Transitioning from where you are now to the next position—the one that feels just outside your reach but you are eager to tackle—takes a strategic approach. Your entire career has built to this moment, so manage it carefully. I recommend creating and using an analytical framework for exploring options, one that forces analysis and ensures a thoughtful process for weighing options. Regardless if you are ready now or preparing yourself to be a viable candidate for a senior position in three years, begin outlining the dimensions of your framework now, when you have few or no external pressures.
Here’s an exercise: Imagine your ideal senior position. Think about the range of responsibilities, what you would be expected to accomplish, who would be your supervisors, peers and direct reports?Write the job description.
Where do your current skills and experiences match with the position description? Here’s the tricky part, most of the time the senior position will have elements that are not a 1:1 match with your past experiences. Do not let that discourage you. This is not a make or break issue, just a translation opportunity.
Preparing for the Interview
If you have a position for which you are interviewing in the near future, prepare yourself to share examples of how your strengths map (literally) to the position description. For areas where you have limited direct experience:
- communicate that you understand the expectation
- provide an example from your own experience that is directly or indirectly associated with the new expectation
- describe the impact of your effort, and
- translate how your experience, though, perhaps, indirect, could be successfully brought to the challenges of the role for which you are applying.
Many people feel that an interview is a show of interest that creates an obligation between you and the prospective employer. This is not the case. You do not owe the organization anything just because an invitation has been extended, beyond, of course, professional follow up. Going into a job search, and an interview, free from feelings of obligation will minimize your stress and make a choice based on sound judgment—which is better for all parties involved.