Role or career change in 2017? follow the light!

This striking photograph of Hampstead heath made me reflect on career change in a new light, if you will excuse the obvious pun. When making the big decisions, you will be faced by a range of potential concerns, pitfalls and ambiguity and the best rule of thumb I can offer is to follow your instincts, and follow the light. More specifically, I advise the following.

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1/Know who you are and what you want, and be very honest with yourself. I see many people who feel trapped in a particular role or career which they may have fallen into or outgrown and the longer they leave the problem unaddressed, the more difficult it is to change direction. Find something which is aligned to your values and purpose and which meets your priorities in a broad sense. Make sure that your choices do not force you to compromise too much on the things that really matter to you. You know what these are.

2/ Build a list- particularly if you are unsure of what to do next. By writing options down, however left-field or radical, you are more likely to commit to evaluating them thoroughly and to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I have seen some radical career changes emerge from a blank sheet of paper and you can be the architect of your own better future.

3/ Align the three C's- culture competence and commitment. These should all be thought through if you are to make the right choices and the people fit in particular will need to be right if the move is to be a lasting one. When the fit is wrong it will invariably come back to bite you. Don't fudge the important questions.

4/Understand your intrinsic motivators. People are generally motivated to do things which they can control, they are competent to do and which meet their social needs. These are your intrinsic motivators. Understand yours and act upon them. If in doubt, ask others who know you well or speak with a coach or mentor. Don't forget that some of your drivers may change as you get older- for example you may feel a growing need to contribute to society in a broader sense than paying your taxes. Make sure that your choices reflect your changing priorities.

5/Trust your instincts and act on them. Your inner voice will tell you when a particular choice or option is the right one and you need to tune into it. If you are having difficulty doing that with all the background noise, be guided by your energy and respond to the choices which excite and energise you, rather than leaving you feeling flat. Whilst there is a place for box ticking it is rarely as powerful as your instinct and is less likely to give such clarity. If in doubt, remember to follow the light.

6/Identify your sweet spot and elevator pitch. This is the thing which you do best and which enables you to add most value. Be clear about what this is and articulate it succinctly. Take on roles which play to your strengths rather than trying to fix your weaknesses. If you are unsure ask others who know you well, or better, work with a coach and mentor who will challenge you to understand yourself at a deeper level. Your sweet spot does not need to be exceptional or unique but it must be about who you are, what you do best and how you do it.

7/Create a unified social media presence and brand. This should be complimentary to your CV, conveying the same messages and themes. Make sure that your CV and LinkedIn profile are succinct, focused and relevant to your target market and what you want to do. Project the brand profile which you chose, rather than the one which others may chose for you.

8/Use maximum emotional intelligence in the marketplace. Put yourself in the shoes of the person on the other side of the table from you. Respect the fact that the interviewer will have a greater understanding of the brief than you at this stage and do what you can to make their lives easier. Get the balance right between confidence and humility, respect and deference. Be very clear about how your sweet spot is aligned to the most important aspects of the role, and make the case without overselling it.

9/Be authentic- say what you mean, mean what you say. You will be respected for your honesty, integrity and courage, even if it is not necessarily what the person on the other side of the table wants to hear. Express yourself in a mindful way and above all, avoid resorting to platitudes or corporate speak, which can be a real turn off.

10/Demonstrate your personality and enthusiasm. Too many people play it safe, particularly in interviews, and may come across as cautious at best or wooden at worst. No-one will be able to see your unique qualities and presence if you do not put them on show and the best way to do that is to enjoy the process and engage with others enthusiastically! It is these qualities which others will respond to, more than anything else.

Have I missed anything? Do feel free to comment or disagree

If you would like informal advice and support or would like to consider broader coaching and mentoring options, send me an email to and I will be sure to get back to you.

David Head

Coach and Mentor, Accelerating Experience

With twenty years experience in the search industry before becoming a coach, I combine highly personalised coaching and mentoring with broader commercial insight and perspective. I will help you to find your purpose, to thrive in your career and to change direction when this is what is needed. I will commit to helping you to achieve a state of flow by aligning values and purpose with what you do and how you do it. contact me via 07920 064056