6 Ways for Executives to Elevate Their Careers

Congratulations, you have made it to the C-Suite. You landed your dream job that acknowledges your past professional accomplishments and provides lucrative financial rewards. After celebrating your new milestone, the furthest thing from your mind is to plan the next phase of your career strategy. However, in a dynamic job market, it’s critical that you are continually planning the next move so that in 3 to 5 years you can continue to grow.

By being proactive, and not reactive, in your career strategy will put you and your family in a position of strength and stability, whereas being reactive will mean that you’re acting from a position of weakness which puts you and your family at risk.   Being proactive entails looking for opportunities to strengthen your skills, visibility, and relationships and that’s what this blog is about.

I recently caught up with Lead5 advisory board member Bob Collins who has 3 decades of executive leadership in human resources, including leading staffing at top international brands.  He shared with me 6 ways to ensure that you are always operating from a position of strength as you continually navigate your executive career.

1. Understand that the 6-month mark is important. As an executive, your first 6 months in your job will require pouring a 100% plus of your energy into your role and ensuring that your first year in the position is a success.   Past the 6-month mark, it’s time to widen your lens and invest at least 5% of your energy into your career. At each anniversary date, you should increase this time investment and broaden your focus. Initially, this could mean additional training or education.   It could also mean taking on speaking engagements and networking to exchange knowledge with other executives in your field.   Importantly, these activities not only will help you deliver results for your current firm, but they will also keep your skills relevant and sharp in the marketplace. It will also allow you to build and strengthen your network of colleagues and expand your visibility to those who could play a vital role in your organizational advancement.

2. Always have a long-term career strategy. You should be continually defining, refining, and working your long-term career strategy.   What is the vision of your ideal role?   Are you an industry-specific executive or is there a new industry you’d like to pursue?   This career plan will help guide the choices you make in your career development and prevent you from becoming complacent or stagnant. Just as successful leaders believe that every business plan must have a viable talent plan that describes how the plan is to be implemented, a thoughtful career strategy needs to have a business plan on how to achieve the stated objectives with the required skills to execute it. The time to determine your skill gaps is now before the next phase of career strategy unfolds.

3. Be marketable even if you’re not in the marketplace. This starts with taking on challenges that align with your career plan.   For example, if you’re a CFO with a Fortune 500 firm and you aspire to become a Fortune 100 CFO, a good place to start is networking with Fortune 100 CFOs and doing a gap analysis between your skills and theirs.   Obviously, it will take time to close any gaps and that’s why this career plan is a long-term – not short-term – strategy.    Being marketable also entails continually optimizing your CV, sharing expertise with those who need it, and sharing thought leadership either by speaking engagements or written publications.  Strive to become the person people in your field want to know because of the success you are creating for your company.  Also, cultivate your desire to learn and stay on the cutting edge of your field so that you are consistently advancing the profession in the most critical areas.

4. Develop a continual networking strategy. With your current career demands, it’s not feasible to network with every contact that you have.   But you can take a look at your most important contacts and segment them.   Who are the contacts you should be reaching out to once a month for lunch or simply exchanging emails?   Who are the contacts you should reach out to once a quarter?  What you don’t want to do is wait until you need them and then start reaching out to contacts you haven’t communicated with for years.    Lead5 is a service that provides executives with key executive contacts.   Lead5 also informs its members when important hires like CEOs are made.   That’s a good time for you to do some outreach, sending a short note to a newly appointed CEO, congratulating him/her and mentioning that one day you’d love to share how you can help.

5. Don’t be complacent. The average tenure for a C-suite executive is 3-5 years at the same company. While things could be going extremely well for you now, recognize that all companies have downturns, leadership shifts, and ownership changes.   While it’s your duty to pour your energy into making your firm a success, don’t neglect yourself in the process.   The most successful executive always carves out time to invest in themselves.   As I mentioned above, this benefits your current firm and it keeps you relevant in the marketplace.

6. Don’t neglect development opportunities within your current firm. Executives too often believe that to get ahead that they must switch firms.   While that is sometimes the case, remember that your current firm appointed you for a reason.   While you’re helping your current firm achieve its mission, make a point to find allies who champion your long-term career vision (assuming that this vision is aligned with the company vision, of course).  This will open up doors at your current firm that help you proactively achieve your career plan.

Key Takeaways:

As an executive, if you’re not continually proactive in your career approach, then you’re in a reactive state which puts you in a position of weakness.

