This article first appeared in EFinancialCareers
If you want a career change, turn yourself into the person who already works in your dream job (and act now)
Even if you have a job, you should still prepare as if you were actively looking for a new one: career management is a continual process. An ideal opportunity may suddenly present itself or your work situation may change. It is always beneficial to keep abreast of the latest developments and not get caught unaware. Getting involved is crucial in managing your career.
Always plan ahead. If you know the next role you want, then remember that employers typically look for two things: current and relevant skills and experience. Are the skills and experience you have current and relevant for the job you want? If not, why not?
Identifying a person who holds the sort of job you want is a good way to start this gap analysis. What does this person have that you do not? Do they have an education in X or do they have experience in Y? Closing that gap should then be a process of connecting the dots. But if you really want to identify with that person, you may want to take some extra steps. Here are things you should consider:
1) Walk the walk and talk the talk
Having a mentor is a powerful asset; it can provide constant contact with someone who can guide you and keep your career honest.
But what if it’s not possible to keep in touch on a regular basis? If we define mentoring as a process of transferring knowledge, then there are numerous possibilities these days. When we follow someone on social media we receive a virtual mentor of sorts, whether they realise this or not. So look out for relevant print or online publications, as well as blogs or forums which allow you to both listen and interact. If we are shaped by our environment then we should proactively choose the participants around us.
2) Keeping current
Nowadays, when industries are driven not by the markets but by regulatory, it has become increasingly important to watch and understand these developments as they unfold. Many of the jobs being advertised today are a direct result of new regulation, for example:
- Basel III regulatory standards have increased the demand for risk professionals.
- Dodd-Frank reforms have created more roles for finance professionals.
- Future of Financial Advice (FoFA) reforms have increased the demand for wealth management professionals.
Proactively managing your career means closing the gap to ensure that you are in line with these changes.
3) Obtaining relevant experience
There are finite ways you can adapt your CV to potentially match to a job opportunity. Rather than stretch what you don’t have, you should consider addressing any weaknesses by:
- Getting involved in project activity (by adding input to the definition, requirements, or testing).
- Volunteering any extra capacity you have with that business unit.
- Networking with people (which may lead to further work).
- Creating a blog that demonstrates competence in your field.
- Following and contributing to online forums.
These all require extra time and effort. However, the potential value demonstrated to a future employer and the skills that you add to your CV should more than compensate.
Managing your career is a continual process and should not wait until you are searching for a new job. Look out for changes, get involved when possible and take note of every achievement until you start to resemble the person who holds the job you want. Getting involved is all about positioning yourself for the role you want and not the role you have.
Perry Carbonell is a senior business analyst and writer at Thoughts by PC. The views expressed are his own and not those of eFinancialCareers.