Where I grew up we lived near a really wide river and there was a car ferry that would take you from one side to the other. As a child it seemed so wide and it took such an effort to get from one side to the other.
Now I’m working with people in their careers. When they want to take a jump from one industry to another or from one profession to another their perception of the gap that exists between where they are and where they want to get to is so wide and it prevents them from taking the next step in their career.
If you want to take a step in your career and you want to jump industry or function and the gap seems really wide and it’s preventing you from taking action, stick around because I’m going to show you how you can make it happen for yourself.
I’m talking about how I coach people to career pivot across industries or into other functions or into a new profession.
This will help you on two fronts, one is to identify the gaps that exist in your mind and how big they are, the second is I give you a process to move forward.
I’m currently coaching a guy that’s been in the media industry for 20 years and he wants to make a jump into consulting. He wants to move across into a consulting practice and he has a particular passion about solving problems that industry is facing. The challenge for him is that in his current role he has a real lack of meaning. He’s doesn’t really want to be doing it anymore and he doesn’t find it fun or stimulating. He has a lack of balance, because he’s spending a lot of time doing something he isn’t loving. He wants a refresh. He wants to move to something that will set him up for the next 20 years of his life because he can’t see himself doing this for the next 20.
The problem is that there is a perception of a gap between where he is and where he wants to get to. What you need to realise when you want to make a shift is that at some level that gap is real. From the perspective of the target company or people that you want to work for, they want to see someone with experience in that particular sector and that can help them add value for their customers, right? BUT you also have to recognise that some of that gap is perceived. At some level you have had some experiences in your life and in your job already that close that real gap… that enable you to be closer to that new job or new industry than you actually think.
What will move you forward is taking action and having a process to direct your actions.
Firstly, on any change on any transition, if you’re serious about it set a date. If you’re not willing to set a date, you’re not really serious about it. So set a date which is your target for being in your new role. You’ll find your own risk and comfort will affect this: it could be a year away it could be 18 months away… but actually set a date and write it down. Tell your family and friends about it. The more you tell people about it the more they’ll hold you to it!
Secondly, identify who your target is. Identify a range of either companies or industry that you want to move into and write down who they are and research what they need. Research what’s going on with their customers and what’s going on in their industry. For the guy I’m coaching, to give you an example, the consulting companies he’s targeting are interested in the media industry. So he’s got a way in to position himself.
The third thing is: research the types of roles they hire and where you might fit. Given your current skills, what sort of roles and where in the business might you fit. Not because we’re trying to create a role or get hired for a role, but because you need to be able to have a conversation with them and they need to be able to fit you into a certain spot.
The fourth thing is how you prepare yourself to get that job and prepare yourself to be someone that they want so that you reduce the perceived gap.
With the guy I’m working with there are basically two streams of activity we’re working on, one is I’m saying to him “Right, the competencies of a consultant. Let’s practice those now. Don’t wait until you’re in the job. Become a consultant now.” We’ve made a whole list of things including the language he needs to use, the types of processes he needs to use and the way he needs to speak and that all needs to change, not from your target date onwards but from NOW. If he practices it NOW, when he turns up at the interview he’s going to be ready, or when he goes through the recruitment process he’ll be ready because he’ll have stories of things he’s done and he’ll sound like he’s already the guy they want. So practice the skills now and develop some stories of the experiences that prove you can do what you need to do for the new role.
The fifth thing is you need to develop a new network in that target space. What I recommend there is to work with your first level connections, the first ring of your network, the people you know best to get referrals into THEIR network of people who are in your target space. For the guy I’m working with what that means is that he has some people he knows well who have connections into his target industry. What you want to do is go and talk to them and do your research about what’s important in that industry and as well as that find people you can talk to about potential jobs.
As a summary: If you want to jump industries or move into a new profession and you see a big perceived gap: It’s not as big as you think it is and there is a process you can follow.
1. Set a date.
2. Target who you want to go to.
3. Research what they need.
4. Start practicing now. Develop stories of experiences in the area.
5. Create a network by leveraging other people’s networks.
I’ve been talking about how you make a jump when there’s a big perceived gap from the industry you’re in to another industry or from the job function you’re in to another job function. If that’s you and you need help you know where to find me. Send me a message and connect with me and we can talk about how I can help.
If you’re thinking about this for yourself I want you to leave me a comment: What holds you back from making a change? and if you’ve done it, how has this process helped you move forward and make the career jump you want to make?
Talk to you soon on The Reason & The Road.