Almost a dozen years ago I made a career pivot from Management and Information Technology Consulting Executive to Business Owner of a recruitment firm. I had never been required to recruit a day in my life prior to that. (If you’re interested in my thought process and approach, check out The Secret to Avoid Career Stagnation.)
Sure, I had interviewed and hired several hundred people during my career. But, technically, recruiting is different. For interviewing and hiring, someone else likely served the candidate up.
True recruiting requires you to find and contact someone who is happy in his or her current situation and entice him or her to leave for something else. That is a completely different story. We also don’t need to address the requirements to successfully run the business I opened. You get the picture—this is a change.
For you, it might be a change from technologist to salesperson, from executive assistant to call center service agent, from accountant to lawyer, business executive to professor or whatever you might yearn to do.
Regardless of your current profession, you can change to another if you truly understand what is required to make that change successful:
Do what you love, but make sure you do a thorough self-assessment first. Do what you love sounds nice. Just make sure you truly love it. One of the most important aspects of making good decisions is to not only have a good decision-making process, but also have all the necessary information to feed that process. It’s difficult enough to get all the information without living through it first, but there’s absolutely no excuse for not knowing yourself. Do a self-awareness exercise to identify what makes you happy as it relates to the act itself. Being a CIO doesn’t make you happy. Titles and jobs by themselves do not make people happy. It’s what accompanies the job and its duties that makes you happy. For example, “I like to solve problems in general, but especially with technology,” and “I like to work with smart people,” and “I like to have an impact on my organization,” and “I want to be appreciated,” and so on. Get out of titles and into acts and needs.
Picking the right battlefield is far more important than picking the right time. Have you ever found the perfect time to get sick, take a vacation, or leave a company? Didn’t think so. Forget all that mumbo jumbo about the perfect time. You know when you’re ready? When you feel like it! I will offer, however, that you need to make sure you have some parameters in order. Would you be willing to take a pay cut? Would you be willing to start at the “bottom?” Just make sure you think through these types of questions.
There is one additional battlefield component. Make sure you understand your own artillery. What skills do you have? Will those transfer easily or can you map them to ensure you have a bit of a running start?
Know the foundational traits required for success. The previous point related to understanding who you are, what you have done, what you can do, and how it will help you transition. This point relates to understanding what your new profession will require. What traits will make you successful? In my example, I knew recruiting was related to sales, marketing, and psychology. It also requires an understanding of companies and job positions. I held leadership positions, sold, marketed, developed software, and was proficient in several industries because at that point in my career I had sold to and consulted to well over one hundred companies. For whatever transition you’d like to make, investigate the foundational skills and traits that tend to make people successful. Are you good with math? Are you customer-focused? Are you articulate? Are you outgoing?
Do your reconnaissance. One of the smartest exercises you can perform is to seek out people who are currently doing that job. I want to stress currently doing that job. (It’s important I said that twice.) People who are currently living it day-to-day can advise you about the good, bad, ugly and so forth. People who have done it previously are also informative, but they tend to forget some of the major issues they’ve faced if it’s been long ago. Times and techniques might have changed as well.
Stay positive and remember why you made the change in the first place. Once you make the change, stay positive and keep in mind the primary reasons you make this big adjustment. If your “why” was clear and you did the self-assessment properly, you’ll be in great shape. If you lose your “why” you will lose your “way.”
One last point I want to make for all those interested in making a change like this. I always preach you should never let the “how” determine the “what.” That is, pick what you want. If you want it badly enough, you will figure out how to get there.
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