If you are looking at exploring a new professional domain, there is groundwork to be done.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”- T. S. Eliot
Human beings have an innate desire to evolve and redefine themselves.
When you face a void at work or feel the need to challenge yourself, a move to a new professional domain may seem like a natural solution. However, the prospect of venturing into uncharted territory and the risks that go with it can be deterring. Rahul Sharma*, a lawyer by profession, left a comfortable job to take up a career in technology.
Today, he defines his professional evolution as an adventure that helped him realize his true mettle, but not before he realized that this would cause him an inevitable phase of unending self-doubt, causing him to wonder if he was making a costly mistake. On the other hand, R. Vasu* invested a valuable year working with an internet company before returning to the BFSI domain that he wanted to leave behind.
Exploring a new professional domain is a big decision. Often a candidate could invest considerable time and effort to explore a (radically) different career option, only to draw back at the last stage or to take the plunge, only to find that it simply is not working out.
Before you make the final call to enter a new arena, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself.
Why do I want to change?
Goal clarity will give you direction as you head out in search of a new role and put your doubts to rest. Take a deep breath and look at the factors that are tempting you to leave behind your current profile. You are on the right track if you are looking for something that:
• Is challenging
• Reverses an earlier decision that you believe was incorrect
• Is rich with new contemporary skills and knowledge
• Draws on your inherent aptitude
It is important to be as specific as you can as to what you stand to gain by making the transition and how long-lasting the impact of the change will be. A transient benefit, for example, may not justify a radical change.
Can I Deliver?
No matter how keen you are on the change, the pressures of the job will soon mount. You need to assess if you have what it takes to show results. In Rahul’s case, his instinctive, almost intuitive understanding of technology, as well as precise and detailed knowledge of his legal career got him off to a great start. This paired with early recognition gave him the confidence to be followed through on his decision.
List the skills and domain knowledge you have gathered over the years as well as your natural abilities and aptitude. Plot these against the requirements of the role you are targeting and run a reality check on your ability to deliver. It’s important to also factor in the future requirements of the role while you are analyzing your KSA.
What is my Learning Paradigm?
A new job might be an extension of the earlier one, with a few challenges thrown in, or you may be entering a completely new domain. Either way, the chances are that the first few months will call for a lot of learning. Assess the extent of learning required and your commitment and ability to assimilate new information.
Lastly, plan the logistics of managing this intensive learning program. You are on a good wicket if you have an industry Mentor or can find one, if you can access formal training or support or have current skills and knowledge that can be useful. If you know that you will have a time window for learning in your new role, it will help with the netire process as well..
Is it too Early/ Late for me to Make This Move?
We’ll answer this one for you. It is only your passion, drive and the ability to carry out your new role responsibilities that matter. But it’s important for you to buy in and believe this. Any time is a good time – as long as you are convinced.
Give yourself time to take the decision regarding shifting your career. Ensure you are mentally prepared for the new role and the challenges that come with it. Once you are set on that, the rest of the journey will become easy.
*Name changed on request