How do you shift into this proactive state and position of strength?   As detailed above, look for opportunities that improve your skills, visibility, and relationships.  These three things will keep you highly marketable as you continue to evolve on your leadership path.

 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.   

Try it for 14 days today. 

 

 

Effective Outreach: Timing Is Over Half the Battle

My name is Josh Wimberley and for over 2 decades I’ve helped top executives land prominent roles at leading companies.  Before founding Lead5, I was Senior Partner and Practice Leader at a leading executive search firm.  Both of these experiences have taught me that timing is over half the battle for qualified executive candidates.

Why is timing so important?  When an executive leaves a firm, this leaves a hole that must be filled, and the sooner this role is filled, the better.    Candidates must realize that it’s in the firm’s best interest to hire the best, most qualified candidate, quickly.   Firms understand that there’s already an inherent learning curve that any executive must scale before being effective, and lengthy hiring processes only exacerbate this hole in executive leadership.

How do you make timing work for you as an executive candidate?  

Here’s a few tips I can offer:

1.  Perform your outreach as early as possible.  Do not wait until the position you seek is flooded with CVs.    Have your CV ready to go and understand that services like Lead5 have completely transformed the executive recruiting industry.   Lead5 lists executive positions long before comparable services, and Lead5 has more unlisted executive positions than any other competitor.

2.  Services like Lead5 will grant you instant access to unlisted executive jobs including the hiring contacts associated with the search.  It’s important to review those key contacts and discover if you know these individuals, or if you know someone in your network who can properly introduce you.

3.  Be prepared for the firm’s call.  Understand their business strategy and how you can help them take their firm to the next level.   Also have a picture of what your goal compensation package will look like.

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.  

Try it for 14 days. 

Lead5 FAQ and Getting Started Guide

Welcome to Lead5!  I’m Vince Martin, Chief Product Officer at Lead5.  You’ve taken the first step in landing your next prominent executive position.   To help you receive the most value from our service, please review the following FAQ.  If you have additional questions, please contact us at: info@lead5.com

What is the mission of Lead5?

To equip executives for the modern executive job search.  80% of executive positions are never posted.   Lead5 empowers our members by uncovering these hidden executive roles and providing our members with the insider intel required to land these prominent positions.

Who does Lead5 serve?

Lead5 serves an exclusive community of members ranging in level from Directors/VP’s to CEO’s.  Our members have compensation starting at $200K.   We personally vet every membership to ensure that our service is the right fit for the seasoned executives that we serve.

How is Lead5 different from other services?

1. Lead5 grants you immediate access to the hidden executive job world. We understand that executives are busy, and so we vet members on the backend to ensure expediency.

2. Timing is critical to landing executive roles. With our proprietary AI, we deliver hidden positions 45 days faster than average, giving you a competitive advantage.

3. Lead5 was founded by a former Senior Partner and Practice Leader of a leading executive search firm. We know this landscape better than anyone, and our service is built on this expertise.

How do I get started?

Go to lead5.com and click ‘subscribe.’  We will ask you some basic employment and contact information to ensure that we offer the most tailored experience possible.   We offer several subscription plans.   We are confident that you will see value in our service and offer a 14-day trial.

Do I need to upload my resume/CV?

No.   Lead5 is an active (vs. passive) opportunity search service.   We provide you with the contact information for the actual hiring official(s), allowing  you to submit your resume/CV directly to them.   Our system bypasses middlemen and ensures that your search is effective and confidential.

How do I get the most value from Lead5?

After subscribing, we recommend that you set up a personalized dashboard that takes less than a minute to create.    We will ask you for 5 data points that will help us deliver to you the most relevant positions and competitive intel.

 Is my information confidential?

 Yes.  We never share any details of our member community with anyone.

 What is the meaning of the name Lead5?

Lead5 represents the 5 filters through which executive leaders manage their careers.  The 5 filters include industry, function, and region, along with the additional filters of market cap and ownership structure unique to the executive job search.  Together these 5 filters form the lens through which executives view their career trajectory.  Make sure and set your My5 filters to ensure your Lead5 membership is targeted with intel and data specific to your background and experience.

What is the difference between a ‘potential opportunity’ and a ‘verified opportunity’?

Lead5 provides our executive members with unlisted potential opportunities and unlisted verified opportunities.

