BlueSteps Career Management and Executive Search Blog
The BlueSteps Career Management Blog is written with a C-level audience in mind on career management topics ranging from executive compensation, executive resumes, and interview tips to networking, executive job search, and gaining visibility as a professional in one’s industry.
The BlueSteps Executive Search Blog links senior executive candidates to actual retained search recruitment insights from AESC member executive recruiters, BlueSteps career advisors and other guest writers.
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You wouldn’t embark on a cross-country road trip without the tools you need to reach your destination, would you? Maybe some maps, but definitely a good GPS system these days. While not infallible, GPS is nearly always helpful.
The same holds true for the tools you need to use in your high-level job search—loosely defined as VP and above. They must be as strong as possible, and you need to use them as wisely and effectively as possible. Like a GPS, though, they might not be perfect.
Which brings us to LinkedIn as a tool for your job search.
Not having a job search plan is like trying to reach the North Pole without a compass. You’re likely to wander aimlessly, unable to see your goal and not even sure you’re heading in the right direction. That’s probably a less extreme disaster-in-the-making than exploring the frozen north without a compass, but it’s not a course you want to take if you hope to have a successful job search.
A new year often starts off with major fireworks displays. Your job search might not launch quite that spectacularly. But maybe it doesn’t need to, if you do it right.
Here’s something to think about: “Every man should know how to jump start a dead car battery. You never know when you’ll need this knowledge to...help yourself get out of a jam.” (Brett, ArtOfManliness.com, 2016)
What’s that got to do with jump-starting your job search?
Executives who want to move to a new geographical area sometimes complain that they don’t have any good contacts in the targeted area. They assume, therefore, that they don’t have a strong launch-pad for their job search and post-job-search career progress.
Whenever you anticipate launching a high-level job or career transition, you undoubtedly hope it will go smoothly. However, only a “Pollyanna-type” personality would blithely assume that such a result will occur every time. You don’t need to be a hard-core pessimist, of course, but being prepared can save you a lot of grief in the long run.
When was the last time you had your car serviced? Six months…a year…two years? You’ve probably done it more recently than two years, because you want to make sure your car continues to operate reliably and get you where you need to go. Something similar could be said about your career management strategy. You can’t expect it to continue serving you well if you don’t take good care of it and change it when needed.
No one will pat you on the back tomorrow and say, “Good job all these years as our Technology Manager—we’re rewarding you with a promotion to chief executive officer (CEO) of the company!” Most likely, they wouldn’t even offer you the role of chief technology officer.
Why is that?
For at least one, very important reason: You haven’t proven you’re capable of—and ready for—that level of responsibility.
This is not to say that you haven’t put in a lot of time and effort to make your technology-focused function perform effectively and efficiently or that you haven’t paid attention to its importance in supporting corporate objectives.
In any communication medium, the #1 rule is: Know your audience! If you know little or nothing about the people who will be receiving your message, you are, in all likelihood, wasting your time by trying to deliver it. What is known as the shotgun approach does not work. At best, it means your unfocused or misdirected message might reach a few of the people you wanted to reach; at worst, it makes you look like a poor communicator.
You didn’t reach the senior management/executive ranks by being lazy. More than likely, you worked quite hard to get where you are today. That said, it might seem strange that I refer to in-person networking and lazy job searching as opposites; but there is a reason.
No, this is not one more entry in the seemingly unending stream of articles that browbeat you for not networking or not doing it as often or as well as you should. However, I do want to share a few thoughts you might not have previously considered about in-person networking and its role in your next job search.
Any job search can contain unexpected hazards—it more or less goes with the territory. However, if you’re a currently-employed executive planning a confidential job search, the potential perils ahead of you give a whole new meaning to the concept of risk.
The view from the executive ranks can be exciting and invigorating; however, at that level even a small misstep might have disastrous consequences. Premature or unplanned communication of your intent to secure a new position is certainly a misstep you want to avoid—and not a small one.