Executive Outlook – September 2020

On September 4, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment has continually declined since the jobless peak spurred by the covid-19 lock down measures in March.  Lead5’s recent analysis of executive appointments shows a gradual improvement in the c-level job market, and we will continue to monitor and report on these trends as executive hiring is historically an early indicator of overall employment.

A discussion point in the Lead5 Executive Community is what executives should be doing now to increase their marketability.   The good news is that there are proactive measures that executives can deploy that are proven to be effective in any market.   The key is developing an action plan and sticking to it.

Executives: Be Proactive and Discover New Opportunities

See what Lead5 members are saying about the market and join the conversation:

https://lead5.com/community/forums/posts/241182

The Executive’s Career Strategy for the Current Economic Climate – March 2020

March 2020 – Special Report

The Executive’s Career Strategy for the Current Economic Climate

Josh Wimberley, founder and CEO of Lead5 here.  I wanted to provide a mid-month update given the unprecedented nature of the last two weeks. As you can see from Lead5 metrics, there is a sharp decline in executive opportunities and PE deals, accelerating the trend revealed by February’s data. I’ve been receiving phone calls from executives who I have assisted over the span of my career, and a lot of our conversations have revolved around the appropriate career strategy during the near-term economic slow-down. I decided to compile and disseminate this information in the hope that it will be valuable to you.

  • If you are in the market seeking opportunities, you can expect opportunities to be frozen or put on-hold and a continued slowdown in executive hiring. My advice is to use this period as an opportunity to undergo some introspection on your career and your marketability and perform some important research steps that will give you increased leverage in the marketplace.
  • Polish your CV. Many executives wait too long to do this so don’t be caught off-guard when the next opportunity arises.
  • Network. During economic turmoil, it can be challenging to network with members of the C-suite; however, corporate in-house recruiters are prime candidates for your outreach. Remember, you have a green light to reach out directly to corporate executive recruiters in the same manner you reach out to traditional executive recruiters (contact information for these in-house corporate recruiters can be found with their respective companies in the Lead5 Company database).
  • Research Companies. I have helped executives land positions with great firms that they never knew existed in their industries and preferred locations. Part of our mission at Lead5 is unveiling this information and I encourage you to start building your company list today. This puts you in the driver’s seat so that you are no longer waiting on a recruiter’s phone call.
  • Career Consultation. This is a complimentary and confidential session where all career questions are welcomed. To set that up, you can email me directly at josh@lead5.com

I hope this blog is useful to you as you navigate these extraordinary times and I wish you and your family safety and good health. If I can be of service, please don’t hesitate to reach out at josh@lead5.com.

Sincerely,

Josh

Josh Wimberley | Lead5 Founder and CEO | josh@lead5.com

Boost Your Executive Opportunities by 200%

Boosting your executive opportunities by 200% is easier than you think.

Are you an executive who is seeking ways to increase your market exposure?   The good news is that it’s easier than you think.   From placing top executives in leading firms for over two decades, here is a trap to avoid and a tactic that is proven to work:

  • Trap to avoid: many execs I consult with rely solely on their own professional network to seek new opportunities or they select a few executive recruiters they have come in contact with over the years.  While it’s smart for you to tap into this network, you must realize that this represents only a small fraction of available opportunities.
  • Best method: I emphasize to my executive clients the need to be proactive.  This means researching and discovering the companies and opportunities that fit your background and marketing yourself directly to those company’s key contacts. It also means marketing yourself to the relevant industry or functional practice sector consultants at all the major, regional, and boutique executive search firms, not just the select firms you know from the past.
  • How can you start today? My company Lead5 offers comprehensive lists of companies that you can filter by position, region, company size, industry, and ownership structure.  This list, combined with Lead5’s intel of executive departures, yields companies that are strong candidates for your outreach. Lead5 also maintains an executive recruiter database of the leading US-based retained search consultants for firms of all sizes, sortable by the Lead5 filters.
  • Start small, think big. If you deployed this proactive methodology, even sending only one outreach per week, you are exponentially increasing your chances of being discovered.

To wrap this up, I encourage you to take a proactive role in your career.   This is the best way to maximize your value in the marketplace.  I see too many executives waiting on a phone call from a recruiter or over-relying on their own professional network.   By expanding your comfort zone, you are positioning yourself for career growth and stability.

