You don’t have to be a middle manager forever. Sure you may never land the CEO job, but becoming a C-level executive isn’t out of the question as long as you have more than the desired skill set.
“To become a C-level executive you have to have an outstanding personality and communications skills,” says Brandi Britton, a district president at Robert Half International, the staffing company. “Being great at your job is one portion but being involved in things outside work is also important.”
In order to make the leap into the C-suite there are clear steps you can take. From increasing your visibility to enhancing your communication skills, here are four ways to move up the corporate ladder:
Timing Is Everything
According to executive search firm Harris Allied, you should start preparing to make the transition six to 12 months ahead of time whether its within your existing organization or at another company. In addition to updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, Kathy Harris, managing director of Harris Allied says, use the six to 12 month time frame to close the gap in responsibilities between your current position and the one you are aspiring to.
“One of the big questions these jobs seekers should be asking is ‘What is my big win?’, ‘What is going to be my big calling card?’” says Harris. “If you do not have one, then take some time to get noticed on a big project or learn about emerging trends in your industry before you actually embark on your search.”
Increase Your Visibility
If your dream is to move up the corporate ladder at your current job you have to let it be known. Bosses aren’t mind readers and if you don’t inform them of your aspirations they may never consider you for higher positions. How you let it be known also matters. According to Britton, you don’t want to come off as too aggressive or send the message that there is a time limit on your aspirations. “They may assume you will leave for a better opportunity,” says Britton. “It’s important to express your desire to move up as well as your loyalty to the organization.”
C-level executives aren’t the wall flower types; usually they are well known within the organization and community and are well liked and natural leaders. According to Britton, signing up for speaking engagements within the company as well as taking on a leadership role in your community are great ways to get noticed and at the same time increase your communication skills. “You have to sign up to be part of things where you become well known for more than the day to day job,” says Britton.
If your goal is to land a job somewhere else, Harris says writing a blog or getting an article published are great ways to draw attention your way. “The more of a name a middle manager can make for himself or herself, the better the chances are of being headhunted by recruiters who are looking for that skill set,” says Harris.
Find A Mentor
The benefits of having a mentor can’t be overstated, especially if that mentor is in a C-level position. Not only will a mentor school you on the ways of higher level executives, but that person will be a great resource to bounce ideas off and potentially introduce you to the right people. “It’s not always appropriate to share ideas with your direct management team. It’s good to have someone outside your circles who is not judging you for future prospects,” says Britton.
In addition to finding a mentor, Harris says it’s important to network and to network often. She says to make it a point to meet with one or more contacts every week. You need to remember that no matter where you are you are always networking.