How to Prepare for a Volatile Executive Employment Marketplace

How to Prepare for a Volatile Executive Employment Marketplace

Executive career change, particularly for those who have not engaged in it for a decade or more, is inherently destabilizing for the individual, that person’s family, and maybe even for that person’s company. So how do you create a “career strategy emergency kit” to prepare for a time when your situation demands change?

Build Your Network Now

Do not wait another day to reach out to that person you met last week—or six months ago—but with whom you never reconnected. Start becoming more active on specific LinkedIn groups of your choice, and turn those online connections into human ones. The executive job market is still about who you know, and you need to meet the right people to advance your career. In the process, you might find the chance to help out others who are in similar situations, so the transactions are not always unidirectional. Always try to give more than you get, and you’ll develop significant goodwill that you can use when you need it.

Talk to Your Boss Today

This is critical–don’t wait for projects to land in your lap by accident. Research your company’s direction and start to feel out your executive leadership about the ways you can contribute. In this process, you’ll achieve two goals. First, you’ll start to interact with key decision makers. Rather than becoming one of those who is always asking for something, you’re communicating with them to offer your expertise and your assistance and asking for nothing but the opportunity to provide it in return.

Second, when you are put onto new projects, you’re developing significant new skills, leadership, and talents. You might find that these will power your plan to apply your talents to an advanced role, a different company, or even a different industry.

Think about What You Want Next

We often hear about executives who have separated from their companies prematurely, whether by choice or by structural change. All of a sudden, they are confronted with a world of opportunities, all of which could be viable choices, some of which are likely, and a few of which are exactly right. Identifying the types of positions, verticals, product groups, and industries ahead of time will save you time as you go through the volatility of looking for a new position.

In conclusion, smart executives need to prepare themselves for a volatile employment marketplace. Executives in career transition seeking stability need to create a solid career change strategy long before they embark on it.

10 Common Fears that Hold Back Successful Executive Career Growth

10 Common Fears that Hold Back Successful Executive Career Growth

Executives whom I have coached through complex career changes are among the strongest, most fearless individuals I have met in my career. They lead large teams. They put innovative products to market. They guide budgets in the millions if not hundreds of millions. In a word, they are powerful, interesting individuals who overcome meaningful professional challenges every day.

Whether these executives know exactly what they are seeking in a new role, or whether they are truly exploring the many options before them, and as daring as each of these leaders are, they often share a number of fears about the career change process. If your blood pressure rises slightly at the thought of one or more of these common fears about career change, you’re certainly not alone, as unique as your career situation might be.

Fears about Getting Started in an Executive Job Search

1. Fear of having to make a choice to leave a “good enough” situation at work.

2. Fear of walking the career transition journey alone without someone with whom you can be brutally honest.

3. Fear of adding more stress to days that already have 25 hours of distractions.

4. Fear of having to network to find the right role–especially for introverts.

5. Fear of adding One. More. Thing. to today’s to-do list.

6. Fear of writing a resume (or gnawing feeling that you don’t have the right resume).

7. Fear of having the boss find out (note: Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to announce it).

Fears about Not Getting Started in an Executive Job Search

8. Fear of showing up to the same job again on Monday.

9. Fear of wasting time by inaction today.

10. Fear that the right job is out there, waiting for you, but someone else snagged it first.

Do any of these resonate with you? I would guess that if none of these strikes a chord with you that you’re not really ready to engage in a career transition, as you haven’t thought deeply about how their answers inform your wants and needs in a future career. Without that type of thinking, although you will of course continue to be successful, you won’t be as insightful about your own process as you could be. Neither will you challenge yourself to grow.

But if your blood pressure is just a little higher right now than it was when you opened this article, then there is opportunity for you to offload some of that anxiety. In fact, this expert would consider it an honor to be privileged with your trust. At the same time you can get some real clarity about your goals and fearlessly seek out and achieve the executive career opportunities that you know are right for you.

 

Get to the Heart of Your Fear of Career Change

Get to the Heart of Your Fear of Career Change

Recently, I posted about fear in the executive job search. I was extremely surprised by the level of interest in this blog post (What Do You Fear Most About Your Career Change–search for it on my web site). I could not have predicted the response that this topic received. I think that means that more people are afraid of changing jobs or changing careers then meets the eye. Likely, fear is not an acceptable or common topic of conversation among extremely well-positioned executive leaders; the executive team is supposed to be, evidently, stoic, proud, and fearless. But behind every executive title is a real human being, with his or her own attitudes—and fears.

You know that as an executive you should portray fearlessness every day, so you might quietly stew about your executive job search. You may have many reasons for delaying action on it. For example, the holidays are coming, and you need to maintain some stability. Your spouse is also in transition. You’re in the middle of an exciting—or draining—series of projects at work. Your team is counting on you. Your boss is counting on you. Your company is counting on you. On the other hand, perhaps you have made tentative overtures into exploring the market. Either way, you’re probably in a relatively balanced state of ambivalence—not enough pressure from either side to force a decision.

thinking man

Perhaps this ambivalence comes from the fact that your reasons for staying in your current role have nothing to do with your specific needs. Does that mean you think (or I think) that you are a fearful person, or that you treat every challenge to improve your situation as an opportunity to retreat? Of course not. You wouldn’t be in the position you are in right now if you rejected chances to grow and change and lead in your industry. Based on the profiles of the executives I have worked with in the past, I would venture to say that you are extremely good at what you do; ready to fight for what your company, your industry, your team needs; and well-known as an excellent leader and mentor, not to mention humble and willing to give your team credit rather than take it yourself. Moreover, you probably don’t want to rock the boat in which you are standing. But you have to think about your career in terms of your individual needs and requirements for growth.

Give Yourself Some Thought

Your feelings about going to work every day in your executive role may range from true excitement to straight-up dread. But the job is yours to love or hate, and you may feel very protective of it. You would never let anyone else disparage you or your company, so you prevent yourself from the close examination of it that might reveal that it is not perfect for you. Because you know how to do your job better than anyone else does, and you’ve proven that, you might think that moving on to another position would diminish your level of comfort in your role. I venture to guess that you have not shrunk from other types of challenges, so I strongly urge you to consider the fact that simply because something is not familiar that it is bad. And simply because something is familiar it is not necessarily universally good for you, as you progress through your career.

I would encourage you to ask yourself some of the following questions. They are not easy questions to answer, but your responses might surprise you– either in a good or frustrating way.

  • Do you answer every one of my challenges above with “Yes, but…”?
  • Are you sure that what you have in your current executive role is the best situation for you? (It might be, but you have to evaluate it to be certain.)
  • Are you afraid that change necessarily means failure?
  • Are you afraid that you might not have the experience or know how to succeed outside of your current organization?

Overall, this article is an attempt to help you identify and perhaps confront what might be holding you back in changing your mindset about your executive job search. In no way is it an indictment of your capability or your willingness to rise to every challenge that confronts you on a professional level. But I hope it does meet you where you are in your thought process about any fears related to career change.