This is a guest post by Gord Orlikow, an executive recruiter.
Long gone is any stigma attached to professionals who find themselves in transition. In an increasingly turbulent marketplace, there are a host of reasons an individual in a highly visible senior role could be in transition – change in organizational strategy or structure, new CEO or board sweeping clean, synergies following an acquisition, etc. Indeed, our clients hire us because they expect us to know where to find the best executive for the role they seek to fill and, for the most part, are agnostic about whether or not that person is currently employed.
Questions the executive search consultant will address include:
- How long have you been in transition? What have you been doing since leaving your last role? Did you have a non-compete for some part of that period which helps define your subsequent activity?
- What is your “leaving” story? Is it credible and does it hold up when I informally reference your performance in your last role with your former colleagues?
- Given the circumstances of your departure, do you have reasonable expectations for your next role? What did you learn from your experience and what are you doing differently?
Four key tasks for those in career transition:
- Be selective about the roles you pursue just as you are when employed. Competition for postings is intense. Invest only in those roles which fall at the intersection of your passion, career objectives and technical experience. Outside of academia and other select areas, busy professionals rarely take a sabbatical from the all-consuming nature of day-to-day demands. Be very deliberate about the trajectory of your career.
- Be patient. Active job seekers are engaged earlier in the process than those who are otherwise preoccupied. You will feel the full length of the search process. Be comforted that those in transition are almost always in the candidate pool – as recruiters we have a responsibility to our client to bring diverse candidate options to the process, including employment status.
- Be prepared to work harder. The consultant will have higher expectations about doing one’s homework and due diligence around a posting, anticipating you have more time to do so, relative to those who are actively employed.
- Accept that you have less leverage in negotiations. This is less of a concern at the executive level but the issue is further mitigated if you legitimately have other opportunities actively on the go – after all, the client also responds to competition!
Executives in transition control their own destiny at least as much as those currently employed. The circumstances may be less familiar but the same considerations apply as at other times in one’s career. With hard work smartly executed, you will land in a good place … and very likely working closely in partnership with someone like me!
Gord Orlikow has placed hundreds of executives and board directors into many of Canada’s leading and emerging organizations. He is especially passionate in strengthening Canada’s competitive position in global markets and he plays an active role in professional and industry associations dedicated to this same objective.
Gord Orlikow is also Chair of the Board of Athletics Canada (the governing body for track and field in Canada and responsible for Canada’s national team) and a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee. He holds a Master of Economics from Queen’s University, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Manitoba and is a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP).
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