by Lisa Marsh
Jan 7 2015
The time where executives could expect to spend their entire career in one company has long since evaporated. In today’s fast-changing executive career landscape, moving to new companies and shifting careers multiple times has become a professional norm, and is one that we all must adjust to.
Regardless of your current job status or whether or not you’re considering new executive opportunities, it is vital to have a well thought-out career management strategy in place. Executive careers can be unpredictable and if you are forced to enter a period of transition, you can reduce the time period with some careful forward planning.
When it comes to career planning, the best advice has always been the same: it’s never too early to start. With this in mind, here are our top tips for creating your own executive career management strategy:
Focus on Your Personal Brand
Your most powerful tool, and gateway to new opportunities is your executive resume. Make sure it is up-to-date, well-written and optimized with keywords for your intended role. If you are contacted about new career options, this will be the first thing that potential employers will require from you, so having one prepared in advance is an excellent advantage. While updating your resume, you will be forced to re-evaluate your goals and critically assess your skillset. This will make it easier to find new opportunities as you will be more aware of your unique selling points and what you would bring to a new company.
Remember, your personal brand also includes all other ways in which you can make yourself seen by future employers, including social media. After networking or receiving a resume, it is natural employers or executive search consultants to want to know more and will enter your name into a search engine like Google. Because of the way that search engines work, LinkedIn results are often seen at the top of the page. Executives who have a badly written profile, or no profile at all, will be judged negatively. It is important to have a cultivated LinkedIn profile that will portray you as, not only someone who is tech-savvy, but also a thought leader in your field. This can be done by contributing to industry-related groups and discussions on the site, and posting articles which have either been written by you or by others.
Maintain and Extend Your Professional Network
A common mistake made by many executives is to exclude networking from their overall career strategy. Professional networks are not only the life support of your career but they also take a long time to build. Executives who wait until they are facing a period of transition to frantically contact vague connections will only have limited success.
It is wiser to put time aside each week to reach out to old connections and make effort to make new connections too. This applies to both executives in your industry and executive search consultants. It is best practice to make yourself known before you need their help, and assist them with any searches they might have even if you are not currently interested. Both your network and your search consultant connections will be grateful for your help and therefore more likely to return the favor.
Be open to making connections by attending industry events, networking sessions, and in-person meet-ups. Join professional groups and industry-related associations as they can also be a great way to meet people in a similar field to your own. Alumni groups can be very helpful when building a network too—both in-person and online.
If you are not entering a period of transition by choice, avoid burning bridges in your current company, as you may later rely on those connections to secure your next role.
Identify Your Target Position
It is always easier to follow a path if you know where your final destination is, and your career is no exception. Creating your executive career strategy can be a great time to evaluate your professional goals, understand your skillset and what you may need to work on, or even change directions in your career. It is only after establishing your career targets that you can then embark on a meaningful search for new opportunities.
It will also help you to make your own searches more focused. Many executives erroneously send mass, impersonal emails to large groups of executive search consultants, asking for help. However, with this type of email, quality always triumphs over quantity. Instead of sending bulk emails, research which consultants have specializations in your industry or role and explain in the email why you might be of specific interest to them. By targeting your career efforts, you are much more likely to succeed.
For more information on this topic, download the complimentary webinar, Executive Search and Your Career Strategy.