Changing Career Within Your Organization
Staying Challenged With a New Role
You've been working within your organization for a few years. You love the company, the culture, and the people. The problem is that you've become bored in your current job.
Things are too predictable, and you're not challenged in the way that you used to be. Perhaps you're not inspired by the chance of a promotion to a more senior position, or you're thinking not just about a change of job, but a change of career instead.
Many of us will change career a number of times in our working lives. But that doesn't mean we have to move to a different company – we may look to change career within the organization we already work for.
For example, an IT Manager with great people skills might decide that her future lies in human resources, or a sales representative might want to make a move into the marketing department. Both could consider changing career within their current organization.
In this article, we'll look at the benefits of starting a new career within your existing organization, and we'll think about the best way to prepare the make the transition. We'll also look at overcoming any potential barriers, and offer some ideas on what to do if changing career within your organization isn't practical.
There are many benefits to changing career within your organization. For example:
- It's often easier than looking for a new job elsewhere – Finding a new position within your organization may be easier than searching for a new job at another company. This is because your organization knows you – you have a proven track record and you know the culture. Companies also know that it's much easier to train an insider than someone brand new.
- It's a great way to stay challenged and engaged – When you're passionate and engaged in what you do, you're more productive. Most organizations realize this.
- You're more likely to be supported – If you look to start a new career elsewhere, you'll have little support in researching and finding a job. However, if you look to change career within your current company you can expect support from your human resources department, your colleagues, and maybe even your manager.
- You'll expand your experience – If you ever decide to leave your company in the future, or if you're laid off due to downsizing, you'll have more skills to offer a new employer.
How to Prepare
Here are a few guidelines to help you get ready for a career change:
- Assess your career goals – Before you rush into any decision, spend time thinking about your career goals and what you want to accomplish. This helps ensure that you'll make a move that's aligned with those goals. Our article Schein's Career Anchors will help you understand what truly inspires you in your career.
- Carefully consider the risks of this decision – You might think that the new career will be a perfect fit for you, but what if it's not? Our article on the Personal Ansoff Matrix will help you understand the risks of making major decisions like changing career.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have – For instance, if you want to transfer to a job that requires you to dress more formally, start dressing as if you already have the new position. Dressing for the job you want helps you, and others, visualize you in that role.
- Rewrite your résumé – Include past successes that relate to the new career you want. For instance, if you currently work in IT and want to move to marketing, then talk about your successful pitch to the executive team to upgrade the network servers, or discuss any other achievement that depended on your great communication skills.
- Look for tasks or projects that will expand your skills – Even if you have to volunteer or work extra time, these new skills and achievements may help you make your move. Doing a Personal SWOT Analysis will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
- Create a transition plan – Write down the new responsibilities you'll have in your new career. Identify the qualifications or skills that you'll need, and create a plan to start acquiring them, ideally as part of your overall
goal setting activities. This will help you clarify what's really important, and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Be cautious about discussing your plans – If you tell a co-worker that you're thinking about changing career, and the co-worker tells your boss before you do, things could become uncomfortable and stressful!
So make sure you're the first person to communicate your intentions with your boss. Explain to him or her, diplomatically and honestly, why you want to change career. If you can get your manager's support, he or she might be able to help you to make the transition.
- Talk to the human resources department – It's a good idea to sit down with someone in HR to find out what opportunities are available. They can also advise on training and other development opportunities.
Chances are that you'll have to get around a few obstacles before you change career.
- Work with your boss – Your biggest obstacle might be your boss: he or she might not want to "lose you" to another department. If you've been successful in your current role, volunteer to become a mentor for your replacement. Then you can pass along all of your explicit and tacit knowledge, and help your replacement develop the necessary expertise. This will also help you build your soft skills.
Be patient – You might be challenged with a lack of job openings, especially if you work for a flat organization. Don't give up – career transitions can take a while to make.
Keep working on your transition plan, and continue acquiring the knowledge and skills that you'll need in your new role. Again, make sure HR knows that you're actively looking to make the transition to a different career.
If You Can't Move
If there are no opportunities in your organization, or if changing career in your company isn't practical, there are other ways of adding new challenges and excitement to what you're doing now – until the right opportunity arises.
- Keep networking with people in your organization – You never know what opportunities will open up in the future. The larger your network, the more chances you'll have to hear about interesting opportunities.
- Identify what you enjoy about your current career – When you're aware of what brings you job satisfaction, this helps you to see what opportunities you might be overlooking. Our articles Creating Job Satisfaction and Working with Purpose will help you identify these elements, and our article on Job Crafting can help you shape your job for maximum satisfaction.
- Add new challenges by asking your boss for more responsibility – For instance, ask if you can lead the next project, or chair the next meeting. Look for opportunities to add challenge to your regular work. This will not only improve your skills, but also help keep you interested.
- Coach yourself to succeed – If you're passionate about what you want, and you're persistent in pursuing it, then an opportunity may well open up. Coach yourself so that you're ready when it does.
There are many benefits to changing career within your organization, rather than looking for opportunities elsewhere. You already know the company, and you don't have to leave a workplace that you already like. But changing careers may take time, and it helps to prepare beforehand.
Consider the risks of the decision, and analyze the knowledge and skills you'll need to be successful in your new role. Talk to your boss honestly about your plans, and offer to be a mentor for your replacement. If there are no opportunities right now, focus on relearning what you love about your current career, and find ways to add more challenge and purpose to your work.