As we enter the holiday season, it is time for the annual ritual of New Year’s Resolutions, more intense for some & less intense for some others. Apart from weight loss, the quest for a new role typically ends up landing in the list of priorities! In this context, while speaking to many people on their goals for a new role in the coming year, I prepared the following outline, based on the advice many sought from me:
- Sectors which are hiring: Evergreen industries include healthcare, pharmaceuticals etc. And since economic activity has picked up, trade, infrastructure and information services have seen an upsurge in demand. Even in your own industry, a sharp focus on emerging areas can help create opportunities.
- Best time to search: When there is an intersection of supply and demand! Since hiring is staggered throughout the year, there is no “best time” per se. Apart from seasonal variations (hiring freeze in the last quarter to meet budgets & reactivation of the hiring tap in the first quarter to meet growth targets), the talent acquisition team in many firms is forever on the lookout!
- Where to find roles: Hiring managers! Beyond all the technology, interfaces & processes, it is ultimately a simple equation of a human being looking for another human being. So, the simpler you make it, the more effective it gets! So, the more you can find ways to get to know hiring managers directly (read “contacts” or “networking”), the more you stand out from the crowd. Opportunities to meet these hiring managers will emerge from a lookout for turf wherein they are likely to emerge – such as industry conferences or non-profit boards.
- Challenge at the CXO levels: The sheer asymmetry of information since search efforts do not function like well-oiled exchanges wherein the supply – demand components are clearly visible to all participants in the market. Also, factors beyond competence play a role – sometimes, we may meet very good candidates, but cultural fit issues emerge. The key is to be yourself – there’s a place for everybody!
- Suggestions for action plans: Keeping it simple helps. A piece of advice which has worked for many is as follows – how do I stand out? More importantly, how do I make my unique value proposition visible to my target market? So, focus on honing your skills, becoming visible beyond your role and reaching out to people from “your future”!
- Career management strategy: Bringing it all together in the form of a career management strategy is paramount. Firstly, what are your focus industries / firms? A mistake many people make is to go all out. As they say, you cannot chase two rabbits – you will catch neither! Secondly, what is your unique value proposition? A line saying “25 years of top notch experience across industries” doesn’t highlight specific skills / experiences which hiring managers look for.
Since we live in a fast-paced world, it is also worthwhile to refresh your strategy every 3 or 6 months. Once there is a clear understanding of the sweet spot where your skills and ambitions intersect, you start giving yourself permission to succeed!
The holiday season is a great opportunity to meet new people in informal, natural settings. While chance encounters may lead you to something desirable, a smart career management strategy doesn’t rely on serendipity as its cornerstone.