What the executive office looks like

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The corner office isn’t where most of us sit (if we get to sit at all on the job). For the average worker, senior leadership positions are difficult to come by and something you spend much of your career working toward. That is, if you even want a leadership role; not everyone strives for the responsibility and headaches that come with the position. But for those workers hoping to land an executive role, the outlook is brighter today than it was six months ago.

In the coming six months, 31 percent of employers plan to hire for executive-level positions, finds a new survey from CareerBuilder and Headhunter.com. That is 6 percent higher than the same survey found in October 2011.

What employers want in senior leaders
Not surprisingly, employers are looking for executives to fill roles where opportunities to expand the business and increase revenue are primary goals. Business development leads the list of in-demand executives, with 24 percent of employers looking to fill those roles. Following close behind are information technology at 23 percent, sales at 22 percent, and both marketing and accounting/finance at 19 percent.

Each of these areas of concentration has the potential to drive revenue, improve operations or attract more customers. For these high-level employees who may earn substantial paychecks, finding new ways to increase profits is a logical focus. Yet employers aren’t looking only for people who can directly make money. They want people who can keep day-to-day operations moving smoothly. After all, a productive and happy workplace is one way to ensure business grows.

When asked what qualities they look for in an executive-level candidate, only 20 percent of employers cited a master’s degree in business administration or similar level of higher education. Relevant experience was a prerequisite for most hiring managers, but 35 percent said they are open to candidates who have no background in the industry.

Soft skills matter, too
Although experience and education are important, hiring managers might look beyond those factors because they know a good leader needs some of the soft skills that you can’t see on paper. When evaluating characteristics of potential executives, hiring managers say they want someone:

  • Who can solve problems — 62 percent
  • Who is adept at motivating others — 54 percent
  • Who can act with speed and agility in a changing market — 47 percent
  • Who is creative — 43 percent
  • Who has emotional intelligence — 38 percent
  • With experience in different areas — 37 percent

Who is already in the corner office?
In a 2011 survey on workplace diversity, workers who fell under the “diverse” categorization (including but not limited to women, African Americans, Hispanics, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender) saw a disparity in their pay and career level when compared with other workers.

The new executive-hiring survey suggests diversity is still lacking, according to hiring managers. Of the surveyed companies, 22 percent do not have female executives. In addition, 41 percent of companies do not have executive-level employees who are considered diverse (including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, LGBT and workers with disabilities).

One promising sign is that 20 percent of employers have workers in senior leadership who are under 30. This could be due to the increasing importance of technological industries and roles in today’s workplace, and Millennials are often the experts or innovators in the field.

  1. I am always disappointed to see the absence of “veterans” from a “diversity” list.  Fewer and fewer executives have served in uniform while the number of unemployed vets continues to climb.  What does this say about our country?  The workplace values women, gays and racial minorities, but the people who protect every minority are themselves a minority in our country and are not valued in today’s workplace.

    •  @moneill76 You cite a career choice, not a state of being. They also don’t count how many biologists go on to executive positions as opposed to former politicians. What you chose as your career before this application is a different set of statistics than what is being measured here.

      • @ABC2 @moneill76 If you want to go there, then identifying alternative sexual preferences should not be a measureable group either.

      • Just reading that post is upsetting, comparing a biologist to a vetran is offensive. If you can not see that difference it more than justifies the previous comment. The jobs are completely different, there are transitional skill sets that are devloped in the militart that lead to a ability to lead. That would not be so with many other careers. Not to mention that we as a society owe a debt of gratitude to vetrans who served our country.

    •  @moneill76
       I agree moneill, The level of expertise it takes to lead a group of men (and women) into battle and bring them out alive is extraordinary, God bless the men and women who have served so that I may feel free to express my opinion here or anywhere else for that matter. Good luck in your endeavors and may you and all the other Veterans who have sacrificed so much find peace AND good employment. Thank you for your service!!

    •  @moneill76 Do all Vets understand every aspect of business? Do all Vets have adequate education and experience? That lesbian woman might just have more creativity and be more business savvy cause she has more experience then the average vet.  I love my country and respect Vets to the fullest, but one cannot mold a Vet into an executive.  The vet needs to work his ass off just like everyone else to gain such a position.  They enlisted for the forces when they were 17.  Future executives enroll in college because they are at the top of their high school classes.  That’s life.

  2. Im fascinated that you think that senior leadership under the age of 30 years old is a good thing.  Why?  Well, what has happened in government is that the Baby Boom Generation was not ready to let go of their jobs.  Therefore, the 40-50 somethings were relegated to stay in worker-bee positions until they got frustrated and left.  Leaving a HUGE gap in leadership and management.  Now, you have 28 year olds making decisions that are so grossly inept and indicative of their lack of experience that we are completely a mess as a nation. 
    There are young people who have leadership skills, but that does not mean they are prepared to lead. 

    •  @tngo
       I couldn’t agree more with you.  I’ve been in too many companies where the only thing their managers manage is how to keep their own jobs. 

  3. There are some companies hiring veterans as a preferance.  Two that I know of are the railroad companies especially where they are adding terminals like in the Permian Basin.  Another is Baker Hughes, Incorporated, which is an oilfield services company.  Just something worth mentioning as these companies are hiring in different places.  You can check online for further information.

  4. Wonderful accessment of the corner office wants, however companies are still reducing senior management positions in most industries. Many Regional Leadership positions are still being combined, especially in the industrial materials & related industries.
    At this time companies are still in the cost cutting mood, thus retaiinging and rewarding managers that can “maximize the numbers”. Your identified “soft skills” are not even being concered at this time; infact employees with these exact skill sets are still being released!

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