Career Transition Top 8 Tips
The job market has been tough in the past several years. As a result, many people have questioned their job search strategies and career choices. The economy often gets the blame, yet I think people need to examine their own beliefs that limit their choices. They may only consider jobs that have a short commute, pay a certain salary or focus on their past experience with little regard for their genuine interest in the work. While practical considerations count, today’s job seekers need to think more creatively. This is not to suggest that people only seek their dream job, but why not let your imagination take you to new places. When you begin to do so, you will encounter fresh opportunities.
Recently, I moderated a panel discussion entitled, “Successful Transitions in Tough Times”. All of the panelists had engaged in significant career and job transitions in the prior year. The discussion provided valuable information and insights. I want to share these top tips that were raised by the panelists and seemed to resonate with the audience.
- Being good at something doesn’t mean you love it. For example, you may be highly skilled at cleaning toilets, yet you may not want to do that for work. It’s important to distinguish between your competence and the enjoyment you derive from an activity. Too often people choose their career based primarily on their competence. Combining competence with enjoyment can provide the best formula for satisfying work.
- Pay attention to multiple taps on your shoulder and respond to them! There are two sources of these taps: one is your inner voice (your intuition) and the other is feedback from outside sources. One panelist spoke about consistent feedback she got from others (outside sources) about significant contributions she made. When she thought about it (inner voice), she realized she was naturally drawn to the activities that others found positive. With that awareness, she transitioned from a career in information technology to human resources.
- Volunteer work or internships provide a bridge to transition. Volunteer work can play a key role in making transitions. It helps to gain new experience, and allows people to make connections in fields with people who can help down the road. Internships are no longer just for college students. Many career changers are engaged in internships or shadowing activities to develop their understanding of new areas.
- Network, network, network… This is critically important in the current job market. All of the panelists talked about the large numbers of people they reached out to for information and resources that pointed them in many productive directions.
- Create a system of support and accountability. No one is successful in a vacuum. Most of us can point to people or resources that helped us achieve a goal or a point of clarity that brought us to a more meaningful place. It is critical that you develop a network of support and accountability to help you continue on your transition path. Don’t do it alone! Develop a partnership with a friend, hire a coach or join a group of like-minded people who are ready to provide mutual support and encouragement. A great place to begin is to search on www.meetup.com for a group in your area that shares your interests.
- Make fear your ally. Many audience members shared their fears about networking and the job search, stating it left them feeling paralyzed in the process. This is a normal response to the process of change, yet it is hard to think of fear as an ally. The emotions of fear and excitement can feel similar. When you feel fear, stop and ask yourself: Am I in danger or am I excited about something that is frightening because I truly want it? If it is the latter, those feelings of fear can serve you well in getting you to think and move towards what you want.
- Believe that you will get to the point you are meant to be. The panelists talked their transitions as a process that involved struggling. When they believed in the possibility of achieving a goal they envisioned an increased likelihood of a satisfying outcome. While this may sound simple, it is not, yet believing or visualizing a positive outcome can be powerful in making something actually happen in your favor.
- Make use of resources to inspire and inform. Two books that I recommend to people considering a career transition are: Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra and Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck.
What resources have been instrumental in any transitions you have made in your career or life? I’d like to hear about them.