of significant knowledge and specific knowledge in an area that company is interested in, your value goes down.
“You are paid for your ability to impact results,” he adds. “The faster you can impact results, the faster you can engage, the more we can justify paying you.”
David Pailin, a senior partner with Dallas-based executive search firm the Pailin Group, was actually able to increase his salary when he switched careers. In the mid-80s, Pailin, an accountant by trade, sought the help of an executive search firm to find work when his employer planned to relocate him to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The firm was looking for recruiters to deal specifically with the accounting industry. “The manager noticed that I had a sales background and obviously accounting because I was an auditor and said I could double my income by being a recruiter,” he says.
“In the first year I became the record recruiter for the agency by no more than just going through my Rolodex. I found an occupation where my previous background could serve me.”
Begin training at your present job. “Identify an area of interest–marketing, sales, etc.–and cross-train within [your current] organization,” advises Pailin. “You’ve already built your tenure up there, you know the culture, you know the major players, you know the politics at the company.” Experience in the new area can then be taken to potential employers in the new industry.
Volunteer. Career experts suggest job applicants consider nonprofit organizations as a way to gain transferable expertise.
“Nonprofits are always looking for people who want to help, who want to bring value,” says Watson. Oftentimes they have limited budgets and as a result are eager to accept help. “Let’s say you’re in banking right now and you want to move into Web design. If you were to go to a nonprofit and say, ‘I’ve taken a look at your Website, I think there are some things I could do to help tweak it, I’d like to volunteer my time,’ they’d probably say, ‘OK.’ So now when the employer says ‘Well, you haven’t really worked in Web design,’ you can say ‘Well, actually I have. I’ve done a number of nonprofit consulting assignments.’ ” If you’re out of work, volunteering is also a proactive way of keeping relevant in the marketplace.
HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED
To hear Steve Edmonson tell it, missing out on a promotion was one of the best things that ever happened to his career. The year was 1984. A self-professed “nerd-technical type of guy,” Edmonson was employed as a computer technician.
“I was working on a project with a group of people. We were all peers on the team and at the end of the project, everyone got promoted to director except me. And one of my friends who got the job said, ‘You know, Steve, we come to you for these technical things, you’ll do the job, and we can count on you. But you’re not someone we can count on when it comes to business decisions. You’re not viewed as