A question I’m asked time and time again, especially at this time of year is “what is the best time of year to look for a new job?” While at a more junior level resignations are rife at this time of the year, at a senior level it is sometimes more difficult to know when is best to move.
The short answer to this question is there isn’t a good or defined time to move roles; most senior executive vacancies are created by either resignations or (in the case of the private equity roles) a requirement to up-skill due to investment. While this isn’t particularly helpful if you are sitting reading this and are looking for a job there are a number of tips that I can share with you to ensure you make the most of a job search:
- The best time to look for a new job is when you don’t need one – start your search early and always keep your mind open to opportunities as they arise, you’ll often find something interesting come up when you least expect it.
- Always say yes to a coffee – no matter if it’s a CEO of a competing business, an investment director of an equity house or a headhunter there is no such thing as having too many people in your wider network that can help you search and keep you informed of new opportunities as they arise.
- Don’t rely on recruiters and headhunters – this sounds counterproductive for a headhunter to say but almost half of all senior executive moves within the finance space happen through peoples direct networks. This neatly brings me back to point 2; make sure your direct network is as strong as your relationships with recruiters, you have just as much chance of getting a job through them.
- Get onto as many benches as possible – No I am not talking about park benches, within the private equity world the first port of call when recruiting for senior executives for portfolio companies is turning to a talent pool of people investment directors and partners have already met. To get onto these make sure you network thoroughly and ask recruiters to introduce you to investment directors and partners they know. They are usually keen to meet high-quality candidates for speculative meetings.
- Stay in your current job till you have secured a new one – This is a common mistake I see all too often, leaving your current position before securing a new job can sometimes put you at a disadvantage, it can sometimes take months to find a role that really suits you and leaving prior to finding this could push you to take the wrong role out purely to have a job.
- Be transparent when talking to recruiters – The more detail you can give to a recruiter the easier our role becomes. If something is particularly important in a new role make sure you highlight it. If you have been fired from a role that’s fine, just make sure you are clear about why from the outset.
- Make best use of social media – I am going to be clear here, I mean professional social media, make sure you stay active within your peer group and with headhunters and make sure you keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.
- Do your homework – If you want to work in a certain sector or industry make sure you connect with the right people, be it leaders that work within the industry or headhunters that serve it.
Your career should follow a path that you define, not one that is defined by market conditions. Make sure you network with the right people and you will find that perfect job for you when you least expect it.
Will Cummings is a Director at Dartmouth Partners and leads the permanent CFO practice, working with investors and management teams to identify & attract board and executive level finance leadership exclusively within the Private Equity sphere.