Dear J.T. & Dale: Ten years ago, my husband joined a start-up engineering firm. The company grew, and he's now a VP with a department of 25 employees. He and the CEO have frequently clashed. Things came to a head when they got into a rather heated discussion and the CEO claimed nobody likes working with my husband and that he's not a good communicator. Although he still works there, my husband has been job-hunting for the past two months. He's been applying to job postings, but with no success. Advice? - Robin
Dale: Before we get to job-hunting, let's back up and consider saving his current job. Your husband should be open to the possibility that his boss is right. Yes, the boss could be right on this one. Based on much consulting experience, I can tell you that technical people who end up in leadership positions often are ill-equipped for management. Not only have they not studied it, they cling to their old, technical roles, and become Head Know-It-All instead of becoming a motivator and leader. I'd suggest that your husband swallow hard, get some coaching and perhaps start a new relationship with the CEO.
J.T.: If that doesn't work, your husband should know that VP-level jobs almost always are gotten via referral. Executive positions rarely are listed on job boards, so combing them will not be a good use of his time. Instead, he should devote a bit of time to signing up with an executive recruiter and then spend most of his time and energy on building his networking skills, both online and in person.
Dale: Meanwhile, Robin, you should brace yourselves for a lengthy job search.
J.T.: Yes, the average length of unemployment is almost eight months, these days.
Dale: As for networking, he should think about the type of company where he can be of most value. I'm guessing that would be small, rapidly growing companies, ones he can help through the same evolution he has recently experienced. He can help them grow and, if all goes well, start over in his relationships and grow as a leader and as an employee.