Increase Your Executive Opportunities by 70%

Based on my two decades of experience as a Senior Partner and Practice Leader at a leading executive search firm, I can tell you that being a reactive job seeker is holding you back in your career.  But the good news is that there’s a better path forward.

In this blog, I’m going to share with you an example of how the executive search process actually works.  Within that construct, I’ll help you proactively insert yourself in the search process at the right time to help you land your next executive position.

Let’s start with a brief primer on how the executive job search process works using John Smith – a departing West Coast CMO – as an example.   As I describe this process, I’ll explain what each step means for you as a prospect seeking a CMO role on the West Coast.   Of course, this example will fit for all executives like Chief Financial Officers, Chief Legal Officers, etc.   Let’s dig in.

John Smith is a seasoned CMO with a West Coast-based firm who has all the boxes checked.  He’s grown the brand remarkably, successfully managed P&L responsibility, and has demonstrated mastery of all aspects of executive leadership.   He’s well-respected by his peers, and his board of directors loves him.    Obviously,  John’s firm would like to keep him around for a long time.

Then lightning strikes.

John’s wife decides she wants to relocate back to New York City to care for her ailing mother.   John agrees to the move and makes a lateral shift back to the East Coast.   Now his former firm is scrambling.

John’s now former firm will choose 1 of 3 options, and I’ll explain what these options mean for you as his potential successor:

Option 1:  John’s firm can hire from within. If there’s a great a candidate waiting in the wings, they’re all set.

What’s this mean for you? In this case, you have no chance in succeeding John.  But many times, there’s no ideal internal candidate so the firm moves to option 2 or 3.

Option 2:  Start a retained search process. In the past, this meant that your chances of replacing John were slim because you never had visibility to the opening.   You would be dependent on the long odds of being on the retained search firm’s list.

Services like Lead5 have changed the narrative on this.   Lead5 would uncover this opportunity along with key contact information.   Lead5 would also give you inside intel on the opening so that you could target your outreach effectively.   It’s important for you to note here that the search firm doesn’t care ‘how’ they source the right candidate.   All they care about is finding the right fit for their client, and the faster the better.   Remember, John’s firm has a hole and it’s in their vested interested to fill it with the right candidate quickly.

What’s this mean for you? First off, you need to have your C.V. and outreach strategy solidified and ready to go.   Second, you need immediate knowledge of this position so that you can strike before your competition does.   Services like Lead5 allow you to filter on important criteria and immediately expose these hidden opportunities on our site and via email.

The takeaway: Be prepared, be proactive, and strike when the iron is hot.

Option 3: John’s firm will take 4 to 6 weeks to explore quick hit ideas from senior management, the board of directors, marketing firms, etc.  If at the end of the 4 to 6 weeks they have not found a high-quality candidate, they will start a full retained search process (see Option 2 above).

What’s this mean for you? Understand that John’s firm is essentially scrambling for options here.   Their core competency is not executive search, and this process is taking time away from running their business.  This mean that as a candidate, keep in mind that John’s firm wants to find the right candidate quickly, and get back to focusing on building products and serving customers.

The takeaway: Be prepared and proactive.  Know that it will increase your odds to strike during the first three (3) weeks of this process.   If you’re a good fit and your outreach is strong, you have the potential to land this position before the firm resorts to hiring a costly retained search firm.

To summarize, options 2 and 3 above are your sweet-spots as an executive candidate.   In the past, they have hidden to you as an executive job seeker.  Services like Lead5 make these opportunities visible and arm you with insider intel that will help you stand out as a candidate.   Once you have near real-time visibility on executive openings, I can’t stress enough how critical timing is in this equation.   Therefore, it’s important to remember two things:

1. Firms have a vested interest to filling a key role with the right candidate quickly.

2. Executive jobs are highly competitive. It’s critical that you insert yourself promptly so that you’re at the top of the recruiter’s list, before the surge of C.V.’s hit.

The modern executive job search is experiencing a transformation.   Executive candidates who are proactive will have access to more opportunities and will maximize their earning potential in the marketplace.

Use Lead5 to uncover hidden executive opportunities and gain the intel required to land your next prominent role.   Lead5 has been the executives trusted partner for 5 years.   

Start your complimentary trial today. 

The Private Equity Industry Is Booming: What Does This Mean for You?

