Few words are more current to today’s business discussion than disruption. As the impact of digital transformation deepens, new technologies and business models are challenging our previous assumptions, particularly the best route to market. As a result, more people will soon devise clever ways to reach your customer – and more of us will experience the shrinking profits and downward forecasts which eventually bring a clear conclusion. You’ve being disrupted.
While we embrace the buzzword, the human impact of disruption only hits those it directly rolls over. And while all of us moan about our day jobs from time to time, it’s clearly unnerving when business as you knew it disappears before your eyes.
The process of disruption recovery is now one of the norms in our world of work. Remember that many bigger entities than yours have been hit, including those we once considered part of the landscape – Blackberry, Kodak, HMV, Myspace, Nokia, Newsweek and Blockbuster – victims in differing degrees to the pace and intensity of change in the marketplace.
Like any change process, the first step is to refuse to be a victim and instead commit to taking action. Whether you wanted it or not, this shift presents you an opportunity to try something new. Brush yourself off, take a deep breath, and start a plan to return to the game – hopefully fresh, renewed and reborn in a sunrise sector.
Don’t look back in anger
Whatever the reasons or symptoms were for your company’s predicament, avoid spending unnecessary amounts of time looking backwards: it simply doesn’t help. If a disruption process happens to you, remember that many more people than you might imagine, including many journalists, have been through your predicament. That said, none of them recovered by sitting still.
Boost sleep and exercise
People ultimately choose to invest in you based on two key things – one is whether you have the appropriate background and recommendations. The second is whether you have the attitude and determination needed to close the gap on those skills needed, including those available on the job. The term many use to measure this is “spark”. The more sleep and exercise you’ve had in the interim, the more likely that the energy you bring into the room will feel like a breath of fresh air.
Seek out advice
For some of us, career advice was something we last sought out when we were students. Given the speed of workforce change, this needs to change. Seek out sources of advice relevant to you: whether through country initiatives; through specific industry-based initiatives; or through people you regard as mentors in their field. Looking for those with the right mix of valuable experience, and a positive mind-set, will result in an energising conversation. Also, when others need advice from you, give generously.
Study your lost customer
In business we have a habit of spending more time with our ambassadors – customers who reinforce the promise of our product. Yet if your business model was disrupted, someone clearly found a better way to engage your target customer. Study their approach and its specific benefits. Ideally, speak to a few customers that left your brand to go to theirs. Understanding the changes in the sales front line can be your first way to understand what works now, and plan your next career shift accordingly.
Return to the big picture
We spend too much of our business lives thinking tactically, as we pursue actions that directly drive our sales margins up. While business is down, step out of that bubble and read up on the big picture again. Whether it’s trend pieces, futuristic books or TED Talks, there is a great deal of excellent free material looking at forces changing the market and driving tomorrow’s business conversation.
If your current job title becomes redundant, often it’s only the knowledge part of the equation that’s past its use-by date. Many core skills that make you effective in your current role will be transferable to a new job: work out what these core skills are, and demonstrate them clearly, with proof-points such as clearly defined wins, with your CV.
Seek specific training
Chances are you won’t yet have all the core skills ready-made to be a block chain analyst or corporate security expert. If your advice and research show you’re missing certain sets of skills, seek out ways to close the gap. Start with more affordable options like Udemy to familiarise yourself with the terms and language: then consider a more formalised micro-degree. Pitched at specific discipline skillsets (for instance, Digital Marketing), these are available through recognised universities, and designed for those in full-time work.
Consider contract work
For many people engaged in a career shift, short-term contract work can be a great place to start, either as a way of supplementing income while you retrain and job hunt, or as a means of collecting valuable project experience. For instance, with two years of contracting experience, you might collect up to 10 distinct contracting references. It could make the perfect way to quickly add diversify to your CV, or give you a valuable period of paid employment, during which you also retrain and plan for your next sunrise industry return.
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