What You Should Really Know Before Considering A Career Change
Most people neglect their careers, and overly focus on their job or work. There comes a point whether planned or not, where they are compelled to make a career change. Sometimes those decisions are obvious (the position is being removed, retirement, the passion evaporates for the role or working with your direct report). In other situations, you know it is time to move on but taking action is harder than pulling a tooth out. Here are some suggestions for an executive serious about planning their next move.
- Be clear about your goal and the shortest path. Who is in the position you want to be in? Why does it interest you? Rarely is money the prime motive. Can you talk to that individual, read something about them or find out how they were hired into the role?
- Know your comfort zone. Where do you believe you can thrive? In what situations do you work most effectively? Of course, it makes sense to constantly push ourselves to increase our learning, our expertise, our repute and so on but not at the point where we move beyond a productive into a high stress zone.
- Focus on your external contribution. When do you most valuably contribute to your clients, your direct reports and your peers' success? We often focus on our internal contribution within an organisation or a group, yet it is our external contribution that is most important.
- Understand your own value. Why are you "uniquely" qualified for the role? (mix of past experiences and expertise) Why is this the right time? (limited window of opportunity) Why in this specific situation? (external changes in client's market)
- Understand how you work best. How do you most impressively apply your past experiences in the work environment to your clients' future needs? We all have environments where our approaches are more or less productive. For some that might be entrepreneurial, highly autonomous environments with limited structure and for others that might be more institutional, consensual and highly structured organisations. It is important to find the right "structural" fit for your talent and approaches.
- Put yourself first.What are your immediate financial needs? We have three areas of need: current (family, basic living, accommodation, travel, kids education and so on), anticipatory (marriage, retirement, long-term care etc.) and self-created (personal interests, the holiday home, executive learning, charitable or community contributions and so on).
- Get help quickly. Those choices require a mix of cash, credit and investment. Do you have the right might of liquid and illiquid assets today? A minimum six months before a potential move with minimal upheaval or 12 to 24 months before a shift from the corporate world into a consultancy, extended maternity leave or retirement sit down with your Financial Adviser and set priorities.
- Create a focus and discipline on your career growth.Pick a time and date each year, it might be on your annual holiday, while pursuing a personal interest or quiet time beside the pool on a business trip. Schedule it in your calendar or diary. Keep that time sacrosanct. Ask yourself this very simple question: "Am I having fun?" Second question, "why?" It forces you to think about the causes that underlie your enjoyment or dissatisfaction, and where you can find more of them or stop them recurring.
My observation is that the fear and procrastination that causes 90% of us not to act upon, or to miss out on, great career opportunities, stems from the perceived lack of control we feel we have over the situation. Yet most of the issues are in fact under our control, we just need to apply ourselves to the task in hand and be disciplined about it.
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