Top Dog: Who Gets Hired in the C-Suite?

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Top Dog:  Who Gets Hired in the C-Suite?

Whether you are aiming for the C-suite, or hiring for it, the path to the top may be easier with a varied skill set instead of a career-long procession through the ranks.

Advancing to the executive suite, or any significant leadership role, is a career goal for many.  Recognition, higher income, and the ability to navigate and create change often await those in C-level positions.

We talked earlier about HR personnel joining the conversation in the executive suite.  The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is an experienced voice for succession, talent, analytic, financial, and other guidance.

Using LinkedIn profiles, researchers recently took a look at the twisting road to the top, and offer suggestions on how to get there—or what to look for if you are involved in a C-suite level talent search.

Measuring up—what does it take?

Looking at almost 460,000 LinkedIn profiles of individuals who attained an executive-level position between 1990 and 2010, researchers concluded, overall, the chance of an interested professional reaching the corporate suite is about 14 percent.

For companies with 200 or more employees, here are the key factors in the quest for leadership positions:

  • Wherever you go, there you are: Being located in certain metropolitan areas can boost your odds of a career breakthrough.  While you might assume that just means large cities, it does not.  Although Houston, Washington, D.C., and New York are all larger business centers, working in New York City bumps up your odds while the other two reduce your chances.
  • The gender thing: All things considered, a woman should be ready to accrue more than three additional years of work experience to even the C-suite playing field with a similarly qualified male.
  • Schools matter: An MBA from a top school can move you, or an applicant you may be considering, to the front of the line.  While advanced degrees are helpful, an MBA from a top tier program in the United States yields faster results than a PhD or Master’s degree in a different discipline.
  • The big advice—change it up: In a marked change from past business practice, the chances of reaching an executive position are better if you have varied enterprise experience.  A departure from the long-held idea of remaining in one sector of a company for a period of time, succession plans are now turning to individuals with more diverse experience.  For naturally curious individuals, this opens the door to a more interesting career, and attainment of higher career goals.
  • Does this mean freedom to explore the whole world of work?   For reasons that may include longer learning uptake, or loss of network colleagues and contacts, work in different industries does not improve your outlook—and could set you back a few spaces—or years.  The idea is to develop general, excellent experience and skills within your field—not aim to be a career generalist.

This research suggests setting a course for the C-suite by gaining competencies throughout a company, or an industry.  The tendency to switch jobs after a few years can be a plus if the history shows gradual increase in responsibility, capabilities, and meaningful experience.

Help wanted:  experience needed

Folding experience with product development and IT into supply side and inventory management delivers a ground-up understanding of the business and industry.  Data management and business development are top-down skills critical to create a more competitive company—and command a higher salary.

The LinkedIn research took into account many factors that might not bear on your job search, or your candidate.  Top tier leaders and candidates also take far more circuitous routes—involving different industries and endeavors, which give them the complexity to manage challenging economic conditions. There is no guaranteed road to the top, but varied, relevant experience helps.

Whether you are looking for a niche candidate or talent to take part in your succession program, the right recruiting software can help.  When you have questions, we have answers.  Contact us at Brightmove today.

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