Making Your Next Career Move in the Age of Technology

These are heady days to be in business – and to be looking to make your next career pivot. But finding the best opportunities takes skill, a willingness to make adjustments, and a positive frame of mind. Here’s the latest thinking from our ‘Working Digital’ series with recruiting expert Ted Pryor, along with a helpful podcast.

It’s the New Year and the time when many executives are thinking about their next career move.  Frequently, executives come to us looking for guidance and many are seeking to make a pivot.

In some cases, executives will say they are open to anything that suits their skills. But in 2018 it is important to be much more strategic than that. What’s needed is a point of view.

As you put your job search into second gear, you have to start thinking about the big trends that are taking place and, as a result, you should plan on putting yourself in the middle of fast-moving rivers of commerce.

Going into a backwater and hoping a flood will come is a poor strategy.  A rising tide might lift all boats, but why wait.

I recommend looking to make a 30 degree pivot and try to utilize 60 to 70 percent of your skills and knowledge in your next position. More importantly, given the pervasive changes and transitions taking place in business, you must put yourself on the right side of technology trends and reassess assumptions that might have been good just two or three years ago.

In this brand new episode of ‘Working Digital,’ we explore ‘Making Your Next Career Move in the Age of Technology’ with Ted Pryor, managing director of Greenwich Harbor Partners. According to Mr. Pryor, technology is rapidly changing the way we work, forcing some professionals to make a “pivot” in their career toward a more digitalized position. “I always recommend to people that they focus on where they can make a contribution, where they will learn, and where they will grow.”

Listen now to our latest ‘Working Digital’ podcast.

Here is how you might focus a career change in this age of technology disruption:

Look to be a “disruptor” and not a “disruptee”

There are many companies growing quickly that are disrupting established industries and these are good companies to consider joining. There are also established businesses that are adopting technology and new styles of management that are likely to thrive. If you are not working at one of these, then you are falling behind.

Look for growth and hidden gems

It is much more fun to work for a company or a division that is growing and investing. Look for hidden gems. This could be a growing division within a large company. The cloud marketing business within Oracle could be a great place the work. The e-commerce part of Walmart would be an exciting possibility. There may be growth companies in your sector that didn’t exist three years ago that are ready for someone just like you.

“There are a lot of roles out there, for which no one is an expert,” said Mr. Pryor. “If you’re looking to make a pivot, if you can bring seventy percent of your skills to bear on a new challenge and a new company, you can take advantage to help grow the company.”

Get close to customers

No matter what your functional skills are, there are ways to get closer to solving customer problems. If you are in HR or finance, you can support the sales and marketing organizations or product management teams or customer service. Team with business leaders to support them in making the necessary changes to drive revenue growth and gain competitive advantage.

Where will you learn the most?  

Your next position should challenge you, offer the opportunity to learn and be a part of an exciting team. This is more important than title or money. “Don’t go from the largest company in the industry to a better paying position at the second largest company, you won’t learn enough,” said. Mr Pryor. Perhaps there is a smaller and more creative company in your industry or in a new industry that needs your functional skills. Look around and be open to as many opportunities and possibilities as you can.

“I always recommend to people that they focus on where they can make a contribution, where they will learn, and where they will grow,” said Mr. Pryor.

Sharpen your technology skills

You may not be a software engineer, but you can take a programming class to have a better understanding of the tasks under the hood. If you are a software engineer, what is the next programming language you should learn? If you are a marketing expert, what new investments can you make in digital marketing? How can you use AI or Blockchain technologies? Are there technologies coming that will affect your business? Can your customers order your products through Alexa? Will self-driving cars impact your business model?

Take on tough tasks

There may be opportunities for which there are no experts available. If it looks challenging and interesting, then take it on and you will be the company expert in a few weeks. If you are applying to this kind of job at a new company, organize your pitch around the elements of your experience that is directly relevant and express your confidence, determination, agility and ability to work smart.

Follow good management

Good companies have good management. But what companies have great management? Who has had previous success? Who has a good reputation? Do people like working there? If it is a hard place to work, is it worth it? Elon Musk has a reputation for being tough to work for, but you will learn a lot. 

Trust your instincts

Respect your instincts if you think Artificial Intelligence has more potential than Cloud Data Services.  Respect your instincts if you gravitate to B2B challenges rather than B2C challenges. Respect your instincts if you enjoy working with product managers. If you are fascinated by the potential for Augmented Reality, then pursue it. Trust yourself if you go to interview at the company and things just don’t feel right.

Avoid fads

Not all companies that have gotten venture money recently are going to make it. The fourth or fifth meal kit company is going to have a hard time. The crypto currency industry is very risky. The business which paints digital mustaches on cat pictures is going to have very thin margins. Sometimes a new entrant can capitalize on the lessons of the first. Google came after Yahoo! and Netscape. “Ask yourself whether this company is solving a real world problem and adding real value in a unique way,” said Mr. Pryor.

Career changes in the age of technology present challenges that may not have existed just two to three years ago. No one can predict the future accurately, but by doing your research and gravitating to a function, division or company that is growing and investing in technology and focused on solving customer problems, you are on the right track.

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Contributed by Ted Pryor, Managing Director for Greenwich Harbor Partners

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