I have spoken to thousands of C level professionals over the course of 40+ years in executive search. Almost to a fault, they are all serious minded professionals who have worked hard to where they are today. Many have sacrificed days, nights and weekends to obtain education or serve employer needs and now are in a position where they have to look for work. Maybe they were “rightsized” (That is a wonderful lie organizations tell people. You weren’t fired. You were “rightsized) after a merger or business reversal. Maybe they feel stuck doing the same work they have done for the past 5,10, 15 or more years and have started to ask themselves, “Is this all there is?” No matter, it is now time to face the fact that the organization you’ve given blood, sweat and tears to won’t be your future home.
I know that staff professionals can have similar epiphanies but it tends to be different for those of you in the C suite. If you aren’t yet there, you are rapidly approaching “the back 9” of your career. You maybe questioning whether ageism is going to make it harder for you to find work (it will) and how you will stack up to your competitors (you’re better than some and worse than some).
All your performance appraisals for your entire career now feel like little more than pablum as you plan on stepping out onto the battle field of an executive job search. Writing a resume. Networking. Interviewing. That’s what is ahead of you. Doesn’t seem like fun. After all, many of you will be working full time and adding to your “To Do” list of priorities. It is enough for many of you to give up, suck it up and slink back into your office, next flight or start blaming the economy and ageism.
Here are 4 things you can do to find your next C level job
1. Learn the lesson that Marshall Goldsmith teaches.
His book entitled, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” calls attention to a simple act of wisdom. People know they need to change but what what they really want is to do the same thing they’ve always done but get a different result. You are going to have to do things differently in your search and in your career, as well. Answering ads won’t work. 70% of positions are filled as a result of networking; 70% of the 70% are filled as a result of introductions to people who your network knows who you don’t (My interview with Dave Opton of Execunet on Job Search Radio. Listen to the interview). In addition, you are going to have to make changes. You achieved a level of professional success. To play BIG, you will probably need to make a few changes.
2. Stop working so damned hard on your job.
All work and no play has made you dull and boring. You sound like every other person and say the same things everyone else did. The system has chewed you up and is about to spit you out leaving you homogenized and pasteurized. As things stand now, you are not the interesting and certainly not that different than anyone else the search firm and their clients are interviewing. Running on the treadmill of your career has turned you into a machine and not a better human. Take a half step back and take some time with your husband, wife or partner. Go skiing or on a sail. Have a lovely dinner with them regularly. Spend some time with the kids. Ask them what could you do to be a better (husband/wife/partner . . . or Dad/Mom). You do it with customers and they don’t mean as much to you as your family. Ask your family and then try to do better.
3. Think Media, Not Social Media.
In days of old, executive search firms would ignore resumes that were submitted to them and look for newspaper clippings using microfiche (antique celluloid data bases of newspaper articles) resumes that are submitted, have access to their own data bases PLUS for stories about successful executives. Today, they still ignore that are submitted to them, buy access to LinkedIn Recruiter and search media for relevant talent. One thing hasn’t changed–finding people who are not “actively looking for work” and locating people via media outlets. These people are seen as subject matter experts. Play BIG. When they Google you, where will they find you. Annual report? Interview you did with CNBC, CNN or Fox? No where? Average people can’t be found. Being found is no guaranty. It is just the first cut.
4. Get help.
You don’t know what you don’t know. You may have hired people but that doesn’t make you an expert at job hunting at this level. After all, you’ve heard of the 10000 rule that points to how 10000 hours of deliberate practice, stretching you outside of your comfort zone has the potential for mastery. How much experience do you have with this kind of job search? How few hours of experience do you have. In addition to the captain of the plane (you), captains have various members to their team including crew, mechanics, ground control and airline staff supporting them. Who’s your team. Get a coach who works extensively in this space to help you. The search firms are there to fill positions and not help you find work unless it is with their client. Hire your team. Let your coach put you in touch with resume writers they like. Don’t let the resume writer captain the search. I am confident in many of their abilities to write an effective resume but their experience with the actual search may be quite limited. Hire a job search coach with experience working with an executive clientele.
I have skipped over some of the obvious things everyone knows they need to do whether they are C suite or not. Starting with 30 minutes a day working on your search if you are still working and at least 3 hours if you are unemployed leaves plenty of time for networking, preparing information for your resume writer and other search related activities like practicing for your interviews.
Don’t tough it out. Pretend you are delegating and outsource what you can to others and work on the things only you can do.
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves life coaching, as well as executive job search coaching and leadership coaching. He is also the host of “Job Search Radio,” and “No BS Job Search Advice Radio” podcasts.
Are you interested in executive job search coaching, leadership coaching or life coaching from me? Email me at [email protected] and put the word, “Coaching” in the subject line.
For non-executives, JobSearchCoachingHQ.com offers great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.
You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle for $.99 and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.”