Thinking about a career transition? It can be a difficult and somewhat scary thing to do. This article by guest author Sharon Teitelbaum shows you how to do it right.
Through my own two major career changes, and after coaching many people through successful career change, I have determined six useful strategies for navigating this life passage with skill, perspective, humor, a sense of adventure, and a great outcome.
First of all, know up front that few people feel skilled at figuring out a new career or finding that next job. Most people find the task daunting. If you are someone who is used to feeling on top of your game, be willing to be out of your comfort zone on this one - chances are, this is not your game. And if you are usually a not-too-confident person, know that in this context, you are not alone in feeling unsure or yourself.
These career transition strategies can help.
Let's look at each of these in more detail.
1. Know this: CAREER TRANSITION NOT A LINEAR PROCESS!
You will experience less frustration and waste less time if you accept this and don't try to use your left brain to figure out the whole thing in advance. Allow for surprises, serendipitous connections, and intuitive hits.
Be very clear on your intention, stay in action, and listen to the feedback. By "listen to the feedback" I mean observe your results. Notice what's working and what isn't. Keep doing what's working. Stop doing what's not working and get some help with it - try to figure out WHY it's not working, and fix it if it's fixable. Stay in action!
Did you ever play the board game Clue? Remember the secret passage from the Kitchen to the Ballroom? In a career process, you never know when or where you will find a secret passage!
2. Network, Network, Network! to make your career transition easier.
Let everyone know what you are up to, and let them know how they can help you. I mean everyone. Not just your closest friends and your siblings, everyone! That means the people you run into, your neighbors, your hairdresser, your colleagues, your doctor, dentist, accountant, attorney, the folks who service your car, and so forth.
Have you ever been able to be helpful to someone who wanted to make a connection of some sort? Have you, for example, ever been able to give someone the name of a great house painter (electrician, accountant, chiropractor) when they asked? It's an easy and delightful thing to do for another person. Let the people in your life have that opportunity with you. Let them know how they can help you. Is there a company or an industry you wish you knew somebody in so you could talk to them? Ask around.
During my own career exploration that eventually led me to coaching, there was a point at which I wanted to deliver some corporate training on issues pertaining to personal and organizational change. Although I knocked directly on corporate doors, my breakthrough opportunity came from a student in one of the music classes I was teaching at the time. She asked me to do a training for her staffs on "Managing Change." She knew of my interest because I had told the class what I was up to.
Of course, if your exploration needs to be confidential, you will need to be more discrete in the way that you do it. Do your job networking quietly, but do your networking.
3. Be Generous With Self Acknowledgment and Self-Care
Two kinds of self acknowledgment are required during a career transition.
First, you must regularly acknowledge yourself for the hard work you are doing.
There is a 4-part cycle that your work is part of: 1. set a goal, 2. do the work, 3. meet the goal, and 4. acknowledge and celebrate. The fourth part is equivalent to a paycheck and a boss saying to you, "Good job. I appreciate the work you're doing!" Your self acknowledgment can be simple and sweet.
The second kind of self-acknowledgment involves your getting very clear on as many of your skills and gifts as you can and taking full ownership of them. You really need to be in full command of what it is you have to offer "out there" in the marketplace. Many people have a hard time "owning" and claiming their expertise, but it's really essential that you know who you are and what you have to offer - not inflated, not deflated, but accurate.
In addition, extreme self care is called for, above and beyond the usual level. Career transition is hard work which can be very depleting. You need to keep yourself nourished - do more of the things that fuel you. And you need to be sure that there are no places where energy is leaking - you need all your energy for this work.
4. Choose Expansive vs Limiting Beliefs
We love to be right. We love to see our beliefs proven true. Those of us who think that people are basically good tend to see the world through that filter. Take a good hard look at the beliefs that are your filter, particularly where they pertain to work, money and opportunity. Do you believe that people "like you" (your gender, age, level of experience) don't have a chance in the job market? If so, then you will not have a chance because you will not see the opportunities out there for you. Does part of you believe that having money is not a good thing? If so, then you will manifest that ambivalence by not attracting more of it than you already have.
5. Build and Use Support Systems
Do not do this alone. Hire a coach, join or form a group, find a success buddy, create a structured arrangement with a friend. Here are the important elements you want in your support structure: you want people who believe in you and in your quest; you want something structured, so that there is a routine to the support.
In a structured arrangement with a friend for example, you could set it up so each of you gets a 5-minute check-in to report on what you have accomplished since the last time you spoke. And you need to end by getting clear on what your next steps are for today and until the next time you meet.
6. Stay on the Plus Side
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Then start climbing out.
There will be some days you feel inspired, excited, and pumped. There may be other days you feel discouraged, tired, and disenchanted. You need to develop a strong witness to these ups and downs, that is, develop a part of you that is able to stand outside the feelings and simply observe. When you can observe your feelings as well as experience them, you have power and options.
When you're "up" use the time constructively - this is a great time to take risks, to talk with people, to be bold. When you are feeling low, it is critical that you recognize it for what it is - a feeling - and use your skills to get yourself into a more constructive and energetic space. Start developing an inventory of activities and strategies that get you out of these low places. Everyone's inventory will be a little different. Some people are uplifted by spending time in nature; other people get lifted out of discouragement by sharing with friends what's going on for them and letting the friends help them. And even when you're feeling low, you can stay in action. It may not be the time to make phone calls, but it can be a great time to do research on the internet, or pick up your suits at the cleaners.
In summary, career transition or job change is a challenging life event. Take very good care of yourself during this process - do not take yourself for granted. Let others contribute to your quest in a variety of ways. And enjoy the adventure!
Sharon Teitelbaum is a Work-Life and Career Coach who works with high achieving women with young children, people at mid-career, and professionals seeking greater career satisfaction or work-life balance. Her book, Getting Unstuck Without Coming Unglued: Restoring Work-Life Balance, is available at her website, http://www.STcoach.com.
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