While Turnkey Search specializes in executive search, we also place positions at the Manager-level, specifically in the ticket sales and sponsorship sales spaces. While performing these searches, we often find ourselves in a bit of a “career counselor” role with young sales professionals deciding what is the best next step in their careers. More often than not, candidates with only three to five years of experience tell us that their next position needs to include management responsibilities. While we wholeheartedly are looking to help the future stars of our industry progress in their careers, we regularly need to discuss trends we have seen in the industry and how that might affect the acquisition of a position with management responsibilities. When you are looking at the next step in your career, we ask that you truthfully consider the following aspects of the position:
1. Opportunity for advancement internally. Often, candidates will see management as the next step in their careers, and when they cannot receive it at their current organization because there is no possibility of upward mobility, they look elsewhere. That said, when we do searches for roles that include management, organizations are nearly always looking for someone with previous management experience. So what is a candidate to do? Our recommendation: look at the organization as a whole – what is the prospective organization’s current structure? To whom would you report, and how long has that person been there? Is the overall organization in growth mode? All of those things should be taken into account, as there may be a greater possibility of upward mobility at a new organization in a 1-2 year period than at your current organization.
2. Opportunity for larger revenue generation. If you are currently in an organization with a number of sales people, or many of the larger deals “locked up,” your ability to truly stand out with big sales can be limited. You want to ensure that you are able to differentiate yourself from your “competitors” around the industry through generating revenue and making major contributions to your organization that are measurable. If you are able to do this, a prospective organization might be more willing to take a risk in hiring you for a management position without experience in that area. If your current organization does not provide the access to bigger deals or the ability to truly stand out from the rest, then strongly consider taking a “step sideways” to an organization with more opportunities to be a big producer, which will set you up to take a step forward into management thereafter.
3. Leagues. The organization does tend to affect candidates’ willingness to consider opportunities. For example, candidates within the NFL often tend to want to stay in the NFL for a variety of reasons. The one problem with this: there is simply not a large amount of movement within the NFL, so not many positions will open. NFL teams tend to also have smaller staffs, so if the hope is to run a big staff, the ability to achieve that may be very limited. That said, a candidate from another league may want to consider an NFL or big-market role, even if it is a “lateral” move, as the chance to generate significant revenue may be more attainable in these situations. While we strongly encourage candidates to truly consider each opportunity unto itself, there is a bit of “soul searching” that needs to go on before saying “yes or no” to an opportunity. What is the end goal in your career? Is it to lead a large staff to record revenue? Is it to run a smaller group with bigger deals? Is it to grow a small department into a bigger one? Each position will be unique in what it can offer, and we strongly recommend that you truly consider each position individually before simply dismissing it on title or management responsibilities.
The ability to move into a management role can be a very emotional and sensitive subject for young professionals. In addition to being search specialists, we also are happy to be a bit of a career coach in these roles, because we have a solid understanding of the trends in the industry and what certain organizations might look at in a few years. If you have the ability to consider each role in its entirety before dismissing it, you may find yourself in your dream role or organization. Look at Greg Mattison: he was the Defensive Coordinator for one of the most vaunted defenses in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, and he left to become the Defensive Coordinator at the University of Michigan. While this might seem as a “step back” for those on the outside, he believed the opportunity at Michigan offered him a better opportunity to truly make a difference and achieve incredible goals. You can do the same.