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Becoming Senior Management In Chicago: A Recruiter’s Advice

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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Do you have what it takes to be a president or vice president of a company? In Chicago, the senior management market is turning around and starting to hire again.

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, management occupations in the state are projected to grow about 3.7 percent in 2020 from totals in 2010. That number includes top executives like chief executive officers, as well as marketing managers and human resource executives.

Further pushing growth is an increase of companies relocating to Chicago. For example, Clayco Inc. recently announced plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Chicago’s downtown from St. Louis. In addition, Motorola Mobility Inc. plans to move into Merchandise Mart from its current facility in Libertyville this summer, bringing approximately 3,000 employees with it.

The city of big shoulders also has muscle behind it, as the area is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies. Companies including Walgreens, Boeing, Motorola Solutions, Sears Holdings, Exelon, Illinois Tool Works, Kraft Foods and McDonald’s all call the Chicagoland area home.

What’s the job market like for job seekers looking for a senior management position? One recruiter has an inside look.

Movement between senior management roles on the rise

Gary Bozza of MR Chicago (credit: Megan Horst-Hatch)

Gary Bozza of MR Chicago (credit: Megan Horst-Hatch)

Gary Bozza, president of MR Chicago in Lake Zurich, helps place executives in companies in Chicago as well as nationwide. Bozza said he is seeing movement within the senior management positions in Chicago. 

“Until recently, most people were just happy to have a job,” Bozza says. “But now, there are senior executives who are open to moving onto another job. Maybe they want to look somewhere else for any number of reasons. So what happens is that you have an executive from company A who moves to company B. Now company A needs someone for that position.”

Education key to nabbing a position

According to Bozza, education can be key to nabbing that senior executive position. He noted that many hiring managers request at least a college degree to fill positions at the top level, with many also preferring a candidate that has a master’s degree in business administration. “The MBA is more marketable today than ever before,” he says.

Bozza also pointed out that he has seen more hiring managers request that a candidate have an MBA for a job that doesn’t necessarily require the degree. “Sometimes, companies just get excited to get someone with that degree,” he says.

When a candidate for a senior management position completed their MBA can make a difference, too. Bozza said some companies may prefer a candidate who went to college, then earned their MBA five or even 10 years later, over a candidate who earned their degree immediately after college.

Where a candidate for a senior executive position went to school can also be a critical factor in some hiring situations. “For some clients, where a candidate completed their education can carry some weight,” says Bozza. “If the hiring manager for a company went to Harvard, they may only want candidates who went to Ivy League schools.”

Other factors at play

Bozza also stated that many companies are not promoting current employees to senior executive positions. “Sometimes companies want to hire someone from ‘without,’ or outside the company, because they want someone who can think outside the box,” he explains. Those candidates can offer a fresh perspective to a company. Some companies are also trying to stick fairly close to home when it comes to looking for a candidate, even going so far as to look at a competing company for a candidate.

Bozza also notes that certain companies might look for a candidate for a senior management position from outside the industry. For example, a distributor of medical devices may be open to hiring someone who worked for an automotive or food distribution company.

Which industries are hiring senior management? According to Bozza, his firm specializes in the medical device and IT software industries, and he saw a significant increase in demand for candidates for senior management positions within the last 12 months.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.