Q. I’m a senior finance executive for a $30 million technology company for the past five years. The company has gone through multiple reorganizations, and over the past five years we’ve had three different presidents. I’m currently reporting to a president who has no respect for the senior management team and does not include us in any of the major decisions for the company. I have decided that it is time for me to leave this organization. What does the market look like for finance execs these days?

A. I want to acknowledge you for making a tough decision to leave this company that employs a leader who does not support its senior management team. Good for you.

In my opinion the market is starting to warm up compared to the frigid storm of 2009. Most organizations that are looking to add talent to their organizations want to attract "A" players. On that note, not all companies and professionals are "A" players. So the first step is to conduct an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses.

Are you an "A" player or a "B" player? Why is that so important? Before you commence a search for a new opportunity, you need to know who you are, your value proposition, what you’re selling and who your buyer is. Ask yourself, “Who will be attracted to me and why?” The answer to this question is your next opportunity.

Too many people do not give their job search the proper attention that is required to land a position that fits your lifestyle. What is important to you now? Are you looking for career development opportunities, change industries, make more money, travel, relocate, consult?

To help you get clear about your search, complete the following questions to understand your goals and objectives.

1) Why are you searching for a new opportunity?

2) What type of opportunity are you seeking?

3) What type of industries interest you and why? What are you passionate about?

4) What type of cultures do you prefer, small versus large, casual versus formal, public versus private, start-up versus well established?

5) What is your commute tolerance? Be realistic.

6) Are you open to relocation, where to? Be specific.

7) Are you open to travel, what percentage?

8) What are your compensation requirements (base, bonus, benefits, other)? Be realistic.

9) What will you base your decision on – compensation package, environment, culture, product innovation, career development opportunities, business ventures, location?

10) Who will be attracted to you and why?

This is a difficult process for most people. Searching for a new opportunity today is a process with many layers. In order to successfully land a new position requires introductions. To land just one meeting may involve presenting your information to 100+ decision makers.

Times have changed. It’s all about who you know and who they know and being referred. Eighty percent of professionals who land a position in this market do so because of their network.

If you have not been developing and nurturing your network in the past five years this could be like running a marathon without the proper training. How do you train for this event?

Keep in mind that searching for a new position today is a full-time job and will require great effort on your part. The goal is to move beyond the traditional barriers and arrange meetings with key decision makers. The rest is up to you.


Jennifer Laxton is a senior partner and executive coach with Executive Search Associates in Santa Rosa, www.esa.com. ESA is an executive search and consulting company. You can reach her at 707-217-4535 or jklaxton@esa.com.