Career change is a difficult but often necessary process. It can take you on a psychological and emotional roller coaster ride. Why the ride? Because for a long time, your career has defined who you are. You have established an identity. The uncertainty about your future, changes in your routine and lifestyle, the thought of once again establishing rapport with new co-workers, perhaps a pay-cut, and getting out of your comfort zone, all may cause monumental increases in your anxiety levels. Since a career change has a profound effect on you, the tendency is that it will also affect the people around you, and those who depend on you for support. The roller coaster ride snowballs, creating more fear from within. When fear builds up, it renders you helpless, and reinforces “fight or flight” behavior. This then hinders your desire for change in your professional life.
There are as many reasons for a career change as there are stars in the sky. One may be because of job loss. Job loss may either be the result of corporate restructuring, downsizing, relocation, injury, disability, or even “office politics”.
You may also want to change careers because of job dissatisfaction. It may be that one bright morning you woke up and suddenly realized that your career has reached its peak and is now at a plateau, with very little chance of peaking again. By this time, you may have realized that you are ready to move on to a more challenging job, a slightly different interest and/or a more financially rewarding occupation. For example, as a human resources professional, you are responsible for general corporate or in-house recruitment. You have mastered the craft in a manner that you can do this even with your eyes closed. You may now want to get into a more specialized field, another career niche, say, I.T. or technical recruitment. You may be interested in process-focused recruitment, which would require you to have an understanding of Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma.
Although career change is tough, you have to realize that it is a good thing—an opportunity to grow and develop as a professional. It may also be a chance at a more fulfilling and financially rewarding job.
While scanning available jobs online, you may realize that your current set of knowledge, skills and attitudes are not on par with industry standards. You may not be appropriately equipped.
So, how do you respond to the old adage, “Is the glass half-empty or half-full?” The answer lies in how you perceive your situation. If you are jobless, you can choose to stay at home in your comfortable pajamas and sulk, or you can choose to reinvent yourself. Cliché as it may sound, career reinvention is essential to effectively handle career change.
Below is an easy-to-follow guide to the B-A-R-E necessities of a career change.
BEGIN WITH A VISION. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey advises his readers to “Begin with the end in mind,” or to first establish a vision. A vision is a general idea or statement of where you want your life to lead. This vision will be the compass that will give you direction. Upon establishing a vision, all efforts you make must be geared towards achieving that vision.
After defining the vision, you then set both short and long-term goals. Short-term goals are your targets to be achieved 3-5 years from that point. Long-term goals are those that will require more time to achieve, say 10 or 20 years. Whether short or long-term, these goals must be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound).
The long and short-term goals are the details of that vision. Plan and commit yourself to reach your goals. But you have to be flexible enough to realize that it may take a while. There are pitfalls, but you can work around them. Revise as necessary. After all, there’s more than one way to achieve a vision.
ASSESS YOURSELF. Self-awareness is the initial step in sharing yourself, especially with a company that requires nothing but the best from you. Therefore, you need to have an honest evaluation of yourself. You have to define your current strengths, knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Be objective. You may review past performance appraisals, or take online tests. You may also ask for honest feedback from ex-bosses, your staff and co-workers. Then, ask yourself, “What should I possess to be able to achieve my vision?”
Take a personal inventory. Write down your strengths and weaknesses. Consider your environment for opportunities and threats. This SWOT analysis will give you a good idea of your current abilities and provide clues as to how you can transform these weaknesses into strengths. It will also help you highlight the opportunities present and prepare you to counter the threats.
REBOOT. Like a computer, your thoughts are programming that define your ability to grow. That’s why it’s important to be positive about your present situation. You have to re-wire your thinking. More than this, rebooting involves acquiring the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitude—you have to know what is required for the job you want to get into.
Research is vital. For example, if you are an HR practitioner and you want to specialize in the IT field, educate yourself about IT recruitment and consulting. If you plan to be in training or organizational development, you may want to learn concepts like Six Sigma and its successor, Lean Six Sigma, technical recruitment, or Total Quality Management (TQM).
One thing you can do to add to your armory of knowledge and skills is attend training classes and seminars that will allow you to specialize in a field. These additional learning avenues will give you the vital skills and knowledge needed for your dream job. You may even join online groups and networks that will help you benchmark, and develop your target field of expertise.
EMBRACE. Armed with the essential knowledge, skills and attitude, you are now ready to advance or to at least dip your toe in the water. You are now ready to embrace the future—to look for that perfect job.
To be found in executive searches, you have to enhance your job-searching skills. You have to be actively involved in the search. You have to go out and expose yourself to be found.
One good way to be found is to solicit the assistance of recruiters such as CEG Partners. There are several good recruitment firms out there, but what stands out with CEG is that we are experienced in both recruitment and consulting. We know the intricacies within each position and industries. We are well-versed in Program Management, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma, Long Term Evolution (LTE), Process Improvement, and more. CEG Partners provides professional services at no cost to the employee. We utilize our wide network of professional contacts that you may use to your advantage.
Finally, be sure you have a well-crafted resume that will impress not only recruiters (headhunters) but the top executives of companies as well. Your resume should make you stand out from the pool of candidates. It should highlight the capabilities and strengths you possess that are relevant to the job you are applying for. In this very competitive world we live in, it’s not whether you can do the job or not, the main focus is on how well you can do it.
More importantly, your resume should show the decision-makers how you can help solve any problem that the company is experiencing. You should be perceived as a solution, and not as an additional baggage to be carried. This is part of what the Japanese call Kaizen or continuous improvement. It involves a non-stop search for ways to improve what you already have, or to take the quality of your work a notch higher. In this way, you achieve more than what can be done in a better and more efficient manner. Your work will then speak for you.
Career change is complex and uncertain, but you have the power to make it exciting and promising. Difficulties can be surmounted. Most importantly, difficulties can push you to make yourself a better person. Most of the time, a shift in paradigm is all that is needed.
The BARE necessities above are recommended to make your career change easier and more meaningful. If you need more advice specific to your particular situation, contact CEG Partners today to speak to one of our top recruiters. Our recruitment professionals have extensive experience in recruitment and in all the fields they serve.
CEG Partners is experienced in consulting, executive recruiting and technical recruiting. Our recruiting practice includes – IT recruiting, IT staffing, Telecom staffing, as well as sourcing IT consultants for many of our clients. Our consulting practice includes – Program Management, Six Sigma (and Lean Six Sigma), LTE (Long Term Evolution), Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Process Improvement, Customer Loyalty, and Employee Surveys.