Saturday, 9 November 2013

Are You Shooting In Air Or Shooting On Target

Career Transition Tips # 5; The Importance of Focused Approach

In this five article series on career transition, we have already seen the importance of accepting the change from military to corporate ( click here), the overwhelming benefits of starting early in career transition ( click here) , the importance of doing self assessment ( click here ) and the value of networking ( click here) . In  this fifth and  last article, we will see  the importance of following a focused approach during career transition and the requirement of bridging the gap between the possessed skills and the required skills for a particular career to  find the right opportunity in the corporate world. Here, I would like to highlight upon a tendency or rather a practice that is generally followed across the board in military and that hinders our chances of finding the right career opportunity.  In military, The diversity and the varied nature of job allow you to qualify for a number of career options during transition; you can be  good in  administration, HR, or  security besides the technical field that many of us are mastered in. Therefore, most of us remain indecisive till the very end of our military career about which field is most suitable for us post retirement. On the contrary, in the corporate world, people have specializations in one specific field wherein they acquire skills pertaining to that field, do relevant certification courses, and acquire mastery of that specific field. Also, If a job opening is in field of HR,  the recruiters are looking for an individual who is competent in HR profile and the knowledge that one has of other domains such as security doesn’t have any weight-age or very less, if at all any, for these recruiters. In their language, for other domains, they have different people working and they are thus focused with the skill-set required for one particular domain only.

We may think that remaining flexible allows us to enter the corporate world with a number of options to choose from but the fact of the matter is sooner or later one has to make a decision as to which particular domain one wants to enter into and sooner we make the decision, better it is. Let’s understand with the help of an hypothetical example of two candidates as to why it is important to pick the right field early and thereafter apply efforts to become competitive in that field. Two years prior to retirement, Lt Col A did his detail self-assessment of skills, carried out analysis of various career opportunities available, matched his skills with various careers, seek professional help, and after adequate brain-storming over a period of time, decided that HR will turn out to be the most suitable career path for him. Thereafter, once decided, he  learned more about HR and contacted a few of his friends already in this field. He also networked with a few top professionals of the same field and realized what is necessary to fill the gap between his present skills and required skills for a competent profile in HR. He also studies the profile of a number of professionals in the field of HR and noted the common courses/certifications done by all.  Thereafter he crafted a road-map on how to be a competent job seeker in  HR profile ;a plan that included the skills required to be gained, certification courses needed to be done and knowledge required to attained. During his interaction with the senior HR professionals, he realized the importance of an MBA degree from a top b-school and hence decided to give GMAT well in advance,while in active service only. His profile on his resume and LinkedIn was also very much align with the chosen field of HR. He also joined a various HR specific groups on LinkedIn and actively participated in various discussions.  Whereas Lt Col B was  happy with the fact that he has a number of options to choose from and hence can apply for any job in the corporate world when he retires. He neither did any course or preparation for MBA nor gained  any specific knowledge pertaining to one particular field. He prepared a general resume from the available template resumes on web and uploaded that on various job portals and  his LinkedIn profile.
Out of Lt col A or Lt col B, whom do you think have better chances of a progressive career field. While candidate A adopted a very focused, tunnel approach , which is in line with the approach followed by  successful corporate professionals  in that field, candidate B adopted an extremely general approach and is ok with any opportunity that comes his way. In about 10 years time, it is highly likely that A has climbed from middle  management to top management whereas B has changed a few jobs and now feels stagnated in his profession.  It is extremely important to understand that , in today’s highly competitive world, planning for future career will do us no good until we have the necessary skills to compete for these jobs.  Until we decide which career we want to choose, it would be extremely difficult to gain skills required for that particular career.  Many  of you would be surprised to know that even b-schools are known for their specializations and hence if someone has chosen the field of consultancy, INSEAD has to figure in the chosen b-schools list, or  entrepreneurs would prefer to be in Babson. The corporate world demands that you be specific and specialized for one particular job; your familiarization with others is a secondary issue but the primary and the most important remains is your competency in one particular field.  

Even for candidate A , it is mandatory to remain current and up to date with the required competencies and therefore remain in learning mode through opportunities available in institution or through own endeavors for optimal performance in the current role and for any contingencies such as change of job. How can we afford to ignore the corporate requirement and remain convince with self-held opinion that it’s good to remain flexible till the very end and choose any field that comes our way.  For those who find it extremely difficult to choose which career path is most suitable, A better option would be to pursue an MBAdegree ( click here )from a top b-school immediately after your transition and decide there in b-school on which career path to be taken.
How did you find this five-article series, If  you liked the articles, kindly press the like button ( click here) and share with your friends for creating awareness among the military community and for empowering each one of us to confidently face the corporate world, helping in seamless transition from military to corporate.