Climb out of your safe zone, expand your job hunt

Posted in Careers, Mentor Minute

Climb out of your safe zone, expand your job hunt

The Globe and Mail, Feb. 16 2012


I am, or was, a senior level executive (senior vice-president level and officer of the company) in the automotive parts manufacturing industry. While I am certainly aware that there has been a contraction and sea change in this industry, I never see jobs at this level either posted or advertised. I have contacts at the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association and other industry organizations as well as utilizing LinkedIn and company contacts. I have global experience and a record of success and positive growth as well as great relationships with staff and a reputation as a great coach and mentor of cross-cultural teams.

Where does one look for these type of jobs that have ceased to exist? I am only 53 and have more than 27 years of experience along with a university education. Am I missing something somewhere?


In a sector as changed as the automobile industry, finding the next job opportunity may be about thinking outside the box. There are a couple of main paths to follow, including staying on the inside, and looking beyond your industry.

The inside track

The key to successfully staying on the inside of your industry is networking. When an industry contracts, there is usually little need to advertise jobs. Word of mouth becomes the currency of choice.

Be certain to tap into your network extensively. Go to industry events, speakers, conferences. Pick up the phone and arrange coffee dates with past colleagues to stay connected and get tapped into new opportunities. Reach out to head-hunters. The current opportunities may never make it to LinkedIn or other advertising vehicles, but if you stay well-connected, people will think of you when opportunities come up.

Looking outside

What other industries require the type of experience you have gained in automotive parts manufacturing? You can explore two avenues – those industries that are sister industries to automotive parts, and those that are completely different.

You mention global experience, mentoring and coaching, a track record of success, being an officer of the company. There is always a need for experienced staff, and it will only increase as the huge demographic bulge reaches retirement age. So think beyond auto parts manufacturing into both sister industries as well as completely unrelated fields.

Sister industries

I keep reading about sectors of the automotive world that are reinventing themselves. For example, glass manufacturers are switching making glass windows and windshields for cars, and making solar panels. There are countless other examples of businesses that are finding new markets for their products. What other manufacturing fields interest you and are perhaps close to automotive manufacturing? These are areas you need to explore, as those types of companies could likely benefit from your experience.

Non-related industries

You also have to think outside the box. Spend some time researching rapidly growing industries such as telecommunications and high tech, or pharmaceuticals and biotech, where they may be short of people with the type of senior leadership and global experience you have, simply because they are growing so quickly.

Start knocking on those alternative doors. Again, networking is critical. Do you know people who work in areas that are growing in leaps and bounds? Which areas interest you? Which ones can you leverage your experience with?

Once you have been a senior leader and an officer in a company, many of your skills are transferrable and desperately needed, especially in rapidly growing organizations.


Katie Bennett is coach and speaker, and president of Double Black Diamond Coaching in Vancouver.