Before we get into session 5 I want to check in with you to see how you went with your activities for session 4 on Setting a new direction that works for you. What were your wins, challenges and insights?

Take a moment to write your thoughts in your journal

 

Overview of this session

In session 5 we’re going to look at Applying leverage to multiply your results. This will help you to make your pivot quicker, easier and more successful. You aren’t starting from scratch. You have a range of resources available to you but you need to figure out how to use them. So this session will look at:

  • Why leverage is vital to your career pivot
  • Simple ways to maximise the power of the skills you already have
  • How to use your experiences to speed up your move to your dream career
  • Making the most of your contacts to help you …. without making them feel used

Remember to use the worksheet to record your answers or copy and paste the questions into your electronic journal. You’ll also find some bonus activities to help you fast track your progress.

 

Why leverage is vital to your career pivot

A dancer doesn’t pivot from a standing start. That requires a lot of effort resulting in not very much movement. Instead, they use the leverage of other steps leading up to the pivot to help them move. This allows them to turn further with less effort.

I use the same principle with your career pivot. It’s why I spend so much time getting you ready to pivot by defining your dream career, understanding your core and getting you in alignment before you choose a new direction. Only then can you start to actually make a move to you dream career.

To leverage simply means:

“to use something to maximum advantage”

Your goal is to make your pivot as easy as possible so you want to take advantage of every lever you can. Too many people start down the path of a new career but give up because they perceive it’s too difficult. They end up stuck in a career they either like but don’t love or one they actually hate. I think that’s a terrible waste of talent because in the wrong career you will never reach your full potential.

The most effective pivots involve taking everything you can from your existing career and applying it to your next career. That allows you to do the career equivalent of keeping one foot on the ground. Going to a new career where you aren’t able to leverage anything from your existing career is like taking both feet off the ground and doing a leap into the unknown. It’s risky, dangerous and hard. It can sound exciting to make a huge pivot especially if you’re really unhappy in your current career. The reality is it’s unlikely to succeed either because you haven’t thought it through or you don’t fully commit to it out of fear.

Using leverage not only increases your likelihood of success it also stops the issue of sunk costs and feeling like you’ve wasted your time in a career. Nothing is a waste of time if you can use it to help you succeed in your next career. Even the negative experiences become useful as they show you what you don’t want.

Most people know there are aspects of their current career they can use in a new career, they just need to know how to identify them and the best way to leverage them. That starts with understanding the 3 key areas of leverage you have available to you. They are:

Skills … Experiences … Contacts

Think about when you’ve used leverage in the past to help you get ahead in your career. What were the results?

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

Simple ways to maximise the power of the skills you already have

The first type of leverage you have available is your existing skills. We all have far more skills than we realise and often take them for granted. I see this all the time when I help beginners learn to dance. Many people walk through the door of the dance studio believing they have two left feet. That is rarely true (they were able to walk in) and even when they do lack coordination they usually have ability in some other aspect of dancing to help them, like interpreting music.

Whether you’re been working for a few years or a few decades you’ll have developed a range of skills that can be used in your next career. Whilst many roles involve specialised skills they are always going to include generic skills that are transferrable to other roles. Those are the skills I want to focus on.

The first way to maximise the power of your skills is to recognise what they are. We often take it for granted that everyone knows how to do what we do but that isn’t the case. For example, I sometimes forget that not everyone has the skill of public speaking because it’s comes naturally to me. I’ll bet there is at least one skill you have that’s the same.

So here are some broad skill categories to get you thinking. I’m sure there are more.

AnalysisAdministrative
CreativityFinancial
LeadershipMarketing
PlanningProblem solving
ResearchSales
TeamworkTechnology
Verbal communicationWritten communication

Think about each of your past roles and make a list of the different skills you’ve developed. Get specific about what they involve. For example, verbal communication can include a range of areas such as:

Public speaking … Interviewing … Performance reviews … Conducting meetings … Negotiating … Conflict resolution … Teaching … Customer service

 

I also want you to think about the skills you’ve gained from hobbies and interests outside your career including sport, music and art. They might have been self taught, acquired from formal classes or via volunteering. I know my time as a volunteer in five different environments over the years has helped me to develop a range of skills that have greatly benefitted my career.

