Unit 2 Ferry Wharf
Hove Enterprise Centre
Basin Road North
Portslade, East Sussex
Making the effort to change your career path at any point in your life can be daunting. It can be an overly ‘taxing’ task that keeps you ‘comfortable’ in a job you wish you left months ago. The thought is exciting, yet you’re too afraid to take the plunge into the deep end and take yourself out of your comfort zone and maybe try something in a more specialist role.
There is that old cliche, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’… In many cases, it is very true, depending on the context, of course! The only problem is that professionals aren’t willing to make changes to better their careers – they’re not willing to break away, change direction or even move parallel into something completely relatable to their line of work.
Now, I went from being an athlete and a coach to going into sales – not THAT drastic of a change. Note the sarcasm. Nowadays, there is an abundance of negative stigma that surrounds salespeople and their ‘canvassing’ approach. Nevertheless, it’s something I decided to delve into for three years of my professional career. It was a challenge, to say the least – I agree that it probably isn’t the most desirable job and it probably never will be – Yes, it is difficult – Yes, it was a challenge – Yes, there were days I was working outdoors in the rain and snow – However, what you take away from such a profession is priceless. If done correctly, it can change the scope of your career, your life, and your character.
The biggest problem is that people tend to forget that there is SO MUCH value you can take away from any position you work in, whether it is working in sales or working in a generalist tax role. It’s just a matter of being rational and understanding the balance between positives and negatives. This purely comes down to perspective; how you perceive a situation and your outlook will dictate your own reality. I don’t want to come across like a philosophical genius (although I like to think of myself as one), but it’s as simple as understanding what sort of value you can take from any of your life experiences.
Taking that into heavy consideration, I inched closer and closer to realising that a new job would be in the works, I started exploring recruitment. It was far from an easy decision to even contemplate, but I knew that changes needed to be made. The main reason I chose to explore the so-called ‘undesirable’ 9-5 jobs came down to reference – I was told numerous times to look at the recruitment industry thanks to the transferable skills gained in sales. Of course, the initial shock of making the decision to ‘move my cheese’ (Who Moved My Cheese? great book by Spencer Johnson) was scary but it reminded me about perspective and my situation. This is where I, like many other professionals in their own perspective fields, had to put on my logical hat and think about how I could apply myself in a more appropriate manner based on what I wanted to do with my career.
The search from here was far from an easy task; my patience was tested as I hit roadblock after roadblock, but it was just a matter of carrying on and being proactive to find the right role. Considering the fact that I worked five years straight without a real break, it was odd to me to be off work for an extended period of time. After five weeks worth of attempting to grow a beard (Filipinos don’t do well in that department), binge-worthy Netflix series and staying up late playing video games, unemployment in other words, I finally settled into a company that lived up to my expectations.
Being offered an opportunity with Harvey John gave me a feeling of contentment and excitement – something I was completely forgetting. The entire experience of moving to a completely different city and into a new job was enthralling at the least. Daunting of course, yet finding a company that ticked so many boxes for me in terms of development made it easy to settle into my role. I needed somewhere I would be able to transfer the skills I gained in sales, yet also have the opportunity to expand my knowledge and grow within an industry I had little to no knowledge.
Now a month in, it feels like I’ve been here for ages. In a good way, of course! It’s been an extremely warm welcome into an office of industry professionals that are not afraid to give me further insight or guidance. Daily tasks like contacting talent were a breeze thanks to the sales pattern and speaking to strangers wasn’t a problem until I met the telephone. It was a weird feeling of anticipation that you can’t really describe, but once the initial feeling of uneasiness wore off, it became easier and easier.
Harvey John, clearly an established firm with a lot of credibility, was willing to take the chance on this guy; someone with no experience in recruitment. I suppose in some cases, colouring books are always easier to do compared to becoming the next Pablo Picasso – hoping that analogy makes total sense. I was looking for somewhere that was willing to provide me with an opportunity to grow, develop and learn and be able to ask questions openly – a place that would allow me to thrive in the grind.
Whilst there were numerous similarities between my last position and working at Harvey John, the change from a sales environment into recruitment was not as radical as expected. There’s a human aspect to recruitment as in sales; a person-to-person approach that cannot be replaced with robots or technology.
It’s safe to say that change is positive. Whether it’s moving to a new city, moving into a completely different role in a legal, or tax setting – or moving sideways into another company- change is always constructive to personal growth. It is SO important to put yourself in uncomfortable situations – it’s something that will put you into a mode to improve yourself, which is essentially what every young professional aims to strive for. You can only thrive in situations which push you to your limits. If the last five years of my professional career have taught me anything, it’s that you need to be willing to invest yourself into something that will hone your growth and drive your development.
You cannot be afraid of change. As human beings, we are programmed to fear change just as we fear failure or success. Fear is always that one obstacle that stops us from moving into a position that will only better our careers. The only thing is, you have to be willing – For positive change to happen, you have to be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Success, or anything you ever wanted is always on the other side of fear. Take the plunge – What’s stopping you?
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From boutiques to the Big 4, and start-ups to multinational corporations, Alex manages a diverse portfolio of clients worldwide which has enabled him to develop a vast global network of indirect tax and tax technology professionals in 40+ countries.