What are the hottest jobs in your industry? What’s the big, shiny object everyone’s trying to get a piece of? And most importantly…should you be out there trying to do the same?
As forces like technology continue to disrupt entire industries, the idea that you could safely pursue a single trajectory for your entire career has all but gone out the window. Regular career reinvention has become the new normal.
So the dilemma becomes: do you reinvent to take advantage of an emerging trend, or to more firmly establish yourself as a “1-of-1” leader in your current niche?
Here are the questions you should be asking yourself:
1) What’s the long-term value of my existing skillset?
Certain career tracks are more resistant to disruption than others. If you’re working in an area that solves a unique pain and requires a high level of specialized knowledge, such as Financial Governance and Risk Management, then chasing the latest trend is probably not the right option for you. However, if you’re working in an area that’s ALREADY being disrupted, such as Retail or Publishing, then, by all means, start repositioning your career platform (especially the Resume and LinkedIn Profile) to open yourself up to roles in a hot new area.
Expert tip: the LinkedIn Profiles of people who have similar backgrounds to yourself and have made this transition successfully will hold some valuable clues in terms of how to re-position yourself and what types of additional training to pursue.
2) Will I find greater fulfillment by chasing the trend?
Let’s say you’re a tech hardware product leader who’s interested in moving into the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space. Don’t just use job postings as the final decider of whether or not to go for it! Instead, take the time to set up a few introductory calls and informational interviews with current specialists in the SaaS sector, and ask probing questions to see if you’d be happier working in this capacity. If all signs point to yes, go for it.
3) Will the trend become the new normal, or co-exist alongside existing paradigms?
The emergence of tax software has not eliminated the need for tax preparation experts. Software tends to be used by people with simple tax preparation needs (many of whom would probably do it themselves) versus those that need the knowledge and support that only an expert who is well-versed in their particular situation can provide. If the changes that are happening in your industry fall more into this camp as opposed to complete upheaval, then consider re-targeting what you’re doing to speak to a more specialized, “boutique” audience. Doing so can often yield MUCH higher returns than chasing after the latest trend.
4) Does it move me closer towards my ultimate goal?
The minute you start making career decisions based on “the marketplace” is when your own aspirations take a back seat. That should never happen!
Ask yourself what path you’d follow if there were no obstacles in your way.
Where do you see yourself?
Firmly ensconced in the C-suite and handling higher-level strategic priorities? Starting your own consulting shop and having real freedom in terms of which clients you take on? Commercializing a game-changing digital health technology that improves the lives of others?
Chasing a trend only works if it speeds up the attainment of your ultimate career goal. If it doesn’t, then it’ll never be worth the price of admission.