Think you could be head honcho one day? Start doing these things now, and you’ll land that corner office in no time.
If you’d eventually like to land a C-Level job, you can’t take your gaze off your goal. You’ve got lots of learning to do before you get there. To build up the expertise, insight and finesse that executive-level jobs require, you’ll first need to spend lots of time gaining hands-on experience leading, managing and empowering teams and organizations.
Throughout your professional years, you need to methodically build up an enviable arsenal of both technical and business skills suitable to your ultimate career goal. Without these essential skills and capabilities, you simply won’t be qualified for that ultimate, rewarding and challenging experience of a truly executive role.
If you hope to move into the C-Suite one day, here’s what you need to do now.
1. Network, network, network
Who you know and what you know plays an important role in opening the right doors. Since most senior-level positions are selectively advertised, you need the right contacts in the right places to sniff out opportunities.
Your path to the c-suite not only requires improving your technical and business skills, but also enhancing your networking skills. You never know what a chance meeting at the golf course or a leadership conference can do for you. So be open to getting out there and get used to schmoozing.
2. Learn about everything and anything
C-Level jobs require vision, clarity of mission, interaction with investors and mapping out growth initiatives of the company. Acquiring these skills isn’t easy. You need to consistently work to improve your knowledge and learning. Keep these few things in mind:
- Developing a deep knowledge of an organization and an industry sector – its various verticals, challenges, competitors and prospects – while enhancing interpersonal skills is the key to advancing into senior leadership and executive leadership roles.
- As you climb the corporate ladder, research and familiarize yourself with your desired “ultimate” job, learning as much as you can about challenges at hand. Get busy sharpening the tools already in your tool kit while adding brand new ones.
- As you advance incrementally to the higher echelons of an organization, you’ll notice your hard work paying off; you’ll begin to share just as much in common with your executive peers as you did with those you with in the trenches.
3. Surround yourself with top dogs
Mentors are invaluable. Proximity to well-respected CEOs and working with them will help you pick up valuable lessons and habits.
Startups and entrepreneurial business units also provide stellar growth opportunities to a C-Suite hopeful. When you work with top-notch leaders, you get a ringside view of how things work at that level. That experience will mentally prepare you for the hot seat.
Learn, learn, learn. Being the CEO is not just about bossing people around. Here are just a few skills that great leaders need: own a Profit and Loss Statement, be flexible, communicate clearly and succinctly, lead and motivate others, make smart hiring decisions, meet and exceed deadlines, handle marketing challenges, pitch a product or service’s value proposition, develop client relationships, solve personnel issues, streamline operations, manage finances, handle investors, learn from failure and push through rejection.
An advantage of being associated with big names is that your resume gets a killer punch line. Who wouldn’t hire an ambitious person who honed their skills working with one of the best brains in business?
4. Move internationally
This does not mean you need pack your bags and relocate to an offshore site in some remote part of the globe (though that could help, depending on your industry).
Even if you may already have experience dealing with multi-national businesses, if you’re eyeing a plump posting in the next couple of years, consider going international with vigor. Overseas industry experience should give you plenty to discuss with business leaders during lunch meetings, networking events and interviews.
You build your value proposition and might also have some fun while soaking up the sun in Rio!
5. Take calculated risks
In some instances an uneventful, safe and predictable career path is seen as one where no hard lessons have been learned, risk taking is minimized, no sweat or tears are shed, and confidence lacks in one’s abilities to try something new.
Think about going with the spirit of the times. Start a business of your own or join a startup. If you can bet your dollars on yourself, there is no better PR.
As the gurus say, fail fast and fail early. This’ll help you build up an adrenaline-pumping resume.
6. Develop and maintain your contacts
The world of C-Level hiring is quite small. Make sure you maintain good relations with reputable leaders and recruiters in your sector. Keep your network alive with occasional calls, messages or meetings.
Put in the effort and always keep your relationship with the headhunters warm and friendly. Even when they’re not directly involved in the recruitment process, reputed headhunters will often be able to tell you if a Fortune 500 company is scouting for talent or where a possible vacancy might open in the near future. Being on the top of recruiters’ minds will make it easy for you to get interviews.
Getting to the top of the pile in the best companies in the world is not easy. Nailing the job is even tougher. The C-Suite is selective. Ensure you have everything going for you beforehand as you plan and prepare, so when the time is right, you can finally land the job of your dreams.
Joshua Geary is a writer and experienced blogger and regularly writes for CSI Executive Search LLC. When he’s not writing about HR and hiring process about executives, Joshua enjoys reading, CrossFit and swimming in his leisure time.