Executive Career Management

While the jury is still out on whether marriages are really made in heaven, as far as corporate marriages go, the moot question is whether has one has really tied the knot or tied oneself up in knots! In this context, the quest to find the right company is the one which comes closest to the eternal quest for many folks in the corporate world today, given the sheer number of companies one works for over one’s career span, answering that most innocuous of questions, “Why did you leave your last company and why do you want to work for us?” several times over. Here’s a selection of variables that invariably go into this decision-making process, based on my own experience and those of many others.

In the 1980s, business publications took note that employers were making a fundamental mindset change as to how their employees are viewed due the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension plans. Employers who offered defined benefit pension plans encouraged and rewarded long-term career employment. In essence, the longer you remained with an organization, the greater your personal long-term benefits. In contrast, when employers shifted to defined contribution pension plans, this represented one of the greatest mindset shifts of employers in recent decades. Born was the age of employees as objectified commodities and employee free agency.

As the job market fluctuates, more executives are venturing out of the safe harbor of their current companies to look for new opportunities. Many have been biding their time for months, if not years. During an economic crisis, many are willing to tolerate negative, demoralizing or unchallenging situations at their employment for financial security.

In this current economic environment, finding a job is a challenge – and even more so for 50+ executives, who are dealing both with the “pyramid effect” (fewer jobs toward the top) and a youth-oriented culture. Yet giving up should never be an option. If you’re savvy and persistent, you can increase your odds of landing a good position. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

In tough economic times, the need for executives to effectively manage their careers—whether actively seeking employment or not—becomes critical for weathering the storm.

As an executive resume writer, a story I hear again and again from my clients is that they’ve never had to look for a job in their life; opportunities have just come their way…until now.

I just don’t have the time.

We all say it, or at least think it, every day. We have to make some hard decisions on how we use our available time. We have to prioritize.

Our jobs and careers demand that we set priorities, too. I hear it every day from friends and colleagues – especially when they try to explain why they aren’t more involved with their industry associations.

The manner in which you join the management team of a new organization results in you being branded. How you’re initially perceived at your organization can have material implications to your short and long term success. A mind set-based metaphoric example could be the first time you taste a new fruit: aroma, texture, size, shape, flavour, and overall desire for further purchase represents the subjectivity of being branded. One either likes or dislikes the fruit based upon these subjective measurements.

Stress is one of the most pervasive afflictions in the corporate sector today. The harm it can inflict is compounded by the fact that it is amorphous by nature, thereby preventing us from measuring it or even being aware of the extent to which it affects us. While there are reams of advice on the topic, I will attempt to summarize a few approaches for managing stress from my real-life experiences as a senior-level executive.

Will I work again?
Am I too old to be hired?
Will any employer take the time to see—let alone value—what I have to bring to the table?

These questions are all too familiar to millions of older job seekers.

ageism_executive_career_managementSadly, ageism is alive and well. It's not just folks in their 50s who face it; it's happening to folks in their 40s, too. Age discrimination tends to occur more in industries where the work performed is physical in nature, such as construction or manufacturing, but it isn't as widespread in other industries as it once was.

Most executives line up their top references with such confidence that they just assume that those recommendations will be sterling. That may well be the case, but why risk a slip of someone else’s tongue? The use of online recommendations on sites such as LinkedIn makes the importance of soliciting, influencing and managing your references all the more critical.