Updated: Dec 16, 2021
At this point, you might be on to something. You've seen friends make the leap and they are loving it. They got promoted and moved into an exciting new role. You're feeling energy in your free time to read and learn more. When you have more questions than answers, it's time to validate!
Following the steps below, you will:
Create reasons to believe for HMs and promo cycle
Unlock new Mentors and connections for your next interview
Substantiate skills and book learning from your Certification
Demonstrate company values to your current (& future) managers
Validate your proposed career shift - before you spend more time!
You should consider Projects when you begin to:
Discover your field of interest or target team
Realize you need to cultivate visibility and Mentors
Attend Events and see where these careers lead (hint: it looks good!)
Don't have all the skills, and consider Certification
Start with a self-assessment of core role versus projects. Your core role is the main expectation in your job description, annual review and performance goals. It's the thing you and your team do every day, all the time. If you don't have measurable performance goals or do not know the annual review criteria, ask mentors you trust to guide you to this information. You can't make an effective growth plan without this.
What are projects?
Projects are initiatives on top of your core role. You might volunteer or be assigned to solve, explore and deliver some outcome with your name (or your manager's name) at the top. Take an inventory of the current projects sitting with you. Which are most valuable for your visibility and skills development? Can you close out or reassign lower priority projects? You need to 'own the heck' out of your top priority projects: ensure visibility and results flow to stakeholders.
The most beneficial project is a real business deliverable. It can be in your current role, as a freelancer, or volunteering with an organization you care about. It can even be a personal passion project, as long as you document your journey and portfolio results.
You need to 'own the heck' out of your top priority projects: ensure visibility and results flow to stakeholders.
It is critical that YOU deliver a recognizable business outcome using new skills. I would challenge you to create a specific, measurable impact. [Example 1 below].
Hiring managers (and promo stakeholders) must recognize this business outcome, how you got there, and the skills it took to deliver it. Having an actual project to talk about creates a flexible springboard during your coffee chats and interviews. Successful projects create compelling stories and STAR examples for your next promotion and interview.
At this point, you might think this sounds risky or even reckless. After all, this goes beyond the core job you've been doing for years. Your new skill set isn't fully baked yet.