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Executive Job Search/Career Transition

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As an executive, retained recruiter, I commonly get calls and LinkedIn messages from people on the job market asking if I have a job for which they could be considered. For the few I’m able to give time to speak with, I ask “What do you want to do next?” and “What industry sector and function is the best fit for you?” The responses are often purposefully vague in an effort to keep options open. Since candidates don’t know what I am working on, they understandably do not want to be eliminated unknowingly. Without a clear target neither of us will hit the bullseye. Keeping your options open can mean no options at all.

I hear it all the time. “Nobody is calling me for interviews because of my age”.

Ageism is alive and kicking at all hiring levels, even at the senior-executive level. Many senior executives go from feeling that they’ve finally reached the pinnacle of achievement and experience in their career to seemingly overnight being concerned about being “too old”.  In fact, senior executives are often caught in the worst Catch-22 of all: their calm maturity, experience, and 360-degree view of operations gained through decades of overcoming business challenges are precisely where their unique value resides.

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.

When it comes to managing your executive career, leaving things to the last minute doesn’t often lead to success. The same can be said for your executive job search. Before starting your search, it’s essential to do adequate preparation. This preparation time will allow you to decide exactly what you’re looking for in your next role and get the resources and materials ready to communicate this effectively to an executive search consultant or hiring manager.
 

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of executive executive job search strategy, featuring Lindsay Bray Landsberg, Boyden Global Executive Search, Rainer Morita, BlueSteps Executive Career Services, and Kimberly Sernel, BlueSteps Executive Career Services.

Some of the questions asked included:

It’s difficult to define the precise formula for making it to the C-suite. Life, or rather a career for that matter, is not always a neatly defined “how to” project or a formulaic enterprise that offers guaranteed output solely based on relentless execution. There are twists and turns and variables that one has no control over that influence the final outcome. My attempt here is to capture observations based on seeing such movements over the years, which you can bear in mind as you plan to scale the wall.   
 

Not all job search methods are equally productive, especially at the executive level. Spend most of your job search time growing your network rather than searching job boards. Activities that increase your chances of referrals and connecting with the right executive search consultants will make you the most visible for executive jobs. Many executive positions are not even posted on job boards as they’re confidential or employers are simply weary of wading through a flood of resumes. 
 

Referrals

Changing industries can open up a broader range of opportunities for executives who want to reinvigorate a stalled career, seek to combine their skills and interests in a new arena, are stuck in a dying/declining sector, have limited options in their desired geographic location, or are impacted by the increased outsourcing of operations overseas.

Although product and industry knowledge are important to some companies in certain industries, it is possible to make a successful industry transition through a focused, systematic process—without having to reduce your compensation level. Unless a position requires industry-specific technical knowledge or contacts, you can build a clear case that will illustrate your ability to succeed in a new industry.

BlueSteps recently hosted a follow up #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of making the leap to CEO, featuring Cathy Logue, from Stanton Chase, and Jose Ruiz, from Alder Koten. To read part one, click here.

Some of the questions asked included:

You've built yourself a long career history after many years of hard work, and your resume/CV is packed full of your extensive experience. But if you haven’t been on the job hunt for a while, you might be out of touch with today’s resume/CV trends, and you might be worried about how all of those years of experience will be perceived by prospective employers.
 
Most importantly, you want to know how you can show your future employer that age isn't a factor—that you are on top of your industry and up-to-date in current technology.