Experienced managers and executives typically have a range of roles and accomplishments to draw from. Recently I coached a senior sales executive who had achieved major sales milestones but also managed sales teams and also designed and implemented sales processes. Is she an individual contributor, a manager or an innovator/ leader? Clearly, she’s all three but what she chooses to highlight is going to determine how prospective employers envision her at their companies and therefore determine the roles she’ll be offered. Because she hasn’t positioned herself proactively, she has recently been relegated to a string of individual contributor roles and hasn’t felt challenged or rewarded accordingly.
Use the very top of your resume as your positioning statement. If you want to be an individual contributor, highlight your sales results (or other bottom line metric). If you want to be a manager, highlight number of direct reports, size of teams, and budget overseen. If you want to be an executive, growth and profitability are key metrics, as are examples of innovation or visionary thinking.
Frame your networking pitch around the position you want. Give examples that correlate with the role you wish to play – use the resume highlights from above as your guide. If a target company is focused on your individual contributions and you want to manage or lead, then you need to shift the conversation or you need to realize that their target role does not match your needs and move on.
Positioning is very much for the employed, not just for jobseekers. To proactively manage your career – get assigned the plum projects, get promoted to roles you want, get compensated according to your value – you need to position yourself at your target level. There are no one-size-fits-all career paths. Even similar job functions will have different paths at different companies. So you need to understand how it works where you are and navigate accordingly.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career expert, writer, speaker and co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Caroline is a co-author (along with Donald Trump, Jack Canfield and others) of the upcoming “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” due out March 2010; Bascom Hill Books. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others. Caroline is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, a life coach (www.thinkasinc.com) and a columnist for CNBC.com, Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com, Vault.com, Wetfeet.com and TheGlassHammer.com.
Filed under: career coaching, career planning, job search, positioning