Want a job in the C-Suite? 5 things to start doing now

Published on: 19 May 2015

You're a talented and experienced professional, a rising star in your industry and within the company you work for. Your reputation has been established and hard-earned - you've worked your way up the corporate ladder, occupied senior positions and management roles. The next step is the big one and the only one you're interested in. You want to take your place in the C-Suite.

The C-Suite. If you don't immediately understand what that means then you're clearly not ready yet. The C-Suite belongs to those who have an executive level position, so called because many of those jobs have titles starting with the letter C - chief executive officer; chief information officer; chief operating officer; chief financial officer.

It's a fairly exclusive club. Membership is only open to the highest-level executives. So, how do you get there? These are the five things you must start doing now.

Get noticed

Obviously; if you don't get noticed you'll always fly under the radar. But what you're aiming to achieve is a situation whereby your name is already familiar to the hiring manager when you apply for an advertised position. When your name crops up, you're already halfway there and already the preferred candidate. How do you do this? By networking in your chosen industry - in person, at events - and gaining references from personal contacts. Raise your profile.

Be pro active

You're ready for an executive role, you have all the qualities and experience required. The perfect opportunity is heading your way. It's just a matter of time, isn't it? Well, no. If you're waiting for a recruitment agency or 'head hunter' to call up one day, out of the blue, and offer you an executive role and a £60k-plus salary you might be forever waiting. Don't wait to be found. Hunt for opportunities. Identify the companies looking for senior positions, approach them, request meetings. Make it happen.

Find a mentor

A mentor can be invaluable in helping you overcome that final hurdle and claim that long-awaited executive role. This individual can be a sounding board for advice, provide guidance and give constructive feedback. Ideally, they will still be active in the corporate world and well connected - that in itself can be a big advantage. They may even construct mock interviews for you and critique your performance, helping to smooth your path to the top.

Do your research

If you're applying for an external executive position - rather than seeking internal promotion - do your homework on the hiring company. That means thorough, in-depth research and not just a rapid scan of their website and lazy quotations about their business. Know their marketing campaigns, their financial performance, connect with other senior management via LinkedIn, read everything you possibly can about them. By the time you get to interview, you'll demonstrate such a level of knowledge you'll already feel like an extension of the company.

Be prepared to change tactics

The very top jobs are in huge demand, which mean they are hard to come by. You might need to stay patient and wait for an opportunity - chief executives may stay in situ for years and years. At the highest level turnover is low. Be prepared to consider a change of industry to get to where you want. An-depth understanding of a new industry is not always mandatory; if you're leading the company you're not getting paid to know every detail. You're paid to manage the team of experts working for you.