Mastering the Art of Career Transitions – Part I

Wed, 2011-10-26 09:18 -- tomjonez

In the current economic climate there are many people who are experiencing career transitions.  Some of these transitions are voluntary – people are seeking a new career opportunity or alternate career path.  Other transitions are involuntary and even can come as a surprise in the midst of an otherwise stable career.

There are also transitions in volunteer positions.  Some are cyclical (new board member every two years, etc.) and others are the result of personal interest and a desire to get involved in volunteer opportunities.

Either way, there are several keys to handling personal transitions that can help the process go more smoothly.  The following are some of the strategies that can assist in stabilizing the process:

  1. Know Thyself – This famous saying by the Philosopher Socrates plays well on the topic of transitions.  The better we understand our own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, our values and personal goals, the greater the stability in our lives during transitions.
  2. Take Action – The motto of one of my friends can be summed up in the phrase, “Do stuff.”  By this, he means take action.  Begin to view the transition like any other task or assignment and begin to take immediate steps to move in a direction.  As a saying is often told, it is easier to steer a boat that is moving than one that is drifting.  Get going, take (almost any) action without delay.
  3. Make a Plan – Many would say that this step should come first, before taking action.  My experience is that far too often people indicate they don’t want to act without a plan…and so they never act and instead simply drift.  My experience informs me that it is best to have the mind-set of taking action, and then plan as part of that action, without delay.  That said, do make a plan.  “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail…”
  4. Network – It’s not what you know that matters; rather, it’s who you know.  As a central part of any plan, connect personally with key people you know, ask them for their input and counsel, have them suggest others you should contact, follow up and make those contacts, then do it.
  5. Be Persistent – Keep going.  You now have a new career: getting to the new career position you want.  Your new job has become getting your new job.  Stay after it, set a firm schedule and stick to it.  As we wrote about in a previous email, never, never, never give up!

There are other aspects of a career or volunteer transitions that we will explore in the next few weeks.  These include strategies and cautions that can help us each navigate the change successfully.

What are your strategies?  What have you learned from your experiences?  Your observations?  Even from your failures?

Let us know your thoughts...