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Top 3 tips for getting a C-suite job, from a career coach who's consulted for Google

"Really build relationships with the C-suite at your current role."

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Angelina Darrisaw.
Photo by Kwame Owuse Kesse

As the economy strengthens and more jobs open up, workers continue to think not just about employment but about advancement in their careers. Three quarters of workers are at least somewhat likely to apply for internal roles in their company, with 21% of them saying they are very likely to do so, according to Jobvite's 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report of about 1,500 U.S. adults.

If your goal is to advance to an executive position, "I'd just constantly be looking for leadership development opportunities," says Angelina Darrisaw, a career coach and founder and CEO of C-Suite Coach, which has provided training for Google and other top companies. Here are Darrisaw's three best pieces of advice to find and make the most of those opportunities.

1. 'Build relationships with the C-suite'

"The best piece of advice that I would have is, really build relationships with the C-suite at your current role," says Darrisaw.

Find out who holds those high-level positions you hope to be in one day and see how you might be able to informally speak with them. There might be company events or meetings that give you an opportunity to network. If you work in a smaller office where execs are fairly accessible, maybe their assistant can set up a quick coffee. You could even reach out directly if you feel comfortable.

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Figure out a respectful way to start having conversations with those people, and when you do, "understand what their path was to get to where they are, and shadow them as much as possible," says Darrisaw. This will help give you a sense of how to move forward yourself. It might even make you top-of-mind when they're thinking about filling certain positions in the company.

2. Bring 'something that you do well to the table'

As you're getting to know these higher-ups, "bringing something that you do well to the table helps build that relationship," says Darrisaw. Demonstrating your skills and insight can help you make the case for yourself as an employee with potential.

"There was a C-suite executive at the second company that I worked for who I was really, really interested in engaging," says Darrisaw. Although this executive didn't have insight into the deals the company was making with social media platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, Darrisaw did. "So when I engaged her, I would always give her tidbits about what was happening in the digital landscape and give her really exciting information about the direction the company was going in digital because it was out of the purview of what she was working on. And she really appreciated that."

This also gave Darrisaw an opportunity to ask the executive questions about how she got to where she was in her career.

3. Look for 'executive education' opportunities

Look for opportunities to participate in development programs, which can equip you with training and knowledge for moving up.

Check sites like LinkedIn Learning to see what kind of leadership courses they offer and see what internal events your company holds that touch on the kind of growth you're looking for, like informal lunches with executives or presentations about what the company looks for in leadership.

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Or get in touch with "an executive coach," says Darrisaw, to see if their training could help propel you forward.

"There's also executive education at most universities where you could interact with other leaders in your industry," says Darrisaw. See if a nearby college offers a course relevant to your interests or if a college or university you're interested in is offering one online.

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