Career Shifting: Leaping lanes mid-career.

Posted June 10, 2010 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights, Networking

Confucious said “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Jumping around in your twenties is a great way to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, but what do you do in mid-career when you’re still on the quest for that dream job? Our recent PowerRoundtable brought together 3 career shifting executives and a group of members for a candid look at what it takes to make career leaps at the mid-way career mark.

Paula Roberts, EVP of Plan Canada, Joe Chidley, SVP of Corporate & Public Affairs at Veritas Communications and Colleen Albiston, Head of Marketing & Communications, Tax for KPMG Global, shared some of their top lessons and insights from their respective career shifts. Here are just a few of the highlights:

  1. Know your assets and your limitations… be real about what you’re good at and what you’re not. Solicit feedback from people who know you and who’ve worked with you to get perspective on what you bring to the table.
  2. Watch out for the comfort effect… in rapidly changing times, your experience may be your own worst enemy… recognize when you’re starting to “stagnate”. Don’t get complacent. Keep learning and challenging yourself.
  3. Inventory your job satisfaction regularly… are you really in need of a leap or are you need of a reality check. Do an annual “pro’s and con’s” list of what you’re loving and hating about your job. Add up the totals and if the dissatisfiers are too big, start to hunt with the knowledge of what you’re looking to move towards (vs. what you’re trying to move away from).
  4. Don’t manage your dream off the side of your desk… take the time to think through very clearly what drives your career happiness. Allow yourself time to reflect and build your personal career vision.
  5. When you don’t fit “on paper”, become a great storyteller… Stories can create an image that help people visualize how your skillset fits their requirements.  And, don’t forget to stand out from the crowd. Being a “multi-tasker is so 1980… what sets you apart today?
  6. Know your personal non-negotiables… culture, organization, people, decision-making, opportunities, projects, autonomy, etc. Don’t compromise.
  7. Be clear on what you’re willing to change… by mid-career, you will likely have some elements of your personality or approach that you aren’t willing to change or compromise. Recognize what these are and the implications they may on your job options.
  8. Be honest with yourself and your employer… are you a start-up person, a turn-around person, a steady-state person. Recognize what strengths you bring to the role and what you enjoy doing and make sure the fit is there for both you and your employer (whether seeking a new role inside or outside your organization).
  9. Think evolution not revolution… career shifts often happen through a process of learning more about who you are and what you love to do. Broaden your self-awareness, solicit feedback, volunteer to deepen your understanding of new areas and pursue opportunities that extend your network, both inside and outside your organization.

There was so much more… don’t you wish you’d been there? Visit our website for upcoming sessions and get in on the conversation. On behalf of our panel, we made a donation to Plan Canada and you can too. Thanks to everyone who came out and contributed to the discussion!

Happy leading!

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  1. Another great session! Thank you!

    The surprise realization for me was that career transition and evolution is happening all the time, even if you are very happy in your role and your profession. Each of the panelists talked about having a very keen sense of self awareness and being active in determining the next growth opportunity for themselves. It seems heading up a linear career path may not be the fastest way to the top (since c-level positions need broader skill sets and business acumen).

    The question becomes – what is it worth to you to be active in shaping your professional future around goals, values and interests? If you do want to change gears, your business case for doing so should concentrate on how your skill sets will help with the organisation’s current and future challenges (make it about them, their challenges and how they can leverage you).

  2. […] In the same discussion, the other panelists offered equally insightful perspectives on shifting (or staying true to) career focus… check here for a summary of the key takeaways… […]

    • LeaderTalker says:

      Gaby… you are certainly a mover of mountains. I did a great thinking styles assessment with my friend Elizabeth recently that you may be interested in. It’s called KAI and here’s a summary of styles. For people like yourself (and yours truly) who like to make things different and thrive on mountains, it helps to understand the “thinking style” of the organization we’re moving in to. Their appetite for change may not match our own!