A C-level job search differs from a traditional job search in several key ways. Likewise, the path to the C-level differs from that of other managerial roles. While many different paths to the C-level exist, individuals who want to be the chief someday should be aware of the key steps necessary to reach that goal. People do not reach the C-level as a result of luck or coincidence. They must work hard to build professional connections and develop the skills that an executive at this level needs. Intelligence and talent are necessary to reach the C-level, but these qualities alone are not enough. The most important steps one must take to reach the C-level are outlined below:
- Develop Connections and Maintain Contact
When a C-level position becomes available, it is not typically advertised online or through other traditional avenues. Instead, organizations rely on their contacts to find potential hires. For this reason, individuals with C-level aspirations need to focus a great deal on creating and maintaining a professional network. In today’s busy business world, people can quickly forget the connections that they have made unless someone proactively maintains the relationship. Cultivating one’s network involves regular messages, calls, and in-person meetings. Simply passing along an interesting and relevant article is a great way to stay fresh in someone’s mind.
- Never Stop Learning about Business
C-level executives need to possess immense knowledge about business, especially in their particular sectors. This knowledge and understanding will lead to vision and clarity of action, which will in turn impress investors and foster organizational growth. In order to understand a sector thoroughly, individuals need to pay attention to the particular challenges that it faces, the verticals that it comprises, prospects for the future, and, of course, the competition that exists. People who aim for the C-level should also understand the particular problems associated with that role and strive to remain abreast of relative developments in the field.
- Take Risks, but in a Calculated Manner
People who play it safe with a predictable career path often get passed over for the C-suite, which demonstrates the importance of taking a calculated risk. Failure is an opportunity for learning, and organizations know that people who have taken risks and failed ultimately have a greater understanding of business than people who always play it safe. Many people say that individuals destined for the C-level tend to fail fast and early. These experiences lead to an interesting resume and demonstrate to an organization that a person is willing to take the chances that great leaders necessarily take. Naturally, organizations do not want to see people take risks haphazardly. Individuals should be able to explain exactly what was at stake that made the attempt worth the risk and, if the risk failed, what they learned from the experience.
- Find Mentors and Follow Their Advice
One of the best ways to learn about the struggles and challenges of the C-suite is to seek out mentors who have reached these high executive positions. Working alongside talented individuals allows people to pick up good habits and learn valuable lessons. If possible, individuals should work in a startup or alongside an entrepreneur in order to get a more thorough view of how a business operates, including how they grow and why they might fail. C-level executives do more than manage people. These individuals must bring a number of skills to the table. Obtaining a mentor at this level is the best way for people with C-level aspirations to identify the skills that they need to develop within themselves. Mentors can also play an important role in developing one’s professional network.
- Develop a Healthy Amount of Self-Confidence
One of the biggest hurdles to advancing one’s career is a lack of self-confidence. When one looks at C-level executives, they typically seem to exude self-confidence. Indeed, having trust in one’s self is extremely important at this level when difficult decisions need to be made on a regular basis. While self-confidence may seem like an innate quality, it is actually something that people can develop over time. Self-confidence should not come from the outside. When people rely on positive feedback from others for their confidence, they will quickly encounter problems at the C-level, where people are frequently faced with challenges of their own. Instead, self-confidence needs to come from within.
- Start Acting Like a C-Level Executive Today
In the modern business world, presentation is extremely important. When people dress, act, and talk like C-level executives, others are more likely to take notice and see them in that role. Individuals should never do anything that feels inauthentic. However, they should convey through their actions, appearance, and words that they are C-suite material. Everything from posture to tone of voice influence how a person is perceived. Individuals aiming for the C-suite need to think carefully about how other people perceive them and ensure that they are assuming the role well before they even have it.