In this month’s issue of the Harvard Business Review, there was a very interesting article on the mistakes that seasoned C-level executives make when changing jobs.  The article was done following research with executive search consultants, HR Executives and C-level executives and points to five major blunders these seasoned executives make:


Mistake 1-Executives Did Not Do Their Homework


The researchers found that despite executives strong backgrounds in their disciplines, when it comes to job change, they did not do their due diligence in the following areas:

§  They did not research the industry or job function to understand the job-market realities of where they were heading.


§  They did not research the financial stability of the potential employer.


§  They did not research the cultural fit between themselves and the firm.


§  They did not explore the alignment between the job title and their actual job duties or functions.


§  They did not ask how performance in the new role would be measured.



Mistake 2-Leaving For Money


Although C-level executives stated that money/income was not their top “reward” they were seeking with new employment, when it came to decision-making, they always put money first. They forgot to consider other rewards that might be possible with their current employer such as opportunity for advancement, professional development and mentoring.



Mistake 3-Running From The pain


These executives became so unhappy in their current roles that they tended to lurch from one place to another with “artificial urgency”. They were NOT strategic about their choices nor did they evaluate if there were other opportunities for them in their existing firm.



Mistake 4-Unrealistic Self Awareness


The executives who were interviewed tended to have an unrealistic view of their skills, strengths and opportunities available to them. They were not strong in self-analysis and tended to blame their organization for their woes.


They also had very unrealistic expectations regarding how long it would take to find a job and what they could make in the new role.



Mistake 5-Short-Term Thinking

Even though short-term thinking feeds into the other mistakes, this was also cited as a major career misstep on it own.




The article listed several recommendations to overcome these mistakes, to which I have added in my own comments.


§  Be self-aware and evaluate your strengths, skills and unique differentiators. Also understand your weaknesses, especially if they are blocking you from reaching your goals. (Yes, this is a big part of the work that goes into extracting your Personal Brand!)


§  Do your homework and ask alot of questions before you join a new company. Use social media tools such LinkedIn to find people whom you can speak with to get the inside scoop.


§  Have a back up plan for your career-don’t just think short-term.


§  Try to salvage your current situation by either moving to another role in your firm, if possible, or having an open dialogue with your manager about what is not working for you.


§  If you do leave and make a mistake, don’t jump from the frying pan to the fire.


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