…Do you think you will be in your current job until you retire?

November 20, 2014

My respectful view is that unless you are within a year of retirement (and if you are WELL PLAYED!) you are more likely than not to move from your current role into another. So when we contemplate the near certainty of a change in our role, how well prepared will we be for that transition?

There are obvious reasons why we will move:

We might leave because we are thought to be incompetent and get moved on 🙁

We might leave because we are promoted into a new role in the same business 🙂

We might leave because we take a new job somewhere else 🙂

We might leave because we are surplus to requirements as a result of a re-organisation 🙁

We might leave because we cannot stand it any longer!!

…And perhaps there are other reasons as well. Whether positive or negative all reasons carry a degree of anxiety, some much more than others. Accepting that moving is inevitable we should address preparing for the question “am I ready for what is bound to happen?” Not because it is necessarily imminent, but because giving ourselves the best chance to move on well, also gives us the best chance to enjoy the here and now and to an extent to lessen the stress of transition.

The points I want to explore therefore are how we can prepare for leaving when leaving is not in our minds; how by doing our current job with a different mindset we prepare ourselves better for what will come next.

To prepare for moving on we need to be conscious of three things. These three things give us an increased probably of securing what we want from our next role, whatever the circumstances of our leaving:

  • Your network will support you if you have supported your network
  • Your CV will speak for you, if you have worked on giving your CV something to say
  • Your experiences will carry you, if you have built up experiences that propel you forward.

Let me take each point in turn.

Your network isn’t really a network if you only think about it at the point you need a new role and then expect folks to jump to it and support, encourage and advise.

A network is something that you contribute to, participate in and take time to develop. A network is an investment which can become a resource of immense power and reassurance, but only if you have made it so. Your half-hearted linked-in profile, updated only when you are about to leave your current role, and a desk drawer of business cards collected at various anonymous drinks parties and from people you now cannot remember is NOT a network.

If you are not networking you have probably already lost.

So, what about your CV? Your CV must be more than a collection of dates, certificates and job titles. A CV is often misunderstood. It rarely gets you a new job, but may exclude you from many that you could have done. It is your formal entry point into any process. The first point to impress, the first time your credentials are seen and the first time you will be judged with a truly critical eye.

…and yet so many are thrown together with the sort of care we give to our weekly shopping list. Nearly everyone I know starts with the last one they had and then adds to the bottom of it. Why do that?

Why would something that is, say, five years old, prepared when you were five years less experienced, be the basis to get a more important job than the one you have today?

A CV should be a document we contemplate regularly, but each time start with a blank sheet of paper and work at it, sweat over it, become frustrated by it, but be proud of it. Craft every sentence, make it work hard for you and make sure it is you. And this leads me to an even more important point. If you know you are going to move roles at some point, you also know that your CV must show you have had excellent experiences that you will carry into your new role.

In any role there are new experiences on offer. Do you seek them out? Do you see them? Do you take them?

…We all know the typical interview questions:

  • Explain how you managed change
  • Explain how you managed conflict
  • Explain how you influenced, set goals, achieved  etc, etc

Most of us have day jobs that do business-as-usual really well, but they do not always throw up great examples to answer these sorts of interview questions. For these questions we do not need business-as-usual, we need the out-of-the-ordinary, the projects, the assignments, the deals, the secondments etc.

We also need to improve our underlying skills. Not our technical legal skills, but how we manage, influence, change, lead etc. So, in this regard we should be clamouring to chair more meetings, to present more reports, to deliver more training and to run more projects. We must be inveterately curious, volunteer and contribute both inside and outside our businesses. In all that we do we must round-off edges and close gaps.

These are the experiences that carry us through interviews.

The joy of this is that while it undoubtedly makes us far more marketable for our next role, it also makes our current roles much more fulfilling and enjoyable as well. Your next job happens because your current role inevitably ends. This realisation is the starting gun for you to prepare for what is to come and by preparing for it well you will also deliver far more for your business and for you in the role you have today.

Paul Gilbert

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