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Be Proactive Not Reactive to Manage Your Executive Career

Proactive versus Reactive on a cork notice boardEven after 23 years as an executive career management professional, it still astounds me that so many people aren’t actively engaged in managing their career. How do you know that a pink slip won’t arrive tomorrow?

There is huge value in managing your career. The Boy Scouts motto of “Be Prepared,” is so true in today’s society, when you may only be with your employer until they deem you as obsolete to their current business direction.

If unprepared, you will quickly find yourself on a roller coaster – not only dealing with the emotional impact of being downsized, but scrambling to pull together the tools and resources required for an effective job search.

Here are several ways you can be proactive in managing your executive career:

Be a detective. Since the advent of social media, it has become so much easier to keep abreast of the many opportunities that are out there. Follow the company pages of potential future employers, trade publications in your industry, and influential leaders in your area of expertise.

Also pay attention to updates from your LinkedIn connections, or automated messages from LinkedIn that someone in your network had a job change, promotion, or other announcements that could lead to a new appointment for you. Keep your eyes and ears open!

Update your resume. When was the last time you updated your resume? Do you still have the words Objective or Profile on your resume? These terms went out with the shag pile carpet.

Today a resume must be formatted for the human eye as well as the ATS scanning machinery, and should clearly portray your performance, not your responsibilities.

Be active and visible. If I Google you, what will I find? A significant web presence? Are you embracing and utilizing social media sites? Are you out and about in your function or industry community, networking in person?

At the drop of a hat, could you call on 50 people to generate leads for you if that pink slip arrives? Would they recognize your name, or would they be surprised to hear from you?

Be qualified. As a senior executive, you most likely graduated 20 or more years ago. However, have you invested in pursuing additional academic qualifications?

Are you attending or perhaps speaking at industry-related conferences? This instantly boosts your profile to many of your peers as hiring trends evolve.

Brag. An innovative idea, used by too few, is to create a brag book, where you document your career, in particular your accomplishments.

Highlight metrics and quantitative results, incorporating terms such as reduced, increased, propelled, and catapulted. Focus on the differences you made in terms of head count, revenue, profit, and market share.

Are you proud of your career? Do you deliver accomplishments? Then why not brag about them on social media? Or go one step further and publish your insights and innovations in your own original blog posts or slideshow presentations, gaining access to LinkedIn’s 400 million users!

Stay in touch. Are you openly engaged in discussions, when gainfully employed, with decision makers who could be your boss or an executive recruiter who could manage your career for many years to come?

Do you keep in touch with former colleagues, direct reports, and bosses? You never know who has moved on to a new influential position, and is looking for talent just like you!

Filter and share. Your professional association likely has publications written by your peers on pertinent topics of the day in your sector. Are you sharing this content with your network, and encouraging a dialogue on the topics?

Routinely check media sites, top industry blogs, and other trusted online sources for enlightening tips or breaking news. Keep sharing these links, and your network will come to see you as a valuable resource as well.

What are some of the ways you are boosting your presence online and in your local and global communities? How are you being proactive in managing your executive career?

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