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16 May [Case Study – MP3] Overcoming the Barriers to Making a Career Pivot

Ideas

Summary

Let’s face it, making a career pivot into a new industry is not easy and that’s why most people don’t do it. They tend to stick within their industry or function where they are most comfortable regardless if they are enjoying that career anymore or not.

We decided to give you a sneak peak into a coaching call with one of our Career Upgrade Accelerator clients. Like many other senior level professionals who desire to make a career transition, he came to us with several assumptions about what options were possible for him.

Naturally, humans are inclined to go the path of least resistance and go for roles that are perceived as less of a risk for failure or rejection. This can be limiting because this decision making process tends to focus on opportunities that you know you will do well instead of focusing on roles that would be more challenging.

Sometimes finding roles that are more challenging, new, and exciting is exactly what you need to take your career to the next level. Many times, our clients will come to us with too many options and a lack of focus for what they want to do. However, some clients struggle to expand their thinking and look more broadly for opportunities that they didn’t know exist.

On this call you will see exactly how we help our client who is a senior level professional break through two major barriers that many people struggle with:

  1. “I don’t have the right education for the jobs I want.”
  2. “I am not sure that my skills will be transferrable to another industry.”

Listen closely to how we break these down and start to think through how you can start to break down your barriers. Let us know in the comments what your situation is and how you would break that barrier down.

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Transcript

Olivia Gamber: Olivia here, and we wanted to give you a sneak peak on one of our calls from our Career Upgrade Master Class and how you how we work through issues and barriers with our clients. In this particular call we cover a couple of big ones. The first one is the education barrier. Many people worry they don’t have the right education to do what they want to do. This is true in some cases, but in most cases it’s not, and we break that down on this call.

 

The second one is really forcing people to think bigger and broader about what’s possible for them. A lot of times people make assumptions about really what they’re capable of doing and what skills are transferable, so we break down both of these barriers on this all. Definitely check it out and see if you can get a couple takeaways. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Kevin Kermes: Let’s take barrier four, where you said. “The barrier is I don’t have a degree in life sciences,” and you say, “I’ve got a technical double E and an MBA and a strong desire to keep learning so I’ll be able to quickly pick up any missing elements I would need for a specific position.” What that requires them to do is to say, “Okay, I believe that you can learn this,” as opposed to somebody who’s sitting there who has a life sciences degree, they know that they’re going to have to come to the table and essentially make a concession that they’re willing to grant you time and resources to be able to get spun up in this area that you may not have subject matter expertise.

 

That’s fine, but you want to have something bigger to balance out so when they’re looking at that life sciences person they’re saying, “What’s more valuable to me, somebody who brings in a fresh perspective, has dealt with solving problems in more austere environments with limited resources, building value in this whole other area,” where they say, “You know what? The life sciences part, we can solve that. These other skills really address the heart of what the true problem is that we need to tackle.”

 

A large component of that too, in my experience, is building up relationships, cohorts, whatever you want to call them, to also speak to that and to validate that that’s been their experience working with you and what they know about you personally and professionally. That’s the thing with the relationship piece. The more that you can be a known quantity going in and there’s validation, the easier that makes that become. What do you think, Olivia?

 

Olivia Gamber: I think the assumption is you need to have that degree to be qualified for the roles that you want and I would argue that when it comes to the level of job you’re seeking, it doesn’t come to … Education is the least of the focus. I think it comes down to whether or not that hiring manager is confident that you’re going to be able to make them look good. When you think about it that way, I think it’s going to come down to your conversations. As you go through this process, you’re going to feel either you need to pivot where you’re going to feel more competent, because right now we’re basing this off of what you’re reading on a job description, and those are either written by HR or written by the hiring manager, when in reality that doesn’t drive the decision.

 

I agree with what Kevin is saying. I think it’s a valid concern and it’s a normal one that most people have when they’re trying to pivot industries, but ultimately the skill set that you bring and that what you accomplish I think is going to be … I don’t think it’s going to be as critical to understand the industry and have that science background. That’s just my assumption right now. We’re going to have to test it. I think as we go through this process you’ll feel more confident that that’s not really what … I think the lens that you’re looking at it through is limited.

