What is your unique value proposition in your job search? Are you relying on the traditional roles or paths that you have taken? What happens if you want to make an 180̊ turn?

John is a professional with 10+ years of experience in the customer side of the business. He has worked for a few different companies and had some depth in one industry.

Several years ago, he decided to get a master’s degree and after graduating is on the job market. His challenge: his professional experience (customer service) and degree (Organizational Development) are in completely different functions or disciplines.

The question he poses: How does he transition from where his experience is to another area of expertise without taking a step back? It’s a natural desire on his part to improve his career path after making his educational investment.

Use critical thinking skills

In this situation, there are a number of limitations with organizational development:

  1. It is usually not the first position someone takes in a Human Resources organization
  2. It is more prevalent in larger companies

Small companies and organizations typically do not have a person dedicated to this specific discipline; however, a generalist having this skill is an added bonus.

Before committing to a degree, reflect on job availability given your unique circumstances. Consider if other personal factors such as relocation restrictions play into the equation.

Sideways is not a back step

It is time to swallow the pride. I had to do that a few times in my career. If you are given the opportunity to move into a role that is at the same level or maybe slightly lower than your previous one, step back and consider:

  • Am I learning new skills?
  • Is this a new industry?
  • Are there challenges in the role that will showcase my current skills to a new employer quickly?
  • Does the position afford me the opportunity to get into a new discipline?
  • Is the position a building block role? If I do not take it, will my future career trajectory be limited?
  • Does this company have a career path that meets my longer term strategy?

Answer “yes” to any of these questions and you are taking a sideways step that will likely benefit your career in the long term.

Intersections are more important than highways

John is trying to navigate the interchange between two highways moving from customer service to organizational development. He feels it is an expectation because after all, he just got a degree in it!

If you are currently employed and the organization sees you as a superstar, there may be an opportunity to facilitate a discipline cross over. Otherwise, there is one big challenge in front of you.

How about a more lucrative approach? Evaluate the intersection of the disciplines. Forget about merging onto the new highway completely.

Is there a combination of customer service and organizational development skill sets that creates a unique value proposition to a potential employer?

Traditionally, customer focused organizations spend more money to effectively train and develop their employees because they play a strong part in the sales cycle. Would it be an advantage to have someone who brings organizational development skills as part of their role?

Is it time to think about the highway you are on, the limitations you may have set and evaluate if an intersection might present more interesting possibilities?