Making any change is challenging, but switching up any one of these—job function, industry, or geography—requires additional preparations to make a successful transition. Recruiters in the open marketplace want to hire someone who fits the role as described. If you are making a career pivot, your challenge will be to frame your experience and competencies in a way that helps recruiters and hiring managers to feel confident you can handle the job.
Pivoting to a new function? If you have the desire to do something different or take on more responsibility at a new company, consider roles that are collateral to your current role or that have many of the same competencies and transferable skills. An example might be moving from sales or business development to a customer success or consulting role. If you want a more dramatic shift away from your current work and don’t have the relevant experience, your success will depend on creating relationships within a network of decision-makers. They need to get to know you and will ultimately hire you for your potential to do the job, recognizing that you have the smarts and the motivation to learn quickly and can bring the diversity of your other experiences to add value.
Switching industries? Similarly, choose collateral industries if possible. For example, if your career has been in retail, consider the food and beverage industry or consumer packaged goods. For a more dramatic industry pivot, deepen your knowledge and gain currency with industry trends by choosing premier companies in the space and use LinkedIn to follow their company sites as well as their newsfeeds.
Changing your address? Changing geographies if you aren’t also changing industry and job function will rely on identifying companies in the metro areas you are interested in and conducting research to find those that align with your values and lifestyle choices. Getting that initial listing can happen in a number of ways: Chamber of Commerce websites, Vault “Top 50” lists, and LinkedIn company searches by geography. Then narrow down your choices by listing all the companies on a spreadsheet, setting some key criteria, including whether you have a contact there, then ranking how well each meets your criteria based on your research. Do a sort to choose your top 10-12 (or less so you can stay focused) to target. You can then begin the process of setting up job alerts on their websites, identifying contacts, and building relationships with employees so that when the right job comes along you have some allies who can represent you internally.
Need some help figuring out your next big thing? Here are some practical approaches you can take to explore new opportunities and prepare for a competitive search.
Start with a strong foundation. If you are still weighing options for what new job or industry you want to target, create a strong foundation by understanding more about your own values and personality, and by clarifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities you can contribute.
- Your values and personality are foundational to understanding what types of jobs set you up for success in life. Values assessments offered by VIA and The Good Project are free. What do your top five values tell you about the kind of job you’d be most satisfied having?
- To gather content about the value you can bring to a job, write down your top ten achievements in your life so far. Rank order them to choose your top three based on your personal level of fulfillment and satisfaction. Then, find a friend or colleague and describe those top three achievements in detail, just like you were telling the plot of a movie. Ask your friend or colleague to listen carefully and write down all the knowledge, skills, and abilities s/he heard. (Note: your friend does not get to interrupt or ask questions during the exercise.) Once you have told your stories, review the results to see what common strengths and capabilities appear.
Identify the jobs that align with your strengths and preferences. Now armed with an understanding of your strengths, capabilities, and some of your preferences, research the jobs that interest you. Here are resources and next steps you can consider:
- Vault has an impressive listing of top-ranked professions by industry.
- Kelley subscribes to LinkedIn training that will instruct you on how to find job descriptions you are interested in. Read many descriptions for the same job type to educate yourself on the universal qualifications and requirements.
Conduct informational interviews to validate your choices. You are now ready to conduct informational interviews to get first-hand information on what others find interesting and challenging about the roles you are considering. Find Kelleys who are in those jobs via 1) the LinkedIn training mentioned above, 2) the Kelley Alumni Association, and 3) your own personal networks. Set up 20-30 minute conversations with peers to identify:
- How they landed the job they currently have
- What they enjoy/ find challenging about their role
- Key success factors for strong performance in the job
- Companies they admire and contacts within their network they can recommend you talk to
- Advice they have for you
Once you have strong, compelling messaging for why you are excited about this new role/industry/location and what talents you can contribute, then you are ready to for the next steps: ensuring your career documents (resume and LI profile) align with the marketplace needs, and establishing a network of contacts within the companies you are targeting. Details for these next steps are in the Get-Market-Ready Toolkit, where you can find many more resources to support your job search and career goals. Let your career services coach help with your journey as well by setting up an appointment to talk.
Ready to break through to the next level in your career? Earning the Kelley Direct Online MBA is powerful, often in ways you don’t yet realize. As you focus on your career and your goals, you build confidence. New doors open. Plus, Kelley’s Graduate Career Services and your dedicated career coach will show you how to create this path to advancement and provide you with the guidance and tools to help you achieve success—now and throughout your career. Get more info on our No. 1-ranked online MBA today.