How to approach a career shift?

11 November 2015

Време е за професионална промяна PersonalHR кариерни консултации

I have many clients who are not satisfied with their current professional choices and want a change – and not only a company change, but also a change of the type of job, the industry, and the daily activities. With some, we reach these conclusions on an intensive and satisfying coaching course together, while others use the help of friends and colleagues.

Irrespective of the method, the decision is there – I would like to do a career shift:

  • I don’t want to work in a bank anymore, I would like to do business analysis and reporting
  • I don’t want to be a web site administrator anymore, I would like to produce unique content, to be creative, to communicate.
  • Transport and logistics are not for me, I would like to do project management.

and so on and so on. The examples are numerous and so are the situations.

The main fear related to a career shift of all my clients is – I don’t have the needed experience in the new professional area. Various questions pop up in the process – How do I reach the right people? What would happen to my salary? Should I start at the bottom? Do I take certificates to open some doors? Aren’t I too old for such a change? Would my family and friends support me? Am I cut out for the turbulence I will go through? What awaits me on the other side?

Most of these questions are personal and their answers differ for the different people and life situations. However, I can summarize a few useful and practical tips related to the new career positioning questions, which work in most cases, irrespective of the individual circumstances.

Време е за професионална промяна PersonalHR кариерни консултации

Stop identifying with your job.

When you get introduced, you usually first exchange names and then – professions. It’s easy and comfortable. I am Teodora, a career consultant. I am Irina, a lawyer. Magdalina – medical doctor. Felicity – a writer. This framework provides a convenient tool for classification, it’s recognizable and socially accepted. If you would like to make a career shift, parting with the former definitions of who you are would be one of the most difficult things you would have to do. Also one of the most important.

When you are asked “So, what it is you do for a living?” – you can answer “Nothing”, which would feel awkward, but would provide you the opportunity to have a deeper conversation with the person who asked the question. Or, you can say you are in search of the most suitable career for your talents and this could also lead the conversation in interesting places, or you can just say – I am just starting into project management. When you free yourself of your old limitations, you will unlock the possibility to use your skills in completely different and surprising ways. And this logically leads us to the next topic.

Време е за професионална промяна PersonalHR кариерни консултации

There is a difference between skills and responsibilities.

One of the traps of identifying with your job is that you begin equating responsibilities and skills. When asked about your skills, you start enumerating the functions you perform at work, instead of the qualities you need to perform them. For example, if you a lawyer, you say: “I prepare contracts and memorandums of understanding”, if you are a real estate broker, you say “I show houses to potential buyers.”

If you are a lawyer who would like to switch to marketing, you will definitely not see “Contract preparation” in the relevant job ads. How to handle this situation? Focus on the skills, not on the responsibilities. As the responsibilities are usually written using the specific industry jargon, the skills are universally recognizable.

Let’s take a look at the examples with the lawyer and the real estate broker once again:

Position Responsibility Skill
Lawyer Prepare contracts and memorandums of understanding Write
Real estate broker Show houses to potential buyers Sell

 

If your focus is solely on your responsibilities, you will hardly find anything in common between your current job and your career shift destination. If you think in skills terms, instead of in job functions, you will suddenly find there is a lot you can contribute. Several of my clients, for example, didn’t realize their daily routine involved process management. This discovery helped them shed a new light on their capabilities and try positions they wouldn’t otherwise dare.

Read the job requirements carefully and decide what is really important.

In every job ad, there are requirements and nice-to-haves that are included to pump up the position or the company, or both. I call it the 80-20 rule: if you lack some 80% qualifications, you will not get the interview, however, the employers are willing to compromise with the 20%. Most people only apply to job ads, for which they comply with 100% of the requirements, which either directly sends them to the “overqualified” category or ensures they will miss interesting and challenging opportunities.

A coaching client of mine who had all the needed qualities and experience to do a supply chain management job, applied to a lower-profile position, because she lacked the technical education included in the requirements. She lucked out in this specific case, because the recruiter was smart enough to see she was suitable for the higher qualified position and invited her on a job interview for it. In this case, and in most similar cases, if the education is not highly specialized, like a medical degree, what is the most important that you are able to do the job or that you have the education listed in the job requirements?

If you need a career consultant to guide and advise you during your career shift process, to prepare a skills-based CV, and to walk alongside you on your career change road, get in touch with me to discuss how can I be of service.

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