Summer holidays are just around the corner and as you move through the day-to-day operations of your current role, you may ask yourself as you look forward to the fall and the year ahead, is it time to look for my next step? While it is tempting to just shoot out a copy of your CV when you run into an opportunity, sending out a CV without the preparation may not get the results you desire, and in some cases, may jeopardize future opportunities because it does not clearly represent who you are and what you are seeking. While there are no absolute rules for when you should start seeking your next role, there are some fundamentals that any executive needs to consider when they do decide to explore new opportunities. Both private and corporate executive clients I have worked with over the years have benefited from a quick check up before launching into their search process, and I hope that some of these tips can help you as you consider your next steps. (Hint: It’s not only about getting your papers ready!)
Gaining Clarity in Who You Are Today and What You Seek
It is worthwhile before you launch your next steps forward to take an inventory of where you are at as an executive. Who you are is a culmination of your entire career – think of it as a story… from where you started, the turns in the road that you have taken (and why), and how your destination has come into focus. Understanding who you are today and where you are going is the first step in the process. Without this, it is difficult for recruiters or potential hiring organizations to envision you in a potential role. Working through this process, my clients come to have a better understanding of their actual current inventory of skills and competencies, what skills and competencies are required for potential future roles, and what may be some potential paths to gain these critical skills and competencies. I help my clients identify things that they have overlooked as they work me through their story to highlight items that they have not considered to be valuable for their potential future employers. It is also important to be brutally honest with yourself on what you state are your actual skills and competencies – overstating your capabilities could potentially land you a job, but the consequences when you are in the job could pose a major risk and could be devastating to your overall career.
I also work my clients through a visualization phase of diverse paths that can help them see that their career need not be a single tunnel – sometimes we as good corporate soldiers continue to take the next “logical” step in career progression, forgetting to lift our heads up to see the broad spectrum of options that can give us far more fulfillment. It is quite interesting as I look back on some of my clients over the past years that have had the courage to take a radically different path than the “logical” one and have grown significantly in their new pursuits with incredible motivation and purpose. Once these alternative paths are laid out, my clients research them to understand better what it would be like to be in one of these roles and some potential career steps to gain the inventory they need to prepare themselves for that journey. We do this in the context of the client’s key values, drivers and boundaries, which may shift over the course of your career and lifetime. By force ranking what are the most important values and drivers to a client, one avoids taking steps that are not congruent to the client, and also prevents the issue of backing out of potential offers after realizing it is not really what the client wants.
Ensuring Your CV is in Alignment and Projects What You Want
The next step that I work my clients through is to ensure that their CV states clearly and succinctly who they are and why a potential hiring organization should place a bet on hiring them. Working though a CV is a lot more than ensuring there is enough white space and that you don’t mistake bullets for sentences and paragraphs. It is more than about inserting active verbs and key words. It is all about alignment. I use a pyramid method as I screen my client CVs, ensuring that each subsequent section offers more details of their capabilities and that their qualifications are demonstrated concretely through one or more of their previous professional experiences. We look to introduce the “so what” factor in every bullet, ensuring that the CV is not a a list of job descriptions – these are not only numeric quantifications, but can also include why your accomplishment made a difference or why it is relevant and translatable to potential hiring organization. Your CV needs to be customized to emphasize the right elements for specific jobs and organizations (one size fits all is not a principle that works here) and certain industry sectors have common elements that may allow you to transition from one to another while adding tremendous value. We work on ensuring that your CV is understandable for recruiters and external hiring organizations – your internal CV and job titles need to be adapted to meet the target audience. Last but certainly not least, we step back and take a look at the overall work product to assess how it reads, potential gaps or anomalies, and whether or not it accomplishes the desired outcome.
Understanding How You Project Yourself in Interviews and Optimize Interactions
The final phase that I work through with my clients is the self-preparation phase. Whether for phone interviews, email exchanges, or in person interviews – I work with my clients to gain awareness on how they project themselves, some habits and mannerisms that they may want to adapt, and strategies to overcome potential derailers while they are interacting with recruiters or hiring organizations. While working together in the previous phases, a coach is constantly observing and noting things like how you express yourself, words you choose, how you react under stress, and potential derailer habits that you may not notice yourself. We work to understand what is driving these behaviors and then work to replace them with behaviors that serve you better. We work through a structured thinking approach for a better and more thorough preparation, to organize your information, and to enable quick retrieval of the best examples to demonstrate a point asked by the interviewer. Last but not least, it entails helping clients deal with answering challenging questions with candor and confidence.
Considering your next steps in your career is about a lot more than a fishing expedition to see what you might catch by throwing out your CV. Investing in yourself to do it right the first time is well worth the returns of finding the right fit for your next role and potential future organization. In just three simple sessions, which can be done off hours and in privacy away form your day to day operations, you can better prepare yourself to explore the possibilities. If you are interested, click here to arrange a free private consultation at your convenience. For private clients, I offer flexible and discounted solution to fit your needs.