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Your 2014 New Executive Career Checklist

You’ve been thinking about making an executive career transition for some time. Your current role is no longer a fit and you’re ready for a new challenge. Because of the hectic nature of the holidays and end-of-year activities, however, you decided to delay your executive job search until the new year.

Well, it’s now a new year and time to take action! The more “comfortably” you settle into 2014, the less likely you’ll be to make a career change. New projects and responsibilities will accumulate. Tight deadlines will make it difficult to find time to network and interview. And new justifications for why it’s not “the right time” will keep you firmly positioned in a holding pattern.

Often, the biggest thing standing between you and the right executive job is a plan. If you’re like most successful executives, you haven’t actively searched for a new job in many years. The executive job search landscape has changed since then and you’re not sure where to begin.

Use this checklist to successfully kick off your executive career transition.

Know exactly what you want to do next

This is very important! Your ability to successfully compete in a tight job market requires focus. Without a crystal clear career target, you’ll experience frustration and disappointing results. (See Why Keeping Your Career Options Open is a Bad Idea for more on why narrowing your target is so critical.)

Understand where you want to work

Once you know what you want to do, you need to know where you want to do it. Do you want to work for a start-up or a Fortune 500 company? Do you want to commute into the city, or would you prefer to find a company in your local area? Which environmental factors are most important to you:  strong leadership, a collaborative team, etc.? Without a solid understanding of what is important to you in your next work environment, you risk making the wrong decision.

 Internalize your career story

What directly ties your diverse and, perhaps, fragmented, work history to your next career target? Don’t rely on others to connect the dots for you. You must have a compelling story that weaves together the most relevant elements of your career history to position yourself for the executive role you want next. This story forms the basis of your introduction, interview responses, etc., so it needs to be authentic, unique, and powerful.

Develop a powerful career portfolio

You know you need a strong executive resume. You also need a compelling cover letter that is tailored to your specific audience, i.e. hiring manager, executive recruiter, etc. An often overlooked, but critical, element of your career portfolio is your LinkedIn profile. It must be complete and must reflect a brand that is consistent with your executive resume and cover letter. Depending on your executive career target, your broader social media presence is also important to your success.

Work your executive network

If you’ve done any research on the executive job search process, by now you’ve heard that the most effective strategy is networking. Dust off your Rolodex and start reaching out to your executive network. But be careful how you approach them. Asking for a job, which may seem intuitive, is actually not productive. (See The #1 Secret to Maximizing Your Executive Network for more on how to network effectively.)

While it may feel a bit clichéd, a new year is a great time to make an executive career change. In general, it’s a time of universal transition, so it’s easier to get motivated, make a plan, and take action. Use this checklist to get yourself started. And if you need additional support, seek the support of a career expert to help you.

What other items would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

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