When we think about changing careers we quite often look outside of our current employer. Underneath our very noses is a chance to make a career change with less risk but it doesn’t always occur to us to do so, so here are some ideas on how we can make that change within our own organizations.
1. Get Clear
Be clear about what you want and what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t go into this without researching what your options are and what you have to do to choose and take the right option for you. When you have researched this well it should be clear to you how the rest of the internal career change process should proceed.
2. Define Your Intentions
There is no way we can have a clear career change plan unless we have a clear intention. Between your sessions of research and analysis, identify what your intention is in changing careers. Start building your plan upon that intention.
3. Examine the Organization
You need to know your organization well in order to make a career change within it. You need to have a very good sense of the company’s direction of travel. For example, is it expanding and hiring in an area that interests you? If not, you’re going to have to be quite sharp to identify areas you could slip into.
4. Put Out Feelers
You need to understand what likely opportunities there are as you make this career change. See what HR can tell you. You potentially want to feel out your colleagues in human resources quite subtly at this stage, until you’re ready to take things further.
5. Position Yourself
Once you’ve done this research and gained understanding on what you want and what’s out there, think about how you’re going to position yourself for this career transition. How easy is it going to be for your current team to release you from what you do at present? How are you going to help find and guide a successor into your role? Will the company need to recruit externally for that? How can you help with that?
6. Have a Strong Reputation
You have to have a good reputation internally. You need to be already doing a good job where you are if you expect to be moved elsewhere in the organization.
7. Prepare for Big Changes
How big of a shift is this? Just because you’re staying in the same organization, it doesn’t mean that everything else will be the same. What do you know about the area you want to move into, technically speaking? Will you be able to contribute to your new team immediately or is it going to take you time to figure out what’s what? Do you need to invest in your own learning before you take the final step? Is it a sideways move or are you seeking a promotion as you make this shift? Are you going into a different division or different branch of the business where people won’t know you? Is your reputation within the company strong enough that it transcends your current area of the business?
8. Tell Your Boss
You will of course eventually have to tell someone above you in the line of command that you want to change careers internally. Is the person you speak to going to be your immediate superior or someone even further up the line? When is the best time to talk to this person? How much have you telegraphed this move to them up to now? Is it going to be a surprise or is it something that they’ve been expecting?
9. Engage HR
HR can be a huge help or it can be a hindrance. You need to plan how you’re going to involve it in this process. It can become part of your support network as you make the shift. You changing departments may well solve some of human resources’ tactical problems in regards to succession planning and talent placement, in which case they will be delighted to hear about your plans. It may also have an impact on the recruiting of your successor so you need to be sensitive to this.
10. Get Sponsorship
Who is going to be your lead sponsor and advocate for this? It is likely to be somebody who is known to you and who you feel knows you well. They’ll have the power and influence to affect this change and not allow it to drag on too long, as this would leave anyone frustrated.
Making a career change within your organization is not always easy. The company hired you for a specific purpose and may feel rather rigidly about what it is you’re there to do. Changing the attitude of key people within the business is absolutely possible but it requires hard work on your part.
About the author
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition, one of the UK’s leading career consultancy companies which created the Career Ignition Club, a leading-edge online careers support and learning platform. Follow him @PosIgnition