Purposeful opportunism – how to get a new job or make a career change

Jackie Shefferd

By Jackie Shefferd

28 Nov 2016

If you're feeling 'stuck' in your career or facing a forced change of structure or indeed redundancy, read on.

Through my extensive work as an outplacement coach I have been party to and witnessed an array of good news stories.  The joy of people discovering new insights, possibilities and increased confidence never leaves me.  We are generally capable of so much more than we think we are.  For some, it's right to wait for a redundancy settlement to make a move but for others they might be allowing themselves to be 'stuck' or settling for a role that doesn't 'fit'.

Ryoji Iwata 543189 Unsplash (2)

People often feel trapped in their chosen career in their 30s and 40s. They think about change on a regular basis but fear of change stops them doing anything to reshape their career and lives.

Recognising and promoting your transferrable strengths, skills and experience can help your career flourish.

Ask yourself, what's stopping you?

While financial and family commitments are often important factors I have found that a lack of confidence, relishing comfort zones and responding to inner 'should's' and 'ought's' , from yourself and other people, can be highly limiting factors.  Add the 'I could never do that' factor and there you are, stuck.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how familiar are you with your role and the company you work for.  Are you institutionalised and part of the furniture?

Examine the should's and ought's

I should be grateful for a job, I should show loyalty and support to my manager at this difficult time, my partner says I ought to and I'd be good at or what I should do is. But who says you should or ought to do anything that's not right for you?

Think about what you need from your work

Money, status, meaningful work, the chance to use your creative flair, a sense of belonging in a team, the richness of intelligent conversations, exploring concepts and issues and solving problems, developing technical expertise, learning new things, the ability to balance your different roles and commitments in life? Are you getting sufficient satisfaction in relation to what is important to you?

How are your networking skills?

Stay visible, stay connected, stay current.  Get involved in corporate projects, volunteer and build your reputation for being positive and future focussed.

Notice opportunities

Be purposeful in taking opportunities to let people know your talents and readiness for something new, whether it is with colleagues, managers, past managers or other business partners and contacts.  It's not about an ugly push. You can do this in a quiet yet purposeful way.

Just some guiding principles from my Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) training and accreditation that I have found empowering are: 

  • If what you are doing isn't working, do something different
  • You are in charge of your mind and therefore your results
  • The highest quality of information about people is their behaviour.

You can't always choose what is happening but you can always get in control of your reaction and response.

What if?

Dream, explore, enjoy. I am generalising but one key thing I've noticed is that people who progress well in their careers are simply prepared to put themselves out of their comfort zone on a regular basis, accept a steep learning curve and initially act as if they are more confident than they are.  The 'stretch zone' then becomes a comfort zone quicker than you might think. Empower yourself to take control of your career. It's all about choices and consequences.

Embrace changing technology and always be a learner

The pace of change is accelerating and it's important to keep abreast of changes in technology. If you remain current, positive and engaged you will be less vulnerable and extend your choices in terms of your next move.

Jackie Shefferd is a Connor consultant. You can contact her directly by completing this form.

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