Where Do You Go After CEO?

fat cat, ceo, president, career, promotion

We all had a vision for our careers when we first got started.  And for many of us, that included a basketball court sized office on the top floor of an opulent building downtown.  A personal assistant or two.  And an opportunity to place our stamp on an entire company.

And, of course, the dream doesn’t have to be lived out in a big company.  It can be your own little slice of heaven.  A small manufacturing start-up or a quirky ad agency or promotion company might do.

Either way, you have made it to the top.  You are CEO or President.

And that sounds really good to most people.

But what if this occurs in your 30’s or early 40’s?  Everyone around will say “WOW, look at Sarah”.

But where do you go after CEO?

The truth is that despite your early rise and clearly successful arrival, the path from there is a bit tricky.  So this message is for three types of people:

  1. Job seekers who are considering their first top-level job
  2. Job seekers who have been in the top job and need a new job
  3. Anyone actively planning their career path

Be careful about becoming a fat cat too soon in your career.  I know this sounds like pretty conservative advice.  And it is true that I have personally followed a somewhat conservative career path.  While now a VP after 21 years, I have friends who have been fat cats for 5-10 years.

But early on in my career I decided to pursue a spiral career path.  One that would provide me with a lot of training, cross-functional skills and deeper experiences (different industries, roles, company sizes).  I’ve seen and learned a lot.  The idea being that you take longer to get there but you are better prepared for the arrival.

So what is the negative?  Why should you care about this?

You Are Forever Over-Qualified

Unfortunately, once you’ve been the top gal or guy, people make assumptions.  Principally that you can no longer take direction from above.  That you’ll never be satisfied with less responsibility.  And, the big one, that as soon the next CEO job pops up, you are out the door without hesitation.

Your resume puts people off when you apply for jobs below your prior level.  For the reason above.  And because a lot of hiring managers don’t want to manage a former CEO.  Even if you were CEO of a small start-up.  And someone who could have a huge positive impact on the company.

So what happens?  You get stuck in this cycle of waiting for the right job.  At the right level.  And doing a lot of consulting.  And there are pros and cons of consulting.

So here’s my view.  As you plan your career, think forward.  Consider some of these issues before you strain to reach the brass ring.  Before you accept a role that you will forever be chasing.  Is there another role you could pursue that would better prepare you for a long-term career?  Even if it takes you 5-10 more years to get there.

Because in those 5-10 years you can have a family, be the girl scout leader or little league coach.

Before you become leader of the free world.

Photo Credit, Dan Perry

Posted via web from AndyWergedal