The average executive search takes 150 days.  Lead5 has proprietary algorithms that identify potential opportunities often before the formal search process kicks-off.  Therefore, a potential opportunity represents the earliest possible window when a candidate can insert themselves into the search process.   If the company decides to recruit for this type of opening, our candidates are there first.

Lead5 also identifies verified opportunities that are being actively sourced by the company.  We provide key company, investor, or recruiter contacts for direct access for these opportunities.  In total, Lead5 creates awareness of executive openings that for decades have been hidden and only offered to executives on a need-to-know basis.

What are user-generated comments on Opportunity Posts?

Lead5 members have the ability to post confidential comments to opportunities such as recruiters assigned to particular search projects, whether or not a company is considering internal candidates, or other general intel related to the opportunity.  Lead5 works best as an active community engaged and sharing leads and data.  If you know of updated intel on a particular opportunity please post a comment, add an opportunity, or email the Lead5 team directly at info@lead5.com.

What is the Recruiters section on Lead5?

The Lead5 Recruiters section is an aggregate list of the top 50 retained executive search firms in the United States along with highly credible boutique search firms with specific expertise by industry and function.  Lead5 regularly audits these recruiters for updates and additions/deletions.  Each recruiter is coded by their specific area of focus across industry, function, and region. This gives Lead5 members the ability to discover which recruiters they should be in contact with for their particular job search.

Can I invite others to become members of Lead5?

Yes, you have 10 invites per member of Lead5.  We ask that you keep invites specific to C-level executives or those with the potential to aspire to be C-level executives.  If you run out of invites and would like more please email the team at info@lead5.com and we will evaluate this on case-by-case basis.

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.   

Try it for 14 days today. 

Executive Compensation 101

Hi, I’m Mike Russ COO of Lead5.  Compensation is the basis of many questions that we receive at Lead5 from executive-level candidates.  Some firms will tell a candidate that they “compensate very competitively” which is deliberately vague.  After all, the candidate must prove that they are the right fit before any compensation discussion gets serious.

In reality, there are a number of factors that go into executive compensation.  I won’t cover them all in this blog, but I will give you some useful directional guidance on compensation, and close with two ways to think about compensation more strategically.

Public Company Executive Job Seekers.  Let’s cover compensation for the executive seeking a role with a public company first.   Many execs don’t realize that the SEC is mandated to release the compensation for the top 5 executives for public firms.    Here’s what you need to conduct that research: https://www.sec.gov/fast-answers/answersproxyhtfhtm.html

Knowing the top 5 executive salary range provides you with useful directional guidance about what a public company is willing to pay for a particular executive function.

Additionally, if you identify an executive opening in your industry and within your function, you probably have a general compensation range in mind.  Keep in mind that company size (measured by number of employees, revenue) is a factor, and certain companies are known to compensate more generously than others.   This is where some basic search queries and solid networking comes into play.

Private and Private Equity Executive Job Seekers.   Unlike executives seeking prominent roles with public companies, private and PE companies are more nuanced in how they treat compensation.   The best way to get an understanding in these markets is to connect with a recruiter who specializes in your function to best understand emerging compensation trends:

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.  

Here’s a useful compensation resource for executive leaders seeking roles in PE-backed companies:

https://privateequitycompensation.com/contents/

 

Thinking About Executive Compensation Strategically

There’s a lot of information I could cover here, but I want to touch on two points that every executive should consider.

1. Not all experience is equal in the marketplace. What I mean is that within every field, there is a ‘golden route’ to the highest potential compensation track.   Here’s a few examples:

a. CFOs who begin as CPAs within the Big 4 early in their careers

b. General Counsels who cut their teeth at a top 100 law firm

c. CMOs who early on lead a consumer product with P&G

While it’s absolutely true that top executive talent comes from a variety of different firm structures, compensation data proves that these types of tracks are the most lucrative ones.

2. Taking the long view on executive compensation. While every executive wishes to maximize their market potential, it’s exceptionally important to recognize the built-in long-term value of landing that first C-level position.   To earn a seat in the C-suite, you must demonstrate mastery in your functional area and produce consistent results.   Over the long haul, those skills are far more valuable to the marketplace than whatever initial C-level compensation that you receive.

I hope this information has been useful to you!   Helping executives land prominent executive roles at leading companies is something I’m passionate about.  Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you have questions about executive compensation:  mike@lead5.com

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.  

Try it for 14 days. 

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.   

Try it for 14 days today.