Directors typically oversee an entire company department. They sit just below the executive leadership. Before you can seriously contend for a director-level job at most companies, you must establish a base of experience and qualifications. You will have to already have proven that you are not only a reliable but an invaluable part of the team. That includes understanding a company's mission, managing a staff, implementing directives, and working unsupervised with a wide range of customers and clients.
Identify the industry sector in which you plan to apply for a director-level job, and familiarize yourself with the business fundamentals that drive those industries. This includes market trends, accepted practices, big names and prevailing models. Directors bear much of the responsibility for the practical implementation of strategic initiatives handed down from the top. This requires you to possess a fluid grasp not only of your would-be department’s operations but of the industry context in which that company exists.
Identify the specific company at which you plan to apply, and familiarize yourself to a greater detail about the particulars of that company -- especially the department in which you hope to work. Use your connections to get information about what the company is looking for and whether the business environment there is good.
Put your thoughts about the company into an actionable format. At this level, prospective employers may seek you out on their own initiative. Be ready to engage them in a conversation about how you can help the company succeed. This becomes even more important if you have to approach the company yourself.
Organize your portfolio and curriculum vitae, and prepare yourself for a keen marketing campaign.
Speak with your current superiors about your desire to move up if you hope for a promotion within the company or your desire to move on if you plan to search without. Often, they will help you out, especially if you provide plenty of advance notice prior to your departure. Be prepared to take this slow and steady, especially if you want an internal promotion. Be mindful that if you succeed, you will be succeeding a colleague.
Approach the company with your interest in the director position. Request an interview, and follow up on your request within the next day.
Approach the interview with the mindset that you have already been hired, and convince your counterparts to adopt the same view. Clearly identify your key requirements for employment.
At some point, you will probably have to take senior management training courses. If feasible, complete these courses before you are asked to do so.
Networking with your contacts will greatly improve your prospects of landing such a senior job.
Be prepared to walk away from contract negotiations that do not satisfy your requirements.
Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.