Tips on Advancing Your Career to an Executive Level

Executives are at the top of the food chain in most companies, typically reporting only to the owner, president, or board of directors. And with that power comes a lot of responsibility. C-suite management jobs—Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Operating Officer, etc.—are at the very top of the ladder, and they’re highly desirable positions for many job seekers.

Do you have plans on securing an Executive Director job or something similar? Want to lead a successful company one day? It doesn’t have to be something you only dream about. While many have the ambition to become a CEO, CFO, or another kind of executive, fewer have the drive, practical knowledge, and career plan to get there.

Let’s look at what it takes to advance to the executive level, including the job requirements and qualifications as well as the necessary skills and experience. We’ll also discover some useful tips for piloting your career in this direction to achieve your ultimate goal: advancing to an executive level and embarking on your dream job.

What are the Typical Job Requirements of a CEO?

While every CEO role is slightly different, there are a few things that most CEOs do regardless of industry. Typical responsibilities might include things like:

· Setting the organizational culture – what it’s like to work at the company

· Communicating with shareholders, boards of directors, and the public – setting the right tone

· Evaluating other executives – holding peers and subordinates accountable for their work

· Developing and leading strategy – short-term and long-term goals

· Assessing risks – anticipating and resolving financial, operational, or industry-specific risks to the company

· Setting high-level goals – breaking down those goals into manageable chunks for the rest of the company

In a smaller company, a CEO might take a bit more of a hands-on role with day-to-day tasks. This is less likely in a larger company or corporation, although it’s certainly possible. How hands-on a CEO is can depend on the company and the individual. It also depends on the job; someone in a General Manager job might work more closely with employees day-to-day, for example, than someone in an Executive Director job.

What are the Qualifications?

What kind of qualifications and experience does one need to land a C-suite management job? It’s not an exact science, but there are typically a few must-haves.

Most C-suite roles will require that you have a bachelor’s degree, and probably another kind of advanced degree like an MBA or other graduate-level degree. These degrees would likely be in business administration or a more specific field that relates to the job itself. The CEO of an engineering firm, for example, might have a graduate degree in engineering management. Several years of experience in a leadership role is also usually required.

Building Experience in the Industry

Aside from degree qualifications and specific job certifications that relate to the field, having the right experience is also key to landing something like an Executive Director job. Multiple years in a leadership role will probably be a requirement for this level of position. You’ll want to be able to demonstrate that you’ve solved industry-specific problems relating to efficiency, technology, personnel, or innovation.

How do you gain that experience if you don’t have it? It starts with your work ethic. Volunteer to lead projects in your current role. Delegate responsibilities when you can. Ask for more responsibilities. Make it clear to your boss that you want to take on more, and that you’re able to. Remember: your boss might never know you’re interested in leveling up if you don’t tell them.

The more focused, dedicated, and disciplined you are with your work, the more likely you’ll be trusted with decision-making power. Management recruiters agree: the best way to advance at your company and get promoted is by showing passion for the work that you do and achieving results, time and time again.

What Skills are Present in Executives?

While some practical skills may differ among executives depending on their industry, responsibilities, and other factors, there are a few “soft skills” that almost everyone in a C-suite management job has in common. Work on mastering these skills, and you’re setting yourself up well for a leadership role in the future. And it might come faster than you think.


You might be surprised to learn that one of the top skills that executives tend to share is coachability, or the ability to learn and take direction from others. We tend to picture those in leadership roles giving orders, setting expectations, and directing teams. And they certainly do all of those things. But it’s important that a great executive can also learn from their peers and subordinates, and take direction themselves from those higher up the ladder. That’s how a good executive turns into a great one.

Demonstrating Leadership Qualities in Every Role

Whether an aspiring executive is in a General Manager job, an HR Director job, or anything in between, showing leadership qualities in that role is imperative. Leadership positions aren’t magically gifted to the people in charge—they’re earned. And one of the ways to do that is by demonstrating your knack for leadership, no matter the role you’re in right now. Act like a leader, and you’ll become one. It’s that simple.

Critical Thinking

One of the things that an executive leader must do is think critically about problems in order to formulate viable solutions. Train yourself to think through a problem in a logical manner. Examine the problem from all angles and clearly identify what is going wrong. Brainstorm possible solutions, and consider their outcomes, drawbacks, and advantages. Then, select the best solution and put it into action. Working through issues like this is a key skill for anyone in a C-suite level management role.


What good is an executive who can’t communicate effectively? Communication is a huge part of the job, no matter the industry or company size. To become executive material, work on your communication skills. Talk to people; give directions clearly and concisely. Work on setting clear expectations. Ask for feedback. Improving your communication in this way will improve your leadership and put you in a better position to achieve your ultimate goal: securing a C-suite management job.

What Else Can You Do to Achieve This Position?

Aside from getting the qualifications and the degrees, working on the skills that make you a better leader, and understanding the job requirements, what else can you do to land yourself an executive-level role? Let’s look at some more suggestions:


This point can’t be stressed enough. Remember that many times, it’s not about what you know. It’s about who you know. Networking and getting your name out there is key. You just never know when someone in your network will refer you to a job, or a friend or acquaintance, who can help you achieve your goals. And tapping into your past network—former supervisors, past coworkers, contacts from job agencies—can get you results, too. Make an impression and it will come back to benefit you in the long run.

Be Tech Savvy

In today’s job environment, there’s no way around it: you’ll need to be tech-savvy if you want the Executive Director job one day. Every modern company uses technology in one way or another. Make sure you’re familiar with the technology that is used in your field or industry; the more experience you have with it, the better.

Find a Mentor

Have you ever considered finding a mentor that can help you in your journey to becoming a C-suite professional? Having someone in your corner who has been there, ideally having served as a C-suite executive themselves, is a great way to get started. You’ll learn so much about this kind of career field, and what it takes to be successful. Your mentor may even be able to put you in touch with other professionals who can help you.

Work With a Staffing Agency to Find an Executive Position Today

You’re not alone in your quest to land an executive-level job and take your leadership abilities to the next level. Certain job agencies and management recruiters specialize in this field and can help place individuals in the C-suite level jobs they’re looking for.

The Hire Firm is your trusted staffing agency for executive-level roles in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, NM, and surrounding areas. We help match qualified individuals with top companies in Executive Director jobs, General Manager jobs, and more. If you’re interested in advancing your career and becoming the C-suite executive that others look to for leadership, you’ve come to the right place. Contact the staffing and recruitment experts at The Hire Firm today to get started.

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