A leap of faith
Despite a few encouraging signs, it’s still a turbulent world out there both for  employers and for employees. Many people faced with job insecurity, have been sitting in  uncomfortable seats – not quite knowing if or when the downsizing trend will affect them personally.
hw_a09_4So – what do you do? Sit and wait to see if you can ride out the storm or take a more pro-active approach and evaluate different options.

Here’s the story of how one person managed to navigate through difficult times and steered his career onwards and upwards….

It’s a numbers game…
Hamish Madan, Marketing Director at a tier one supplier
in the auto industry decided to explore his options early. ‘I had no concrete plans to change jobs but I figured that it couldn’t do me any harm to explore my options.’

Faced with massive reduction in sales – every player within the auto industry has been affected and has responded with dramatic downsizing programs. ‘I knew that it was just a matter of time before my department was going to be hit – no matter how well you have performed in the past – everyone can be in the firing line.’

Be willing to do what’s uncomfortable  – that’s the only time you are growing
Hamish also made an unusual decision to be open to potential career changes – at one point considered moving from sales and marketing into a senior HR position. ‘As I started talking to people – it became clearer that it’s all about transferable skills. You can make a move from one industry to another – even from one discipline to another if you understand and can communicate the skills that you have acquired throughout your career.’

Following several interviews with companies where Hamish explored career changing opportunities – he was finally offered a position as Vice President Sales and Marketing with a heavy bias towards talent development. ‘Yes, funny, I was interviewed for a role as HR Director and General Manager before finally accepting a role as VP Sales and Marketing for the same company.’

Despite the current economic environment – the ‘war for talent’ is still on and stronger than ever before. Companies are stream-lining their organization structures and in the process of doing so, are looking to bring in fresh talent. ‘I actually think it’s a great time to be looking for alternative career opportunities right now – sure it’s difficult – but there are some really challenging roles that need to be filled.’

Gain clarity, set your goals …  and once you have decided to leap, get on with it!

Talking to other companies, career counsellors, search consultants and even personal coaches can really help to provide you with some direction and in case you need it, some energy to keep exploring. ‘I have a personal coach and spent many hours talking to her about what was important to me personally and professionally – this really helped me to better understand my career motivations and once I decided that I was ready to make a move – there was no stopping me.’

It can seem quite daunting – managing your job, your personal life and then on top of that – managing the process of searching for a new career. You need to have a clear vision and be pro-active.

Overcome your own fear – many people I talk to feel threatened by the prospect of a job or career change. Of course, it’s not easy – but who said life would be easy. Looking at it positively – it can also be one of the most rewarding things you might do – you never know.

Get a coach – this might be an odd recommendation – but a career coach can really help if you are not sure about things and help you to pin down what you are really good at and also what you really need from a working environment. Make sure that you understand what your own unique selling proposition is.

Network, network, network. Many jobs are not advertised (mine wasn’t). You need to be talking to as many people as possible.

Consider alternatives. Explore different avenues – even if it eventually leads down the same path you are currently on. Whilst many companies are not taking the risk on ‘long shot’ candidates or career changers – getting yourself in front of a company by talking about transferable skills can be the starting point of an opportunity that is more in line with you background.
Don’t give up. Be prepared for rejections and don’t take it personally. From the moment I decided to change to the point where I started in my new role took more than one year. Start early, be persistent and pro-active and don’t give up.

AHEAD is a leading search firm specialising in high achievers. Headquartered in Brussels, we were formerly YESS International Brussels, created in 1990 by Egon Zehnder International.  Today AHEAD forms part of the extensive network covering Europe and beyond.
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