Just another link in the supply chain?b
An eight-step guide to changing careers by Katheren Leitner
Supply chain management for many appears to be a daunting task, and if someone has to do it, thank goodness it is you! But how did you end up in this profession? Was it a deliberate choice, or did a series of opportunities or coincidences land you in a job that has become a permanent fixture in your life? As another year ends, are you still finding something worthwhile in your role?
If the thought of another year in the same job feels like facing the day after a big night on the town, it could be time to consider a change. Of course it’s a challenge, especially when it can be a role in which you feel comfortable, knowledgeable, in control and perhaps even ‘wise’. To up and change would disrupt a routine you are accustomed to, and the consequences of this could be far-reaching.
The fact that you’re still reading this indicates that this is probably a thought you have already started exploring. Here are eight essential steps to check off when considering a career change.
Step 1: Determine what you want and what you don’t want
If you have never taken the time to ask yourself two seemingly simple questions, then now is the time to make a list of ‘what you want’ and ‘what you don’t want’. This may sound simple, but honest answers that consider more than just your career written down on paper can reveal hidden truths that some of us have kept hidden for a reason.
In some cases, honest answers can reveal that what you are doing now fits with much of what you have identified as being important, and in this case a career change might not be the best answer long term. However, if the opposite is true, the remaining steps will help you through the process.
Step 2: Explore your options
Just because you have worked in freight management or warehousing doesn’t mean your area of specialty ends there. In fact, your experience with customers, suppliers, staff and partners may open up new opportunities or career paths that you may be more passionate about.
Broaden your career search to include related areas of expertise or even other industries. More importantly, don’t limit yourself to your skills only – look at your past experience and interests too. Consider experiences that have ignited a real energy and enthusiasm within you, and eliminate those you can’t realistically make a living from (assuming of course that financial freedom is on the list of what you want).
Step 3: Identify skills and skill gaps
Create two lists or mind-maps: one of the skills, experience and knowledge you have, and the other for skills you think are essential in the career in which you are interested. At this stage, input from mentors, partners and peers can be valuable as they can be objective, supporting and see things you may not pick up.
Step 4: Research as if it were your first house
Act like your own real-estate agent. Do the research and create a shortlist of potential interests. Create lists of organisations that interest you, be it large corporates, small family businesses or charities. Perhaps it is not so much a company that appeals as the team or talented individual in it such as a director or the CEO.
Step 5: Find a coach or experienced peer
Changing careers is a big decision that requires support. Friends and family are great, but sometimes an unbiased, unemotional, professional-based perspective is needed to confirm your thinking or challenge your decisions. A peer with the right experience and knowledge of the industry may bring valuable input. Coaches and mentors are also very valuable to help you weed out your doubts, concerns and wrong motivations for making a career shift.
Step 6: Update your CV and brush up your interview skills
As for many senior managers who have worked within one organisation for some time, the daily grind often takes precedence over job prospecting skills until they realise they need them. Keep your CV updated constantly – that way notable projects and key contacts stay fresh and within recent memory in the event you plan a career change. Don’t forget that interview skills are also essential in a highly competitive job market. It may be worth investing in professional help with both your CV and interview skills.
Step 7: Create a plan with deadlines
It’s near impossible to be successful in the supply chain business without a well-thought-out plan; changing careers is no different. Decide on a timeframe in which you would like to make the change, and then create an action plan that works towards this progressively. Some questions to consider are:
Also create a list of networks and contacts, and take advantage of these. The more time you take to plan your strategy, the more likely you are to reach your desired result.
Step 8: Be flexible – and don’t give up
Changing careers can take time, so don’t be discouraged if favourable positions don’t present themselves immediately. In fact, instant gratification usually signals long-term dissatisfaction; if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to your action plan, don’t give up on the little things that move you in the right direction, and don’t entertain thoughts of Plan B until Plan A has been exhausted.
Big changes need big help
Career changes, especially at senior management level, always cause a big impact for the old employer, the new employer and you as the job seeker. Therefore, never rush into a career change until you have thought it through fully – there is a reason why there are eight steps and not just one.
Explore all the reasons why you are not enjoying your current position. Remember: if attitude is a major factor, you may be in for a surprise – attitude follows you wherever you go! Having a coach to help you sieve through what are genuine motivations for a career change and help you work towards that goal can be a very good investment. The worst thing you could do is beg for your old job back!
Katheren Leitner is a corporate coach and director for TrainingPlus, the training and leadership provider to corporates and state sector departments in New Zealand.
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