What if you’re currently not doing what you really want to do? What are the options? These are very difficult questions that will need good information, serious thought and a Career Map. No one has answers for you, but here is a framework to form your best approach.
How long have you been in your career and position? If you’re a recent college graduate your career answer is different than if you have been in your current job for 10 years and are in a senior position. As a general rule, the shorter the time in a job at a lower level, the greater the options for changing the job, level, industry, company or career. Your first job is important but not critical. Each next job becomes more critical. A misstep along your career plan can cost you time. A major misstep can cost you a career.
Changing to a similar job within your current company is the easiest move. You are a known quantity, with a track record and in-house references. Then in ascending order of difficulty: Changing organizations, changing industries, and then changing your core function. Example: Moving as a junior accountant in a large manufacturing company to a product-marketing manager in a small consumer products company would be near impossible. One answer: Develop a Career Map that realistically plots the steps and progress you will need to reach your ultimate goal.
Moving over, across, down or up?: The less experience and skill you have to reach your goal, the more supplemental degrees, training, certificates or specific job-related experiences you’ll need. Some Career Maps will require you to move to a lower level job in order to move higher later on. Moving within your current organization is easier, especially to a larger division or job responsibilities. Moving to a new sector or industry is difficult because of different business models, new relationships, changing jargon, plus a lack of history and product knowledge.
What if you’re very dissatisfied with your job, boss, company or industry and see no way out? You’ll need to answer these three basic questions: Where are you now and where do you want to go? How many years do you have to reach your ultimate career goal? What support resources are available to you?
Your best option is to find a mentor who has successfully navigated this career question before and will guide you through it. A second option is to interview several professionals in your chosen field to learn the best way forward. A third option is to hire a career coach, do a risk analysis and develop a Career Map designed specifically for you.
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