Are you a Generalist or a Specialist?
If you are in the process of considering a job transition or if you are in between things at the moment, the inevitable question becomes: what next? How do you uncover the next role which would represent that next logical step in your career? Yes, you know you want to increase your scope of responsibility; yes you know you want to transition to an environment that meets your needs; yes, you know what you are good at doing; but how do you approach this transition?
Well, if you are like most, you’ll go to market and start to look for a job that will allow you to apply you skills. If you are a CFO you’ll look for a CFO job, if you are a Treasurer, you’ll look for a Treasurer’s job, if you are a CAO, you’ll look for a a CAO job. But is this the best approach? It is true that as a CFO, your target is a CFO role, but your approach to this target makes can make all the difference between a transition in another 2 years versus a place where you can put down legs for many more years.
Here’s the difference in the approach: Are you positioning yourself as a generalist or specialist? Are you looking for a job or are you trying to uncover a situation where you can apply what you are really good at accomplishing to that situation? Every finance executive comes to the table for a potential role in order to address a specific company scenario and should be able to come away from that role with a set of accomplishments i.e. driving profits, expanding the company through acquisition, increasing return on equity etc. So your job is to start to uncover situations where you can bring to the table what you are specifically really good at accomplishing. Your job is start to network for a situation versus looking for a job.
So how do you approach this? Well, the first place to start is to position yourself in your mind as a specialist. Consider what you are good at; what your specialty is. Once you know this, you can start to have conversations with colleagues/industry contacts in order to share this value proposition. Let them know what you can bring to the table. Your contacts will start to keep you in mind when your value proposition matches up with a company in need.
In a real sense, you are always networking for your next role. This means building relationships with current and new contacts over breakfasts and lunches. It means recognizing that at some point, you will be in the process of identifying your next career move either on a proactive basis or on a reactive basis. Whichever way it goes however, uncover situations where you can apply your specialized approach. Remember, every role is temporary (some just last longer than others) and while your hard skills and soft skills are the necessary foundation of career success, positioning yourself for the next step in your career is essentially a job of branding, a job of marketing and a job of sharing your value proposition with the right people.
Click here for a link to this article in CFO Studio Magazine or here on LinkedIn