Q. You have done a fine job of helping many people understand how to target the right jobs. What advice would you provide to a very senior executive with a breadth of experience in leading organizations, a history of significant financial responsibility and years of success? What should my next step look like?
A. Congratulations on a successful career and climbing the corporate ladder. Senior executives have many opportunities and that often that can seem more challenging than seeing limited choices.
To look at your future, start with a look at your career runway. How many years do you want to devote to a full-time role before you make a change to board roles, part-time, teaching, volunteer or some other kind of portfolio approach to work? Based on that timeline, you may be looking at the next position, or the next two if you can make that happen. Take an extensive look at the skills you have, how transferable they are, what type of work you are most energized by, and at what point in a company life cycle your contributions are most significant.
As senior executives look at the world of opportunities, they often evaluate potential opportunities from a somewhat neutral starting point of, ”I can do that role,” which may be accurate. However, the thinking is flawed. To find the next opportunity best for you, assume the buyer’s view. Hiring executives for the C-suite or the Board, involves finding the very best candidate, not just the capable, for the exact need presented by the opportunity available.
Assess yourself as the buyer would – on multiple dimensions. Imagine a target with at least four circles leading to the bull’s-eye. Evaluate the mandatory areas for whoever the successful candidate will be. On the target, plot your functional experience, your managerial expertise, your industry knowledge and your leadership skills according to strength – getting you closer to the bull’s-eye. How close to, or far from the bull’s-eye are you? What other dimensions do you have to bring you closer of further away from being thebull’s-eye candidate?
This simple assessment will help you determine not just what you are capable of, but where you’ll be viewed as the best candidate. You can see how your candidacy will be viewed by those in a position to hire you or executive recruiters as they decide whether to include you in their presentation slate.
The job searches of senior executives are complex, time and ego consuming. Ensuring the targeting is appropriate will lead the way to a successful conclusion in a reasonable time frame.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners