I'm stuck in a Senior Director job at a huge company...

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I'm stuck in a Senior Director job at a huge company. I have been there for well over a decade. I jumped up the ladder for years, but over the past few years it has been mostly horizontal moves which have broadened my skills, but I feel that I'm not moving forward (or up, as the case may be).

My reviews have always been stellar, and my bosses (and their bosses) have asked me to stick it out and that something will open up. But it seems that most openings go to CFOs or other outside finance execs from companies we are acquiring and that there's no room left for me at the top.

What should I do? Wait? Bail? Change strategy? Demand a promotion (like that would work!)? Thanks.

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My suggestion is to change your strategy. A very prudent move would be to begin proactively managing your next step, while you are still employed, rather than waiting and hoping a vague corporate promise will be fulfilled.

--Do you know what position you would like to hold next? In 3-5 years?
--What do you most enjoy doing and would like to do more of in your next role?
--Who is your target audience - both internally and externally?
--How can you raise your visibility among that audience?
--What are you known for, and who knows about you (the new definition of networking)?
--What does Google say about you?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can begin devising, and executing, a plan to make that next move actually happen!

All the best,
Cindy

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I have two points to make. First, be happy to have a job that hasn't been eliminated. I have been through that a few times over the last few years and do not wish that upon anyone.

The second, and more relevant point, is that I agree with Cindy. Begin your preparation now. What accomplishments can you point to in your career with your current employer? Figure out the stories you can tell people, both inside and outside your company, that reflect on how you have either saved the company money, created opportunities for the company or exploited opportunities created by others. Make sure you can articulate your specific contribution and the exact financial benefits to the organization. If you worked on a team project, you still can take credit for the results, just disclose that you were part of a team and then make sure your individual contributions are clearly explained. Your overall objective is to identify the skills you possess in a clear and succinct manner that allows others to see the value you bring to the table.

Create as many of these stories as you have successes and be able to describe each one in under a minute. These are the things that let people know what you are capable of and the contributions you are capable of bringing to any company.

Once you have the ammunition, then you are able to approach both your current bosses as well as outside employers to find what you are searching for. With proper preparation, you will have plenty of opportunities to use these stories as you network.

There is a significant level of competition in the world of Finance these days. Take care pursuing the greener pastures that appear to exist at other companies. The CFO job market is filled with highly qualified people with their own stories to tell.

Good luck.

Dan

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The current environment is one of the most challenging we've ever seen in our working lives. Nonetheless, there are things we can do, and with the benefit of a regular paycheck you have resources that many others do not.

I agree with Cindy's proposition that you begin the process of "looking" while you are in a strong position. After all, employers generally prefer candidates who are already employed so that already puts you at an advantage.

A major challenge I see among Finance people is a lack of basic training in selling. You have skills and accomplishments that can help you make a "business case" for yourself that you will need to organize into a coherent value proposition to a prospective employer. Since this can take time and can be a challenging process - "where do I start?" - you might want to seek some outside help doing this. Firms employ consultants to provide outplacement services to executives for this very reason.

Dan's suggestion is a helpful start in crafting that value proposition. Done carefully, this can help shed some light on what aspects of your work experience you enjoyed the most and would like to do more of. For instance, you might have been involved in doing major financing transactions for your firm, or you like to re-engineer processes to improve efficiency, etc. Knowing what you want to do next in your career and setting that as a goal is probably the "first step" in discovering what you could be doing to advance yourself.

If you want to learn more about this process and gain some valuable insights from others with similar interests and backgrounds, I recommend you join a networking group like the FENG (Financial Executives Network Group). They have chapters all around the country and you probably know someone who's already a member to sponsor you. Attending their monthly meetings is a great way to meet other people "in transition" and start to develop your personal value proposition and selling skills. Go on their website: www.thefeng.org to learn more about Networking in general and how their organization works.

While LinkedIn and Facebook are useful and convenient tools for connecting and keeping in touch, they lack the person-to-person interaction that you need when you are in the market for a job or career. Getting out from behind your computer and meeting people is key, but you want to do so in a setting that is going to respect your need for confidentiality and discretion as you engage in this process. In a true networking environment, you can maintain your professionalism by offering assistance to others in a similar position. Sharing your story and talents is a big part of that, but so is listening to others and helping them with contacts and connections where you are able.

You have the luxury of time, it seems, at the moment. Don't wait until you don't have that time to begin what can be a lengthy process in the best of markets.

Best,

David

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I had a similar experience with my last company. The three prior respondents have given you sound advice. If you are interested in joining The FENG, contact me about membership qualifications and sponsorship. I'm a long-time member, an adherent to the group's pay-it-forward philosophy and chair of one of its special interest subgroups. I recommend it, but not primarily because it may yield interesting leads. A substantial portion of the membership is not looking for a job. The FENG offers an opportunity to practice and become adept at networking and to polish your selling skills. You can also support others who might benefit from your insights, professional experiences and contacts. I would be happy to discuss membership qualifications with you and sponsor you if desired.

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Proformative Advisor
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I think starting your networking is key to seeing what is there on the outside. FENG is a good avenue and I am on the Board of the Bay Area chapter and happy to help as well. One networking tip is that if you really want to get known within groups that you join, get involved rather than just showing up at meetings. I cannot tell you how many people know me (and I know) due to my leadership position at FENG and other organizations.

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