Becoming a CEO: The Basics
If you have decided to pursue a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) position, you must begin preparing yourself early on so that you will be in line for such an opportunity. As mentioned before, companies’ infrastructure works like a pyramid. At each level, you’ll find a larger number of people and as you advance to the next stage of the corporate ladder you’ll find fewer and fewer people. However, if you want to go higher you must stand out from the pack at each of those levels and make a name for yourself. That is the only way you can hope to reach the summit.
The question is what kind of preparations you should be making now to get you ready for that advancement. First, you should consider education. Although there have been many rich and successful CEOs who had only a high school degree and maybe a bit of college, today’s corporate landscape is much more competitive. If you want to make a good impression or get into the pyramid off the ground floor, you will need to pursue your education. Obviously, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business or a similar major would be a good choice. You may also want to consider earning an MBA, especially if you can get into one of the better programs in the country.
However, you don’t have to limit yourself to business fields just to find success as a CEO. In fact, much of what you might learn in sciences or in liberal arts could be beneficial when you are running a company.
Besides your college education, you may benefit from developing useful skills not everyone will have. For example, you might want to learn Japanese. By doing so, you could have a tremendous advantage if you worked within a firm that did a great deal of business with Japan. Anything that might set you apart from the rest of the crowd is a good idea.
Experience is also going to be crucial. No one is hired right out of college to become a CEO. You have to work your way up the ladder. However, you won’t necessarily climb that whole ladder within the same company. What often happens is that you will land a position as a junior executive at one company, spend some time there making a name for yourself and impressing the higher ups then you might move onto an executive position at another company. You’d work for a time and eventually move onto a higher position elsewhere. Of course that won’t always be the case but you should be prepared to switch companies in order to obtain the advancement you desire.
And that all leads back to some of the basic personality traits you should have if you are going to become a CEO. Of those, the most important is confidence. If you do not believe you are a good match for the job, no one else will either. People do not trust insecure individuals to run their company. Instead, you must be self-assured, tenacious, and competitive.
Tracking down CEO Jobs
You are not likely to find CEO jobs listed in your local newspaper. However, there are ways to find out which positions are available, especially if you are willing to locate or are trying to break into executive level management. For one, you can try the Internet. You’ll find a good number of sites which allow you to search for available jobs throughout the country. Among those jobs you will find some CEO positions, although they will normally not be for Fortune 500 companies or anything like that. Just remember you have to crawl before you can walk.
In addition to these general sites which may offer some access to available CEO jobs, you can also find web sites that are dedicated to only executive level positions like 100KCrossing and ExecCrossing. These sites are some of the best choices for your searches because they will give you access to a wide range of positions that specifically meet your interests. You don’t have to weed through lower level positions or unrelated job titles.
Another option is, of course, to work with a headhunter whose job is to connect people with executive potential to the people who need executives. However, these services are not always effective, especially if you live outside a large metropolitan area and have limited contact to people providing these services.