Executive Challenge: The Climb Back to C-Level

Perhaps the only task harder than reaching a C-level position in the first place is recapturing that rank after you’ve had to step down a rung on the corporate ladder.

How did this happen to me?

One or more factors probably play a key part in this situation, including:
• Your company has closed.
• Another company acquired yours.
• Your management approach clashed with the executive board’s views.

As long as you weren’t fired “for cause,” you don’t need to view your departure as a black mark on your record.

So what do I do now?

A natural decision is to look for another position at or very close to your previous one. However, if your best efforts in that direction don’t pan out, you might reluctantly lower your sights to pursue a step-down role.

At that point the question naturally arises, “What am I going to say when employers ask why I’ve held a lower-level position for the past two years?”

This issue really consists of two aspects in the minds of potential employers: (1) wondering why you’re no longer at the C-level and (2) concern that you might be out of touch.

One definite “Don’t” and a few “Do’s”

Don’t act defensively. Project a calm, non-defensive attitude that doesn’t suggest you’re carrying around a load of negative baggage.

You could take several actions to improve your odds of success. Those actions could include:
• Make your best effort to leave your old company on good terms—don’t burn any bridges.
• Maintain active contact with the people in your professional network, but don’t overwork them.
• Find a way to present your step-down position as a pragmatic decision.
• Look for and keep track of the opportunities you’ve had in your current position to make a distinct and substantial contribution to the company’s success in that role.
• Stay current on critical events and trends in your industry and related areas, so you can demonstrate to prospective employers that you have an up-to-date grasp of essentials.

Keep in mind that if you want a company to make you an offer you can’t refuse, you need to present them with a C-level candidate they’d be crazy not to hire.

[This excerpted post was originally published on the BlueSteps blog. Read the full article on the BlueSteps Executive Career Insider Blog at this link: https://www.bluesteps.com/blog/find-clevel-jobs.]

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