Moving to a different job profile successfully
At some time, most professionals will explore (or make) a change in their job profile. This could be a change in the job scope, geography, company type, or even industry.
Examples of these in the IT services industry are program managers and sales hunters looking to get into account management roles, project leaders with SI's exploring IT roles with their end clients, sales & program leaders looking to re-locate across countries, and sales persons exploring positions in IT product sales.
There are some factors which can enhance the chances of making these migrations successfully.
Play to your strengths – what has contributed most to your professional success? Is it the ability to engage with clients, technical depth, or the effective management of teams? Understand your strengths and aim for roles where these strengths will be best utilized.
A program manager who has been extremely effective in engaging with clients in identifying and leading new programs could explore leveraging that same client engagement strengths to grow business - migrating to a client partner role.
On the other hand one more proficient in technology and project management may be better off exploring roles envisioning and delivering projects with an SI or end client organization rather than migrating to revenue focused client partner role.
When making the assessment of your professional strengths, also get views from colleagues who have observed you closely at work and will share honest feedback. This is a great way to get inputs on your strengths and shortcomings.
Stay close to the knitting – There is a value in accrued experience - leverage it. As Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book "Outliers ", it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become truly proficient. If you have put in those hours, use your proficiency to your advantage when taking on a new role.
As an example, hunting for new business is a skill which takes practice, a temperament and a method. If that is where you have tenure and a successful track record, look for roles where you can leverage this accrued expertise.
For a proficient territory sales hunter in SI services, a move to hunting for new business with an identified large client or in a related industry like IT products could be moves which leverage the many years of honing the skills and approaches required to become a successful hunter.
On the other hand, a move to an account executive or client partner with significant delivery & operations responsibility may require a significant re-learning and put you at a disadvantage vs. those who have invested the 10,000 hours honing themselves in these roles.
Make one change at a time – Change role profile, company, location – one at a time.
Any role profile change entails a learning curve. In comparison with peers who have longer tenures in similar roles you may take time to find your feet and perform competitively.
If you are changing your role profile, consider making the change with your existing employer. Your understanding of the company, its way of working, internal network, and track record – will all be facilitators to success as you work on ramping up the additional skills required to be successful in the new role type.
On the other hand when pursuing the same role, say new account sales, one can explore moving to new companies or even industries.
Be prepared to take a step down – When migrating into a different role profile, acknowledge that you are unlikely to be as productive as someone with a longer tenure in this new role or organization. Be prepared to take an initial position which may appear to be a step down in title or role scope.
When making a migration to an account executive role a program manager leading a large team may find opportunities in a smaller account. Similarly, a project leader making a move from an SI to an end-client may initially get a program with lower responsibility.
While reduced responsibility has a negative connotation, it actually is a plus when making a role, industry, or company change. It frees up band width to understand and become proficient in the different requirements, processes, and success factors of the new role or company.
In the course of our careers, many will look to cross boundaries into new role profiles. These may be across geographical, role type, or industry boundaries. These moves can open up opportunities for new experiences and career enhancement.
Be open to these opportunities and pick those which are the ones you will be successful in.
Understand what has made you successful in the past and roles which best utilize those strengths.
Keep the change manageable, allowing you to ramp up in the new role while leveraging existing relationships, industry, or organizational knowledge.
Be humble. Acknowledge that you are moving into something new and will take time to be as proficient as your more tenured peers. If the opportunity is promising – go for it even if it means a small step down in the beginning.