How to Land a C-Suite Marketing Job Before Age 40

retained marketing executive search
Update: Want to be a 39 year old CMO? Check out our updates on how to increase your chances of catching that big break you want sooner than later.

Picking up the phone when the right people call could mean the difference between years more at your current job and a move to a higher-level marketing position in two weeks. When your big break comes, will you seize the opportunity or let it slip away?

Update: 10 Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn for Marketers

If you want a big break you have to make yourself available-even if your already employed. That’s what the 39 year old CMO practiced. As a marketer, its always beneficial to stay updated with the job market and new trends. One of the ways you can do this is through networking. Did you know that 60-80% of new jobs are found or facilitated through personal relationships? That trend exemplifies why it’s important for professionals of all kinds to cast a wide net and network as much as possible. And in a discipline where turnover is naturally high for a variety of reasons and career opportunities can come and go in an instant, it’s particularly important for marketers. Check out some of these tools and online meeting places for professionals!

The Case of the 39 Year Old CMO

Traditionally, C-level executives earn their position after meandering through a decades-long career full of intermediary steps. However, the executives in the highest ranks of management have become increasingly diverse in recent years, and the number of lifelong employees has continued to decline. More opportunities than ever are available to ambitious marketers of all kinds, even those much younger than the stereotypical senior executive.

Take the case of the 39 year old Chief Marketing Officer. This is a story we had the privilege of watching unfold firsthand over the course of several years.

The MarketPro team first met this incredibly talented woman partway through her career. Our eagle-eyed marketing recruiters saw her making a big difference in a VP position at a large company, becoming the youngest to ever claim a VP spot there. Immediately we reached out to her about an EVP opening at an innovative software firm, which she wisely considered and eventually took.

Her next move was as part of the founding team of a new software venture, which she helped grow so quickly that it was eventually bought-out by a major corporation. While working at the startup, a CMO recruitment firm called her about a lead role at a billion-dollar software company. What she did next is what most busy, high-performing professionals fail to do: she listened.

She ultimately chose to leave her startup for an opportunity that was too good to pass up, taking the CMO position at the unconventional age of 39.

What made the difference in her case vs. the situations of thousands of other marketing professionals across the country? Just a few phone calls and an openness to opportunities made the difference between her previous role as a junior VP and a C-level marketing position.

Even though she was happy at her current job she still responded to recruiters when they called or emailed. She listened to what they had to offer and weighed the scales–never counting herself out to miss an opportunity.

Update: LinkedIn’s New Way to Search for Marketing Job Opportunities without Your Boss Finding Out

An openness to opportunities will make all the difference between you moving on to your dream role and staying in the same position. But how do you actively search for a new role while you’re currently employed? Easy. Recently, LinkedIn formally announced a new way to make finding new job opportunities a little smoother and more discrete.

The premise is simple. You indicate in your LinkedIn settings that you’re open to hearing about potential job opportunities. That sends a “hidden” signal that only marketing job recruiters from other companies can see that you’re willing to hear what they have to say. Click here to see a step-by-step process on how to indicate to recruiters you’re open. Your chances of traditionally climbing the ladder may be cut short with this easy practice.

Climbing the Ladder

CMO recruitment firm

Most marketers with C-Suite ambitions slowly work their way up departments and agencies over the majority of a lifetime, patiently waiting in line for their place at the top of business.

This lifelong ladder may not be necessary for marketers who have expert skill in their niche, an aptitude for leadership, and a high tenacity to improve themselves and conquer new challenges. Most marketers desiring C-suite status miss out on the opportunity happening sooner than expected, when they don’t have an openness to opportunity. CMO recruitment firms offer an alternative route that will bring you closer to your ultimate career goals without having to sit and wait in less fulfilling jobs for your turn.

Answering a phone call from a recruiter requires no commitment–just the will to listen.

You’re well-equipped to be a high level marketer and don’t have to wait three decades to get there. So what’s holding you back? For many professionals, the reason is you’re not positioning your personal brand in a way that gets recruiters’ attention, or listening when you get the call from a high level marketing recruiter.

Remember, answering a phone call from a recruiter requires no commitment–just the will to listen.

Great companies are actively looking for talented marketers who can deliver fresh, diverse perspective and navigate a rapidly changing marketing environment. They need people like you with an aptitude for leadership. And the companies who realize the best talent is not looking for a new job use a marketing recruiter to identify and bring in the best people. Even if you’re happy at your current job, keep an open mind, communicate with recruiters and stay updated with the job market.

How to Find the Right Marketing Recruiter

If you want to be a top marketing executive far before the average age, snag this very secret skill that the 39 year old CMO used to get ahead. Ready for it?

She cleverly took calls and emails from any recruiter who approached her with an opportunity. But she only took a select few seriously. There were two qualifications a recruiter had to have before she would genuinely consider an opportunity—and you should be similarly selective.

1. Retained Marketing Executive Search Firms vs. Contingent

Don’t be afraid to question a recruiter on whether they operate on a retained or contingent basis. The difference in two forms of hiring agencies can influence the quality of the job they’re offering. You can also leverage your network to find out if they have ever heard of or been employed by this recruiter.

Retained marketing executive search firms receive upfront compensation from clients, ensuring commitment from recruiters, exclusive rights to place talent and to produce quality searches. Because retained marketing executive search firms are performance-based they are only working on a handful of searches, instead of handling dozens of jobs at a time with hundreds of candidates. The results are devoted time and resources to understand the client and your needs, matching you with the best position to enhance your career.

Contingency based marketing recruiters are paid after they’ve placed talent with companies, often resulting in a rushed talent search, little quality control and an overload of simultaneous jobs they’re trying to fill. The 39 year old CMO preferred retained recruiters because:

1. The recruiter has a real relationship with their client and would be the only firm partnering with them.
2. The recruiter could be transparent about role and client details.
3. The client had already invested in the search so it was unlikely to be cancelled.

2. Specialized vs. General

Recruiters’ specialization should impact your job search as a marketer. Often general agencies are tackling many job searches at a time among unrelated industries. Partnering with a recruiter that specializes in marketing could present great opportunities to catapult your career. Specialized CMO marketing recruiters were able to communicate with the 39 year old CMO in a way general recruitment firms cannot. Making specialized agencies the preferred choice over general agencies because you’ll be more likely to get the right guidance to make a potential career transition.

Pick up the Phone

marketing recruitment agency top recruiting firms

If you’re turning down phone calls and ignoring emails from a marketing recruiter, you’re doing yourself and your future a disservice. Whether you’re a talented individual working your first junior position or a veteran marketing manager, it’s never too early or too late to get a little help. A few minutes are all it takes to hear about an opportunity that could propel your career forward and change your life. You don’t have to commit to anything to talk to someone. Next time you get a phone call, email, or voicemail from a recruiter remember the tale of the 39 year old CMO.

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