The idea of changing careers and moving into a different industry is frightening—so much so that it often becomes such a huge obstacle that we stay in our current position, many times unhappily.
But rest assured, if you’re interested in a change, there are many tactics that you can employ, without giving up your professional status. And it’s working in your favor that the current global business landscape has changed in dramatic ways. Businesses are becoming more volatile and complex, making leaders and talent managers evolve into the new era of “talent spotting.”
The tide has changed and leaders are seeking “potential” as opposed to brawn, brains, and experience. And employers know that hiring solely based on past performance in no way guarantees future success. It’s now about finding candidates that have the willingness and drive to learn a new set of skills and competencies.
As you begin your next journey, consider the following.
Make the “Halo Effect” Work to Your Advantage.
The Halo Effect is a term coined back in 1920 by psychologist Edward Thorndike. The notion is simple—if we see a person first in a good light then it is difficult to subsequently darken that light and vice versa.
But there is a current obstacle that needs to be overcome. In an article published by Harvard Business Review, they found that CEOs, presidents, executive VPs, and other top-level people fall into a trap of evaluating new candidates based on initial perceptions of their abilities and often overvalue certain attributes while undervaluing others.
So how do we negotiate our way through this pitfall to communicate our true potential for change?
Start by believing in yourself because you have the knowhow for professional transformation. In today’s marketplace, hiring managers understand that candidates are willing and motivated to change industries and they are inclined to hire new talent based on relevant and game-changing experience, rather than meeting the credentials written in a job description. Claudio Fernandez, executive search advisor and author of the book “It’s Not the How or the What but the Who” said,
“The ability to adapt to and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments is the hallmark of success.”
Develop a Potential-Oriented Strategy.
The opportunity to creatively re-purpose your experience into a new field or industry exists—you just need to develop your discrete, key messaging points. For example, you can highlight your resourcefulness to map out bold new strategic directions, to resurrect troubled companies, or to guide a start-up to dominance.
Developing a potential-oriented strategy for yourself isn’t difficult. You just need to position yourself as a purpose-driven and performance-oriented candidate. When you can do that, it really doesn’t matter where you came from because your experience translates no matter what—everything else that you need to know can be learned on the job.
In addition, unlike many younger candidates that are competing for jobs, you have a network of contacts that are potentially top performers in other industries that can help you make connections. Once you determine which of your contacts will serve as your wingman, you can rely on them to defend you as a qualified candidate worthy of an interview.
Find Opportunities Where Inexperience is a Virtue.
You might not realize that inexperience is actually an asset to your future endeavors. And there are countless companies that are looking to fill their roles with unconventional people—just like you.
You’re now aware that growing businesses are finding that the answer doesn’t always lie in experience. So do your research and find companies that are looking for people that can bring passion and possibility to the business. Seek out companies that have evolving needs, have new challenges, and need smart people to jump in with creative solutions and wear many hats.
The companies that are looking for potential are the same ones that value their people—people that can and will confront new situations with confidence and little guidance. Those types of companies make hiring part of their business strategy and acquiring great candidates is a high-stakes, mission critical endeavor. As you find new ways to change careers or industries, make sure that you find companies that will give you the chance to make a difference and highly value the emotional impact of your work.
If You’re Questioning Your Professional Reinvention—Think Again.
You just need to focus your attention on your strategy—communicate your motivation, curiosity, engagement, and determination to try something new. Show great ambition to leave your mark in the pursuit of higher goals. Remember, potential shows deep humility and your willingness to invest in being better.