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VOL. 129 | NO. 101 | Friday, May 23, 2014

Angela Copeland

Scaling Your Career

By Angela Copeland

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One of the most exciting career transitions job seekers make is changing industries. You may want to move from nonprofit to corporate or from a large organization to a small business. These moves expose you to a new workplace and can reenergize you if you’re feeling burnt out in your current environment.

However, the one issue many job seekers struggle to understand is scalability. Scalability is an understanding of how your old work environment translates into your new work environment.

For example, a friend was recently working as a manager at a major university. He had 75 employees, large-scale projects and an impressive budget. Interested to move to a corporate job, he was concerned about titles such as “manager” and “director” that appeared on job postings. In the university setting, these titles were reserved for a select few with expansive responsibilities.

In the corporate world however, a manager or director may manage many people, or they may manage very few. Sometimes these titles are a reflection of how much impact the individual has on the company’s bottom line, how large their budget is, or how much influence they have.

Similarly, someone with a vice president title in a small business may manage very few people, but may have responsibilities that span over many different areas. A corporate vice president may manage more employees than a small business, but may have responsibilities that are more specific and limited in scope.

When you read a job description that interests you, don’t simply stop at the title. Read the details. You may find that even though the title is somewhat intimidating, the responsibilities could be similar to your current job.

If the job description doesn’t have enough detail, look for opportunities to network within the company or the industry. Ask questions that will help you to understand how the scope of work compares to where you are today.

If a director at your organization manages 100 employees and as a manager, you’re managing 10, don’t rule yourself out for a manager or director title at another organization. The organization you’re looking at may only expect a manager or director to manage five to 10 employees.

The most important thing is to gain knowledge about these differences. Once you understand this piece, you can begin to position yourself for a new role at another organization. Selling points may be the number of employees you’ve managed, the amount of change you’ve influenced, or the size of the budget you’ve maintained.

When you’re interviewing, just remember that you’re the translator. You need to be able to explain how your current experience translates into a new role. You also need to explain how you can successfully transition yourself into a new industry.

Not everyone will understand or agree with this change. But, as long as you can explain it, you only need one person to believe in you. Believe in yourself, and like my friend, you may soon have a new role you never dreamed possible.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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