“Seek first to understand, then be understood” Stephen R. Covey
How many times have people suggested new fields for you to pursue, new kinds of careers to explore only for you to replay that it’s not you. How many opportunities do we chase away by putting up some kind of invented barrier like ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘that’s too far away’? We come up with a list of things we just couldn’t consider because they might take us out of our comfort zone.
Remember your comfort zone is not paying the rent. If you are doing the same old things in your career, it might be time for a change. Many companies value employees who are willing to take on new responsibilities even if it doesn’t mean that they are moving up. A lateral move into another area can be a way to enhance your existing career. Patricia worked in human resources in a clerical role supporting an active group. When the payroll function that she supported moved into finance, Patricia moved with it. It took some extra training, but she was able to enhance her career with this new skill.
Employers are starting to embrace this approach as well. With all the talent shortages out there, they know that they cannot continue to use the same screening approach when recruiting new talent. They too must be open-minded about the kinds of experiences they will consider and even the kinds of applicants. Sure, they have to have some basic skills, but there are things that can’t be learned such as attitude and flexibility.
Joan is a recruiter for a high tech company. She often can’t find candidates with the software she is looking for. Joan has started working with a local college professor to find out about talented students who might have had some exposure to the technology. Although they may not have the amount of experience she originally required, by making some changes, she can recruit candidates with a basic ability in the new discipline and commit to training them to come up to level needed.
So how do you open yourself up to what you might not have considered before? First take stock of the skills you have to offer. This can be done by making a list or a catalog of your skills. Then list projects that you’ve worked on. Of course include all the kinds of companies you’ve worked for. If you have several industries, such as automotive, retail, hospitality, healthcare, so much the better. This opens you up to consider many different opportunities.
Start reading descriptions of jobs in different industries, companies and even functions. The same skills might be applicable in finance, logistics, auditing, and customer service. That’s a wide variety of positions to consider. If you’re currently in one industry, start considering what other industries might be able to make use of your skills. Flexibility will offer you more freedom as a candidate and may open up some doors.