Social Enterprise

Seven steps to building a fulfilling executive career

A noted executive career consultant offers advice for executives who are in the market for a new job.

Today, we have a quest post from William Ellermeyer, one of the most recognized Executive Career Transition Consultants in Southern California, having pioneered the corporate-sponsored career transition business in the early 1980s.

Here are Bill's seven secrets to embracing change and building a fulfilling career:

1. Relationships rule.

Today's most powerful people are typically the best connected. Relationship building is essential. Focus on quality, not quantity. Meeting 100 people is less useful than truly connecting with 10. The key to successful networking is to bring something to the table. Networking is more of a "give" than a "get," and you must be willing to help people with no thought of getting something in return. Think of something you can give to each person you meet, whether it's an idea, an event, a book title, an article, a contact or simply a friendly smile. Remember to expect nothing in return. If you do this with everyone you meet, you'll greatly increase your likeability and visibility in the marketplace. Those people will be more inclined to hire you, refer you and help you in any way they can-and they'll be happy to do it.

2. Know your brand.

Create a core message that is short, focused and honest. It should include your skill sets without sounding like a sales pitch. It must make your objectives clear in an interesting, conversational style-so memorize the content, but not the precise wording. Let the message become your "unique selling proposition," which you will use in networking as well as in actual interviews. Your brand is a reflection of what people know and expect from a relationship with you. The crucial element is that your core message be brief and compelling enough to grab attention in a networking situation.

3. Give your resume a millennial makeover.

Your clean, clear, focused resume must showcase your experience and accomplishments in no more than two pages. There are times you'll still rely on the classic paper resume, but more often than not you'll need to adapt yours to be compatible with electronic communication tools, including social media and websites. A blog with a couple quotes about you from influential people in your industry can pack a stronger punch than even a well-crafted resume. Companies and executive search firms are increasingly turning to profiles placed on LinkedIn and other business-based social media sites. LinkedIn wears the crown in the business world right now when it comes to social media.

4. Be a business.

Position yourself as a resource, and approach the market as a business consultant, not as a "needy" job seeker. Job seekers tend to put companies on the defensive unless it's a situation where they have found you to fill a need. It is much easier to stride through the corporate door as a resource than as an out-of-work executive. Remember that in this world of short-term work, you will move back and forth from employee to consultant to employee, perhaps peppered with stints as an entrepreneur or a future in "portfolio work," using your core strengths and experiences over multiple income streams. If you're in a traditional job, always be prepared with a back-up, like teaching, that you are equipped to jump into, should your current position no longer be available. Approaching your work as a business can put you in the driver's seat.

5. Assemble a Board of Advisors.

In his best-selling book, Keith Ferrazzi advises that you put together your own permanent "job search board." Start with an individual who wants to join you for weekly or bimonthly breakfast meetings. Once you're comfortable and have established the routine, you should each invite another person to join. Down the line, the four of you can invite more people until the group maxes out at 8 to 10 members, for the best results. The more diverse the group is, the more benefits it can provide. Continue to attend the meetings when you have a traditional job; networking is a lifelong activity that will only be there when you need it if you cultivate the relationships over time.

6. Get organized.

Keep records of all your contacts, including how and when you met them and a word or two about their strengths. Store the information by category in a database program like Outlook or a website like LinkedIn. Organize your schedule to include meetings, events, reading and research, exercise, meals, food and fun. Keep manila files for important projects, special people, events, saved content, reading material and marketing. Instead of hoarding e-mail, get in the habit of printing, sorting and deleting them. Put the appropriate items in "action" and "later review" files. Use e-mail to continually connect with your network and save new contacts. When you're in transition, you should be sending out a minimum of 8 to 10 update e-mails each weekday.

7. Shape up, mentally and physically.

It's never been so important to remain at the top of your game, both mentally and physically. Our fast-paced, "always connected" business environment demands it. Exercise at least 4 or 5 times a week. Eat healthy, low-fat and low-carb meals focused on protein. Meditate daily, even just for 15 minutes of "mind rest" every morning before you start the day. Focus exclusively on the positive, and you'll continue to think more positively all day long.

Just remember that opportunity may take a different form than it has in the past. Be prepared to identify and even create the opportunities you desire. Change is the only constant. Even in tough times, people are promoted, moving, retiring... Opportunity abounds, even in the depths of a downturn in the economy. Use these seven secrets to make sure you're ready when it does.

17 comments
dinadana
dinadana

These advices are universal for all fields of career - be honest, in shape and organized!

sjbourne
sjbourne

It's amazing how IT people focus on the process - is the diet right, why 8 to 10 emails a day, why not 7 to 9 etc. The "goal" of the article is to be results driven, the exact diet formulation is not important. In other words to make the switch from techie to professional, put the C back in ICT... communication. Ge the ideas from the article and forget the specifics, you will walk away with a gem!

