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01/13/2014

Smart Career Move: Recruiting Your Personal Board of Advisors


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If you’re serious about managing your own career, you already know that no one can do it for you. As the saying goes, YOYO: You’re on your own.

Yes, rugged individualism can be wonderful, but it’s not appropriate when it comes to navigating the 21st century job market. What you need, instead, is an informal board of advisors who will personally give you insights and perspectives regarding your long-term strategy as well as your next career move.

Who are these people? What they have in common: They’re all people you know and like and trust. Like any truly effective advisory board, collectively, their knowledge is broad and diverse. Here are some tips for recognizing the people in your life who you want on your personal board of advisors:

  • They’re not “yes” men or women: Recruit only those who will be candid with you. It’s critically important to have board members who will warn you if you’re making a career mistake. You want advisors who encourage you to look at the cold, hard facts. For example, if you want a high-flying job that will have you working late nights and weekends, your advisors might encourage you to consider how such a job will affect your personal life.
  • They know your industry and your function: Recruit people who understand the dynamics and the emerging trends of the industry you’re in as well as your job function. For example, if you’re in pharmaceutical sales, try to recruit people who have industry experience and job skills similar to yours. They will offer you useful insights as you strategize your next career move.
  • They are outsiders: On the other hand, you should also recruit people who know little or nothing about your industry or your job function. Simply by requiring you to present your situation in plain language—no jargon, no rhetoric, no acronyms—will broaden your own perspective and help you think externally. For example, if you’re an IT expert aiming for a leadership position, a non-IT person might offer insights regarding how your technical knowledge can be combined with an MBA to make you an attractive candidate for an expanded management position.

Mach Creative


  • They share your values, including integrity: Make sure your board members know your code of ethics. The job market moves fast these days, and you want to avoid wasting time and energy listening to advice that violates your personal values. Plus, confidentiality is vital. Even in the vast job market of the New York metropolitan region, word gets around. Whether you’re looking for a new job, seeking a promotion or raise or simply exploring your career options, recruit board members in whom you have complete trust.
  • They think globally: Your personal advisory board should include people who recognize how globalization has totally transformed business. Whether they were born in the United States or not, people who view the marketplace globally have the big-picture advantage. They recognize the interdependence of national economies. For example, it’s important to know how real estate prices in Hong Kong will affect the market for luxury goods, how weather in Colombia will affect coffee production, and how gold prices in London will affect the South African mining industry. Recruit people who are comfortable with a variety of cultures. Their advice will enrich your own perspective—and help you make smart job moves.

–Susan Mach, PhD

Susan Mach, PhD, is a communication coach, trainer, and strategist. She teaches management communication part time at major NYC-area business schools, and investment research report writing at NYSSA.

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