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

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.   

Start your complimentary trial today. 

 

 

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.