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Q&A: "I'm a CTO and looking to be a CEO in my next move. Is this a possibility?"

Q: "Somer, I'm a CTO and looking to be a CEO in my next move. Is this a possibility?"

A: I'm known for being an optimist, but I also want to be helpful and save you heartache. Sure, it's possible, though I'll have to put an asterisk there. I wouldn't recommend relying on retained search firms to get you there. Typically when executive search consultants recommend candidates, it's because the candidates have done the job before. A CEO role will likely have CEO candidates on the shortlist.

It's not impossible to make the switch, but you'll be up against all the other CEOs the search firm is talking to, and they may only be putting a handful of candidates forward. The competition is fierce, and their reputation is on the line.

If they put you forward, it's because they've known you for a while or you came highly recommended by someone they trust. They also need to have a strong relationship with the client where they can make introductions based on potential and culture fit versus solely on proven experience and skills.

Instead, I would recommend relying on your network to get you this bump. Talk to your trusted colleagues at different companies and ignite your search. Tell them what you want, why you want it, and how you're positioning yourself. That way when they hear of CEO roles, they'll throw your name in the hat with their recommendation. It'll take some effort. Fewer contacts, more meaningful conversations, versus a spray and pray approach, but it'll be worth it.


Looking for more of the inside scoop on executive search? There's a book for that!


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