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3 Steps For Making A Move In The Middle Of Your Career

So you’re not starting from scratch, but you’re not sure where to start either. Here are a few ideas for landing a better job mid-career.

3 Steps For Making A Move In The Middle Of Your Career
[Photo: Flickr user Malcolm Tredinnick]

Job seekers are often on the hunt for advice when it comes to finding and landing their next mid-career role.

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Although it may take time, the process is really quite simple. Here’s a three-step guide to get you started on your next job hunt.

1. Put Your Feelers Out There

Let your network know you are on the market to hear about open positions. You can also do a targeted search by identifying companies you’d like to work for and see if they have appropriate positions open.

Start by defining your target. Let’s say you’re a director of financial planning and analysis at a tech company in San Francisco. You’re looking for a similar job at a successful company within 45 minutes of San Francisco with revenues of $50 million or more.

Here are some good guesses about your target:

  • At least 300 companies meet your criteria
  • People change jobs every four years
  • Half of the replacements for people who leave are internal promotions; half are outside hires
  • It takes three months to complete a search

Add all this together and you’ll find that nine companies are looking for someone like you right now.

Now you can see that you have two goals:

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  1. Find out which of those companies are actively looking for someone with your experience and qualifications.
  2. Get a warm introduction to the hiring manager at those companies, which typically weighs more than an online application when the recruiter and hiring manager are bombarded with multiple resumes.

2. Walk A Mile In The Hiring Manager’s Shoes

Once you’ve identified a position to pursue, put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager as you update your resume, write your cover letter, and prepare to make initial contact.

Worried that you can’t measure up on all of the qualities they’re looking for? The reality is very few people can, and the hiring manager knows that. They eventually hire the best candidate that exists in the real world, which could be you.

Again, put yourself in her shoes. If a new position has just opened up, what does the hiring manager want? If you’re qualified, she wants to meet you as much as you want to meet her. First, she might contact friends and colleagues who currently hold a similar job and ask, “Are you interested in making a career move for this job?”

Sometimes people say yes. Mostly people say, “No thanks, I’m happy where I am.” The next question is almost always, “Well, who else do you know who would be a great candidate for this position?”

There’s only one answer you want that person to give: You.

3. Get Out And Network

In order to get the best possible introduction to the right hiring manager, spend your time meeting people who currently have the job you want. They are the people who get the calls from recruiters and will be able to recommend you.

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Whether you meet them through friends, acquaintances, or former bosses, don’t be afraid to ask for an introduction.

Once you’ve been introduced to someone new, give her a reason to spend 15 minutes with you. This could be done by sharing information of interest that relates to her job–an interesting article, data, white paper, market research, best practices, or information about people in the industry as well as customers or competitors. Make sure to mention that you’re always interested in hearing about new opportunities.

Most people will remember chatting with you and will refer you when a recruiter calls. However, even if you meet 10 relevant people this way, your job is to meet more and more people. At every meeting, you have two goals:

  1. Have them like and respect you.
  2. Ask them to introduce you to two of their friends who would be interested in meeting you.

If those 10 contacts each introduce you to two people, you have 20 more people to meet, then 40, and so on. Keep this up, and pretty soon you’ll have met close to everyone in the industry.

The best employees often come from personal referrals. As a result, we are always happy to introduce qualified candidates to our friends and contacts when we know there’s an active job search. It’s not a burden–quite the opposite. We’re doing a favor for both the hiring manager and the candidate. Most people we know feel the same way.

Jeff Epstein is an operating partner at Bessemer Venture Partners and a lecturer at Stanford University specializing in marketplaces, cloud software, and advertising technology companies. He is the former executive vice president and chief financial officer of Oracle, one of the world’s largest and most profitable technology companies, with a market value of over $150 billion.

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Miia Laukkarinen is a vice president of talent at Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), where she works closely with BVP’s portfolio companies to provide strategic counsel and tactical support on talent initiatives. Prior to joining BVP, Miia spent over a decade filling VP and C-level positions in venture-backed consumer Internet and software companies.