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Career: 10 Steps to a New Role

A friend of mine recently told me that he finally decided to actively look out for a new job at a different company – even a different industry maybe. He clearly explained how he got to that decision. He found that what he did for his employer over the years had deviated more and more from both his competences and his interests. Very clear assessment. But when thinking of how to actually reposition himself with a new branch environment for a role that would better fit with his career vision, he was puzzled and needed guidance. I roughly laid out some steps that I would recommend him. His answer: Can you write this down – word by word – please? Not that I was a professional career consultant, far from, but well, here we go: My 10 step recommendation to a new role.

1. Sketch out your career vision

  • All starts with a real fun part.
  • Close your eyes and think of an ideal picture – how would perfect look like?
  • Work from home? Teach an audience? Create something unique? Get something to work smoothly?
  • What topic articles catch your attention in newspapers / professional magazines? Boomtown Dubai, The Baltics – a silent but thriving part of Europe, …?
  • What geographies do you love? France, the mountains, the sea, north, south, your home region, the internet,…?
  • What kind of work do you find sheer fun? Consultative, sales, detail, conceptual, team, complex calculations, …?
  • What kind of projects inspire you and make you forget time? The product launch, sales campaign, annual accounts, analyst briefing, thought leadership paper, fundraising, redesign, …?

2. Identify the strengths you can apply

  • Honestly – what would others be jealous of when they look at your career?
  • What would a job starter need to invest 10 years in to get to your level?
  • What do you automatically bring in when working in an ad hoc group?
  • Do you speak different languages and are you familiar with other cultures?
  • How long have you been in your industry and role or have you seen different ones?
  • What do your peers make fun of? Are you the detail cruncher or the vision dreamer? Easy to enthuse or hard to stop?

3. Derive your fundamental alternatives

  • A moment to lean back and have a look again at #1 and #2
  • Can you combine your strengths so to support your visions?
  • Create one or two scenarios that you feel could be achievable in mid term.

4. Go learn

  • Google for related branch associations, business development corporations etc. These normally publish specific branch news, often company news and sometimes even run a job market that you might want to check out.
  • Especially if you intend to reposition from one industry to another this is fundamental knowledge.
  • Furthermore it helps you identify the relevant players: Target organisations as well as specialised recruiters – but that’s at a later step. For now: Read their sites regularly and be inspired.

5. Work out your reputation in relation to the just identified alternatives

  • Listen and repeat I: A person doesn’t get hired for the responsibilities she had, but for what people believe the person can achieve for them in the future.
  • Listen and repeat II: People may believe your own words, but they are far more impressed by your reputation.
  • Reputation builds on: Who has profited from your work before, what successes have you contributed to, social engagement for non-profit projects, experts who you have worked with, placement in official rankings, number of people who follow your blog, endorsements from colleagues or customers or your managers, your publications, appearance in local news, awards, what results have you achieved – big or small, … – you get the idea.
  • Trust me – there are notable aspects, regardless of the organisational level you’re playing at.
  • Now look again at the scenarios you created in #3 and think of your reputation. Does one trigger the other? Immediately write down what you discover now. Incredibly valuable for your future.

6. Narrow down target organisations

  • By now you have worked yourself into a position that allows you to take the steer.
  • What exact kind of organisation would potentially benefit most from the values that stand behind your reputation?
  • Which industry? Which size? Which strategic positioning and which tactical development programs? Which regional orientation?
  • Does a specific company come to your mind? Take down a note.
  • But do not let this limit your thoughts. Change your point of view. How about customers, suppliers, partners, consultants of the company you already thought of? Would these theoretically match your scenario as well? Maybe even better? Your expertise may become even more valuable if you switch sides – from supplier to customer – from production to consulting…
  • Whatever you come up with – be precise in narrowing down to the best kinds of target organisations.

7. Aim your profile at your target

  • This is hard work.
  • There are countless recommendations on how to build your CV – and this article shall not compete with them.
  • Just two aspects to underline: 1) You need a dedicated CV for each group of target organisation. 2) Every entry in your CV must be tailored to support the reputation you want to get across.
  • List your ROLE at COMPANY from DATE-IN to DATE-OUT
  • Outline your key achievements per role so to support your reputation: Improved X/Y ratio in corporate Z program by x% within 6 months. Delivered ABC project in time and on budget resulting in XYZ.
  • Be concrete, countable, suggest references where you have them.
  • Everything you write down may lead to questions. Use this. Choose things which you’re more than happy to detail in an interview.
  • Open up opportunities for recruiters to imagine what you could do for their customers.

8. Find out recruiters who work with your targets

  • Search for professional recruiters who claim to work with organisations that match your target specifications.
  • Do they list branches, customers or even positions that match your scenarios?
  • Bookmark 20 or more who have an office in your region.
  • Do not sign-up on their website. No offence at all, there’s simply a better entry.

9. Identify people who can recommend you

  • /
  • Contact a few people you absolutely trust and who would be reputable to recommend you to a recruiting company or directly to one of your target organisations.
  • Tell them you’re worried that your current company does not provide you with the development opportunities you’re seeking.
  • Outline your ideal scenarios and link them to one or two of your key reputation points.
  • Ask your contact if they would know a good recruiter in your target areas. Name a few from your list for whom you have no recommendations yet.
  • Ask them if they would recommend you to that recruiter as someone the recruiter should get to know based on the kind of people she normally looks for. Point out that you don’t want the recruiter get the impression that you need a job. You’re open to opportunities. Agree a follow up meeting or call to get feedback.
  • Get recommendations for at least 5, better 8 recruiters from your list. This may be difficult and take time, weeks or months maybe even years, but there’s no way around it. You want to develop at least 2 better 3 good relations from these.
  • Right – Direct contacts to HR people or line managers who are hiring directly at your target companies are even better of course – but often even more difficult to make contact with, especially when you’re switching branch and therefore lacking bridge contacts. However, absolutely worth to ask for as well, same procedure.

10. Be prepared and keep networking

  • Are you comfortable to talk right now? Don’t panic, take a second, think, decide: Are you in a place you can openly talk now or rather suggest a precise time later or after business hours? Both is ok – just don’t move it to later than tomorrow.
  • When you get a call from a recruiter, remember you’re not their client but their product.
  • Recruiters are professional purchasers and professional sales people in one person. If you fit their criteria they will do their best to sell you because you earn them money and customer relations. If you don’t fit their criteria, they can not sell you and hence neither they nor you want to waste time. If you get to that point in a professional way, they still might be happy to recommend you to a better matching colleague.
  • So it’s all about friendly, professional communication. Help the recruiter to do his job efficiently – and you’ll make for a great product.
  • Have your CVs at hand – all the time – everywhere. At least in digital form on your smartphone or tablet as these can be fired up quickly enough for reference in a surprising phone call – just to make sure you don’t blank.
  • In the same way have at hand a crisp pitch for each target scenario: Where you’re aiming at, one or two position examples that you could fill and again one or two reputation points to support each. Have it in writing next to your CV.
  • Practice it.
  • Don’t send your CV unless you have full and direct contact details of the recruiter and unless your contact specifies an actual opportunity. You’re not desperate, right, you’re in the steer.
  • Maintain the relationship. Touch base every six months. A) Update briefly with your last achievements and current challenges. B) Understand what you can do for the recruiter. Refer only people for whom you can explain why you fully recommend them.
  • Enjoy.
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