Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Career Moves - The Truth

2012-08-14 11:52:14

In the last week, the question of career switches has come up a couple of times. In decades past, a lot of people were able to move from one career/industry to another without too much thought. Much of this was done by a modality which is known as "hiring on potential". There is a good recruiting article that discusses how potential vs. skills recruiting differ.

http://www.ere.net/2007/03/28/hiring-for-potential-vs-skill

But note that this article was written in 2007, before the economic disaster that was 2008-2010. "Hiring on potential" is not a viable recruiting model for companies that are running lean. "Lean" means that your employees are doing at least 100%+ of their job. Here is an example. At a local well-known company, non-revenue generating business units are told they must function with 70%. What this means is that if a department tells management that they need 10 people to get all the work done in the department, then they are given 70% of those resources, or 7 people. Each person is probably going to have to actually do the job of 1.25 or 1.33 indivduals, which means that they need to be able to functionally do the job they are hired for, and have the ability and competency to take on an additional 25-30% of the departmental workload.

Additionally, "potential" is an amorphous concept. Lots of researchers have tried to quantify what will make someone a "high potential" employee. It is based on a lot of factors such as your educational history (grades and what school/s you have attended), test scores (ie SAT), IQ, and how quickly you have risen through the ranks at past/current jobs and what positive (translate STELLAR) results you have generated. Often times employees are hired and then identified as "high potential" and fast tracked with special projects and "stretch" assignments.

In addition to so many businesses running tactically (reacting vs. planning and looking far ahead/strategically) and lean, as I have mentioned in a few past postings compliance issues (legal requirements by state or federal government agencies) affect how candidates are evaluated for jobs. To reiterate these factors:

A) Companies often legally have to craft their job descriptions so that they are clear-cut in terms of experience, education, and history.
B) Due to those same legalities, organizations *cannot consider candidates that don't meet the minimum qualifications*
C) "Minimum qualifications" are just that: attributes that candidates MUST HAVE to be considered.

For example, if a job description requires a Bachelor's degree in a technical field, having a Bachelor's in history doesn't meet the bar. If it requires 2-3 years of relevant industry experience, for example commercial sales in telecommunications, then being a cashier at McDonald's *isn't qualified.*

So in the two recent examples I mentioned, one is an outside sales professional with experience in financial services, construction, beauty supplies and high tech asked me about transitioning to a salaried position not involving sales in the health/fitness industry in a highly depressed area (economically). I told her honestly that unless she knows the owner of the company or other inside connection, the best she could probably do is inside sales or maybe marketing, but to expect that she might need to take a pay cut for the transition. She does have a fair bit of marketing on her resume, but not nearly as much as her strong outside sales, and she has almost no experience in the health/fitness industry. To make both a career *and* industry switch at the same time is not impossible, but expect to take a pay cut IF you can find a position.

The other example was one of those acquaintances that want to take advantage of knowing a recruiter. This is one of those "son-in-law-of-a-neighbor" scenarios that is very common for those of us in the field. Most recruiters don't mind helping out where we can, but it's important to remember that we may not be able to do much. In this case, the candidate in question (anyone looking for a job is a "candidate" to a recruiter) just finished an MBA and wanted to get "back" into technology. Well, he hadn't worked in the tech sector in over 10 years, and his experience wasn't such that an MBA, even one with a technology management emphasis, will facilitate an "automatic" entry into the tech field. It is an erroneous conception, often fostered by what I consider to be patently *false advertising*, that getting an advanced degree will open up all these doors for you without relevant experience in the field. An MBA in conjunction with a solid work history can absolutely open doors in your own field and boost your earning potential, but it is not a guaranteed passport to a new industry and career switch without taking either a lateral move or potentially a title (and salary) hit to move into a new field.







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