New Year/New Job – yeah, right.

It's mid-February already and you promised yourself at Christmas that you would start to look for a new job in the New Year. You’ve done nothing about it and just as you promised to get fit/get more exercise etc, it just isn’t happening. Sound familiar? If so, here is the kick start which might just get you going. All basic stuff, but like all the really most useful advice in life, doing the simple things very well is what brings about the biggest success.

By now, you might be thinking that the rest of this blog is about how to update the cv and LinkedIn profile, making contact with Odgers Berndtson and a few of the other head hunters you know. The phone might then start ringing and interesting briefs will populate your private inbox. We of course, we know you expect a bit more than that from us.

So here are a few things then to think about, in no particular order:

What do I want to do next?

Few of us have the luxury of absolute choice and yes, to some extent, we are all prisoners of our experience. However we are only on the planet once, so reflecting and brain storming is a useful way of coming up with some criteria around which any career opportunity should be judged. When asked “what do you want to do now” by a head hunter, most senior executives give an answer which can be quickly distilled as “something that my experience is suited to, at a more senior level and with more money etc.”

Have you ever thought about doing an online Psychometric strengths test to help you crystallise what you are good at? (They are cheap, accurate and illuminating). These can be very helpful in bringing some focus or challenge to your thinking around career direction.

Who can help me (in addition to head-hunters)?

Most of us aren’t very good at networking but we are actually alot better at it than we think we are. It’s just that we don’t do it because it’s in that time consuming, uncomfortable and unfamiliar bracket that’s just too easy not to do. OK, so here is a plan. Make a weekly target to have one decent phone call, one useful meeting, and to send at least one email to a helpful networking contact. To do this, you might need to book yourself a private outlook calendar meeting to ensure the time is scheduled, or simply just force yourself to spend a couple of hours a week at home specifically for this important “me” project. This may sound too mechanical but unless you make it a must do ‘event’, it won’t happen. Oh, and be assured, even the most senior executives like to asked for their advice, opinions and thoughts (flattery absolutely works here). You will be surprised at the positive results you get from this new important weekly task. This may not of course lead directly to your next job but it will build your external profile and certainly help in your thinking around “what do I want to do and where to do I want to do it?” It also builds self – confidence and you will need plenty of this of course when you are interviewing for the job you really want.

Think about some professional support?

Think about getting a coach who absolutely has your best interests at heart. Coaches can massively help build self-confidence and self-awareness, both of which will bring you a sense of clarity around goals and objectives. Be selective though, coaching is different from mentoring and different again from outplacement support. Business coaching is also distinctly separate from life coaching so think very carefully about what, and especially who, might be helpful. By the way, since you’re good at your current job, your present employer might be very happy to sponsor a coach for you since they will be keen to keep you motivated and on the right career trajectory within the firm. Having a coach that you know and trust will be invaluable when you are transitioning into a new role either internally and externally.

How do I influence my chances of achieving my immediate career goals?

Your key purpose in this ‘me project’ is to create positive awareness of your profile, expertise and interest to be considered for something new - discretely of course. You cannot create demand although you can increase the chances of being thought of, connected to, and interviewed for interesting appointments (opportunistically or otherwise.) Having easy access to you is key, but you must relax into this personal marketing regime and do it with style and integrity. Remember, a well thought out networking email demonstrating subject matter expertise and insightful opinions will be far more effective than firing off a dozen cv’s in the hope someone might just happen to be looking for someone like you on that particular day.

Also, don’t compromise. Many career mistakes are made simply because the push factor is greater than the pull factor. Remember your checklist of criteria of ‘must haves’ and hold them as sacrosanct. This is easy to say I know, especially if you need to get hired to put bread on the table at home. However, tightening the belt now until the right thing comes along will always bring you far more success in the long run. 

Finally, don’t be afraid of being ‘out of’ rather than ‘in’ employment. You are just the same good person in either situation and with careers becoming increasingly varied and transient, there are absolutely no negative impressions surrounding the executive who is free and available. In fact the reverse is true; you are easy to hire with employers sometimes trying you before they buy you (a two way street of course) by offering an initial contract to ensure the fit is right. So if you find yourself temporarily on the ‘bench’, get your referees lined up and start to relish the new day job of getting the right next job.

So, back to where we started. It’s February and you have done nothing this year about the rest of your business life. Give yourself a kick, create some time and start talking to people. And yes, do send us your CV.

Alan Mumby

Alan Mumby is a Partner and Head of the Global CIO & IT Transformation Group. The Group houses Partners with current and relevant technology expertise from each major continent. Alan's early career...

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