6 Essential Facts About Job Hunting For Senior-Level Executives

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iStockphoto.com (Rawpixel)


Life as a senior-level executive certainly has its perks. CEOs, COOs, and Senior Vice Presidents hold an important role in the strategic day-to-day functioning of a major organization, the status of such a position carries a great deal of social capital, and the salary and benefits are pretty darn good.

But most jobs have a life span. A decline in revenues, an uninspired presentation to the Board of Directors, or a difference of opinion on the strategic direction of the organization can result in a highly successful C-suite leader being unexpectedly – and inexplicably – unemployed and having to mount a job search. Here are six essential facts about job hunting senior-level executives need to be aware of as they pursue new career opportunities.

  1. Prepare for the job search to take a while. One human capital and search firm's recent data indicated the median length of their executive job searches over the past six years averaged 6.3 months. There are several reasons for this – there are fewer C-suite jobs available, companies tend to take their time filling these critical roles, and they often seek the buy-in of numerous individuals – including the Board of Directors, members of the executive leadership team, customers, strategic partners, and other key stakeholders.
  2. Most executive opportunities won't be posted on job boards. True, you'll find a few listed, but most companies tend to shy away from posting senior-level executive opportunities on boards such as Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn.
  3. Employers generally prefer to engage executive search firms to take on the burden of vetting tens of thousands of applications. Executive search firms typically work on a retainer, receiving from the employer a fee in the neighborhood of 33% of the candidate's first year total compensation plus expenses, and managing the search on behalf of the company from beginning to end. Although search firms are pricey, companies utilize them because they have an extensive database of existing contacts, and a major firm's prestige alone will usually merit a return phone call by a busy C-level candidate. Such firms are often tapped to quietly handle confidential searches (i.e., the company is looking to replace their existing SVP of Marketing).
  4. Networking will be your most important job search tool. You'll receive the highest ROI by building and working your network. Proactively reach out to peers, mentors, and others who may be positioned to provide you intelligence on the job market and refer you to opportunities. Likewise, use LinkedIn to identify and reach out to executive search firms' Practice Leaders; these are the individuals who specialize in identifying talent and managing searches within specific verticals and disciplines.
  5. Your resume needs to read like an executive resume. Balance high-level, strategic language with tangible, high-impact accomplishments. Consider how you established or delivered against a vision, and the ways in which the organization realized gains and created shareholder value as a result of your efforts; and context around these accomplishments matters. It's also important to address how you influenced the culture and created a pipeline of leadership talent.
  6. It's important to be mindful of your tone during all interactions. Anyone with whom you come in contact during the job hunt will be in a position to help your candidacy – provide them with good reasons to do so. Demonstrate an abundance of assertiveness, positive attitude, and gratitude.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Accepting That Promotion

Our culture values ambition. History is rife with stories of leaders who have climbed the corporate ladder to attain executive leadership positions – and the public reverence and accolades that come with it.

Don't believe that we place our business leaders on a pedestal? CEOs' photos fill the newspapers' society pages, books crammed with their philosophies dot the New York Times' Nonfiction Bestseller List, and a prominent business owner tops a major party ticket in the U.S. Presidential election.

And why not? Business schools consistently drill into students' minds the value of upward mobility. Individuals who are elevated to increasingly responsible positions often demonstrate initiative, intelligence, and interpersonal acumen – all traits we value. And by combining these to get promoted, we improve our social standing, influence, and personal wealth. We get more power, and we get paid more money to wield it.

Climbing up the management ranks has its perks, but it also has its drawbacks. If you're currently an individual contributor (i.e., you don't manage anybody), consider the following about life as a manager before accepting that promotion to Department Supervisor:

  • Managers usually get paid more than non-managers. You will likely be rewarded for moving up the chain, as you are being compensated for taking on more responsibility and the additional value you are expected to provide.
  • Risk increases the higher you climb. Your paycheck grew when you took that promotion, but some of that money is hazard pay. Expectations on your ability to deliver increased with your title. In addition, there will be people who will be gunning for your job, who believe they deserve the position.
  • Managers are responsible for the results their department produces. In other words, your team may or may not meet its goals, but as manager you own the end result regardless of how hard you worked or how well you believe you directed your team or set strategic vision.
  • Supervisors are expected to lead their teams – and others. There's a great deal more to managing employees than giving directions and expecting the team to follow them. People are sentient beings with their own desires, perceptions, and ideas. Just because you ask them to perform a task doesn't mean that they necessarily will do it the way you want – or do it at all. A good manager can motivate, inspire, educate, mentor, influence, persuade, and cajole, modulating their message to their employee to maximize results. And he or she can also be a taskmaster when the situation calls for it.
  • Delegation is essential. If you're a detail oriented micro-manager, where you need to be in control of absolutely every detail and you have a hard time trusting others to get things done, managing others will keep you awake at night; you will worry whether your employees will complete their assigned tasks to the standards you expect and you'll be popping Rolaids like candy.
  •  Management is a different job. Let's say you started your career as an engineer, and you've been tapped to lead the department as Manager. You're going to find yourself doing a heck of a lot less engineering, and many more managerial functions: budgeting, resource planning, scheduling, hiring and firing, conducting performance appraisals and talent reviews, putting out fires, attending status meetings, strategic planning, fighting for resources, reporting, and so on...

Before accepting that managerial promotion, it might be wise to ask yourself the following:

  1. What is my tolerance for the additional demands this promotion will place on me? Am I prepared to play the political game? How about the extra stress and responsibility? Can I handle the extra risk? If you welcome the uncertainty and the challenge, it's probably a no-brainer.
  2. How well can I manage other people? If you've never supervised anybody before, this can be difficult to answer. But try to be aware of how people have responded to you when you've worked with them on projects or delegated assignments to others. Likewise, try to be aware of whether you can handle having other people do tasks instead of doing everything yourself.
  3. What would I enjoy more? The job I was hired to do, or the managerial responsibilities the promotion entails? If you're ready for some new and different challenges, management may be perfect for you. On the other hand, if you bristle at the idea of giving up a career as an Account Executive to manage sales people, then you may be better off staying in your current position.

Bottom Line: As you progress higher up in an organization, you will need to leverage different skills and competencies than the ones you utilized when starting your career. Before accepting the promotion into a managerial role, carefully evaluate the position, what will be expected of you, and the value you will bring to the organization, and ensure that your skills - and desires - are aligned with the new position.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.