 

Now we talk through why this particular client is struggling to come up with options, a list of job titles. Sometimes people are really good and clear about what they’re getting away from, but not as clear about how to come up with the options that they are moving towards. In this part of the call we really encourage him to think bigger and challenge him to really stretch himself to think about what’s possible, because that’s really what we are trying to get people to push and get into a role that they’re excited about, so check this out now.

 

Client: Yeah, that’s sort of the thing. I haven’t been able to find somebody that was kind of my level coming out of the military that didn’t do something military related, and I guess that’s part of the neighborhood. It’s interesting, I’ve run into a few junior guys that got out, junior military officers, like the academy recruiting programs and stuff, but fewer that are my vintage that made it to their target and then made a significant transition, but I’ll keep looking.

 

Kevin Kermes: It’s where the center of gravity is, right? It’s where most people end up going because it’s … I don’t mean this in a bad way, it’s easy and the money was there. To a degree the money may still be there, it’s just going away a little bit more. Now the question becomes pivoting. The fact of the matter too is, and I think this is a good thing, is that it’s not easy to pivot out of that, which means that there are a lot of people who just won’t do it. They may say they’re doing it and they may say they’re trying to do it, but that thins the herd right there.

 

Not to try to shine it up too much, but that’s … There’s opportunity in there and I think there’s probably less competition of other folks who are trying to do this because they’re not doing it the right way than you think. It’s still a competitive marketplace, but all it takes is one, which is the right one.

 

Olivia Gamber: I actually will add one other thing. I have a client that reminds me a little bit of you. He’s very kind of technical in the finance vertical, very finance services, creating all of the finance type of stuff there, and then he’s looking at transitioning into business development, which sounds like a really big job, but what he learned through talking and having conversations, it’s very transferable. At the end of the day, as you operate at the level you’re seeking to operate, it’s less about technical functional skills, it’s more about accomplishing certain objectives through others. It’s clear to me you have a track record in doing that, so it just comes down to how you position that.

 

I’m sure that as you start to go through this process you’ll start to uncover that and feel I think more competent in whatever direction you choose. Obviously that’s what the validation stuff is for, so right now don’t play it too safe. Be willing to do a stretch, because ultimately our goal is to get you in a role that’s challenging and exciting for you, not just something that feels like you’ve done it before and that you can do it again, unless that’s what you want.

 

Client: Absolutely not.

 

Olivia Gamber: Okay. Obviously we don’t want to push you down a path, but I would really encourage you to stretch yourself a bit and think broader and bigger.

 

Client: Actually one of the things I don’t like about [composition 00:08:09] is it’s too comfortable … Like you said, done it before and it’s easy to keep doing.

 

Olivia Gamber: Yeah. Once you’ve done some pretty large scale projects you can do it in your sleep because it’s just part of you. You know all the moving parts and you know how to break it down and make things happen. In something like operations or something a little more strategic and getting to operate on an even bigger playground could be intriguing to be able … As I look at some of the organizations that you’ve operated in, they are large, big brand recognitions, so that would sell very well in like a mid-size company that having an even bigger impact.

 

I wouldn’t make any assumptions about what’s possible as far as what role you could operate in. I would think a little bit more about what excites you. Kevin and I will help you with the positioning. For now, if it’s a little bit of a stretch and you’re excited about it, put it down and let’s talk about it next time and break it down and then we’ll actually validate that through the process.

 

Client: Okay. That’s going back to the job title role kind of thing?

 

Olivia Gamber: Yeah. I would encourage you to come up with at least two or three more that are not in the program management-

 

Client: Okay. All right. I just wanted to make sure I had the assignment right before we closed.

 

Olivia Gamber: Does that seem reasonable?

 

Client: Absolutely.

 

Kevin Kermes
kevin@careerattraction.com


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