You have been in your current role for a few years now. You like the organisation, and you work well with your colleagues. But you now have bigger career aspirations, looking for greater challenges and promising career opportunities. A bit of extra money will come in useful too. But you are caught between the comfort of where you are now and the excitement of what might be.
Here are some tried and tested actions you can take to achieve your goals and build a more dynamic career.
1. Decide what you enjoy
Embarking on a new career direction can be challenging. Years of employment have built your current skills, but what if you want to go on a different career path? Take a quiet moment and mull over the kind of activities you enjoy. Do you enjoy leading a team or working alone, or with a small group of specialists?
Do you take risks or are you more cautious? Do you excel with new, big ideas, or are you a dependable implementer? Try to avoid job titles as you do your analysis. Define the behaviours you enjoy. Remember also not to be swayed by friends and colleagues — they may have alluring suggestions, but it must work for you.
Career choices should always be the manifestation of one’s purpose in life. A fulfilling career is a powerful way to making your unique contribution to the world.
2. Consider your career options
Once you have weighed your career choices and confirmed a direction, it is time to do research. What are the positions that require the activities you have settled on? Discover the skills, educational requirements, and personal attributes needed to be successful in that field.
Make a list of the companies that employ people with those skills and follow them on social media. Seek out people who work in those sorts of organisations by asking friends and colleagues who may be in these networks. Look at job portals for suitable positions that come up. Go for interviews, not necessarily to get that job, but to better understand what recruiters and managers are looking for.
3. What is your ideal job?
If you go about tip 2 diligently, you will get to a point where you have identified four or five companies and the role you want to play in them. Now it is about making yourself the obvious choice.
Do you require additional formal training for your ideal job? Is it necessary to be a member of a professional body? What soft skills are required for the role? What online training, such as MOOCs, can you undertake for career development and to make yourself the no-brainer appointee? Make a list of the requirements and put in the time and money to gear up for your opportunity.
Research the remuneration and benefit packages for the roles that appeal to you, so that you can realistically position your expectations in the marketplace.
4. Build your online presence.
Recruiters and managers do their due diligence on recruits long before the first meeting. Make sure your online presence supports you in online search results. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is honest and reflects all your skills, experience and training.
Post links to articles that support your case, or better still, write opinion pieces. Ask for referrals and recommendations that illustrate your expertise and achievements.
Review your other social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Social media reflects who you are, and you will want to remove anything that does not support your candidacy. At the same time, with a bit of research, you can showcase your unique talents. But remember, always be truthful and honest. If you misrepresent yourself, you will be found out and you will suffer the consequences.
5. Expand your career network
Many of the best jobs are never advertised. They are filled by candidates who learn about them by word-of-mouth from friends, former colleagues, and ex-bosses. A personal reference for a new position is worth more than any number of elegant resumé documents.
Put the word out amongst your friends and family, let them know you’re looking for a job and what kind of positions you are looking for. Remind them from time to time of your career aspirations. Of course, you should avoid word about your intentions getting back to your current employer. Many enlightened managers, however, assist their team members in moving on to better opportunities.
6. Monitor company websites
Work with the list of employers that you have identified and visit their websites often. Sooner or later a job vacancy will come up, and you will be ready. If you go for the interview and you are unsuccessful, ask why you did not get the role. And then work on making yourself the best candidate for when that job comes up again.
7. Be creative
You must stand out from the crowd. Cold call the HR departments in your target companies. Ask what you need to have on your resumé to be top of the list. Call a manager in one of your target companies. Explain what kind of role you are looking for and ask for their help. Don’t beg and don’t be arrogant. Be cautious when taking these assertive actions. Be sure that your creative tactic is appropriate for the industry you’re trying to break into.
In closing, here are a few points to keep in mind.
Finding that ideal job takes time and hard work. You will receive many regret letters. Don’t get downhearted; it is part of the process. Learn from every interview.
Keep reviewing and renewing your career strategy. Your career does not stop with that next job, there are always career opportunities beyond that. This is a long game.
The best opportunity may be in the organisation you currently work for. Organisations change and shift priorities, and managers prefer to give new positions to current employees rather than undertake lengthy recruitment processes.
And, when you move to that new organisation, retain the positive relationship with your previous employer. It’s a small world, and who knows, your previous manager might also be looking for a job.
Start now. High achievement careers don’t happen by themselves. Put in the work now and the rewards will follow.