By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter
Career change is not only possible, it is probable if you bear in mind certain rules of thumb and realities and consider your career change process an adventure involving new learnings, personal sacrifices and opportunities for exhilaration. As well, as in ANY change, the most effective and manageable transition involves charting a course.
I wrote about such career change navigation, HERE. As well, sometimes we are slammed by a job-loss or life-change surprise, in which case we must regain our footing and rebuild in less than ideal conditions. I wrote about my personal experiences, HERE.
This month’s Career Collective focuses on Best Advice for Career Changers and includes posts from more than a dozen other career bloggers. My colleague, Miriam Salpeter, and I enjoy facilitating this monthly event and hope you will follow our colleagues’ tweets via the hashtag, #CareerCollective.
To Begin, Some Rules of Thumb
Now, let me share a story or two about career changers with whom I’ve worked when embarking on their career turn:
Jack(ie) of All Trades and Master of None?
As careerists enter my virtual door, the oft-touted message is that they are masters of many, many different career areas. Quite frankly, there is some truth to that as my senior-level clients have risen through the ranks through challenges involving human resources, administration, general management, operations, sales, marketing, finance, technology and the like.
It is natural for them to espouse an ability to shift-change, adapt and succeed in whatever role or challenge in which they are parachuted!
Sometimes, inspired by burnout in their current role, frustration with their present colleagues and co-executives and/or simple curiosity, leaders will assert their strong desire to change careers. They aspire to a role that emphasizes career muscles they may have flexed five, 10 or even 15 years ago, but may have withered a bit in recent years. Or, even, they may decide they aspire to something wholly different than they’ve ever done.
Often, despite these challenges, with introspection, career changers can bring to light valuable career anecdotes that sell a reader that they are a necessary interview candidate for the opportunity that is burning a hole in the target company’s career pocket.
Shine a Light on Key Messages
Bring the critical messages to light – reveal your career wins that relate to your target goal. Identify those stories that may be buried in the recesses of your mind. Paint them with bright word colors that exude your passion for the business bottom line, for the executives and customers with whom you engage and for the absolute betterment of the company’s market share, positioning and sustainability.
For example, I had a recent client – we’ll call him Jim — whose longstanding career proved he had blazed an account management leadership and profit success trail across a plethora of financial institutions including the now-tarnished sub-prime lender arena. His record was peppered with financial results, but the industry upon which his track record was built was crumbling beneath his feet. He set out to pave a new career specialty after more than 12 consecutive years in the same trade.
Be Willing to Take on a Career Change Bridge Role
When this client approached me to rewrite his resume, he was not only surviving, but thriving in a ‘bridge’ sales management role that he had taken for the past 1.5 years to initially transition industries. This transportation (motorcycle) product sales role cued in on his exceptional strengths in fast-track learning, innovation in finding new markets, implementing new sales techniques and creating new market presence through collaboration with marketing and relationships with channel partners.
Further, he showed, through vivid word pictures how he generated double-digit growth in a down-trending and historically unproductive territory donning the same talent wings that helped him soar in his prior industry.
Moreover, after deliberating about what his future goals were, he zeroed in on a Senior Business Development and Sales Management role selling tangible products. Note: the lions share of his career had been marketing intangible, financial services, but with a bridge role under his belt that demonstrated his prowess in selling tangible products and a deep, concerted and confident approach to moving ahead in a different industry, Jim proved, in short order, that he could add relevant, revenue-focused value in an industry and product relatively new to him.
Focus on the Right Audience
In his next, transitional search, Jim didn’t focus on insisting to square-peg, square-hole-centered recruiters that he was the right fit for their very specific requirements; instead, he focused on new shoots of green by directly contacting key decision-makers in companies exhibiting signs of growth and rebirth. As such, after his successful landing, he shared with me that he had noticed a local company that had broken ground for new construction.
The long and short of it is he wrote the owner an introductory note that spurred an interview, resume presentation and ultimately, a job offer. Rather than shot-gunning his resume to job postings and recruiters where his resume, not quite the square-peg candidate, would get shuffled into the trash bin, Jim researched companies and actively pursued those that had an imminent need for what he had to offer.
What Jim Did Right:
Other Advice for Career Changers:
Finally, consider your current role and opportunities at your present company to expand your visibility and value therein. Offer to tackle projects related to your intended goal, creating a win-win for you and the company. In my client’s case, she already was taking the initiative in her company to initiate and pursue marketing-related roles; however, she was at a sticking point spurring her to desire to leave (working for a large, politicized company with leadership and other related barriers to career movement).
However, if you are feeling stuck in your current role, but are happy, overall, with your employer, consider ways you can volunteer to participate in or lead projects related to your target transition goal and start gaining new experience and proving your abilities.
So, get started on the research today to propel your career into the direction YOU desire. Begin online (then take it offline with real live conversations). To support your research goals, following are few resources you may visit to collect valuable insights about target companies.
Get Started on Researching New Companies
Are You Ready for a Career Change? @Debra Wheatman
Changing Careers? Ask yourself these questions. @erinkennedycprw
Changing Careers: Not for the Fainthearted, @GayleHoward
Career Change Isn’t An Exact Science, @careersherpa
The 10-Step Plan to Career Change, @KatCareerGal
When it’s Time to Recycle Your Career, @WalterAkana
Best Career Change Advice: Target & Plan, @JobHuntOrg
How social media can help you change careers, @keppie_careers
Expat Careers: You Are Not Your Job Title, @expatcoachmegan
Changing The Direction Of Your Career, @EliteResumes @MartinBuckland
Top 3 + 1 Tips for Making a Successful Career Change, @KCCareerCoach
Changing Careers: Look Before You Leap, @barbarasafani
10 Commandments for Career Changers, @LaurieBerenson