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Career Coaching 101 – What to do when you are in transition

As an executive search firm, the team at Centennial connects with many talented individuals who are going through career transition.  Some of these individuals are passively exploring what opportunities are out there, while others are fully engaged in an active job search.  One question we hear regularly is, “What is the best way to find a job?”

At an executive level, a career change is a pretty big life change.  The search requires a significant investment of time and research to find a job that really fits your skills and personality.  If possible, you want to avoid doing things that are not effective, so gathering expert advice is a good first step.

As the CEO of Centennial, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people in career transition.  As I have coached them, several reoccurring themes have surfaced that are relevant to everyone.  These reoccurring themes are the areas I want to focus on today.

Coaching for Career Transition

The first bit of advice, which may seem paradoxical, is to enjoy this time and make the most of it.  There are some huge benefits to going through the exercises I’m going to recommend.  This can really be a memorable and life-changing experience.  So, go into it with an optimistic attitude as opposed to an attitude of dread, fear and frustration.

Beyond the right attitude, there are 3 areas that you should dedicate some time to, in order to secure a job that will be fulfilling.  I strongly recommend that these three things be done if you hope to find the right job for you.  Apart from doing this strategic work, you may find yourself in a job that fits your skills but is not a good fit for your personality or values.

  1. Self-reflect
  2. Construct a clear message
  3. Network with purpose

Self-Reflect During Your Transition

Self-Reflection is foundational to a successful job search.  The reality is, you need time to assess your strengths,  weaknesses, your optimal working environment, and your passions.  These key aspects are not quickly discovered in two, short minutes.  To really figure out your best fit, you need to think through the type of tasks that energize you and conversely, which tasks typically lead to poor outcomes.  An outside perspective can be extremely eye-opening in this process as well.

The goal of self-reflection is to develop a better idea of who you are and identify the job that you are best suited for.  This can help you avoid chasing the wrong opportunities, and instead, confidently pursue jobs that you know align with who you are and what you are seeking.

Along with reflecting on who you are today, consider who you want to be 3-5 years from now.  Where do you need to focus today so that you are heading in the right direction for your future?  Figure out the type of environment that will encourage you to put down roots and grow.

Construct a Clear Message

After you spend some serious time in self-reflection, you must construct a clear message.  The self-reflection piece helped you clarify your strengths, weaknesses, passions and so on, and now you need to be able to articulate them to others.

Part of your message should be tied to your weaknesses.  I recommend that you go into an interview equipped with a confident response to your perceived liabilities.  Your preparedness will show that you have already thought about how a potential weakness can be a positive thing. For example, if you perceive that your lack of industry experience will be a strike against you, have an answer ready to explain why you are still an exceptional candidate.  Let the hiring team know that you have thought about this potential issue and you see it as an advantage.

In general, the clearer you can be with your message, the easier it is for you to find the right job.  When you can clearly state what an organization gains by hiring you, you will leave a lasting impression on the hiring team.  Your competitive advantage over other candidates is being self-aware and knowing how to lead accordingly.

Network with Purpose

Thirdly, I advise you to network with purpose.  This goes beyond telling your best buddies that you are looking for a job.  Now that you have spent time in self-reflection and developing a message, you can confidently tell anyone exactly what you’re looking for.  This allows you to narrow in on the right connections which leads to the right organization.

During this transition time, navigate your way to the people with connections to what you are after.  Deliver your clear message and ask  if they know anyone in those types of companies.  Tap into your connections to get in front of the right people.  Do not forget your alumni groups, associations, friends, and service providers.

Part of networking with purpose is reciprocating the help.  ALWAYS ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?”  You have no idea what they may need, that may be a simple thing for you to make happen.  Remember that the people you are interacting with are not a means to an end.  They are people with needs just like you.  Offer your help and be sure to offer them heartfelt thanks for the time they spend with you.

Don’t Forget the Resume

These 3 aspects are the key to your career search, but I can’t leave out the all-important topic of resume and online presence.  You must have a resume and online bios that are noteworthy and eye-catching.  We highly recommend hiring a professional resume writer to help you with this essential piece.  We have an outstanding business partner who can help you if that is an area of need for you.  You can read about her offerings and credentials here.

We also have some additional blog articles that can get you started:

What I outlined above is the biggest part of what I share with absolutely everyone in transition.  No matter who you are and what career you are looking for, self-reflection, your message, and your network are the key ingredients to help you find the right job for you.