Facing the challenge of movement in a dynamic career

July 13th, 2015

iStock - Compasses & GlobeBefore becoming an executive and career coach, I worked as a recruiter for many years. I was recently contacted by someone I recruited 15 years ago to ask for my advice: she was seeking a new role and had been turned down for several positions, ostensibly because she had worked for ‘too many’ companies (seven in 15 years). She observed that I had a greater degree of career movement, and yet I was successful in being hired into good positions…so she asked what my secret was.

I’ve had this question on numerous occasions, and the truth is that there is no secret, nor is there a silver bullet – however, I shared some practices and perspectives with her that have been helpful to me, and my coaching clients, in our career development. I thought it may also be helpful to other job seekers, recruiters and hiring managers, which is why I have decided to post it here…

I have had quite a bit of movement in my career, I like to think of it as dynamic. My circumstances are a little different than most, in that much of my career has been in consulting as opposed to in-house roles – though I have also encountered some for those same prejudices about ‘movement’ in interviewing for in-house roles.

There are three practices that have helped me and others:

First, know your story: we all have a story to tell, our careers are an important and integral part of our life stories.  It’s very important to think about your story as you move through your career and make certain choices, e.g., job changes, geographic moves, taking breaks from work, etc.  However, many of us don’t do that beforehand (myself included) and have to do that after-the-fact, and sometimes our careers are affected by choices that others make…which are still part of the story.  Either way, before or after, you need to weave a story around the facts that makes sense.  There is a story there and it does make sense in the context of our lives, it’s up to us to understand it and tell it in a interesting, cogent and compelling way when we interview for a new position.

Remember the basic elements of successful storytelling: an effective and engaging story needs to have a beginning, middle and an end; and spice it up with a little human drama and humor, without overdoing it.  Conveying the facts accurately is essential – it’s a matter of integrity, and the your story puts the facts in the context of your life and circumstances at a given point in time.

Next, don’t be defensive about your experience – be authentic and focus on the positive points.  Building on my first point – it’s all about how you frame the facts – for yourself and others, i.e., if you are convinced, you will more easily be able to convince others. Case in point, I view my career with all its movement as being dynamic, and as a result – I am a dynamic individual.

One of the senior executives with whom I interviewed for my current role had been with the company for over 25 years.  During the course of our conversation, he asked about my experience, and then told me that he was envious of the breadth of my experiences and the perspectives I possessed as a result of working for many different companies.

Additionally, my current manager told me that one of the main reasons he hired me was because he valued my perspectives coming from outside the industry. He especially appreciated my experience working for best-in-class companies across several industries, and bringing fresh eyes to the role and his team.  Your attitude and confidence make all the difference in an interview.

Finally, always see if there is a way that you can find a personal connection to the recruiter or hiring manager who are hiring for the position…that is how I found my last two jobs, most of my consulting engagements and clients – in fact, many found me that way.  When you come into a meeting or an interview as somewhat of a known entity it adds to your credibility;  the people with whom you are meeting usually know more about your background and are meeting with you because of the skills and experience you bring.

In order to be set up to succeed in a new position, you want to work for people and organizations that value what you bring – all of it; if they don’t value your experience up front – then it won’t get better later and it’s not the place for you.  Sometimes a search can take a while, but it very rewarding when you’re in the right role with the right people around you, and can be yourself – that is when you will shine!

I hope this is helpful to you.  Please let me know if you have additional questions, and I welcome any feedback you have on this…especially whether it helps or not over time.

Leave a Reply

Contact Jerry

Voice: +49 (0)151 64 64 74 26
Email: info@pkwconsulting.com
Skype: jerrypico

Other Links:
LinkedIn Twitter