DECIDING WHERE TO PLAY: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR JOB SEARCH

DECIDING WHERE TO PLAY: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR JOB SEARCH

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Summary

When it comes to job search, try to answer the following questions. Which companies are going to win in industries that are going to grow? What can you offer to a company in terms of skills? And finally, where are your skills in demand in the work market?

One of the great things about being an ex-consultant is you have a broad set of skills. You’ve typically had to prove your strength across the board, from analytics, through problem-solving to communicating with the Board. In addition, you’ve probably had the chance to work across most functions in a company: finance, marketing, operations. After all, that’s why most people chose consulting, right? To open doors.

However, when you’re deciding what to do next, this breadth of experience and skills can feel more of a burden than a boon. Sure, there are a few who find their “real calling” in one function or another. But for the rest of us, the choice can be quite stifling. 

Consultants are inherently an analytical lot. But when it comes to finding a new job, they are often influenced too much by emotional factors: what they hear what others are doing, or what is expected of them. As such, they often miss the most important part of the puzzle.

McKinsey explains, in market segmentation, that strategic decisions around where you play are 4x more important than excellent execution. Think about that for a second: picking the right market has 4 times the impact of how you actually perform.

My advice to all consultants when they start their job search is to be strategic. Do a quick exercise: ask yourself where you think you’re best suited. This doesn’t have to be an in-depth study, but going through the process itself will be insightful.

Here are three quick questions that might help you decide where’s best for you to play.

Which companies are going to win in industries that are going to grow?

In an organisation that is growing fast, there will be far more opportunities for you personally. As the company grows, they need leaders to be developed quickly. Promotion will be faster and opportunities more regular.

The first element is finding an industry that is healthy, growing and has a good future. This isn’t rocket science: look at the fast-growing companies today and try to avoid the more mature industries where growth is flat and margins are strained.

The second element is picking a company that’s going to win in the space. Firstly, put your investors hat-on: who do you think is best positioned to take advantage of the industry growth. Secondly, speak to people at these companies. They’re the ones who are going to have to deliver this growth. Do you believe in them? (you should get even more of a feel of this at interview stage).

What can you offer? Don’t look at job titles, look at skills

You are only going to perform well if you excel at the skills required in a job. Career development in consulting all too often focuses on your “weaknesses”. Ignore this mindset. Identify where you can outperform your peers and areas you enjoy. When you’ve found this, you’ve found your competitive advantage.

Finding jobs that use these skills can be a bit harder: job titles are often misleading. As a result, it’s best to look at the next level: what are the skills necessary for this job.

Where are your skills in demand? It’s a market: identify where the demand matches your skills

Don’t forget, the job marketplace is like any other marketplace. There are supply and demand. A brief look at the movemeon site show’s there’s some real demand in certain types of role (business intelligence managers, country manager, commercial manager/director). Get an idea of what’s out there, matching your skills in your chosen industries, and start applying. In the discovery stage, conversations are invaluable.

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