As a business professional, do you see yourself climbing the corporate ladder all the way to the top, ultimately landing an Executive-level job in a few years’ time? Having this ambition is one of the first steps towards achieving your career goal, but there are also plenty of tips and advice from experts out there that can help you get there, and get there faster.
Whether you have a specific timeframe in mind for when you want to become an executive or have it on your list of general career aims, there are practical ways to speed up your journey toward getting a C-suite position like that.
According to some who sit in executive seats, landing an executive role isn’t easy or simple. However, it is possible if you have a clear plan, set out smaller goals to achieve that will move your career forward, work on certain skills, and have some helpful knowledge. Let’s dive in with four key tips.
How you can accelerate your career and land an executive-level job faster
1. Choose an entry-level job with growth potential
Executives within large companies and corporations typically made their way up within the company through a series of promotions and positions. Executives aren’t usually hired from the outside, as companies often prefer hiring internally for senior roles.
This means it is important to not only join a company like a corporation, that gives employees the opportunity to work their way up from entry-level roles, but also to start in a role that lends itself to grow into a senior leadership position, and one that fits the field.
Having solid financial experience and/or education often can set people up for success in their careers, so you may want to take that into account. Of all Fortune 100 CEOs, almost 50% had worked as divisional CFOs at one point.
Extra tip: Pursue a degree in business to develop your know-how – this is suggested by various experts. It is optional, but if you choose to do it, it will likely be very helpful.
2. Become a networker
You’ve likely heard this advice from many, many people and places, but it is true that networking is crucial for professionals and can be invaluable for your career growth.
Meeting and connecting with hiring managers and people in your field or who are in roles you want to be in, as well as people in leadership positions, can open the way to many opportunities if you build positive relationships with them. You might end up getting hired by a connection or recommended by them to someone else, for example. The more of the right people you know, the more you are likely to succeed in your goal.
How to network? It’s not just about exchanging business cards. It can be more personal – asking to meet for coffee, learning about their stories and where they came from to where they are now. Ask questions and really listen, and people will open up to you, giving you a better chance to form a bond.
3. Act like a leader and live up to your claims
An executive is a leader, and good leaders do what they say they’ll do when it comes to their work; they follow through, and they make good on their promises. This lets others know they can rely on them, commands respect, and it earns them a positive reputation as trustworthy and role models for other professionals.
You don’t have to be a leader to start acting like one by doing this. As they say, if you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk. Others will be inspired to follow your example, and you’ll show your company you have what it takes to be in a leadership role.
4. Identify and define your personal brand
Tonnes of people advise jobseekers to create a personal brand for themselves, but actually, all of us already have a brand – we just need to define what it is and then build on that. If we try to create a brand for ourselves from scratch, we are creating something that isn’t actually us, and isn’t authentic.
This is what Meg Guiseppi, an executive job search and personal branding expert with 25 years of experience, has to say about the matter, and we think she makes a good point.
Your personal brand is essentially you – who you are, what you stand for, and your personal and professional motivators. It’s your values, passions, beliefs, and story. Your brand needs to be who you are because your personality is not a separate entity from you.
People trust authenticity and can tell when it’s not there, so if you want to keep your positive reputation, keep it real.
In terms of defining your brand, you need to try and break up the different things that you think make up you – again, your values, passions, strengths, maybe even quirks and fashion choices – and hone in on them so you can focus on bringing them to the light as the things others associate you and your work with.
If you’re not sure about your ‘brand’, ask your friends and family what comes to their mind when they think of you and what you’re like.
A distinctive personal brand makes others remember you and makes you stand out. What’s more, all of the greatest and best-known executives and leaders have them.
For example, Richard Branson’s personal brand – which reflects the Virgin brand in many ways – is spontaneity, warmth, and high energy with a youthful essence. Oprah Winfrey’s brand is honesty, authenticity, motivative, and so on. These two aren’t exactly unforgettable or unsuccessful.
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