Hi! I’m Suzanne.
I am an executive recruiter and career coach.
My life’s mission is to teach the best and brightest professionals how to manage their careers so they can accelerate, advance and grow in their dream career.
The Most Important Step that Successful Executives Take to Manage Their Careers
Whether you’re ready to take a leap forward to a new level, ready to jump over to a new field, OR if you find yourself approaching a corporate restructure that may put you unwillingly back into the job market, this post is for you.
At the risk of being redundant, I can’t help but dedicate an entire post to this concept, because it is CRITICAL to anyone facing a career change, and so often forgotten by the most intelligent, capable professionals as they navigate the uncharted, unpracticed waters of a high-level job search.
There is a question that everyone faces at the beginning of a job search and career transition, and more often than not, people gloss over the question without giving careful thought, and go STRAIGHT to the easiest, most visible answer. The problem starts here. With that answer in the back of your mind, you’ll launch a job search that has you continuously doubting your progress, wondering if this is really the best you can do, and ultimately, in most cases, settling for less than.
So it’s this question, this incredibly important question, that I want you to stop and pay attention to:
“What is my ideal NEXT step?”
It’s an obvious question, and you may have already started answering the question in your head, vaguely gathering some idea of where you want to be, perhaps without clearly articulating all of the details around it.
But then something sneaky happens. For various reasons (fear, naysayers, lack of evidence or perhaps even one particular data point that challenges you to think your ideal job isn’t realistic), you pull back back from where you want to be. Why? Partially because we aren’t fully aware of it (when you work only in your head, that can happen). You may be telling yourself:
- IN MY NEW CITY, I don’t have the network in this new area of the country to gain access to that type of job
- NOW THAT I GOT LAID OFF, my long-term experience with one company isn’t competitive for a similar role in the market. Worse yet, most of my network is unemployed, or they reported to me, so they can’t get my foot in the door at the right level.
- AT MY LEVEL, CEOs are looking for people
- who already have experience in that industry…they don’t want to take a chance on someone from outside the industry
- who have already been there, done that, in this exact kind of role, so I’m not qualified to transition from marketing to sales at this point in my career
- WITHOUT THE EXPERIENCE AT THAT LEVEL, I can’t be considered for a job at the level I deserve to be at
And that’s where the compromise begins.
But you don’t need my guidance to compromise (I trust you can do that all on your own). What you need, is to know that it’s possible to move forward in your career, without taking a step back.
So it’s important to clearly define exactly what your ideal next step would look like. I want you to take the time to truly think it through and then WRITE IT DOWN.
Research shows that when you go into a negotiation, you’ll get a better outcome if you focus on your top number, vs. the bare minimum you would be willing to accept. Why would you treat your job search any differently? Going into your job search focusing on the bare minimum you think you CAN get, will likely give you something closer to that bare minimum. When you start your job search with your IDEAL JOB in mind, you have a much better chance of reaching that goal, or getting much closer to it.
After you’ve written out the ideal job (you should include industry, title, a list of responsibilities, and location), then identify the gaps. When you start writing out the gaps, I want you to remember that you didn’t have all of the qualifications for the job you’re currently in, there was likely some learning along the way. Don’t make assumptions – you don’t have to have been there and done all of it in order to be considered. Furthermore, and this is super important, you don’t have to find 10 jobs that fit your unique set of skills and experience, you only need to find 1. And that’s the most important thing to remind yourself of on a regular basis. If you review that list above and remind yourself of this principle, you will begin to see that
- building or expanding your network is absolutely possible, with a little planning and effort, so while it might be a short term problem, it is absolutely one that you can address.
- while many companies MIGHT want someone who has been in their industry for 20 years, companies seeking transformation are frequently seeking a new way of thinking, and people from outside their industry to help them create the change they need.
- Some CEOs are seeking an up and comer who hasn’t done it all before, because they want to be disruptive and do things in a new and different way.
You don’t have to find 10 jobs that fit your unique set of skills and experience, you only need to find 1.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but the first and most important thing you can do is set your target and then find away over, around or under the hurdles that might be in your way. You’ve done it for your company, in your job a thousand times over, and now it’s time to apply those same skills to your career.
Your Best Next Step – Do This Now!
In each of my posts, I try to offer one actionable step to help you transform your career. For today, whether you’re actively in the market for a job or just beginning to think about where you want your career to go, take the time to write out your ideal next job, including the industry, title, a list of responsibilities, and location, and identify the gaps.
A Word for Your Naysayers
Sometimes it’s our own internal naysayer, but more often than not, the naysayers are our closest friends, family and sometimes even mentors. When you hear that your ideal job isn’t possible, I want you to remind yourself of what I said above, you don’t have to find 10 jobs that fit your unique set of skills and experience, you only need to find 1.
If you believe that’s possible, then it’s time to bet on yourself, go out there, and do what you need to do to make it happen.