How to Send a Strong Intro Email to a CEO

Connect to a CEO

As an executive candidate you need to be aware of the “numbers” of a typical retained executive search where the search firm over a 90 day time frame may interview/screen as many as 40+ qualified candidates. In contrast, when you connect with a CEO or other recommended hiring contact of a company when the news breaks of an opening, there are times when companies work their own network to see if they can interview quick hits for the position without going the full retained search route. In this case, if you are qualified for the position, you are one of 4 or 5 as opposed to 1 of 40 in the typical 150 day exec search.

The Lead5 view is to pursue all angles (direct and through exec recruiters) to maximize your flow of awareness of available opportunities and obtain a greater understanding of the dynamics at play behind the recruiting process.

In summary, at times a position warrants a quicker fill time with best athlete available vs. the “take our time” 150 day full due diligence process. Lead5 is built to create awareness, leads, and ultimately connections for both types of openings. Below are sample emails Lead5 recommends you send to CEOs and other recommended hiring contacts in various scenarios, along with commentary in BOLD italics.

Sample Note to for CEO Opportunity

Hi Carol,

Good afternoon. I recently became aware of the CEO opening at ComTech. I would like to confidentially submit my credentials to the search committee. I am an experienced executive officer most recently with (insert current company, a $x billion market cap publicly traded insert industry sector/brief description of your current/most recent company). I am actively seeking out my next executive career opportunity and we are open to relocation. Please find my attached resume and I would welcome the opportunity to confidentially discuss the position. (Also consider adding a line or two about your combination of experiences over the last 5 to 7 years leading large teams, driving P&L, working in a related biz model, etc. that might relate to the particular company)Thanks in advance for your time.

A note that is efficient/to-the-point they can read in less than 30 seconds and have a good summary understanding of your skill set is best – they can always click on and read your resume if they want more information.

Best Regards,

Jason Candidate

Sample Note to CEO for Potential CHRO Opportunity

Robert,

Good afternoon. I recently became aware of a potential CHRO opening at your company. I am an experienced CHRO most recently with Smith Corporation, a $5 billion market cap publicly traded industrial manufacturer (or best description of your most recent company). I am actively seeking out my next executive career opportunity and we are open to relocation. Please find my attached resume and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the position if it remains available. Also consider adding a line or two about your combination of global manufacturing, leading large teams, process improvement, etc. that might relate to the particular company – i.e. “I have 15 plus years of experience leading the HR function for global manufacturers that would be highly relevant to Smith Corporation. Thanks in advance for your time.

A note that is efficient/to-the-point they can read in less than 30 seconds and have a good summary understanding of your skill set is best – they can always click on and read your resume if they want more information.

Best Regards,

Elizabeth Candidate

Sample Note to companies you are targeting with newly appointed CEO’s

Catherine,

Good afternoon. Congratulations on your appointment to NewCo Corporation as CEO. I wanted to make a brief introduction. I am an experienced Chief Human Resources Officer most recently with Smith Corporation, a $5 billion market cap publicly traded industrial manufacturer. I am actively seeking out my next executive career opportunity and we are open to relocation. Please find my attached resume and I would welcome the opportunity to confidentially discuss available leadership positions that may be open in your company. NewCo Industries is a company I have targeted for my career search given the similarities in business model and industry sector to my career experience. Thanks in advance for your time.

Best Regards,

Joseph Candidate

Sample Note to Private Equity Partners or CEO’s of PE backed companies that are the result of a recent/relevant PE deal

Robert,

Good afternoon. Congratulations on the recent deal of NewCo Corporation’s recapitalization with MountainTop Capital. I wanted to make a brief introduction. I am an experienced Chief Human Resources Officer most recently with Smith Corporation, a $5 billion market cap publicly traded industrial manufacturer. I am actively seeking out my next executive career opportunity and we are open to relocation. I am interested in pursuing HR leadership roles with private equity backed middle market companies in the industrial and consumer products sectors. Please find my attached resume and I would welcome the opportunity to confidentially discuss an HR leadership position if it becomes available with this new investment/growth phase for NewCo Corporation. Thanks in advance for your time.

Best Regards,

Elizabeth Candidate

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.   

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