I'm a senior executive, but going nowhere in my company - how do I switch my career?
Q After serious consideration, I have decided I need to change careers. I am in a senior role in a software company. I feel that, after 10 years, there is no room for me to further my career and there are lots of opportunities out there. Where do I start?
A For any senior manager or executive who makes the brave decision to change career a positive mindset is key. But it will take plenty of planning, research and resilience to finally succeed in finding that new position so I would advise a step-by-step approach for optimum results.
1. Plan for a long search: It will not happen overnight and you won't get instant responses - often the recruitment process is set out over a number of weeks. Map out a realistic career change campaign that may well last three to six months at a minimum. One common mistake is that people give their job search a huge surge of energy at the beginning, but if the responses are slow they have a tendency to tire of the process after a few weeks.
2. Look at your options: While many senior executives look within their own specific industry for advancement opportunities, this may be the right time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture: Are you in the right industry for your skills and future plans? Do you want to keep working in this sector? If the answer is 'no' then you will need to understand how to translate your skills and experience into a new field.
The most successful type of industry change involves remaining in the same function while transferring your skills to a different industry. You need to think about targeting industries that might be a good fit for your personality, skills and leadership experience while considering the fields most likely to experience solid growth.
3. Build your network: To aid an industry switch, I would advise that you focus on building a network in that particular sector as this is an effective way into the new industry and you may also be able to use your contacts to meet professionals in a new field. Add new contacts to your LinkedIn network, or post references to interesting articles about trends in your targeted industry.
4. Always link your prior experience: You need to understand what your prior industry experience has in common with this market - and be able to articulate it. A referral is worth its weight in gold and companies are more willing to take a risk on hiring you if you have been referred by a professional in the same field.
5. Set time aside for your search: If you are in employment, try to put aside 30 minutes every morning/evening or lunchtime and some time over the weekends to research potential employers, reach out to your own network and contacts, perfect your cover letter format, update your CV and practice interview skills.
6. Keep a record of your personal marketing plan: A job campaign is more likely to succeed if you keep a record of your activities and progress. List your target companies, contacts, dates of emails, calls and letters, the responses you receive and the next steps in the process.
You can then reference prior communications in preparation for a meeting with a potential employer.
7. Consider all avenues: if no one is responding, pick up the phone and make calls. If your emails seemed to have gone un-read, rewrite them with a "hook" that invites the hiring manager or recruiter to get in touch.
Update your LinkedIn profile, highlighting the skills and experiences you would bring. Practice your personal pitch, know your unique selling points and role-play interview situations with a friend or family member.
8. Get support: Consider engaging a career coach or experienced recruitment partner who can provide motivational assistance, advice and recommendations. A more senior-level executive coach will introduce you to the right people and help you identify target companies.
It will take perseverance but the path to success is in the planning. It is a candidates' market out there, so by planning to succeed you are already well on your way.
Michelle Murphy is director of Collins McNicholas, Recruitment & HR Services Group, which has offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Sligo, Athlone and Limerick.
Sunday Indo Business