There is one final step in the process of defining, marketing and preparing yourself for the next phase of your career. It involves “test driving” your chosen career vehicle by trying out some aspects of your new, chosen career path. This will help you get a taste of what it will be like doing the work of your target opportunity.
Get a feel for your new career
Once you have researched the companies and positions within your target career, try to get a feel for the work involved and the type of people who work in the profession. See if there are opportunities for consulting or part-time opportunities at your target organization that you could perform in the evenings or on weekends to get a better understanding of life on the “inside.” Explore opportunities to sharpen skills that may have gone dormant in your current position, and gain new skills that you can apply to your targeted position.
Build relationships with industry insiders
Place yourself in local chapters of professional organizations that are associated with your targeted companies, and begin to build relationships. When I initially began looking for my dream career, I had targeted training and development opportunities and joined the local chapter of the professional group associated with those opportunities. I attended the weekly meetings, participated in discussions, assisted with events and even became the editor for their online newsletter. I had many opportunities to “rub elbows” with some of the key players in that industry within my city, and I used those associations to my advantage in obtaining interviews. Though I later changed my focus away from training and development and into general human resources, the professional network connections that I gained during that experience were invaluable to me, and the skills that I gained became a part of my personal skill inventory.
Utilize after-work hours
While it is not advisable to look for your next opportunity while in the office, there is much that can be done outside of your work time to prepare for landing your dream job. Probe your professional network for opportunities within organizations that would enable you to get your “foot in the door” with the organization, or ask select network members their advice on how to best approach a new opportunity within their organizations.
In this article series, I’ve discussed much here for you to consider as you prepare for your next career opportunity. However, please understand that it is nothing more than a logical process or sequence and that many of the points presented will be concurrent and ongoing. Here are some key points to remember:
Know yourself: Work to get a “big picture” understanding of you — your talents, skills and dreams — and make sure that those closest to you understand what will be required of you and of them in launching into your new career direction.
Personal brand building and marketing: People are much more impressed by your potential than by your track record. Help them to see all of your potential. Describe the best of what you have to offer. Tell a story that is enticing in your résumé, your online presence and within your professional and social networks.
- Virtually — Create an online presence that is comprehensive, consistent, professional and compelling.
- Physically — Work to present the best “you” possible through polishing and refining the outside so that employers will want to know the inside.
- Mentally — Visualize the end result and work backwards from there to fill in the logical steps to reach your goal.
Trial runs: Seek opportunities to get a better understand of your new career. Volunteer. Consult. Train. Explore. Learn. Adapt and push out.
You are not going to be remaking yourself — you are going to be refining and refocusing yourself. It is a process of renewal and revitalization. The efforts of looking for a new opportunity have likely changed substantially since the last time you were in the market, but you have acquired wisdom and experience that education alone can’t provide. Leverage your professional depth and your creativity at maximum levels so that your transition to a new and better opportunity is logical, strategic, timely and sure. Happy hunting, and best wishes for the next exciting leap in your career.
Tony Lewis is a senior recruiting specialist with Insperity Recruiting Services.