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Want to Be CEO? This Is the Absolute Quickest Way to the Top

James Spader as Robert California, the man who took a shortcut to the Dunder Mifflin c-suite and became CEO on The Office

James Spader as Robert California, the man who took a shortcut to the Dunder Mifflin c-suite and became CEO on The Office James Spader as Robert California, the man who took a shortcut to the Dunder Mifflin C-suite and became CEO on The Office | NBC

You want to make it to the C-suite? To be the big man on your corporate campus. To be CEO. If there was an easy way to do it, we’d all be CEOs. But, as we’re all aware, it’s not easy. If you do manage to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, though, you’re probably set to earn a ton of money. Executives these days are earning ungodly amounts, but they’re also dealing with incredible levels of stress and responsibility. For those reasons, only a select few make it to the top.

Suppose you choose the executive’s path — what can you do to increase your odds of assuming the throne? LinkedIn Economist Guy Berger, along with colleagues Link Gan and Alan Fritzler, dug through mountains of data to find out. Using thousands of LinkedIn profiles, on which executives have mapped their path to the top, Berger and his team were able to come away with some interesting conclusions.

“We started by analyzing the career paths of about 459,000 LinkedIn members globally who worked at a Top 10 consultancy (per Vault Consulting Rankings) between 1990 and 2010 and became a VP, CXO, or partner at a company with at least 200 employees,” Berger writes. “About 64,000 members reached this milestone. Then we analyzed both observable and inferred traits from LinkedIn member profiles — like educational background, gender, work experience, and career transitions. At the end of the day, the probability of becoming an executive is merely 14 percent.”

Only 14%? That seems low — but there are things you can do to increase your odds. The chart below shows how, starting at that 14% baseline, your chances increase by making certain choices related to your career. Overall, you can boost your odds significantly:

Probability of making it to the c-suite

Probability of making it to the c-suite Probability of making it to the C-suite | LinkedIn

Berger and his colleagues do make note of four specific things from their research that can help you reach the c-suite, which we’ll cover in the following pages.

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