Except for very rare exceptions, we will all find ourselves in a career transition sometime in our life, and very likely, more than once. Naturally, career transition may be a time of anxiety, fueled by the uncertainty that accompanies it. However, it is possible to navigate this tumultuous time and end up a better version of yourself in a job you love. I consulted our most seasoned recruiters, who cumulatively have more than 80 years of experience, seeking their advice on how to successfully navigate career transitions. They all agreed on two important “first” steps that you should take as soon as possible when faced with career transition:
1. Reflect and reevaluate
2. Network, network, network.
Step 1: Reflect and Reevaluate
Step one requires you to reevaluate your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. This is when you can productively catch your breath and take the time to reflect. Your strengths may have changed over the years, so don’t assume your greatest strength five years ago is still your greatest strength today.
Don’t forget to take a close look at your weaknesses. This can be hard. Sometimes we’re blind to our weak spots. It could be very valuable to ask a close friend, family member, or coworker to give you an honest evaluation of your weaknesses. The better you know yourself, the better you will present yourself in interviews, and the better the likelihood of finding the “right” position.
Along with your strengths, weaknesses and passions, think through what you consider your ideal work environment. What type of culture do you thrive in? What level of chemistry would you like with your team members? What character are you seeking in your next employer? Furthermore, take a look at what you’re most passionate about and see if you can find something that includes those passions.
Reevaluating and self-reflection is the critical, first step in finding a lasting, more fulfilling job. Taking time to learn more about yourself and determine what you really want in a job will help you network smarter, interview with confidence and enjoy the relationships you build along the way (more of that in a future blog post!)
After you establish your strengths, weaknesses, passions, and ideal work environment, you’re ready to focus on finding the right job that will bring you success and fulfillment. The next challenge is learning where the right job is. This takes a lot of networking. Network with people you know and people you don’t know.
Julie Warden, Director of Client Services at Centennial suggests tackling your networking strategy by implementing “3 P’s,” with an overarching theme of professionalism.
Be Proactive – Seek out key people who can give you referrals into industries or companies of interest. Now that you have taken time to establish what your target job is (see Step 1), you can be clear in your requests to your network.
Be Patient – Be patient with those you wish to meet. One phone call or one email may not get a response. People are busy and it may take time for them to respond or schedule a meeting. Don’t be discouraged! By nature, most people want to help (wouldn’t you?)
Perseverance Pays Off – You may need to talk to many people to find the right connections to ultimately land the right job. Mike Sipple Sr., with more than 40 years of recruiting experience, stresses the need to meet everyone who is suggested to you. Don’t make your own assumptions about the value of the referral. Keep a log of everyone you meet. Be sure to send a note, thanking them for the meeting and any key introductions they make for you.
In each of these areas it is extremely important to maintain professionalism with your networking. Negativity will not win you any friends. Remember you are seeking help and any assistance you are offered is a blessing.
These first two steps might seem basic, but it is surprising how many candidates in career transition wait for the people and the jobs to come to them. Take the time to self-reflect and take the time to reach out. Take action now. Each step you take moves you closer to your ideal position.