L&D is a very busy industry to be in, and, as with many jobs, there comes a time when you might feel ready to move on. When this happens, many people’s first thoughts are to move to the same job (or a similar one) with a competitor – but perhaps there’s a better solution: a completely different job, but with the same company.
Choose your role
One of the great things about the L&D sector is the diversity of the roles within it. People often define themselves by their job, but for many people, switching to a different job in the same sector can be rewarding, stimulating and exciting.
A better job doesn’t have to mean promotion
And that doesn’t just mean promotion – in fact, there are many times when promotion doesn’t work. Someone who is a great L&D salesperson may be totally out of his or her depth if promoted to sales management – because managing salespeople isn’t about sales or selling, it’s about how you get the best from others. No, sometimes the best moves are not upwards, they are sideways.
The idea isn’t as wild as it sounds – and, in many circumstances, has a great deal of merit for both the individual and the employer. For the employer, the cost of replacing a person when he or she leaves can be high – moving people within the same company costs less. It also ensures that the expertise which the person has gained while working in the business stays within the business (albeit in a different role) – giving a better return on the investment in the person. It also helps employers to keep employees stimulated and productive for longer – and who knows, that so/so instructional designer could actually be a star L&D consultant waiting to be born.
Be proactive and positive about a different role
But how viable is it to make this kind of move? Part of the answer depends on the outlook of the employer. Some companies are very open-minded about this kind of thing, some less so – and need more persuading. But if you approach the topic in a positive way – “I really like working here, but I think I could do better in a different role” then most employers will at least listen, though you may have to work hard to convince them that you aren’t destined to live forever in the pigeonhole you are now in.
Are you being realistic about being suited to a different role?
Of course, not everyone is adaptable to moving to a different role. They may be motivated by different things (earning money, versus a creatively rewarding role). But many people do have the right kinds of skills. Many people can make excellent L&D consultants because they have sound product knowledge and great listening/communicating skills – and from there can often move into consulting. It’s harder for salespeople to move from a sales to a practitioner role, typically, because at their heart they are salespeople – energised by the act of selling – and so a role without the ‘hunt’ can seem uninspiring, though many can make the transition to consultant or a consultative salesperson if they have the right skills and are prepared to be a little less driven in their approach.
Changing roles can often be easier within the same company
Making a sideways move within the same company can also be easier than trying to do it when moving to another organisation. It’s one thing for your employer to take a leap of faith, knowing that you have the potential to operate well in another role, but an outside employer is not as likely to take the risk – and want ‘more of the same’. So, if you make the move, you might improve your salary, but soon you’re unhappy again – because it was the role that you were tired of, not the company.
So, the next time you’re considering a career change, don’t just think about jumping ship – you could already be sat in the office next door to your ideal job.