A few weeks ago, ExecuNet published a statistic that blew my mind. They found in their annual survey of members that it was taking an executives 11.9 months to land a position. Information from the U.S. GAO showed that the majority of individuals who were out of work over 6 months were those that were 50 years and older. Additionally, anyone who has been out of work more than 6 months, regardless of age, industry, or experience can expect tough times, according to a report published in The Atlantic.
These headlines prompted me to ask the question, “Are Executive Careers Dying?”
According to Rich Gee, an executive coach, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” His reasoning is that most hunker down and hope things stay the same. The problem, of course, is that staying static is going backwards today. Everything is in flux and unless one is either changing things at work (and, thus, creating their own new path in their company) or finding new paths outside of work (by connecting with new folks and finding out what’s new out there), the constant erosion of your day, work, and life is going to continue, according to Gee.
Couldn’t agree more. But does that mean that executive careers are dying?
I’ve been pounding the drum that the economic structure is shifting underneath us. We are moving away from the Industrial Age and moving into the Social Age (formerly called Creative Age). Work and its value is changing and companies are not preparing executives for those changes (see my new 2013 Ten Trends that Impact Executive Careers Today! ). Few executives are addressing these changes in their current roles and are waiting until they are laid off to do so. I know, you are working 14 hour days and have no time! I get it.
What’s true is that companies are hiring what they need today and not looking at the long-term.
If a company needs an executive-level person, then so be it. There are many (many) choices out there and executive candidates better be: 1) currently employed), 2) have a pedigree background, and 3) be affordable for what they will deliver. But the idea of hiring someone for a long-term role, i.e. staying with the company for 3 or more years, is increasingly becoming a foreign concept.
Therefore even though executive roles are not dying; executive careers may be.
Why? Because of the way an executive career has shifted and how executives are not addressing these shifts proactively enough.
A career is defined as “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress (Google dictionary). “ What happens, then, when the “significant period” can’t be established because job-interrupts or “progress” isn’t happening due to layoffs and RIFs. According to this definition, one doesn’t have a career!
And for many, this is exactly what’s happening.
So, what’s the answer?
In my opinion, you need to begin to think “executive business” rather than “executive career.” This isn’t a new idea. In an article publishing by the New York Times in October 2009, Managing Your Career as a Business, the author showed how many experts were answering the question of how to manage your career during the recession.
Nothing has changed since then, but it seems to be a new idea to the millions of executives who are struggling in their current jobs (i.e. bored or working too much or in a situation that is just crazy – i.e. the Corporate landscape today) or are recently in transition.
Take control of your career as if it were a business and learn to market yourself with a clear marketing plan that goes beyond the next job, builds a network of highly influential power brokers, and launch a long-term, multi-year strategy that keeps you visible and viable. Then, when you need to move, you can augment your marketing efforts with a sales campaign that can maximize the opportunities to land.
Unless you take control, the market place is going to drive you crazy and out of a career – fast.