Need a career reboot?
Finding clarity in a professional crisis
Taking the time for a career reboot is a necessary evil in today’s world. Tough career times are ahead for knowledge workers. A shrinking job market is threatening white-collar professions, such as law, consulting and accounting. Some experts are warning that nearly half of all jobs that Australians currently do will be obsolete in the next 20 years.
Even if your profession isn’t under threat, you may find yourself struggling thanks to the change in the speed of technology.
Are you facing challenges such as increased number of virtual meetings or having a direct manager in another location? You could simply be noticing people are spending as much time using their devices as they are looking at each other. You may well be asking yourself “what the hell is going on”?
I’ve been there – 15 years ago it felt like a technology-fuelled world was rendering my skills less relevant. I understand that it can be quite a lonely place to be.
I’ve coached many in a similar position today, as the Millennial generation makes its presence felt in the workplace. This generation is much more comfortable with the pace of change and the technology. They practically invented the career reboot. It can be tough to see these skills (if not experience) seem more greatly valued than yours. You may feel you can’t open up and talk to anyone about this vulnerability.
If you value the power of face-to-face communications in a world where it now seems to matter less, you may be asking yourself: “How long can I survive?”
Moving beyond myopia
It can be hard to see the wood for the trees if you are in this mindset. You may feel like clinging on to your current job because the answer isn’t retirement (just yet). You may have a mortgage, or kids still at school or university, or you simply don’t have the wherewithal to forgo a steady pay cheque.
It’s a more disturbing feeling than the classic mid-life professional crisis. You feel trapped because you can’t see beyond the alternative.
Getting a similar job isn’t a career reboot. You’ll simply come up against the same challenges. Here’s where someone like me comes in. I have helped many people in the same situation that you are in, In many cases, they just needed a chance to talk confidentially to an experienced and trusted advisor.
Do you really want that promotion?
A few years ago, I had a mid-level technology manager in his early 50s who had applied for a promotion. He was based in Adelaide, and would have had to relocate to Sydney for the new role. The Head of Technology engaged me to do psychological profiling of the candidates.
I asked this candidate why he wanted the promotion. I discovered that his wife was unwell with a serious degenerative condition. He didn’t actually want the promotion because it would impact his family life significantly.
The revelation was a life changer. He realised it wasn’t the right move for him, and he was relieved to understand that getting a promotion wasn’t an imperative. His boss (my client) also agreed that it wasn’t right for him.
Why was this a good outcome? Both boss and candidate understood that staying at his current level was going to make him a happier employee.
Outgrowing your organisation
Another example where career reboot coaching can help is when you have outgrown your company or role, but don’t know which direction to move in.
Companies and cultures rewarded loyalty and persistence have been rewarded in the past. However, the new world can rewards the ability to change with organisational visions and cultures.
I had a client who was a mid-level public sector officer trained in water environmental management. I was helping him look for an appropriate opportunity for a career reboot.
He had convinced himself to apply for a scientific role at the same organisation. However, his current position was in a secretariat support role (not as a scientist). Coaching helped him to identify that he needed to move out of the organisation altogether. He looked for comparable roles at an agency with a culture that better suited his temperament.
I can see where my organisation is going… but I don’t want to travel there
In this scenario, a senior finance executive was being pressured to apply for a move up the corporate ranks. The company wanted him to take the on the managing director role of a division. He sought coaching to clarify what his professional direction should be at this critical juncture of his life.
Coaching confirmed his hunch: for him, further progression into a top role was not what he wanted.
It was a great investment! Two sessions and some profiling, at a cost of a couple of thousand dollars, helped him to make a major decision he’d never regret.
In the end, he started his own business and is the happiest he has ever been.
Investing in your own career
I am seeing a trend in which people seek me out when their organisation isn’t offering career coaching. It’s a great investment into your own career which should be lasting around five or six decades! Those who seek me out for improved self-insight go on to lead happier and more fulfilling professional careers. We spend a lot of time working, so you can reap the benefits for a relatively small lifetime investment.
I’ve seen men and women struggle with the expectations from corporate careers. Pressure to take on larger roles with more responsibility is simply assumed by both companies and employees. However, I’ve coached director-level people at ‘Big 4’ consulting companies where lack of ambition leads to a culture mismatch.
High pressure and high profile roles are particularly vulnerable. Men are still wrapped up in the stereotype of not being able to, or knowing how to, show vulnerability. There is still a misconception that they “should be able to make these decisions without seeking help”.
Women can feel pressure to take up their roles on a part-time basis on returning to the workforce. I’ve never come across an example where this works for them. It’s a painful dilemma I see women facing every day in this era of high pressure to succeed. In these cases, women end up working five days a week, but only getting paid for three.
Firms espouse that they offer the diversity of a flexible workplace, but that’s often a myth.
For anyone facing this situation, or ones like it, I offer the help you need to refocus and do an audit of your career as well as a psychological health check.
My whole industry is changing – what now?
If your industry is shrinking, or your psychological fit is waning, it may be time to enlist a third party perspective.
Many feel that retraining or taking on new roles is the best option for a mid-career move. However, being unaware of industry trends can be detrimental to choosing the right path. You may spend time and money to retrain for a career in which jobs are also rapidly dwindling.
Rapid shrinking of occupational sectors will accompany rapid growth in relatively low-skilled areas. ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) is predicting growth in sectors such as health services, personal services, recreation and leisure. However, the reality is that there is high casualisation within these sectors, or they are relatively semi-skilled.
It takes courage to embrace change, explore options and break personal boundaries. It is perfectly natural to feel unable don’t feel able to do this alone. Many seek someone who is able to help them work through their options.
Automation will kickstart your career reboot
Mechanical/mining engineers are losing their jobs because of the rapid automation coupled with a decline in the mining sector.
I’m helping some engineers to switch focus and look for jobs in infrastructure (civil engineering) or water. This has implications for geographic relocation, which impacts whole family units. One client was retraining as a hydrological engineer, where there were fewer roles than the sector she was leaving!
It always helps to bring a professional eye and ear to your particular industry area.
How can you tell if you need a transition coach?
Here are a few pointers – do you see yourself in any of these?
- Are you a ‘knowledge’ professional in law, finance, marketing, or professional services?
- You have built up and apply extensive knowledge of a particular field or area.
- People consult you less often.
- It seems more difficult to engage with people, sometimes even for simple tasks.
- Your direct intellectual input is in less demand and you are spending more time using your PC or laptop.
- People type into laptops during meetings, and you don’t understand why or what they are writing.
- The above factors are combining in your head, leading you to reconsider what your portable skills are. Where else could you work? What else could you do?
- You need to develop a new or revised set of skills and behaviours to help you survive and thrive.
If you see yourself in any of these scenarios, give me a call! Better still, please like and share this article with your colleagues or friends who may benefit.
All the best!