Shifting Careers? Speak to Your Sweet Spot

chocolate truffleOn Saturday, a client and I were wrestling with her LinkedIn profile’s summary.

Sitting across my desk, she grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen.

With seventeen years of really interesting leadership experience in both startup and Fortune 10 companies, she was trying to quickly illustrate what she considers to be her sweet spot.

Turns out, she loves the startup life. To clarify, she loves startup life at roughly second round funding when she has the traction to innovate and really drill some smart roots from which a company can thrive while the team is still nimble enough to be led.

It took her being in a Fortune 10 company and a lot of self-reflection to reach this conclusion, by the way, which is always an authentic part of the journey as an engaged leader.

Ten seconds into her drawing, I could hardly keep my mouth shut, because she’d just sparked a major career development strategy.

You see, we’re in the process of building her boat — as I’ve called it since another client coined the term several years ago — so she’s ready to sail when the right opportunity comes along.

She’s tending to her career brand. She’s cultivating her reputation in the long term so she’s clearly known for what she loves, and by extension, what she does well.

I tried not to interrupt, but finally did: “So let’s tie your drawing back to something we talked about 30 minutes ago. Cultivating your reputation. Why not purposefully write articles and open yourself to speaking engagements that focus on that sweet spot. You’re at point X right now — a large company, steering a massive ship — so it’s not obvious that you prefer being in a startup. So why not use that authority to become a resource — an example — to startups with Series B funding who really need the intellectual and experience firepower you offer.”

I continued: “Title your articles and presentations strategically, so you not only speak to the audience at hand, but so the titles have a life beyond the moment. Then when you list them on your LinkedIn profile, in your executive bio, in your resume, you have this clear specialization — and in time, you open the door wider as a passive candidate. And odds are higher that you’ll be sought for just the right fit.”

Sure, you might be one of the folks we all admire who already knows this strategy. Forbes contributors do. HBR contributors do. They write to their brands, which brings to them even more enjoyable opportunity.

But for others of us, it’s the little tips like this that flip on a switch and we’re on our way. I have a feeling good things are on the horizon for her in a career that’s already pretty stellar.

Do you have a sweet spot that isn’t being fully utilized or realized? It can feel like a Titanic effort to redirect. But the tiniest rudder — the smallest strategic adjustment — will change one’s direction over time. And sooner than you know it, you’ll be in your ideal role looking in the rearview mirror, smiling back at what was once today.

Turn the wheel today. I’m serious. Make a decision and take a step forward, because if you’re like so many of our species, you’ll be the first to under-prioritize yourself.

Until next time!


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6 Make or Break Résumé Metrics Every Management Professional Should Cite

Studio shot of a fish in bowlI field 2-4 new business calls a day, mostly from mid-career to senior-level professionals and executives looking to quietly see what their future might hold if they nose around a bit.They’re heads of industry — movers and shakers — looking to move up, down, laterally. They’re looking to find meaning and they’re not sure how.

Related post: Why It’s Smart to Take Recruiter Calls

In nearly every instance, they express embarrassment about their out-of-date résumés. Understandable, since they’ve been busy doing the work, not nursing a résumé.

Almost to a head, they overlook six fundamentals by which they’ll be sought and measured in a job search:

1. Company size. A CEO building a startup is often cut from vastly different cloth than a CEO leading a $150B public company. By merely placing the size of companies on your résumé you quickly tell a huge part of your story.

Caveat: Don’t place company / revenue size if the data isn’t publicly known.

2. Team size. A CTO managing a team of three has a busy job, no doubt. But managing a matrixed team of 450+ engineers, developers, creatives, product managers, and marketers across five global locations is another ballgame entirely.

Tip: Showing team sizes as “up to 20” or “ranging X-Y” can help you strategically position yourself.

3. Geographic scope. A CFO managing a team and its productivity from a New York City loft is tough work, but a CFO navigating the risks and implications of international law and culture on three continents runs an entirely different ship.

Related post: Don’t hide your international experience.

4. Quantifiable outcomes. A CMO who demonstrates measured success, whether by real numbers or percentages, will sail ahead of the competition every time. Whether it’s gains in market share, revenue, clicks, eyeballs, or productivity—or cuts in overhead, time, resources, or some other measurement of success—most candidates have great metrics that they should include, but never do.

Warning: Never list proprietary information on your résumé. Additionally, be careful not to reveal publicly unflattering or potentially competitive metrics on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is not a cut-and-paste from your résumé job.

5. Reporting relationships. It’s often hard to tell whether an organization is flat, matrixed, or somewhere in between. Listing reporting relationships on your résumé adds a layer of context for a seasoned hiring decision maker.

Aside: In cases where reporting relationships confuse or don’t boost the overall picture, leave them off. Just know that you may be asked.

6. Industry-specific metrics: Part of a CNO’s aptitude centers around the number of facilities s/he manages, and the number of beds at each location. Part of a CIOs matrix of aptitude revolves around market cap and portfolio size. Be sure to include the differentiating metrics that tie specifically to your industry.

Tip: If you’re changing industries, write your first résumé draft with industry information intact. It’ll be easier to write. When you’re done, scrub it of most industry-specific language, and write transferable skills in the language of your inbound industry. (As long as it’s not entirely opposing: development means very different things in varying industries, for examples. Do this task carefully.)

Until next time!

Jared Redick

Don’t Discount Your International Experience

International Expertise I’m always surprised when international clients, whether based in the U.S. or abroad, try to diminish their international experience on their resumes.

That’s because in many cases, international experience is a benefit.

In fact, follow the work of Heidrick & Struggles CEO L. Kevin Kelly and you’ll find that his suggestion that cultural quotient, or CQ, is as important as IQ and EQ in today’s increasingly global economy.

(Google “Davos 2013: End of the expat model and the start of the Cultural Quotient model” for an insightful article that copyright doesn’t allow me to include here. Readers of my blog would do well to follow Heidrick & Struggles on LinkedIn, Twitter, and elsewhere.)

Indeed, if you’ve lived, worked, or traveled internationally–depending on your professional seniority–that’s experience that can set you apart as international companies look at global growth.

In my practice, I often find that people with international experience, however, try to Americanize their histories. To downplay their international backgrounds.

Consider these clues from my practice. International clients routinely: Continue reading

3 Questions You Should Ask Before Joining a Nonprofit Board

Questions to Ask Before Joining a Nonprofit BoardSo you’ve been asked to join the board of a nonprofit organization or professional association.

Feeling flattered?

You should.

It means you could make a real contribution to the greater good in your world.

Feeling uncertain?

Probably wise.

Here are three starter questions to ask yourself and the organization’s leadership before you commit.

Question #1: What’s the Structure?

“Is it a governing board or an administrative board?” Continue reading