Over the last decade, the private equity industry has sky-rocketed as cheap debt from low interest rates has provided fuel to the leverage model along with more investors realizing the remarkably favorable risk-reward ratio of a well-managed PE-backed backed deal.   As the private equity model continues to build momentum, more executives from public companies are being approached to join PE-backed companies.   Have you been approached by a PE-backed firm?   If so, I’m going to share some PE industry insights from Dave Justus, a veteran PE-backed CFO, and also a Lead5 advisory board member.  I’ll close with 4 key attributes that successful private equity executives must have to thrive under this ownership structure.

Why is Private Equity Booming?

Dave Justus is the former CFO of Avetta and he’s a PE-backed veteran, and Dave also serves on the Lead5 advisory board.   He recently shared these insights on private equity’s emergence.

Mr. Justus says, “Investment by private equity firms (PE) is booming and, in some ways, overtaking public and venture capital as the preferred investment model.  While PE funds are being raised at a record rate, the number of publicly listed companies in the US has dropped by 20% over the past 10 years and by over 50% over the past 20 years.  The attractiveness of being a public company has diminished somewhat in the past decade because of regulatory pressures and costs.”

Mr. Justus continued, “With venture capital (VC) deals, investors were mainly betting on the success of the CEO and management team’s ability to create a sustainable business.  The typical success rate for early stage was around 1 in a 100.  The odds in VC were long, but the returns were very high with a successful exit.  PE on the other hand invests in professionalizing and scaling proven businesses in established markets, without taking much, if any, business plan and market adoption risk.  PE firms typically expect a 3x return on their investment in a 3-to-5-year horizon.  In a nutshell, PE can be a heavy lift operating environment to professionalize and scale the business in an established market, but is much more of a ‘sure bet.’  As a result, there’s a flood of executives looking to get into this space.”

B2B firms have traditionally represented the largest private equity target, but PE-capital continues to pour into IT, B2C, Financial Services, and other industries.   In 2017, over 4000 PE-backed deals occurred, representing an investment value of over $500B.   With deal volumes staying high, more top executives from traditional public companies are being recruited to play key roles in company transformations.

Lead5 Analysis Shows Private Equity Salary Growth

This PE growth is generating higher salaries for qualified executives.   For example, Lead5 compensation analysis has shown an increase in the average base salary for CFO’s of PE backed lower middle market companies over the last 2 years.  The mid-point of base salary has traditionally been roughly $250,000.  With a highly competitive market for proven players with previous PE portfolio company CFO experience, the base salary range has jumped up to $300,000.

What makes a PE-backed executive successful?

 To be a successful executive at a PE-backed firm, you must recognize that the investment horizon for most PE-backed deals is 3-5 years and operate with an appropriate sense of urgency.   You must be comfortable leading in an environment that demands successful financial results on a compacted timeline.   Also, part of the PE-backed ‘playbook’ is cutting out unnecessary expenses so being resourceful with limited resources is paramount to your success.

Here’s a list of executive leadership traits that are critically important in a PE-backed operating model:

1. Bias for action. Within larger public firms, due to the sheer size and some of the ingrown bureaucracy that comprises the company culture, you probably attend (and maybe even lead) some meetings that are customary – where updates are exchanged, and decisions are postponed or never even made.  In the PE-backed company culture, meetings are principally about making important decisions, some of which will change the direction of the firm.   In short, it’s about being decisive and taking action.

2. Entrepreneurial. PE-Backed firms are notorious for ‘stripping out the fat’ and this includes support and administrative staff.   Are you comfortable rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever work that needs to be done?   Successful PE execs find this environment to be both challenging and rewarding.

3. Team Skills/Emotional intelligence. With limited resources, can you rally your team and inspire them to move the firm forward?   First, you have to be able to earn the trust of your subordinates.   Then you have to understand when to hit the pedal and when to give your team a break.   Can you keep the work environment upbeat and positive when the heat is on?

4. Confident Communicator. You’ll be expected to produce results quickly, and you’ll be asked to provide progress updates more frequently than at large public firms.   Do you have the confidence and communication skills to defend what you’re doing?    It’s important to recognize that leadership in a PE-backed firm requires effective communication with not only your subordinates and customers, but also the private equity firm that has an investment stake in your success.

Most PE-backed executive jobs are unlisted.  Use Lead5 to uncover hidden PE-backed executive opportunities and gain the intel required to land your next prominent role.   Lead5 has been the executives trusted partner for 5 years.  

Start your complimentary trial today.