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How to Get Hired as a Fractional Executive

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Companies want to hire C-level executives to help them grow. However, with rapidly changing needs and an unpredictable environment, many companies may not be able to budget for a full-time C-level executive.

Fast-paced organizations or companies in transition can hire an experienced leader part-time to move a company forward. Hiring fractional executives helps corporations mitigate costs and evaluate new potential leaders.

A fractional executive works in a fractional capacity, helping small and large companies to offload the burden of having a c-level executive in-house full-time.

What Are the Types of Fractional Executives?

The C-level acts as the chief executives in a company, driving their organizations to grow and leading operational changes to remain competitive. They make up an organization’s leadership suite in several different roles representing expertise. Most of us know the typical C-level executive positions available such as:

  • CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
  • CFO (Chief Financial Officer)
  • CTO (Chief Technology Officer)
  • CIO (Chief Information office)
  • CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)

Today, a wide range of C-level titles spin off these traditional acronyms. With so many variations for the chief executive label available, CXO is now a known term with the “X” representing the collective term for C-level or C-suite executive. Sometimes roles overlap, and it’s not uncommon for executives to wear multiple hats.

For example, an IT executive could take on the part of a CIO or CTO, or both. CIOs typically oversee IT departments and make strategic decisions about an organization’s hardware and software associated with networking systems, work staff, and customer service needs. CTOs typically focus more on the innovation aspects of the business. They oversee a business’s existing and new technology needs to develop strategic products and services. Their goal is to help grow business while keeping an eye on maintaining and optimizing technology infrastructure.

But what happens when a company doesn’t quite have the budget or resources for either role? One solution is to hire fractional C-level executives, such as a fractional CTO. It’s not out of reach for a highly experienced C-level IT executive to take on a part-time role as a fractional executive to help an organization grow and optimize costs.

What are the Benefits of Fractional Work for a C-level Executive?

Executives have a lot to gain from fractional roles. While fractional executives provide companies with the opportunity to save money and optimize resources, fractional work is an opportunity to make significant impacts within organizations, maintain a variety of exciting experiences, create flexibility in their work-life, and make more money. The fractional leadership model can benefit C-level executives and companies alike. Some of the benefits include:

  • Make an Impact: Fractional executives can make a real difference. They have the potential to cause significant impacts in shorter periods. This is because day-to-day management responsibilities do not bog them down. Also, they’re less likely to get caught up in politics. The part-time nature of their position provides less opportunity for internal politics to overshadow their decision-making. As a result, fractional executives tend to devote more time and energy to strategic thinking and implementation. With a greater focus on results, they have more opportunities to make meaningful strides toward company growth.
  • Gain Variety: Being a fractional executive is an ideal way for an experienced person to work on solving challenging problems with various great companies without having to commit to one company full time. Fractional executives can choose projects that pique their interests and cater to their strengths. They’re well positioned for success while learning new skills to add knowledge and experience to their repertoire.
  • Create Flexibility: Becoming a fractional executive is a viable option for achieving work-life balance. Fractional executives can take on multiple clients and make more money with greater flexibility. Fractional executives work on a per-project basis with no obligation for ongoing employment. They can choose when they want to work and how much time they want to dedicate to each client, enabling them to structure their schedules and avoid burnout.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Fractional Executive?

A fractional executive have similar but scaled-down sets of responsibilities compared to their full-time counterparts. Fractional executives generally have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many, if not most, have master’s degrees.

If you’re interested in becoming a fractional executive, you must show leadership experience in managing groups of people to implement change. It’s also necessary to offer the ability to scale resources, harness innovation, and effectively manage relationships with key stakeholders. In addition to a successful track record, the following skills can help you stand out from the crowd:

  • Strategic thinking: C-level fractional executives deeply understand their industries and organizations’ challenges and opportunities to make strategic decisions. Your ability as a fractional executives will be judged by how well you can take charge during change and uncertainty.
  • Team management: Fractional executives must work with teams on different levels of an organization, from the sales teams that report directly to you or marketing teams that register through your department head to executives who report directly to your boss’s boss or above. Your ability to communicate effectively with people at all levels is essential for success in the job.
  • Superior communication skills: Some essential skills fractional C-suite executives must possess are the soft skills required to manage people effectively, including exceptional communication skills. Fractional executives must have the ability to communicate with a wide range of stakeholders from different backgrounds and industries. They need to be able to act as an intermediary between various departments within an organization and between organizations.
  • High emotional intelligence: Fractional executives must also possess high emotional intelligence and understand other people’s emotions. This includes understanding their emotions to respond accordingly without letting them get in the way of making rational decisions or supporting others.
  • Dedication: While the position is part-time, fractional executives must be willing to show they’re 100% dedicated to the outcomes of the results they’re trying to achieve. Ultimately, fractional executives want their clients to feel like they’re receiving full-time attention.
  • Laser-sharp scope management: Fractional executives must be able to manage scope firmly. They need to be comfortable with handling the duality of conflicting priorities, which requires the ability to make confident decisions, delegate projects, and create boundaries.

If you feel like you have the right skills, experience, and credentials to become a fractional executive, then it’s a worthy option to explore, but fractional executive work isn’t for everyone.

How Do You Know if Fractional Executive Work is Right for You?

If you’re considering a fractional executive role and want to leverage your extensive experience to create greater flexibility and autonomy in your career, asking yourself the following questions can help determine whether fractional executive work is the right path.

  • Are you drawn to challenging business growth opportunities?
  • Do you like variety and have an entrepreneurial spirit?
  • Are you comfortable with creating direction and leading through ambiguity?
  • Do you have expertise in a particular area that would lend itself well to this work?
  • Do you have any barriers that could prevent you from fractional work?
  • What are your motivations behind exploring fractional work?

While these are important questions to consider when assessing the viability of pursuing fractional executive work, don’t allow yourself to be dissuaded if you find that you don’t possess all the skills or traits to do the work. The need and options for fractional executives are growing, and taking on small pilot projects is another way you can explore whether or not fractional work is the path for you.

However, suppose you’re an experienced C-level executive with a proven successful track record and like variety in your career. If you want to make an impact, earn more money, and have the freedom to structure your schedule, then becoming a fractional executive is likely an excellent choice.