Now come up with a list of your top 3 to 5 skills.

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

The next idea is coming up with examples of how you can use that skill in your next career. This will mean you need to do some research on your proposed pivot so you fully understand what’s involved. In doing this you may discover some out of date skills you need to work on. You’ll see later on how this analysis can help you.

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

The final suggestion for maximising the power of your skills is to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do. When contemplating a new career most people spend more time worrying about what they lack instead of taking advantage of what they have going for them. One way to do that is to keep developing in your areas of strength so you go from being good at a skill to being outstanding. I think that’s a much better use of your time than trying to quickly develop skills you don’t have as they will never be as strong as the skills you’ve spent years working on.

 

How to use your experiences to speed up your move to your dream career

Your past experiences demonstrate how you’ve taken your skills and applied them to real life situations. Experiences give context to your skills and allow you to show how you’ve used multiple skills at once.

When it comes to experiences I want you to consider the positive examples and negative examples. Sometimes when things go wrong the situation is even more valuable to your pivot.

So let’s start by looking at your major career experiences. These are significant events or one off opportunities that can help you to create maximum credibility. Here are some ideas to get you thinking. Have you ever experienced:

  • Taking part in a high profile project
  • Handling an emergency situation
  • Being part of a team that won an award
  • Collaborating on an important initiative
  • Launching a new product or service
  • Turning around a failing business
  • Recovering from a public failure

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

Now think about the every day experiences you’ve had, the things you deal with on a regular basis. Whilst they aren’t quite as attention grabbing as the major events, they do demonstrate your range of abilities. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Working in a complex team
  • Dealing with diverse customers
  • Assisting people with special needs
  • Working in unusual locations
  • Meeting deadlines and targets
  • Being flexible in solving problems
  • Dealing with high volumes of work

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

Now that you have a list of your relevant experiences it’s time to start going into them in more detail. When making a pivot you need to demonstrate to yourself and others how your past experiences have prepared you to handle new experiences.

The first way to do that is by describing experience in more detail. It’s not enough to say “I worked on x project”. To make it useful in your pivot to a new career you will need to say more than that when discussing it with potential employers. This is where the S.T.A.R. technique can help. This method is often used by recruiters during job interviews so this will be good practice for when you pivot.

  • Situation What was the scenario?star - Session 5: Applying leverage to multiply your results
  • Target What were you trying to achieve?
  • Action What steps did you take?
  • Result What was the outcome?

 

By writing out each of your most important experiences using this method you have the opportunity to reflect on them. This process will often remind you of aspects you’d forgotten and keep those experiences top of mind.

Apply the S.T.A.R. technique to your 3 to 5 top experiences.

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

Now I want you to delve into your experiences in another way. I want you to understand what you’ve learnt from them and here’s why:

When I worked in Human Resources doing recruitment I would review a candidate’s application looking for evidence of their experience and came across an interesting situation. Many people had experiences that they appeared to learn nothing from and found themselves repeating the same mistakes. They were able to recite what they’d done but had no idea how to go any deeper about what it meant.

 

This is why it’s important that you’re not only able to talk about your experiences but that you can analyse them. A valuable experience that can give you leverage for your pivot is when where you gained knowledge, wisdom or insight. Here’s what they mean:

  • Knowledge is the facts gained through study, research, action and observation
  • Wisdom is the ability to decide which aspects of that knowledge are applicable in a given situation
  • Insight is the capacity to understand the wider impacts of that knowledge and use it to improve outcomes

 

To put that into a practical example:

  • Knowledge is knowing how to manage your money
  • Wisdom is understanding how money impacts the quality of your life
  • Insight is realising that money is simply a tool to be used

Look back on your experiences choose 3 to 5 and analyse them to determine the knowledge, wisdom and insight you’ve gained.

