Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Career transitioning can be kind of like traveling the Autobahn when the cold of winter is causing your windshield to freeze every few miles, blurring your ability to see clearly the road ahead. You pull over into numerous service turnouts along the way to access various resources to help you gain a clearer vision and allow your journey to continue.
Navigating career changes is a lot like this for both job candidates and employers alike. And, it’s more challenging today than ever. Competitive companies endeavor to be as agile and innovative as possible to succeed in rapidly changing business environments. Meanwhile, across the road, candidates are seeking the best career opportunities within organizations that demonstrate a vision and culture closely aligned with their own career objectives. The competition for the ‘best’ is fierce on both sides of this highway.
Welcome to the World of ‘Career Dating’
Why then is it so difficult for both parties with similar needs, who are actively seeking one another, to make a great connection? How do they move past an ‘us and them’ approach in this quest for the ideal partner?
First Things First
To better understand How, let’s first look at a few Why’s.
Noise. There’s a lot of noise out here. Between online tools, job boards, advertisements and a networking meeting around every corner, we are literally inundated with ‘tools’. Some are worthwhile exploring and others are not. But you cannot avoid becoming entangled in them during your exploration. Spending time to develop a plan of execution and on getting to know yourself, your interests and passions will help you to narrow your parameters and limit your search to manageable bite sized chunks. Pick one thing that is in line with your top line need or interest. Discover, explore, pursue or eliminate. Begin again. Transitioning is a process, not a race and trying to multi-task to expedite this journey can backfire and leave you overwhelmed and ineffectual.
Barriers. Some of the obstacles caused by noise are really our own perceptions. We tend to first observe and interpret things with our filters. For instance, position titles are just labels. However, when we look at them, we self-eliminate based on whatever label the role adorns. In reality, their purpose is to allow for order and structure in an organization and the better ones offer insight into the type of role that a candidate will encounter. To determine if your skills are in alignment with a role, look deep into the requirements of the position and match acquired skills to the position objectives outlined in the job description. Remember that even though your skills may have been honed in dissimilar roles, they are highly transferable when presented in context. This is a good first step and it will provide valuable insight about your considerable talent, prompting interest by the hiring manager and ideally leading to a face to face conversation. In order to go deeper, the candidate must first gain audience with prospective employers, so filter noise by becoming more narrowly focused.
Less is More
The role of hiring managers is one tasked with sorting through quite possibly hundreds of resumes with the purpose of identifying the very best candidates. To streamline these efforts, a description of the position may be provided accompanied by a checklist of desired attributes. The objective is to determine whether the candidate has the requisite skills and other criteria required for a mutual fit with the needs of the organization. Due to the sheer volume, automation technology is used heavily to screen applicants, making human to human contact more challenging to achieve.
A key advantage that an individual navigating a career transition has is knowing and understanding their unique value proposition. When any opportunity arrives, you’ll be prepared to clearly convey your skills in a relevant manner, demonstrating why you are the best fit for this employer. Consolidating and selecting the most powerful experiences is tough for career professionals who perhaps, over decades, have amassed a wide spectrum of desirable skills. Knowing your passion and focusing on clear career objectives will allow candidates to match and articulate their relevant skills to the key criteria of the roles they are exploring.
Gaining clarity of your unique competencies and career objectives can be your competitive advantage. Where others fail you will be able to succinctly communicate them, when it matters, in a limited amount of time and space.
The Road Ahead
The business world has changed since many professionals began their careers. It will continue to change as customer needs evolve and consumer options increase. Mutable and portable employee skills in human resource development, communications and the ability to adapt to fluid customer needs are powerfully important. The act of inclusiveness begins with the hiring process. Employers don’t hire the actual position title. They are hiring talented professionals who exhibit a good cultural fit, the ability to think critically, and adapt acquired skills to meet competitive demands of their evolving business needs.
Remember this, you have an untold story. Being interesting gets others interested. In a world of automation and snap decisions, taking an approach rooted in curiosity and a desire to know and understand will lead to more engaged and meaningful connections. You won’t be disappointed.
I’d love to hear examples of how your best practices have helped you navigate career transitions within or outside of your present organization. Please share your experiences and perspective in the comments.
Dorothy Patrick is the founder and CEO of SPARX International™, a firm that drives profits by providing organizations with ideas, products and services that improve culture, communications and employee engagement; specializing in the leadership development and cultural integration for growing companies. Dorothy’s passion to develop successful organizations and teams is reflected in her legacy as a corporate executive with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, UBS Financial and IFCO International.
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