To acquire an executive position is no small feat, even for those with prior executive experience. When looking to move on to a new organization, it is important to have a full understanding of the process involved and to recognize that there is no guarantee that this will be a short process. With proper preparation and a strong job search strategy, however, your next executive opportunity can be within your grasp.
There are always stories of quick career transitions. An up-and-coming executive catches the eye of the right individual and they offer them a position right on the spot. While these stories are inspiring and exciting, these are rarely the norm. As a pragmatic business executive, it is in your best interests to prepare for all job search scenarios.
The reality is that an executive job search can frequently take up to six months. Some searches even last longer. Bear in mind that it is almost impossible to give a definitive answer to how long your individual search will last, due to the many variables involved. The following are some of these variables that may come into play:
The more salary you ask for, the more likely you will have to prepare for a longer job hunt. For one, there are naturally less options for higher paying executive positions- making the possibility of openings less frequent. Further, hiring managers and recruiters involved in the executive hiring process will want to take their time to appropriately vet such large investments. If you can afford to be more flexible in your salary requirements, then this can speed up the proceedings.
Believe it or not, there tends to be major seasonality in an executive level search. The two best hiring months of the year for executives are January and February, which correlates with the conclusion of the December holiday season and December 31st, the last day of the fiscal year.
The next best months are September and October. This timeframe immediately follows summer vacation. March through June are relatively neutral months: they are not bad, but not great either for opening prospects. July and August, as well as November and December tend to be the worst times of the year to begin a search.
What should executives gain from this knowledge? They should not wait until just before the best months to start their job search. The time it takes to drive a sophisticated executive search is several months in advance. For January hiring window, for instance, start your search in late October or early November.
Industry and functional experience
These factors are continually in flux. They depend on factors such as the state of the economy and trends on growth within various industries. For example, medical and technology executives may be in high demand at any given point of time, but executive opportunities in the finance sector may be in the decline. Some points to keep in mind:
• Peak performing sales executives always tend to be in high demand
• Civil and mechanical engineering executives tend to stay in moderate demand. However, if government starts spending money on infrastructure projects, this will drive higher demand.
• Financial executives’ demand tends to fluctuate more with the economy.
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to the question of how long does it take for an executive to find another executive position. However, there are some definite steps you can take to shorten the time-frame and increase your career prospects.
First, prepare an executive transition plan. The only danger in planning an executive transition is to not have any plan in place. This plan should include aspects such as being active in professional associations, attempts to be published in industry communications and taking advantage of online tools such as Linkedin. These are essential mechanisms to ensure you are on the radar for executive opportunities.
Next, make sure that you’re getting the right type of talent to help you accomplish your goal. Sign up to the CI Executive Career Management programme and get access to a Career Coach who will guide and coach you through your journey to achieve your desired executive position.