Continuously in mentor journey I meet a lot of people who are in transition either to the next stage of their career or preparing to get into a different job. I have recently interacted with three where I found they faced a common problem and had to answer a fundamental question: “what is it that I am capable of?” But what I have found missing is the second part to that question that I think is even more revealing: “who is likely to value what I can bring”.
The difficult thing with being in transition is that you need to convince others you are capable of this new step. In functional organisations, if this means taking a promotion within the same function, then it tends to be easier if you have been “selected” as either a top-performer or part of a talent pool. The limiting factor though in this case being that you can only really be considered within the functional framework that the superiors have defined for you, which may also be limited by what tends to be their narrow view of capability.
It becomes more complex if one decides to either take a job outside the previous functional lines, or even in a different organisation or industry where it may both be a different technical area or even a different level. How does your previous functional experience show your credibility for this?
I have my own personal experience with this, having transitioned industries twice in my career, and changed functional groups within organisations as part of my growth. How do you even begin to do this in a way that does not lead you to take backward steps since the new people may be telling you that you need to “learn” first? How do you find the kind of opportunities that will play to your strength, and for which you will be valued?
Since a résumé or CV is the tool most used to identify who we are and what we can do to the outside world, I asked my mentees to think very critical how they project what they are capable of or competent in when they write it. The question I ask is whether they expect the CV to speak for them, or they speak for themselves through a package, of which a CV is but a part. And I ask them to look at a package as broader than what you could write in a CV.
In the complex world we are in, we are finding that tasks increasingly need people who can think and solve interrelated problems than perform straight-line functions. In this instance, a list of functional tasks on a CV will serve to only illustrate the work that one has done. Sadly, a lot of us assume the reader can then get a sense of the actual capability of the person. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
Read More: How to package your value when preparing for a job in a different industry