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

Making the most of your contacts to help you …. without making them feel used

Probably one of the most useful types of leverage comes from the people you know. Surveys show that 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking so tapping into your contacts to help you with your pivot is far more effective than simply applying for job vacancies. That’s because many of the best positions are never openly advertised as they’re filled by referrals.

Let’s start by looking at your contacts. You’re bound to have a range of people you can approach and they could come from any area of your life. For example:

contacts - Session 5: Applying leverage to multiply your results

Each of these people may have contacts they’re willing to introduce you to and grow your web of connections. This is where the concept of “6 degrees of separation” comes into play. It’s the idea that we are all connected to each other via a maximum of 6 other people. The secret is to let the right people know what you’re looking for so it can jog their memory about who they know. People aren’t mind readers and no matter how much they like you or know you it still helps to be specific when you reach out to them for help.

When looking at which contacts to approach consider people who have experience in the career that interests you as well as people who have done any type of career change. Both groups will be able to offer valuable insights. Ideally you want to have a few people from each group on your list.

So what contacts do you have that can help with your career pivot?

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

Next is how do you leverage your contacts without making them feel used. If you do that you’ll waste a valuable opportunity. Most people are happy to help you if you go about it the right way. The key is to see things from their point of view, understand what they’re worried about and address their concerns. In my experience it could be they’re concerned you will:

Waste their time Successful people are regularly approached by people looking for help. They don’t want to spend their valuable time with people who don’t really know what they want or aren’t going to take their advice.

Damage their reputation They are cautious of you telling other people they gave you bad advice. Their reputation is important to them so they don’t want to be associated with people who have questionable ethics.

Steal their ideas They are on the look out for people who want to pick their brain and use their ideas to further their career without acknowledging them.

Misrepresent yourself They have no time for people who say they’re interested in discussing their career and then turn up and try to sell them something or convince them to be partners in a business.

Pressure them Probably the issue they worry about the most is that you’ll pressure them into offering you a job or giving you access to sensitive information or important contacts. Those offers need to come from them.

 

Have you ever felt used by someone trying to get ahead in their career?

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

The best way to use your contacts without making them feel used is via an interview. It’s sometimes called a career interview, an information interview or a research interview. This interview isn’t about trying to secure a job. It’s about gathering information.

A career interview can help you by:

Providing a reality check You can read about a career but hearing from someone first hand gives you insights you can’t get elsewhere. Someone who has worked in that field is far more likely to give you a realistic impression of the career including the pros and the cons.

Testing your assumptions You might go into the interview believing certain things about the career that are based on false information. This is your opportunity to assess if those beliefs are true or false.

Learning from their experiences Someone who has gone before you can share their experiences and save you time, money, energy and frustration. They can help you to shortcut the process and give you valuable tips on what to do and what to avoid.

Expanding your understanding No matter how much research you do there are always going to be gaps in your knowledge. Hearing first hand about a career is the best way to get the full picture of what to expect.

Opening up your options Your interview subject may be able to present you with alternatives you may not have considered and open your eyes to the possibilities available to you.

Giving you confidence Speaking to someone with experience in your new career can help reinforce your confidence and give you the impetus you need to take action.

Generating leads for further information Whilst asking for a job is out of the question, there is nothing wrong with asking for leads to do further career interviews. Perhaps they know someone who can answers questions they couldn’t or give a different perspective.

 

I believe the most successful career interviews involve a 3 stage process. It’s all about what you do before, during and after that counts.

Before the interview

  • Have a clear goal for the interview. It’s unlikely any one person will be able to answer all your questions so choose a focus area.
  • Send your questions in advance so they have time to think about their answers
  • Give them an overview of your background and what you’re trying to achieve so they have some context for their answers
  • Do a practice with someone you know. Get them to react as they think the real subject would. You could also give a career interview for someone who is interested in your role. It will let you see what it feels like to be on the other side of the conversation.

