For senior-level executives, considering a career change can be a daunting prospect. Typically, for niche and specialist professionals, opportunities would have come to you as you’ve climbed the career ladder, either by word of mouth, through your network, via an internal promotion or from being approached by an executive search practice.
Therefore, when it comes to taking a more proactive approach to your next move, the bigger challenge is finding where and how to begin more than anything else. There are a number of key considerations which you should reflect on first before commencing your activities, such as:
Know who you are and what you want
Before you do anything, your first port of call should be to take your personal purpose into consideration. What’s your Why? What are you wanting to achieve? And what types of organisations share that purpose? Working for an organisation with a similar purpose which aligns to your own personal purpose will bring greater job satisfaction, fulfilment and productivity to your role, a critical aspect for senior executives.
Do you want to remain within your current sector or take your leadership skills and apply them to a new context? What is your social conscience telling you - could your skills be utilised within the third sector where you can add value to an organisation and derive social benefit from your activities, perhaps? Sometimes, the easy option is to transplant your knowledge and skillset into a similar organisation within the same sector, but is that really developing you as a leader and helping you become a more rounded individual? Again, another consideration to reflect on.
Play to your strengths as a leader
Do you understand your preferences, motivators and leadership characteristics? How agile are you as a leader and what type of organisational environment and culture will you thrive in? To find out, consider undertaking a psychometric assessment, however, ensure this is an assessment which is aligned to a modern business context and the new world of work. Knowing yourself and having external data and insight to scientifically back this up can provide some additional untapped information on your behaviours and preferences, which you can then take into consideration for your search.
Develop your personal brand strategy
Think about your own market profile. Do you have a personal brand strategy? If not, consider how you should go about developing your own personal presence in your chosen market. Have you thought about Non-Executive Director opportunities? Working at board level within a sector for which you are passionate, where you can learn, develop and network with senior executives from a range of backgrounds, will help you grow as a leader and broaden both your skillset and your outlook, making you a more attractive candidate for potential roles in the future. This can be done as a paid NXD, but equally acting in an advisory board capacity or volunteering on a board will provide you with what you are looking for.
It’s also worth investing in your online presence. Sharing your opinions and industry insights on social media or on blogging sites like Medium is an excellent way to position yourself as a thought leader in your chosen field, and while it might take up some time, in today’s online business arena it’s by all means worth the extra effort.
Continue your professional development
For aspiring leaders, you may also look at further education. It would be valuable to take a long-term approach to your personal development and consider an executive leadership course or a more formal qualification, such as an MBA, to further support your practical experience with theoretical learning. Executives who have gone through similar programmes often learn as much from the people they study with as they do through the course material, and gaining experience from a breadth of people and situations is of real value, particularly if you are considering moving sector.
Another useful learning and development opportunity worth considering is coaching. Not only is it valuable for leaders to coach more junior employees – articulating your thoughts and experiences into learnings will help you to develop, too – it might also be worth approaching someone to coach you, particularly if you’re planning to change sector.
Partner with an executive search provider
Having considered all of these factors and being confident in where you want to get to, the next step is vitally important. Aside from the public sector, executive-level jobs will not tend to be advertised, therefore, aligning yourself with an executive search practice will be vitally important. Don’t always go for the traditional, perhaps more well-known, headhunting firms in the market. Consider those that offer more in-depth assessment as part of their core offering, and are aligned to the sector and markets in which you currently work or have ambition to work in. Executive search is about trust, transparency and having access to the right network, and working with an executive search practice who can demonstrate this through their track record and contacts will lead to a more successful outcome.
At Morgan Philips Executive Search, we combine assessment throughout our process and work extensively with clients to ensure the leaders they appoint are as relevant to their organisational purpose as possible. Equally for existing and aspiring leaders, we can help you understand your purpose, preferences and leadership characteristics before working with you to find a role and organisation where all of the above will be put into practice and your purpose is fulfilled.
For more information on how Morgan Philips Executive Search can assist you then please contact our team here.