Career change in 2016? How to make it happen, and make it last..
For our parents and grandparents generations, career change was nigh on impossible. Although it is difficult today, the good news is that the pace of change in the economy, new technology, greater awareness of alternatives and in some cases plain necessity have enabled access to new opportunities. Many have broken the shackles of the old world thinking and have started their own businesses or chosen a lifestyle alternative. In no particular order, this is my advice if you want to change direction or change career.
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 have fallen into. 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 a list can help you to explore the alternatives. 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 must all be thought through if you are to make the right career choices and the people fit in particular will need to be right if the move is to be a lasting one. like a failed marriage, when the fit is wrong it will invariably come back to bite you. Be very honest with yourself and 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 for meaningful relationships and interactions. These are your intrinsic motivators- understand yours and act upon them and if in doubt, ask others who know you well.
5/Trust your instincts- this is the inner voice which 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 the opposite. Whilst there is a place for box ticking it is rarely as powerful as your instinct and is less likely to give such clarity. Some of the best decisions you will ever make will come from your heart, rather than your head.
6/Identify your sweet spot- this is the thing which you do best and which enables you to add most value. You need to know what it is and then act upon it, ensuring that you take on roles which play to your strengths rather than focussing too much on fixing your weaknesses. If you are unsure ask others who know you well, or better, work with a coach 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. Above all, it must add value.
7/Create a unified social media presence and brand- this is not in place of the good old fashioned CV by the way and should be complimentary to it. Make sure that your CV and LinkedIn profile for example are succinct, focussed 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. If that person is a head-hunter or HR leader for example, respect the fact that they are likely to have a greater understanding of the brief than you are at this stage and do what you can to make their lives easier. Get the balance right between confidence and humility, respect and deference.
9/Be authentic- say what you mean, mean what you say and say it with confidence and passion! 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 your true inner voice in a mindful way and above all, avoid resorting to platitudes or corporate speak, which can be a real turn off.
10/Last but definitely not least, show your personality and enthusiasm. Too many people play it safe when looking for a new role or career and 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.