Setting out a strategic approach to your job search, and being more than just reactive, and thinking short-term is critical for true success. The first thing we need to do is establish what success looks like for you. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a link to the ‘Lite’ version of our Executive Planning Sheet. In short, what you need is a goal, and an understanding of the steps it’ll take to get you there.

In this article, we’re going to look at the elements and steps of an actionable plan, and how to go about creating your own as the basis for your success.

When you’re understanding of what you want – need – is understood clearly, it echos through your entire application. Having interviewed literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of executives, it is abundantly clear inside the first half of our meeting, those who have a plan, and those that are content to mearly be flotsam on the professional sea. Who would you hire; the person with a deliberate plan, or the deliberately apathetic?

First we want to define our ‘Goal’. This is the end-game quality that we want to see manifest – typically in the very long term; 5-10 years. In this case, it’ll likely be something like ‘Securing a CTO position with a large, global enterprise.’ or similar. Make it big, make it scary, make it something that would be your marker for true career success as you see it.

Next we need to look at the ‘Career Objective’. This is directly related to the ‘Goal’ in so much that it’ll broadly be the same thing, just in a more nuanced, metric-driven way. Continuing the above example, it’ll be something like, ‘In a CTO position responsible for a team of ~100 staff, a company size of 3-5000, full PnL responsiblity, and a supportive, forward-thinking organisation that sees IT as a facilitator, not just a cost centre.’

Now we need to look at the ‘how‘ to get there – the ‘Strategy’. This is the broadstrokes of how we wish to achive this, and a high-level picture of what we need to do to get there. To keep going with the example; “I need to achive certifcations the reflect my core technical capabilities, and develop my business acumen and understanding when running the technology stream of a business.”

Finally, we need to look at the ‘Tactics’ of achieving our goals. These are the more detailed elements of the Strategy above. So, once more continuing our example, “I need to update my TOGAF certification in the next 12 months, enroll in an MBA by the end of next year, and identify and engage with a mentor as soon as possbile.”

Once you understand these elements, you will have greater clarity about your target organisations, the way to frame your approach, the focal points for your interviews, and what you need from a role. With this meta-clarity, your micro concerns come clearly into focus;

The choice of stepping stone is only obvious once you know your destination.

Start planning today, regardless of where you are in your search (or if even yet to start) and it will assuredly add to your professional presentation. Make sure to read our second installment that takes the above actions and injects them into the pragmatic steps you must take.