Lessons to Help You Find Your Next Executive Job

— June 1, 2017

Here are a few lessons I learned personally from changing companies eight times and talking with more than 150 executive job seekers, mainly marketers.

Before You Are Fired from Your Executive Job (or Quit because Your Job Is Unbearable)

  1. Let your family know what’s going on:

    1. In advance, if possible,
    2. Immediately, when necessary, and
    3. Constantly, during the search.

  2. Make solid decisions in advance or your executive job search with your family. Will you:

    1. Move?
    2. Travel?
    3. Do a very long?
    4. Stay away from home several nights weekly?
    5. Take a pay cut?
    6. Drop down a level?
    7. Change categories, even to something not appealing?
    8. Change job functions?
    9. Network with people you prefer not to talk with?
      — I received a good job lead from a former adversary and a good
      recommendation from an ex-boss who had just forced me out.

  1. Develop substantial financial reserves.

    1. Sufficient for your family to survive for at least twelve months with only a slightly reduced standard of living with no income from you. Include:

      • Cash, cash equivalents, and investments such as stock easily converted to cash without penalties (realizing that stock values are unstable), and
      • Spouse’s income assuming s/he is employed in an apparently stable position.
      • Do not touch retirement accounts or home equity

    2. A twelve-month reserve should be prioritized higher than buying virtually anything except food, shelter, and health insurance.

  2. Have your executive job brand and positioning developed and understood by your primary professional support network.
  3. Have all of your executive job search tools up-to-date and polished.

    1. This is a difficult task when seemingly securely employed.

  4. Know:

    1. Which category or two are most likely to hire you.
    2. What you probably will be doing for them.
    3. Why they’ll hire you rather than a thousand other qualified executives.

  5. Develop an extensive contact database.
  6. Have executive job marketing and sales plans.
  7. Work Linkedin like a pro.
  8. Join both local business and national functional networking groups such as the American Marketing Association’s Executive Circle, which have executive-level members.

    1. Work your executive job search network continuously―a lesson to others which I didn’t follow nearly as well as I should have.

Once You Become Uneasy that You May Be Fired

  1. Continue doing a good job.
  2. Work internally to keep relationships strong.
  3. Realize that the light at the end of the tunnel usually is a train. Those jokes about early signals that you will be fired often are correct:

    1. Shut out of meetings
    2. Left in the dark in general
    3. Closed doors with you on the outside
    4. Left off of project teams
    5. Less time with peers
    6. Less contact with your boss

  4. Review job search tools and plans.
  5. Start executive job networking as if it’s a second job, which it is.

As You Are Getting Fired

  1. Be pleasant but leverage the situation―those firing you often have significant guilt and decision-making flexibility.
  2. Do not believe that the firing manager and the H.R. “executioner” must follow specific rules that keep them from improving their initial exit offer.
  3. Sign nothing on the spot.
  4. Think about discussing your situation with a lawyer who specializes in labor law but never threaten anything.

    1. While legal action seldom is fruitful, it can be productive to know your rights.

  5. Ask for more/better in a general way and then later come back and negotiate:

    1. Living up to any written agreements, such as an offer letter, regardless of how old
    2. Extended benefits
    3. Health insurance
    4. Salary continuation
    5. Retirement payments
    6. Delayed official exit to reach higher plateaus
    7. Part-time consulting work
    8. Written reference
      A personal example: I was forced out after nearly 6 years but given a part-time
      6-month consulting assignment (real work that needed to be done) which
      continued salary and benefits and let me reach a higher retirement payout

Once You Are Looking for a New Job

  1. Work as hard looking for your next executive job as you will once you land your next job.
  2. Do not delay your search for a vacation or sabbatical.
  3. Have a written marketing and sales plan with specific metrics and track them.
  4. Spend money to get a new job sooner.

    1. Coaching
    2. Travel
    3. Direct mail campaign
    4. Office away from home

  5. Take every networking or interview invitation, even if not appealing.
  6. Talk with your key contacts as soon as:

    1. Any anger has dissipated.
    2. You can describe your

      • Exit
      • Target categories and any limitations such as geography
      • Value to your targets in a few words

  7. Quickly start executing your marketing and sales plans.

    • Use a CRM system to contact more people
    • Keep your key contacts informed and up-to-date

  8. Videotape many practice interviews and have them critiqued.
  9. Once interviewing, know that the ass across the table interviewing you will be a bigger ass once you’re hired.

    • Boss
    • Peer
    • Key report who’s protected

  10. Don’t make your job goal so hard to obtain that you pass opportunities that can feed your family.

    • Good often is good enough since you can use your skills to make the situation better over time.

  11. Select your next executive job based on what’s best for your family.

The overall thought is to be prepared for the likely need to find another executive job. I’m certain everyone who has been through a job loss and job search can add to these lessons.

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