Have you ever wondered how company managers find their jobs? Or the other way around: How do companies find their managers? Basically, managers always come from one of two places: inside or outside the organization.
This may seem obvious, but it’s helpful nonetheless. If you want to work at the management level, the so-called “C” level, start at the company you are currently at. And if for some reason that doesn’t feel worthwhile, you can instead focus your attention on other companies, making yourself an “external” candidate.
In last week’s column, we examined seven strategies for preparing for a corporate executive role, from raising your profile to building leadership skills. Today we’ll look at how to find the open positions – and how you can become discoverable when organizations need new leadership.
1. Don’t rely on job postings: Remember: the higher the position, the less likely the company is to advertise the position. Of course, you may see a job posting somewhere, but that doesn’t mean the company relies on this process to build a candidate pool.
Instead, candidates are more likely to come from other sources, with the job postings serving as a backup process – or as part of a company’s commitment to fair hiring practices to ensure that knowledge of the job posting is made widely available. On a side note, it’s also possible that a post at this level is a scam, so be careful.
2. Develop a Network Strategy: If companies don’t use posting, they need to use other strategies, such as networking. As a job seeker, your goal is simple: Be the person people mention when asked for recommendations. To achieve this, you need to improve your networking.
For example, do your contacts know that you are focusing on higher-level positions? If they haven’t heard the words “boss” or “leader” from you, they won’t remember you when those roles become available. When networking, make sure that you not only connect with high-level people, but that they also have a clear understanding of your goals and skills. At the same time, don’t forget to ask each contact if they know of any companies that might be looking for C-level executives in the near future.
3. Familiarize yourself with recruiters: Or at least with the concept of recruiters. These professionals are notoriously difficult to network with, so you may not be successful in your contact request. Try it anyway and remember to send your CV and a short note that you are interested in interviewing if a management position opens up. Many executive recruiters maintain databases, so this passive method could bear fruit down the road.
4. Join a Professional Association: Depending on the group, professional associations may offer various benefits that are helpful to those seeking leadership positions. These include: member directories; access to individuals in other companies; leadership opportunities; Industry training and world-class networking opportunities.
5. Consider joining a board: As CEO, you demonstrate entrepreneurial leadership skills that can impress an employer. However, not all board positions are helpful for your cause. For example, running fundraisers and membership drives for a nonprofit organization demonstrates good community involvement, but likely won’t introduce you to company executives or gain high-level leadership experience.
For this strategy, focus on organizations with a similar mission or product line to the companies you’ve chosen to target. Then, reach out to as many executives on the board as possible to build relationships and find out about openings elsewhere.
6. Consider fractional and intermediate options: Did you know that not all management positions are permanent or full-time? To clarify, a part-time executive holds a leadership role at a fraction of the full-time rate. For example, this could be a 40% finance manager who works two days a week. This solution is particularly attractive to growth organizations that need the expertise but are not yet large enough to justify the role on a full-time basis.
In contrast, interim managers would likely work on a full-time basis to cover for someone who is ill or otherwise unable to perform their position. One way to find such opportunities is to contact placement firms that specialize in filling these roles for their client companies.
Whether you use one or more strategies to find open executive positions, you’ll definitely need professional-level materials, including a resume or resume, a compelling LinkedIn profile, and perhaps a bio with a professional photo. Executive public relations materials are the topic of next week’s column. So come back for tips on how to make a good first impression.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.