In my role, I continuously meet with new people and talk about different issues around Career Development. A typical question I get is “How do I change the role I am in to better suit my strengths/family needs/desired future profession?”
What I find is that the majority of folks want a new position or opportunity to magically appear even though they haven’t done a thing to attract it. They haven’t figured out what their strengths are, they don’t know what type of work they love to do, they haven’t talked to any mentors -in most cases they haven’t had a chat with their boss. They’ve never written out a plan for themselves. Somehow they believe that talking to a career development coach will give them a magic answer and the job of their dreams will drop into their laps.
The way I see it, if you want a different role or want to focus on your strengths, you have three primary options.
1) Stay in your current job and mold it into your dream job. Look at your current job and dissect it. What do you love about it? What activities do you complete but aren’t enthralled with and what depletes you to the point of boredom? Write it all down. Pull it apart. Understand what it is about the parts you love that you could replicate in another activity that will add value to your organization. Are you a customer service guru? Do you love to help people? Do you get a rush out of doing research and finding patterns? What is it that gets you going in the morning? Prioritize these fabulous activities and then tie them to your current projects. Pull out the portion of your job that you don’t like and package it as a new opportunity for someone else. Your ‘trash’ is someone else’s ‘treasure’. Now you have a plan. Time to talk to the boss about your proposal for giving someone else a great opportunity and elevating your impact by honing in on what you do best. Now, if you decide that 90% of this job depletes you and there is no good way to mutate it, move on to #2.
2) Look at what the organization needs and pitch a new position. Pull out the Strategic Objectives, Vision, Mission, latest Monthly Update and figure out the unsolved problem or issue. See if your skill set would be of use to the organization to solve it. Write up a job description, responsibilities and critical success indicators. Flesh it out by talking to others about the problem that needs solving. Also, spend some time figuring out how your current job will get done and who will do it if your proposal is accepted. How will management get comfortable with you leaving if you don’t have a suggested course of action? Collect as much information as you can and then go see your manager. Pitch your idea for the new position. Show them how your job will get done when you go to the new position. Show them a well-thought-out plan and they’ll have a hard time refusing. If you’re not ready to pitch something new, go to #3.
3) Grow your network, talk about what you love to do and keep an eye on new opportunities. This is the most common course of action and the most passive. It works, in most cases, and is probably the slowest of the alternatives to bear fruit and the least likely to put you in a highly satisfying new role. It takes diligence and some faith that the right position will eventually open up. It might not be the best fit. It will be something new. You will need to meet managers, work your network, talk to others. Having a positive attitude and talking about what work you love to do helps prospective new bosses and co-workers remember you for the things you ARE versus what you’re NOT. Don’t complain, don’t tell them what you don’t like about your current role. Focus on what you love to do, what speaks to your heart, what fulfills your career development dreams.
If you’re new to this way of thinking or need help, find a mentor and then plan out your approach. Don’t expect the perfect job to come to you. It takes work. It takes diligent self discovery and an honest assessment of what you really want out of your work. It takes networking, sponsorship and advocacy from people who know you.
Good Luck! Come back and let me know how it goes in the comments below. And remember, change begins with you!