Time to get yourself prepared for your next move

15th October 2020

By John Wakeford

At this very challenging time I am speaking to lots of experienced executives who are out of work either for the first time, or after a sustained period of secure employment.

The conversations I have had would suggest that there are growing numbers of execs who find themselves in unchartered waters and aren’t sure what their next move should be, or how to go about it.

Many, having not applied externally for a role for many years, simply don’t know where to start and are feeling despondent and negative about the future.

With that in mind I wanted to share the advice I have been giving them, hopefully helping others who find themselves in the same position.

The first message I am giving is be patient – it could take a while, maybe 12 months, before you take on your next challenge. Of course devote some time to looking for a new permanent role if that is your objective, but also enjoy some quality time – something which may have been in short supply for some time.

Use the opportunity to properly think through your next steps. Arrange some lifestyle financial planning advice; it may be you can afford to retire earlier than you thought.

If you’re not ready for that just yet, think about going plural – taking on two or three part time roles, or have you considered consultancy?

Non-executive directorships are another possible avenue. Execs often stay in the sector they know best, but boards are looking for those transferrable skills that aren’t sector specific, such as finance, people and audit. They are also often attracted to high profile businesspeople within their region.

But remember execs don’t take on NED roles for the money, it’s more about passing on their experience, giving something back to their community.

It is also a challenging time for interims; however, if you are available and can be flexible with location and day rate, there are still contracts out there. You could take on an interim role until you get a permanent post, or alongside a non-executive directorship.

If you want a break, it could be a good time to reskill – brush up on your IT skills or learn a new language for example – or to do some voluntary work. The NHS and charities are in need of volunteers to assist during the ongoing pandemic, such as helping with driving and delivering medical supplies to vulnerable people.

But whether you plan to look for a new permanent executive role, go down the interim route, or build a portfolio as an NED, there are some basic mistakes you need to avoid which I have encountered more times than I could mention.

Here are some top tips for success:

CV – ensure it is up to date and make sure your references are lined up.

LinkedIn – make sure your profile is current, has contact details and makes clear you are immediately available. If you are flexible on location, say so.

Be visible – use your business social media network to share and comment on articles of interest, and write articles yourself which reinforce your expertise and USPs.

Use technology – it is much easier to share your thoughts with 500 connections via LinkedIn than it is to try and email or call them all.

Talk to headhunters – we know what is happening in the market and you need to be known to us if we are to consider you for any upcoming opportunities.

With that in mind, if you are an interim or permanent executive who wants to discuss your next move or obtain some advice please get in touch – I’d be more than happy to talk to you. It’s what we’re here for.


John Wakeford
 is a founding director of HW Global Talent Partner and heads the Interim business. Contact him at johnw@hwglobalpartner.com or +44 (0) 113 243 2004 for a confidential discussion.