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Do this one thing before starting your executive job search.

Define what the finish line looks like.

How will you know you’ve secured the right offer from the right company for the right role?

It sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised to learn that many six-figure executives struggle to define this for themselves. Most think they clearly understand what they want until they learn they’re just scratching the surface.

Here is a sampling of the responses I received last month:

  • “Greater fulfillment.”
  • “A good job.”
  • “A full-time senior-level job at a large organization with a great team to lead, and interesting work.”
  • “A job at a company that compensates me well and where there is scope for growth.”

This is all good, but when you’re looking for a six-figure senior leadership role, you need to be more specific.

The truth is if you’re not sure how to find the job you want, it’s probably because no one ever taught you how. Before you start implementing, you first have to understand, with clarity, where you’re going.

This is your starting point.

Decide what is driving your search.

Here are some common drivers to consider:

  • Compensation
  • Culture
  • Leadership
  • Autonomy
  • Day-to-day activities
  • Trust
  • Levels of influence
  • Commute times/location/travel
  • Hierarchy
  • Stakeholders (colleagues, clients)
  • Workspace/environment
  • Benefits
  • Bonuses and incentives
  • Health Insurance

Perhaps it’s a combination of a number of these. Go deeper. For example, if you were paid what you wanted, but it meant you didn’t get the trust and level of influence you wanted, would the offer be as appealing? You’ll want to define this with as much clarity and precision as you can.

What does a great job offer look like?

You’ll do this for two reasons:

  1. To prevent you from investing time in considering, applying to and interviewing for jobs that are not a good fit. Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it in a hiring process for the wrong job when you could be focused on opportunities more aligned with what you *actually* want.
  2. To mitigate the risk of jumping at the first job offer, making a mistake and winding up in a job search six months from now.

If you want to increase your job search results you have to clearly define and then articulate everything it will take for you to accept the offer. Make a list. The job I want meets the following criteria…

With a good understanding of what’s driving your search, you can now go even deeper.

You can’t do *all* of the jobs. And you certainly don’t have time to evaluate every job in existence, so start with what you know. Do you want to work in the same position, same company or same industry as you do now? Of the three, which is the most important to change?

  • Position
  • Company
  • Industry

If any of these are still unclear for you, or you’re trying to keep your options open, it might be time to evaluate your job search activities to assess your ROI. What results are your current job search activities producing? What’s working, what’s not working, and why?

Don’t be fooled into leading with tactics before you assess the market and think strategically about your future role. Job search is often oversimplified; skipping strategy for tactical implementation will make your search inefficient.

Related Categories: Advice, Career Clarity, Job Search

About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.

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