Tips to landing an exec gig
Standing out from the competition is the key to landing a spot in the C-suite.
The longer you’ve been at the same desk, the harder it can seem to move into the corner office. The higher on the corporate ladder you rise, the stiffer the competition for executive jobs becomes.
But landing that C-suite position—or another upper-level title you’re coveting—isn’t impossible. You just have to put in the work. That means being clear about your goals and being willing to bring your A-game, because at this level, plenty of employees are doing good things. You have to stand out from the pack.
Try these three strategies from career experts to position yourself for executive jobs.
Intent and visibility need to be at the top of your to-do list. “The first step is to make your desire for a promotion known. Express your desire to move upward into a leadership or other position to those who have the decision-making power,” says business coach Stacy Caprio. “If they never know you want to move up in that way, they may think you’re content where you are.”
Once you’ve made your message clear, jump-start your image. “Why don’t you speak at a conference?” says Dana Theus, an executive and career coach with InPower Coaching. “Why don’t you put together a whitepaper or run a committee or do something that puts you out in front of people in a new way?” If your company has an in-house newsletter, start writing articles for it. If you can’t do these things in your current role, look to industry associations or your local chamber of commerce for opportunities.
It could also be that you’re setting the wrong tone with your actions and don’t even realize it. Hiring a career coach can help you identify your trouble spots, says leadership-development expert Carol Lempert.
According to Lempert, a recent client “hadn’t realized that her habit of not speaking at meetings and waiting to weigh in on agenda topics via email was sabotaging her ability to be seen as a leader and, as a result, she’d given up trying to impress her boss.” But after working with her coach, she was able to turn it around and get chosen for a highly coveted assignment.
Act the part
To a certain extent, you must become executive material to land executive jobs. That means dressing the way your superiors dress and understanding what kinds of issues people at the upper levels face. If you work for a publicly traded company, listen to the quarterly earnings calls. You’ll hear company leaders talk to analysts about the firm’s goals. “You’ll hear the tough questions they are being asked,” Lempert says. “This will help you more clearly articulate how you’re adding value to the current leadership’s strategy and goals. It will also give you ideas about which projects to raise your hand for and which ones to leave to others.”
It can be helpful to recognize your deficits and seek out training to get yourself up to speed. Theus recalls working with a vice president who had an opportunity to take a practical applied finance course. “I asked, ‘Can you read the financial statements?’ and she said, ‘Not really,’” Theus says. “I said, ‘Yes, you should do it.’ It was really helpful to her.”
In other words, broaden your viewpoint. Volunteer for a task force that will give you a more global perspective on the company and how all the pieces work together. Talk to a mentor at a higher level about what knowledge you need in order to be successful in a similar role.
One of the things that can get you noticed is the ability to change before you become outdated. “You have to say, ‘Who I was yesterday was Me 3.0, and I need to be Me 4.0. I have to do something different, I have to look for what’s missing,’” Theus says.
The more you can present yourself as someone who’s ready for the next step, the more likely you are to be seen and tagged for the right role.
Network, network, network
You know, of course, that networking is helpful. But be honest with yourself: Are you still putting the effort in? It's much harder to get promoted—or get that plum job title—without connecting with the right people
“There’s a good chance that when you apply for an executive position, you’ll be competing against at least one candidate more qualified than you,” says Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, a college- and career-prep company. “That’s life. The way you get ahead is by knowing the person on the other side.”
Knowing the hiring manager—or anyone who can help you secure introductions or interviews for an executive position at a company—comes down to meeting people, shaking hands, exchanging business cards, and connecting on social media.
“The more people you meet, the more relationships you’ll have the opportunity to cultivate,” Patel says. “Over time, ask professionals out for coffee or lunch. Be interested in their stories. Ask them about their struggles. These relationships can organically lead to opportunities.”
Rely on the experts
Building a network and getting your assets ready for a job search sounds easy in theory. But now it’s time to get out there and get some exposure. Need some help with that? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get job alerts emailed right to your inbox, which cuts down on the amount of time you’d spend combing through ads. Additionally, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to different types of executive jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you.