The final step in your preparation is to decide what questions you will ask. Here are some options for you to choose from. They consider the current role the person is in as well as their career in general.

  1. What attracted you to this career?
  2. What previous experiences have helped you in your current role?
  3. What do you wish you knew before going into this role?
  4. How would you describe somebody who would excel in this role?
  5. What does a typical day or week look like in your role?
  6. What do you enjoy the most about your role?
  7. What do you like least about your role?
  8. If you could change anything about your role, what would it be?
  9. What’s something that would surprise people about your role?
  10. How has your role changed in the last 5 to 10 years?
  11. How do you see this role changing in the next 5 to 10 years?
  12. What skills are most important in this role?
  13. What skills are essential to be effective in this role?
  14. How did you learn these skills?
  15. Who do you spend most of your time interacting with in this role?
  16. What courses have best prepared you for this career?
  17. What is a typical path in this career?
  18. What were the keys to advancement in this career?
  19. What will be the next step in your career?
  20. What are the advancement opportunities?
  21. If you had your time over, what would you do differently in this career?
  22. Which professional journals should I read to learn about this career?
  23. Which professional organisations associated should I join?
  24. What are the actual working conditions of this role?
  25. What sort of salary or benefits can I expect in this role?
  26. Why do people leave this role?
  27. What type of adjustments do new people have to make in this career?
  28. Who else do you know who is doing similar roles or uses similar skills?
  29. Who do you know that has made the transition to this career?
  30. What advice would you give to someone considering this career?

I would recommend asking no more than 10 questions to each person. These are generic questions, you may have more specific ones based on the research you’ve already done The key is to figure out the right questions to ask each person so you get maximum value out of the conversation.

The other type of interview you can do is with people who have done a career pivot. These people could come from other fields so you have more options to choose from. Your goal is to get ideas on the process rather than your specific career area of interest.

Here are some questions you might like to ask:

  1. How long did it take?
  2. What was the most difficult part?
  3. What actions helped you the most?
  4. What mistakes did you make?
  5. Who was helpful during the process?
  6. Who was unhelpful during the process?
  7. What setbacks or barriers did you encounter?
  8. How did you overcome those setback and barriers?
  9. What did you learn that you didn’t expect?
  10. What would you do differently next time?

During the interview

  • Keep the interview short, no longer than 30 minutes
  • Be structured and organised or it will turn into a polite chat that doesn’t help you
  • Take notes or get their permission to record the session
  • Show them your core analysis and get their feedback on how well suited you might be to this type of career
  • Detail your key skills and how you see they could be applied to your new role to see if you’re on the right track
  • Discuss the options you’re considering and get their input on them

After the interview

  • Thank them by sending an email within 24 hours
  • Analyse the key points they made to determine what you’ve learnt
  • Assess where you still have gaps in your knowledge
  • Consider how this process has impacted your thinking
  • Take any actions they suggest
  • Determine your next steps which could include doing further interviews

 

Now it’s time for you to design your plan for conducting career interviews. Consider:

  • Who will you approach?
  • What will you focus on?
  • What questions will you ask?

Write your answers on the worksheet

 

PUtting it all together

OK, now it’s time to apply all the skills you’ve learnt in this session and create your own personal leverage strategy. Consider these questions:

  • What is my strongest point of leverage: skills, experiences or contacts?
  • What immediate action will have the most impact on my pivot?
  • How can helping other people create leverage for my career pivot?

 

Next session

In session 6 we’re going to look at Developing momentum to get more success with less effort. The key to any successful pivot is knowing how to gradually build a momentum that becomes unstoppable. So this session will look at:

  • How gaining momentum can boost your chances of a successful career pivot
  • The 10 mistakes people make when it comes to creating momentum
  • Tips on overcoming the 7 common setbacks you will encounter along the way
  • How to create the right support system to supercharge your results
  • A structured process for getting started with your pivot

 

Watch out for an email with a link to your materials that will arrive next week. I’m also going to send you an email mid week with a reminder to complete your activities and a quick tip.