How to Get a C-Suite Job

Being a top-level executive can be more demanding than you might expect, and this is reflected in the way they’re hired. Whether through executive retained search firms or internal promotions, C-suite job candidates for successful companies generally have to be people with exceptional qualifications and a proven track record of success. For this reason, you should do everything that you can to stand out as a potential candidate. Here are a few ways to help you do this.

Knowing how a top-level executive is promoted and where they are promoted from is important as well. Statistically speaking, internal promotions are the most common way someone is promoted to a C-suite position. Insiders account for 77 percent of all CEOs appointed as part of planned successions between 2012 and 2015, according to Forbes. The length of time you need to wait for the position to open up may vary, but it does tend to follow a particular pattern. Most “Large-Cap Companies” have CEOs whose tenure tends to last less than ten years at most, and CEO turnover appears to be increasing. Even though the number of chances you might get for a high-ranking position of this sort at your company may be increasing, you still have to both maintain expertise and know where to be if you want a chance at the top spot.

You should ideally be the most qualified candidate for the position. Indeed, it is common for potential C-suite professionals to take some kind of skill-testing assessment to help determine if they fit the job description. Many assessments are available to help you find out what you are good at and what needs improvement. It’s not impossible, either, for any given company to have an in-house assessment that is used to both determine whether or not you are qualified and what your best course of action would be if you are hired. Most often, you will need to demonstrate an aptitude for skills that are especially valuable to the company at the time that it is promoting or hiring for a C-suite position. If a company needs a CEO who has a detailed knowledge of post-merger integration, for example, you might have a better shot at a C-Level position at that company. Having an extensive list of qualifications is helpful, but if you want the most prestigious position at a company you will have to know what that company wants and how you will fill that position effectively.

Another way C-suite professionals are found is through considering highly visible individuals who would be qualified for a C-suite position, so it would also be in your best interest to make yourself as visible as you can. “Headhunters” exist for many different job markets, so even if you are only looking to improve your marketability in general as a competent business expert you can only stand to benefit from making sure your name comes up as often as possible when a company searches for potential employees. 

When it comes to the more complex aspects of running a business, being well-suited for the task at hand is important. That being said, with as many potential candidates as there are for any given C-suite position, it is extremely likely that there are people who are perfectly qualified for top-level executive work who are passed over or are simply never considered in the first place. If you are hoping to land yourself the most valuable position in the company, you will almost certainly need both the skills to back up your ambition as well as an extreme familiarity with your company.

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