Transitions, layoffs, company downsizing, and corporate culture changes. These are some of the many reasons why executives find themselves in career transition situations. For some executives in senior-level positions, it can be a scary thing to have had a 15 to 25-year successful career at one company, and suddenly find yourself staring down your next decision. You might be performing at your best, but there are just some things that are outside of your control. Should I look for a new job? Should I beat them to the punch and look elsewhere? Should I stay here and take a different role? Should I do something on my own?
These are all questions that executives ask themselves—and ask us as well—as they are going through forced or chosen career transitions.
Through our work with executives, we look to ease that process and provide coaching to those who are going through this process. More on that later.
As an executive-in-transition, what are some things you can do to best prepare yourself for the next steps?
3 Tips to Prepare Yourself for the “Real World” [Again] and the Executive Job Search
Before you do anything else, the first thing to make sure you do is to remain calm. You have accumulated valuable experience to date, and you will find your next opportunity. It just may take a little work, but there are things you can do to prepare yourself. There is no need to panic—there is only a need to take focused & driven action.
As you prepare yourself for your next executive role, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do You Know Your Executive Experience Gap?
With the executives we work with, they generally have some great experience to speak to on their resumes. However, for a number of them, their experience doesn’t always relate to where they want to go and what their desired next role is. This is the “executive experience gap.”
First, start with your current experience and evaluate everything that you have so far. What are skills & attributes that you have developed that have made you a valuable asset to your company? What do you do well in terms of leadership, management and business development? Where have you been, what have you done, and what makes you special? These are your executive assets.
Now, think about some of the thoughts that have crossed your mind as you are looking for your next role. When you think about peers and colleagues, is there someone doing something that you would like to do? What do you naturally gravitate to? What do other people seek your advice on? These are the types of questions that will lead you to your executive future.
The final step is to take a step back and look at where you have been—your executive assets—and where you would like to go—your executive future. The difference between these two is what we call the executive experience gap. Is there a way to reframe your prior experience to set you up to take on your desired executive future? What is the message that you should be sharing with others that will get you where you want to go? It’s important to take some time to reflect on how you will present yourself moving forward.
- Do you have your executive collateral?
If you have been at the same company for a while, then a resume or a LinkedIn profile may be collecting dust somewhere deep in a filing cabinet. When preparing for an executive career transition, it’s important to have all of the tools & materials prepared that can drive your search—whether that is internal or external to your current company. The executive collateral that we are talking about here are your resume, LinkedIn profile, executive bio, cover letter and website, if applicable.
The first thing you should start with is your resume. This is the comprehensive overview of your experience to date. Do not hold back on anything in the first draft. Just tell it like it is and highlight all of your responsibilities and accomplishments. Once you have everything, then you can reframe it to match your executive future.
Once you have your resume complete, the next step is to update your LinkedIn and executive biography. For each position you apply for, you may have a different cover letter, but it is prudent to still have a template to build off of for each letter that you write.
- Who can support you in your search?
Being in the process of an executive career transition can be a bit daunting. It can also feel a bit lonely, especially if it’s not something that you feel comfortable sharing with anyone yet.
The first thing to do is find someone you trust who you can simply talk to about what you are going through now. It’s possible that you are feeling undervalued or underutilized, and sometimes it’s just good to have someone to just talk to about it.
The next person in your pipeline should be an executive coach or career advocate. Since you are going through an intensive process now, make sure that you have someone in your corner who has been through this before and has guided others through it.
Finally, you should have an army of executive recruiters that you send your executive collateral to and who you share your executive future with. They will be the ones who will likely find an opportunity that opens up and have the ability to connect you with it.
Bonus: Which is more important—money or meaning?
One final question to ask yourself as you are going through this process is which is more important at this stage of your life—money or meaning? For some executives, it is important for them to stay in a similar salary range for personal financial reasons. In this case, you may cast a wider net in terms of opportunities in order to fulfill a financial gap.
However, you may decide that for the last 10 or 15 years that you have left in your career, you may want to do something that aligns with your personal vision & purpose. You may have some “thing” that you have been thinking about for a long time that you’d like to go and do. What is your legacy? What do you want to leave behind? Who do you want to impact? These questions may drive the meaning for the rest of your career.
Do You Have an Executive Transition Plan?
Do you want to start filling your executive experience gap, building your executive collateral and drive your executive search support team?
Follow the tips above. And, if you’d like some help, we’d be happy to support you. Just say the word here.
About Brendan P. Keegan
Brendan P. Keegan is Founder & Managing Partner of velocityHUB, a leading management consulting firm. He is a 5-time industry leading President & CEO of large, private-equity-backed companies and served as the Fortune 100’s youngest Chief Sales Officer for EDS, a $22-billion technology industry leader. Brendan has raised nearly $1.0 billion in capital and returned over $2.2 billion to investors through successful exit strategies. He has trained over 100,000 leaders, led nearly 50,000 employees, driven sales of over $100 billion and worked globally in over 150 countries. Brendan was named a Distinguished Fellow by Dartmouth College, a Fast50 Executive by FastCompany, a successful entrepreneur by Enterprise Bank, Best-of-the-Best CEOs by Incentive, 100 Fastest Growing Companies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Business of the Year by NH Business Journal, Top 10 Coach of the Year by USA Football, and Volunteer of the Year by & Youth Coach of the Year locally for his commitment to community service. Brendan is a sought-after speaker by companies across the globe on leadership, sales and performance. He has authored over 200 articles and been published in global publications including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fast Company and InformationWeek.
Brendan serves on corporate boards to include Revolution Armor, Merchants Auto Group, ExpressIt Delivery, Olaeris, velocityHUB and nashuaHUB. Brendan and his wife Dana founded the Keegan Courage & Faith Foundation with the goal of giving back $1.0 million for youth education, athletics and at-risk youth across Southern New Hampshire.
velocityHUB delivers results-oriented training programs, high-value consulting and targeted executive coaching to many of the world’s leading companies, small and medium businesses, and non-profits. Our vision is to build one million leaders to drive performance, sales and revenue growth.
Contact: Amanda E. Rogers | 603.402.1734 | firstname.lastname@example.org