Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Career changes, career transitions 5: planned change as you think thorough and carry out your own career path

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on February 5, 2013

This is my fifth posting to a series on careers, career development and career transitions, and on looking at work and the work experience from a wider perspective than that of the here and now job or job search (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 285-8 for Parts 1-4.)

I wrote in Part 4: recognizing and accommodating the pressures of change, and career planning as an exercise in shifting the balance about the change that we face in our careers that comes from outside of our own efforts and from the workplace and its markets. I focused there, as a working example on more effectively anticipating and planning and preparing for the negative in this, citing downsizings as a reality that many of us face and certainly over the course of a work life.

• What you see coming and can plan for, you can respond to more effectively. And that means responding more rapidly and with a greater range of options of your choice. And it can even mean acting proactively and so as to capture opportunity through this change too.
• I stress that last detail here; if you see that your employer is likely to go through a downsizing in overall staff, or in your specific functional area of its business you can begin looking proactively for new opportunities before that happens.
• And you can begin proactively lining up favorable recommendations for when you will need them – and when you are still working with and seeing those people you would seek recommendations from, every work day. This, I add is both when they would be easier to find and connect with in securing recommendations, and it is also when you would be in a better position to begin to discretely network with them for leads and connections.
• At the same time and with your current position in mind – when you anticipate this type of change that can give you motivation and opportunity to think through and negotiate what you work on with your current employer in an effort to increase your value as someone to keep on-staff coming out of the downsizing. If you fully succeed in this you keep your current job or move to another within the same business. But even if you do get downsized that might be delayed until a later round, giving you more time to search for new opportunities while still employed and with paychecks and benefits coming in.
• My point here is that what you see coming, you might not be able to change or prevent. But seeing change and even adverse change coming and having and taking the option to prepare and plan for it is empowering. You come out of that feeling less battered and with more positive options for moving forward.

My goal for the start of this posting was to round out Part 4 of this series by discussing positive opportunity and how foresight and planning can help there too. And I turn to that here:

• Career mindfulness and dispassionately open eyed planning can make the difference for not losing out of the benefits and opportunities of positive change in circumstance too.
• And career mindfulness and planning can help you to more clearly see specific possible positive opportunities for change too, and more precisely where there are change opportunities that would be of real benefit to you.

To clarify that second point I refer back to the assessment exercises that I wrote of in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, and with focus on a particular detail that I raised in Part 3 that serves as a source of working examples. I was writing about assessing where you want to go in your career and what you might have to learn and do in preparation for that, developing new and necessary skills and experience and gaining required credentials to reach your career step goals.

• A best step forward for you in pursuing your career plans might mean advancing along a standard path, for example going from a non-managerial hands-on position to a first low level managerial position in the same functional line, and then up from there. That is certainly common and even with careful proactive career planning and forethought.
• But if your long term goals are to break out of the functional line you are in and either as a functional area career change or to enable you to advance beyond your current functional area and to senior management, a seeming lateral move to a same level position might be better – for you and in you meeting your own long-term goals.
• Even a seeming set-back career change can be advantageous when others see short-term value in staying at the home office, for example, but you realize that taking over and course-correcting a problem satellite office would be crucial to reaching your goals. That move, overlooked by others, might give you precisely the experience and the credentials you would need to advance into senior and executive management where simply staying in the same line in the home office would close those doors to you later on.

Career planning is all about strategy and execution. And with this last example I transitioned from considering outside factors and forces that go into shaping your career, to considering more internal factors and the career choices that you choose to make. And I tie them together by noting a very important point:

• Ultimately, this is all about choice and career planning is all about you giving yourself as wide a range of choice and decision making power as possible.

This applies when you eschew a simple and standard path forward to a next in-house career opportunity, to gain the skills and experience you would need to develop your career in the direction and to the point you seek to reach. Your next best career move, I add, might not even be with your current employer, and I cite the experience of working with nonprofits as a rich source of examples there. The only route to significant advancement in nonprofits with their limited headcounts can often be in moving on to another nonprofit that happens to be looking for someone to fill the type of position that you would seek out next.

Going back to the negative outside forces-driven example of downsizings, career awareness and mindfulness and career planning can give you the crucial lead time that you would need if you are to have real choice, and certainly short-term choice while this is happening. And the better prepared you are going into this type of career changing event the wider the range of choices – your choices, you will have coming out of it and longer term as well as short term too.

I am going to focus in my next series installment on a side to career planning that I have in a way already begun discussing in this posting: the challenge of being type-cast professionally and breaking out of old molds. Businesses change and evolve and so do the marketplaces they work with and provide for. Work skills and skill and experience needs and priorities change. New jobs and types of jobs arise, become standard and fade in importance and disappear. Work long enough and chances are that you will be able to point to skills you have exercised professionally for jobs that no longer really exist – but that were vital and considered so then. So over time, these issues become very important for any career planning and execution. Meanwhile, you can find this posting and series at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2. I have also posted extensively on jobs and careers-related topics in my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.

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