Planning your executive career from one stage to the next is essential, but how do you know when to make that move? The truth is, there are no certain answers, but read on to see my thoughts.
1. When should an executive make a career move?
Although there are many factors in making a decision to move executive jobs, I would recommend considering a career move when there is no longer sufficient opportunity to progress and to be challenged, or when you become aware of an opportunity that better fits your short and  long-term career goals.
For the first reason, ask yourself; are you still being challenged and learning everyday? If not perhaps it is time to move on.
If you are being challenged but come across an attractive executive job opportunity, before you dismiss it, think of your long and short term career goals. Would the new position offer a more substantial step towards your target function, industry or location? Provided you have offered a substantial tenure to your current organization and you are not compromising you loyalty by offering sufficient notice, it may be wise to make that move earlier than originally planned. Planning is essential, but being flexible is equally as important.
Recently, in our BlueSteps 2011 outlook report, 61.5% of  879 survey respondents indicated that they are most likely to make a career move in 2011 due to ‘better role or increased responsibility’. Correctly, career progression is seen as a prominent motive.

Compensation is also a strong motivating factor for many; 61% selected ‘higher compensation’ as a prominent motivator to make a career move in 2011 (each respondent could choose two answers).
In regards to compensation, it should be a secondary factor when carefully managing your career and ensuring healthy progression towards your long term goals. Short term gain could lead you down a path that ultimately stalls your career progression, and when you prioritize career progression through increased responsibilities and challenges, higher compensation often follows.
2. How should an executive plan a career transition move?

Executives should constantly be assessing their career progression - where they have come from, where they are now and where they would like to go. Whether looking to make a career move or not, ensuring your name is known to leading professionals and executive recruiters in your industry is essential.
Being active in professional associations, published in industry communications and a member of online career management tools such as BlueSteps or Linkedin, are essential methods to ensure you are on the radar for executive jobs handled by recruiters, which are often not posted to the public.

Then as you prepare to make a career move, considering your goals as outlined above, call on network contacts, starting with those closest to you or closest to your target position.

3. Can making a career move be dangerous for your executive career?

An executive job search can take up to 6 months and longer. The only danger in planning a career transition is if you do not plan it! Executives who wait until the last minute before they want to make a move or until they are no longer employed are under higher pressure to accept positions that are not an ideal match and create the risk of having long gaps between jobs – a situation often considered as negative by hiring organizations.

4. Do you think it depends which level you are inside the organization? 
It is commonly known among professionals that the higher level you are in an organization, the longer it takes to find a position that matches your unique career history and aspirations. Looking at the situation in a pure mathematical way, there are less CEOs than directors, and less managers than directors. However, this should not affect an executive’s approach to managing their career. At all levels, professionals must carefully plan from one stage in their career to the next, and always prepare for the long-term when it comes to searching for a new job.
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This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).


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