Targeting the C-Suite

Missile launching with text overlay Targeting The C-Suite

Is your career trajectory targeted at the C-Suite? If so, now might be the time to launch your next career move. The global economy is thriving, businesses are optimistic and hiring, and 2017 could be the best year since the recession for executive candidates.

One good indicator is the BlueSteps Executive Career Outlook Report1, which gauges the sentiments of over 1,200 executives worldwide. Optimism regarding executive job opportunities increased from 40% in 2016 to 45% in 2017, with executives generally positive about the global business climate and opportunities for investment.

Graph Showing Optimism in Global Business ClimateThe CEO Turnover Report2 from outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc. provides another signal. CEO exits have remained steady since 2012. The figures include retirements and both voluntary and involuntary transitions and tend to trend upwards during economic declines. They indicate the steady availability of executive slots among the largest publicly-traded companies.

Look to Expanding Industries for Executive Jobs

Even with optimistic forecasts, you should go into your search with realistic expectations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently 2,467,500 top executive positions in U.S. companies. That sounds like a lot, but C-level jobs represent only about 1.5% of the total civilian workforce. BLS expects the number of top executive positions should grow by 6% during their current forecasting period (2014 – 2024), increasing by about 150,000 U.S. jobs during the period.3

New executive openings are more likely to occur in growing business segments. Monster.com’s list of 10 growth industries for executive jobs includes a couple of categories that might make you scratch your head:4

  1. Health care
  2. Professional Services
  3. Technology
  4. Marijuana
  5. Waste management
  6. Elder care
  7. Financial Investments
  8. Travel, hospitality, and leisure
  9. Construction
  10. Private Education

Health care is an obvious growth segment for the foreseeable future and there is continued high demand for managerial and startup experience in the tech industry. The trend towards charter schools could availability of leadership positions in the private education sector. While the marijuana industry may offer a few interesting benefits for an incoming CEO, corporate jets and corner offices might not be part of the compensation package.

Competition is Tough. You’ll need a strategy

Regardless of the industry segment, there is tough competition for C-level positions.  If you’re planning a move into the C-Suite or to a new position, you’ll need patience.  The BlueSteps research indicates that 46% of executives expect to spend between 6 and 12 months on their transition.

You’ll also need a strategy.

Expectations of C-level execs are changing. As an example, the Chief Financial Officer title sounds functional. In the past, the CFO was the chief bean counter, keeping the numbers straight for the organization. Today, even in smaller companies, the CFO must be able to operate globally, understand the impact of technological change, and be able to provide analysis and data that contributes strategically.

Even for experienced executives, keeping up with the pace of change is a major part of remaining competitive. 49% of the respondents in the BlueSteps research indicated high value for digital training as a component of their career development path. 34% valued foreign language studies.

It’s necessary to take the changing business environment into consideration as you formulate your strategy for your first or next executive career move. You’ll also need to consider the mechanics of conducting a C-level job search. The right position may be difficult to find – most CEO positions aren’t advertised on Indeed.com.

Critical Components of an Executive Job Search

The ability to think and act strategically is expected of executive leaders, and you must employ tactical capabilities as you conduct your job search. Here are a few elements of a C-level search that you should consider:

  1. Preparation – Do the research and develop an in-depth knowledge of the industries and the companies that you’ll be targeting. It’s not unusual for execs to cross industries, especially among the largest corporations; but the ability to quickly understand new business sectors and business problems is mandatory. Think ahead. Understand the opportunities and the difficulties.
  2. Networking – Where will you make the contacts that will lead your next position? In today’s world, you’ll want to be engaged in person and online. That means a complete LinkedIn profile and also maintaining and making connections with industry groups and individuals who may help you with your search.
  3. Recruiters – Businesses frequently turn to executive recruiters to hire key executive positions. They may lack the resources for an executive search within their organization or simply prefer to remove the decisions from the normal hiring channels. It’s important to remember that the executive recruiter who contacts you is a representative of the company who might hire you. He or she doesn’t work on your behalf. That said, it’s a good idea to contact a few recruiters who are active in the industry you’re targeting and also to be very visible and findable when they search online.
  4. Transition Work – It may take some time to move to your next permanent executive slot. You might want to consider work that will take you through the transition and allow you to make valuable contacts. Take on a consulting project or get in touch with VC or Private Equity firms who may need seasoned executives to work with the companies they invest in.
  5. Selling – You may be used to leading and making decisions, but a C-level job search is largely selling. Don’t forget that the companies who interview you are the buyers. You’ll be able to ask questions, but you should focus on providing the information they need to assess your leadership abilities, your experience, and your knowledge.

Stellar Resume Required

You must stand out from your competition if you hope to land in the C-Suite. That means you need a stellar resume. The companies you’re targeting are highly selective – they’re looking for a defined set of skills and competencies along with the leadership qualities and character that fits their corporate culture. You’ll be interviewed and ultimately hired based on the way that you communicate your qualifications.

C-lClipart of Executive Standingevel positions are mission critical. Your resume must immediately build the confidence that you are the best candidate to provide leadership and growth. Here are a few more items to consider:

  1. Start from Scratch – Don’t recycle an old resume. Think strategically about your message and how you’ll clearly convey your value.
  2. Customize – Do the research and tailor your resume for each company. Do your best to identify and target the needs of the company you might lead.
  3. No BS – Forget the resume language. Every organization needs an “experienced executive with high motivation and clear definition of mission goals” and almost every resume they see will express that or other similar nonsense.
  4. Clear and short message – Yes, your corporate resume should be 2 pages. Provide an executive summary at the top that’s essentially your resume at a glance. Include key accomplishments and skills or experience relevant to the company and the position. Include statements and stories in your career chronology that create a realistic presentation of value, that make you memorable, and that will encourage interview questions.
  5. Include keywords – Even if you’re applying for an executive slot, your resume is still likely to wind up in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Include keywords that make your resume searchable. You may want to consider a core proficiencies section near the top of your resume.

Consider a Professional Resume Writer

Let’s face it, writing your own resume is difficult. You want to be objective and to put your best foot forward. It’s not always easy to tell when you’ve stepped over the line between the clear communication of value and unintentional self-promotion. If you’re targeting a C-level position, investing in a professionally created executive resume is likely to produce a high return.

At CareerPro Global, we regularly work with corporate executives to assist with their career plans and transitions. We’ll provide an objective assessment of your experience and accomplishments and help you craft the right message to communicate your value and your capabilities. Your executive resume will stand out from the competition, providing opportunities, interviews, and the C-level position you’re looking for.

If your career is on a C-level trajectory, it’s a good time to launch your next move. Ready to get started? Just call Careerpro Global today for a free consultation.

Sources:

12017 BlueSteps Executive Career Outlook Summary Report, BlueSteps/Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants, 2017.

2CEO Turnover Report, Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc.

3Occupational Outlook Handbook: Top Executives, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4Buffalo, Sally. 10 fastest-growing industries for executive jobs, Monster.com.

Images: Wikimedia.com (missile), pixabay.com