Derteufel
Derteufel

Low fat? which fats? Why low card? Your body needs carbs. The best answer to a healthy diet is to eat balanced (find it) and eat basic. Your central nervous system and brain need glucose, which is basically carbohydrates. Too much protein is detrimental. Balanced means a complete diet, getting just what you need.

kailashatarate
kailashatarate

I think this is very good advice. But if I hire the person who is good but how about its technical knowledge. I very well know its weakness than its strength. As normally first we point to weakness. Any sucess is depend on network and knowledge also

NETech4u
NETech4u

This is actually a very solid and thought through advise. Notice the title "...steps to building ... executive career". These steps are intended not for those who are satisfied to merely land a job but for the ones who want to excel onto a career path which will require multiple jumps from a position to position (weather in the same company or across companies)

fred_diluzio
fred_diluzio

I'm surprised at the amount and content of the "negative" responses to Mr. Ellermeyer's posting. He makes very valid points and I challenge those who responded negatively to inventory their own experience AND success marketing themselves as executives in transition, unless mediocrity truly is your life's goal.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

To be honest; I don't give a !@#$ about making friends with people I don't like or respect just to get to the promised land. I realize that giving without reciprocation has it's place when helping people. It's excellent in a team environment and it's also great to offer your energies to your family or society as a whole in hopes to uplift someone(s). It's just NOT in my character to be friends or offer valuable time/energy to someone who I deem as an abuser to my previous offerings. You learn quick when to cut a "mutha" off. Although it's a harder road to walk; it makes me feel solid in that I didn't have to compromise or yield to a questionable situation. The work that I do/did helped get me there. In a way I guess I'm a sucker to those who see an easier route? All I know is that this way makes me feel best and that's the most important.

suzan.reagan
suzan.reagan

I like this post. Mostly because it starts with networking instead of the resume tips. Even the end is a suggestion at keeping your life sane even if you are in job hunting mode and have monetary worries.

kjohnson
kjohnson

"Exercise at least 4 or 5 times a week. Eat healthy, low-fat and low-carb meals focused on protein. Meditate daily, even just for 15 minutes of ???mind rest??? every morning before you start the day." On Job Seeker's Allowance?

Shamonk
Shamonk

"Eat healthy, low-fat and low-carb meals focused on protein." is confusing advice. Most of what people consider protein (meat, eggs, dairy, nuts) is very high in fat, in the 40-80% range, so low-fat low-carb & protein. Besides, protein's vastly overrated in popular culture these days. Our bodies need complete amino acids over time, not in every meal. Protein has the aminos, but at a considerable digestive cost. High protein associates with a raft of ills like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, colon cancer--studies have shown you can even activate cancer cells with too much protein (see The China Study by T. Colin Campbell). Eating healthy means eating low on the food chain, as least-processed as possible.

kjohnson
kjohnson

Valid points? Name one. Mr Ellermeyer wrote that you can get a better job by eating high-carb food (or was it low-carb?) and meditating for fifteen minutes a day. Now, I grant you, there are many adjectives in the English language for describing a writer who draws no obvious distinction between reality and drivel, but I think the one that comes to mind first after reading his article is "unhinged."

suzan.reagan
suzan.reagan

It's not about making friends with people you don't like, it's about common curtsies and saying thank you. It's about recognizing we are all human and can in some small way support each other and most importantly help each other grow. It's not about an easy road. In fact, it's harder to find common ground and work with someone you don't respect to move beyond that and get the work done and both grow in the process. I like to joke that I've to train up my supervisors before they become good ones.

Hot_Coffee
Hot_Coffee

How do you expect to be at the top of your game if your mind and body aren't at their best? Personally I exercise 6 times a week and eat healthy every day. The real question is, regardless of whether you want a fulfilling executive career or not...why wouldn't you take this advice? What's more important than your health?

kjohnson
kjohnson

It's not what you eat, but where you eat it. Sitting at home eating a lump of perfectly healthy cheese in the kitchen probably won't get you an executive job. On the other hand, sucking up to the chairman of some vast corporation over the fatty and fibre-free crepes suzettes and alcohol rich, carbohydrate loaded Chevre Rothschild in the magnificent surroundings of the reassuringly expensive Savoy Saucepan might well result in some minor position as, say, a non-executive director on a few hundred thousand a year and share options.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I like how you think. Thanks for the advice and sorry to being such a negative Nelly. I guess concentrating on an objective and seeing it to completion even if you have to have the help of people you don't like them should be the main goal then? A nice way to take your mind off of the bad and stay on the good. I think I've got it. Thank you.

kjohnson
kjohnson

I don't particularly want to be "at the top of my game," whatever that means. Being good at what I do has always been sufficient. References to "low-carb meals" and "mind rest" are barely more than gibberish. As for exercise, I don't have a car: that works for me.

suzan.reagan
suzan.reagan

Not that I don't have my negative moments too! Getting side tracked is easy. It's just best to smile when a project is finished despite personal issues, bureaucracy etc. I also recommend celebrating once once an objective is completed. It's not just a line on the resume!