? Is that the focus of your job search and your networking? Or have you taken the time to learn how to build your career over the long-haul?
What’s the difference? Most successful executives have rarely conducted a real job search. They have been invited to interview, been recruited or groomed and promoted. When time comes to conduct a real job search, they are defenseless in the competitive arena of executive job search. They jump at the first big title offered with no concern about the affect the new job might have on their career.
Example: One client of record took a very high paying technology job in the Mid West. The title was impressive, the money, excellent. He was isolated from any technology network that would advance his career and because the company rejected his plans to use the latest technologies, he set his career back five years.
How do executives make these career limiting mistakes? Since many successful executives have never had to acquire excellent job search skills, they rely on standard myths or worse, highly touted advice from those who have never hired executives and whose suggestions are really geared to those young in their careers.
Once an executive reaches the late thirties or early forties, the idea dawns that career planning is the only route to that ultimate goal, whatever that may be. And again, they are defenseless because no one has tutored or mentored them in career management.
So let’s do that now. It all begins with your objective. What outcome do you want? Do you want to break away from Corporate America and work for an upstart? Or perhaps you see yourself as a CTO in charge of all the products and technologies for a growing or grown company. Is a seat at the table in a large corporation on your radar? Where you want to end up long-term determines what your career plan needs to include today.
Step two is create a go/no-go list based on your objective. For instance, if your mid- or long- term goal is to run a small company, then your go/no-go list for the upcoming job would include but not be limited to:
- Company is a recognized leader in their field.
- Company has commitment to mentoring.
- An immediate manager is someone from whom you can learn.
- Company status is one that is seen in a positive light by investors and the market.
- Company is located geographically where you can maintain and build your network.
- Company has track record of promoting from within.
- There is an obvious and available champion.
- Company has a stated mission to grow their executives.
- Company pays for and encourages coaches and outside mentoring.
- Company is in a strong/growing market niche’ where individual success is measurable.
- Job responsibility has clear metrics that are a direct indication of efforts.
- Must be a customer-facing product line.
- Responsibilities include possible revenue generation in the $Billions.
- Company encourages media exposure and key-note speaker and other ‘personal branding’ activities.
- The role is one where transformation and innovation are valued.
- How are decisions made?
- Who has veto power?
- What role does the Board play?
- How was the last crisis handled?
- By whom?
- What are the latest innovations in product, IT or process?
- What did it take to get buy-in?
- What is done to limit turnover and what is the current rate?
- Is there Board visibility?
- Are the current investors and the Board respected in the industry?
Want more insurance you are on the right track with career planning? Many up and coming executives build a Personal Board of Directors. This Board is comprised of people for whom you have respect and who have achieved what you hope to emulate. They are not necessarily of your business niche’ nor are they necessarily people you currently know. Their role in your life is to offer career guidance. This is NOT the same as networking or job search connections. These are people with whom you consult periodically to manage your career; not people who offer or point to jobs, but people who help prepare you to meet your goals. They know where the rocks are and can ask you the hard questions whilst offering their point of view about how to achieve your goals.