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Career Transition, Career Choices

By Career Coach, Meredith Haberfeld

Whether you’re about to be dumped out of your current position or bored to screaming point by work that used to be gratifying, one way to stay ahead of the unsettling see-saw of a career transition is careful preparation.

Most people find life transitions intimidating, especially on the work front. But now is actually a prime time to lean toward the next fulfilling adventure in your career.

Here are 10 steps that will help get you where you want to be going:

1. Stay in reality: You need a well thought-out financial plan for your transition, including the time frame by which you want to be in your next job, and how long you can freely explore without running low on funds. Important: take the time to do the math up front. If you have six months worth of financial padding then the plan has to accommodate being situated in a new job where your basic life needs are taken care of in that amount of time. (That’s not to say you can’t pursue a parallel path if your savings are insufficient, of course, but you may have to stick with your current employer or find an interim position that pays the bills while continuing to work toward your goal.) Don’t be impatient, be strategic.

2. Hone in: Do a brainstorming-around your ideal dream job to hone down career choices.

a. Write out the elements you like in your previous work (e.g. being with people, exercising leadership, doing email, etc).

b. What elements do you want in your career that you have not yet had in your day to day job or from your total experience of working?

c. What elements do you want to not have in your next career?

d. How much money are you committed to making?

e. What jobs have you loved? And for each one, write out:

1. what you loved about it

2. anything you didn’t love about it

f. What are all the careers you’ve thought of in the last 5 years?
(Don’t worry about whether or not you have a PhD. People think insularly. Your task here is to broaden your thinking.)

1. Then, go back and make a bulleted list of each of the career choices, defining what it is about each career choice that interests you.

Examples: Veterinarian–the pleasure of healing, being with animals.
Interior Designer tapping into my artistic side, creating beautiful things and settings, working with people.

Notice how this leads you to a list of your own VALUES in your work life.

Choose the top 5-8 of the career choices that are most important to you. Now you have your list of deal-breaker’ VALUES that must be there for you in your next job.
Then you can brainstorm and begin a fact-hunting mission to develop a written list of the handful of jobs/career choices that are a match for your deal-breaker’ list.

3. Soak up information like a sponge: Talk to everyone appropriate (which will be more people than you first imagine) about your interest in transitioning your career. Most people are chasing a mirage, and far too often they make career choices based on fantasy thinking or simply on poor information. Also our relationship to work is inevitably altered as we grow and change the average person often makes several career changes over the course of a lifetime. So being informed about such an important next step is vital.

Live research allows you to hone in on the very real elements you want to move way from and gravitate to the ones that you find match your desires. Get the word out to the people you know about what you’re interested in pursuing and ask them specifically who they know that would be useful for you to speak with. Find every opportunity you can to talk with people who are in the jobs or fields for career choices you’re considering.

This is one of the MOST CRITICAL elements of a successful career transition and to make the right career choices, yet it is the piece that is most often missing. Not only does this process refine your decision making, but the ancillary benefit is that the very individuals you reach out to for your live research become a critical part of your network that ultimately parlays you into your next job and career.

4. Talk to people: Get away from the computer! Through every phase of your entire transition, authentically cultivate relationships. This is the single most powerful force leading to successful job transitions. Nurture and expand your network of friends. Don’t come off like you’re only interested in selling yourself but be sincere, get on their radar screen by fostering a genuine connection.

Go to industry conferences, parties, cocktails, morning breakfasts; and create and develop relationships. Ask not what others can do for you, but what you can do for them. This reciprocity will have you be “top of mind” when the right opportunity presents itself.

5. The art of re-positioning yourself: If some of your career choices are in a new industry, spend time getting extremely clear about your “portable value”. Know and be able to concisely communicate your unique worth and just how your skills will benefit your future industry and new employer. Practice succinctly articulating – in your elevator pitch’, as well as your resume – how your distinctive talents, abilities, and accomplishments perfectly position you for what you’re seeking to do. Every person’s experience can be re-packaged to meet the demands of a new industry. Spending the time to do this right makes an enormous difference between success and failure.

6. Find your ROI: When preparing to look for a job in a new industry, clarify and focus on the measurable contributions to the bottom-line result you’ve achieved for your former or current employers, and show how it can work anywhere. Present your significant skills and explain how you’re ready to out-compete even in another industry. Every time you are asked “What do you do or want to be doing?” answer this question instead, “Why should you pay my salary?”

7. Action: Daily action is required. Create a strategic plan for your transition; with daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Start with where you want to end up: figure out what you need to know about your new career and each possible career choice, and what you need to do to get there. Build a pipeline of actions from there. Actions can be small; but be in motion.

8. Build in accountability: Get a partner to hold you to your plan and keep your word, without regard for disappointments or your mood. Ask people to champion you when you face set-backs, but to hold you accountable for sticking to your daily actions and driving yourself forward. Too often people get bogged down by disappointments and then buy into in the belief that the work world is too tough right now. Daily actions that stretch you, and maintaining accountability to your plan not only reduce overwhelm and anxiety, they’re a powerful impetus to get you to your ultimate goal.

9. Momentum: There is an effort equation when starting something new; for example, for every 100 units’ of effort you put in, you can expect 1 result. As you gain momentum, this equation improves, to perhaps 1 result for only 50 units’ of effort in. This means play put the energy in. If you’re impatient, you may get discouraged by not seeing the results as quickly as you want. But it is mathematical. Put the energy in, consistently, no matter what, and the results start flowing in.

10. Courage: When setting out to do something different you may have a crisis of confidence; a feeling like I am a charlatan or There’s no way I can pull this off! There is often a period of time when you are gaining credibility within yourself. Have patience during this phase and know this period is finite. In the mean time, fake it. Don’t be wishy-washy: when introducing yourself – statements like “I’m trying to be an author” or “I’m sort of working on becoming a therapist” sabotage you. Get in the habit of saying, “I’m a writer” or “I’m a chef”. Hear yourself say the words–listen to what you are and be proud. Once you get your feet under you for long enough, your this turns to genuine confidence.

A final note: The days of linear careers are over. Be pragmatic; take all your differing agendas into account, including how much you need to be making, what you love and hate doing, the legacy you want to leave, the transition time you have available for making a career move. This will help you make the right career choices.

When you finally free up your thinking and accept that reality and desire can be accounted for you discover so much more is possible and you get to real actionable answers. Now it becomes a matter of breaking up the transition into Lego pieces'; individual manageable blocks that build on one other to get you out of your head and into action, and in the direction you want to take. The horizon then becomes limitless.

To contact Meredith, click here on Contact Page or call 866-599-6535.