I’ve been in the executive search industry for more than 20 years. What I have found during that time is that a lot of executives fail to realize that they are the captain of their own ship. No one is going to manage your career for you. Many executives are passive, but you have to actively manage your own career.
Part of managing your career is to look long term. The most successful executives keep the end goal in mind. They recognize that they have to develop transferable skills that allow them to be effective in multiple organizations, cultures and environments.
In my experience, the best executives are always striving to reach their full potential and are committed to life long learning. They understand that it’s a continuous process; you’re never done. Every single job that you have is a platform to learn and grow.
As you are considering new opportunities, you need to be able to honestly answer these questions:
“What is it I really want?”
“What am I naturally good at?”
“What do I really enjoy?”
“Is this the right environment that will help me to achieve that?”
Ultimately, it is about self awareness and understanding what drives you. You need to know what the right fit is for you from a culture perspective, as well as what opportunities are going to match to your long term goals. The Morgan Samuels Self Assessment is a great tool to help you answer these questions. We developed this tool to improve the screening process for both our clients and our candidates. It takes some energy and time to complete; however, candidates universally find it to be an excellent investment. Click here to download a copy of our Self Assessment to fill out for yourself.
I have seen a lot of candidates unwittingly sabotage themselves during the interview process. One of the most important things that even senior level executives often fail to do is to prepare properly for an interview. First off, you need to know the company. If it’s a publicly held company, you need to read about it and really understand what drives it, how they position themselves in the market, how they make money, what their priorities are from a strategic perspective, and what the business opportunities are. No one wants to hire someone who hasn’t taken the time to invest in learning about their company.
Candidates also need to be able to speak to the details of what they themselves have done. A lot of executives try to keep it at the top level and don’t really drill down to the details.
Candidates often have a misperception that an interview is about performance – they feel they are supposed to “perform.” It’s not about that. It’s about just being yourself, being authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not, because then they’re hiring that other person, not you. If that happens, things will not work out well for you or the company.
When you’re interviewing don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you’re unsure what the interviewers are looking for in their question. It is absolutely acceptable to ask questions such as:
“Have I answered your question?”
“Am I giving you too much detail or would you like more detail?”
Do not put the pressure on yourself to think that you will magically know what the interviewers want. Different interviewers want different things.
Another question I always encourage candidates to ask is, “Why did the previous placement fail?” The answer to this question will give you great insight to the role, the organization and the expectations of the next person who fills that position.
Candidates should assess any opportunity on three critical dimensions:
1. Do you have the requisite skills, experience and knowledge necessary to deliver on the key business objectives in the eyes of the interviewer?
2. What is the culture of the organization and does it fit your personality?
3. Do the company’s values and what they stand for match your values and what you stand for and your motivations?
Most importantly, make sure that you understand the expectations of the position and ask yourself whether that’s going to match you and your family’s needs at the particular point you’re considering the new role.
Click Here to take advantage of the tools and resources we are providing to help you reach your full potential.
And remember: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.