Driving Career Momentum

52 C-level executives were asked, “What has been your biggest career mistake?” 29 answered, “I stayed too long.”*

Each executive specified a position, or a company,  or an industry, and one mentioned geography.*

A dynamic career doesn’t just happen. It is constructed through well planned and selective job moves. Your career momentum builds when you make the right moves at the right time.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Are you changing jobs frequently enough?

Many studies have shown that CEOs are at their performance peak after 5 years in the job and other C-level executives are at their peak after 3 years.  Many top performing companies create deep bench strength by organizing and reorganizing, based upon these assumptions. They also create dynamic careers for their employees.

Are you choosing the right jobs?

Did your last job change (internal or external) include at least four of the following elements?

  • Target Industry
  • Target Company
  • Compatible and Highly Capable CEO/Chairman/Board
  • More Responsibility
  • Significantly Higher Compensation Package
  • More Advancement/Growth Opportunity

If the answer is “yes,” you are on the right track.

If the answer is “no,”  you are wasting valuable time-and you may be eroding your value.

Are you timing your moves well?

Start executing your search when you are at your peak. Have you just had a year of outstanding growth? Have you turned around a stalled business in the last six months? Have you executed a complicated merger and are starting to see the results in the financials? Just when it feels great to stay put, you should look around. Launch your search when you are most marketable.

Even if you are no longer at your peak, don’t wait until you lose your drive or job satisfaction. Developing great opportunities and making a wise choice takes time and a level head.

Waiting for a severance package is never the best option-even if you plan to “retire.” Getting fired is not the career drop-off it used to be, but an ambiguous exit can create doubt and  impact the quality of your opportunities.  Those planning to retire often look for stimulating opportunities while in “retirement.”

Even at the C-level, many executives are yearning for a dynamic career. It is not too late to start building.

1)  Use the trusted tools. Take inventory of your skills and accomplishments. Know yourself. Know what you want. Know what your target market needs. With all this knowledge, build your case internally and/or build highly effective marketing materials for an external search. Get your advocates looking on your behalf and, of course, communicate your own abilities and desires.

2) Define your target market-is it one or two roles in your present company, or is it one or two roles in 20 different companies, or do you want to look inside and outside?

3) Make sure your opportunities and ultimate job choice have at least four of the following six elements:  Target Industry, Target Company, More Advancement/Growth Opportunity, More Responsibility,  Compatible and Highly Capable CEO/Chairman/Board, Significantly Higher Compensation Package

4)  Don’t settle for less.  If you make the wrong choice, you will know within 90 days of your hire date. Everyone is entitled to one mistake. If you stay, your career clock is ticking with no benefit. Move on.

5)  If after three years your company has no plans to move you into a new role with at least four of the elements – look externally.

6)  If your company has moved you into an opportunity that does not have at least four of the elements – look externally.

A dynamic career is not for insecure, tired, or satiated senior executives. It takes energy, hunger, confidence and a willingness to embrace change. The return on investment is immeasurable.

“A dynamic career is a lifelong stimulant and a bankable asset. You can count on it as long as you want to work.”

*Waterman Hurst LLC Survey 2011-2013



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