Whether you’re woefully under-employed or yearning to make a change, Career Change is Inevitable: Best Practices for Transitioning with Confidence will help you adapt—right now and into the future. Let’s explore how to manage your emotions and time as you prepare to transition from an old job into a new career. You’ll learn to define your Strengths and Weaknesses, prioritize key lessons learned in the past, create a Plan B for the times when you feel stuck, and build a Bridge between past and future.
1. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you know and embrace change.
Accept that your current environment is no longer a good fit. This will require you to let go of old habits, limiting beliefs and self-imposed limits that keep you stuck in the past. It may be scary at first as our minds are trained to resist change, yet when you think about the alternative (staying stuck), it becomes clear that change is the new normal. Embracing it whole-heartedly now will help make the transition smoother and less jarring later on.
2. Consider the next 5 years and plan accordingly – career plan, financial plan, family plan, etc… – BE PREPARED! This is one of the most important points, yet, also the hardest to think about and implement. But if you don’t plan well now, you will not be prepared when things are changing quickly at work or at home.
I have seen so many friends/colleagues burn out just because they didn’t take their family situation or career goals into account.
– Think about the next 5 years, and start planning now when things are relatively stable. What is the USP/value that you bring to your current job/organisation? Start building a reputation around it, talk about it in interviews for new jobs/promotions etc… set up some freelancing around this area, get some exposure and start building a network.
The moment things start changing at work or at home, you will be prepared to jump on the opportunities that emerge. But if you don’t plan for these changes well in advance, then you may find yourself ill-prepared with no options left when an opportunity does arise out of the blue.
– Remember, opportunities come from people who know you very well and are in a position to help you take advantage of the situation. These are not random people that you come across while walking down the street or happen to meet at a conference. Think about this as early as possible! Build your network & reputation around your USP, and you will stand out among the crowd.
3. Be ready for some hard work. You have to put in the extra effort at tracks positions, especially during your initial years when you are building a reputation around your specific USP. Remember that at this point of time you don’t really have very much leverage as far as negotiating your salary is concerned. So you will have to work hard at tracks positions and put in that extra bit of effort, for which you will be rewarded with greater opportunities in the future when things do start changing – remember Einstein’s quote:
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
4. Take opportunities to learn new skills whenever you get the chance, and be open to short term lateral moves if they are aligned with your career goals & overall USP. Don’t worry about doing a job that doesn’t involve what you studied for or where your skill set is not utilized properly/fully – as long as it allows you to learn new skills & add to your USP.
Again, don’t get stuck in a job just because it looks good on paper or you are comfortable there (the grass is always greener syndrome). You can always move onto something else better later on. And if the present employer provides great professional development opportunities/training programs then obviously consider staying on even if you are not learning all that much – make the most out of it.
5. Be a great team player & don’t be too proud to ask for help/advice while working hard. This is a good time to learn about your organization, colleagues and bosses as they will play an important part in helping you catapult your career in the future. This will happen if you have built a good reputation around your USP at tracks positions.
Once again, don’t be too proud to ask for help/advice and share what you know even when it might not seem relevant to the job you are doing at that point of time – this is especially true when you are still building your reputation and learning new skills. This may come a bit counter intuitive but it is one thing that I have learnt while working with some very smart people – the earlier in your career, the more open you should be to share what you know!
A great lesson learnt: What does not kill me makes me stronger!
6. When you do get new opportunities at tracks positions and/or promotions, don’t sit on your laurels thinking that this is it – the moment has come! This could be just the beginning of a long upslope journey, so keep pushing yourself to learn new skills & improve upon what you are already good at.
– Be hungry for more!
7. Also, don’t get too attached to a particular job role or organization at tracks positions. Think independently and have the confidence to change jobs/your organization if you feel that it is not right for you anymore. This is especially true if your present job doesn’t give you opportunities to use your skills to add value in a meaningful way.
Also, if you are completely new to the market then be prepared for some uncertainty & instability – that is just how it is with early career jobs! The primary purpose of early career jobs is to help you build your USP and learn new skills – once these have been achieved (say after a few years), it is more likely that you will have more stability in your career. So don’t get too attached to a particular job role or organization at tracks positions – always keep your eyes open for better opportunities elsewhere and do what it takes to grow yourself.
I strongly feel that the early part of one’s career should be a time to play around, try new things and gain as much professional experience as possible. This is the time to be adventurous & bold!
8. The purpose of this article is mainly to help you see that pursuit of early career jobs can – if planned properly – add a lot more direction & focus into your overall career plan. Remember that the more long term value you add, the better it will be for your career – it’s that simple!
Also, once your professional development has reached a certain stage you will start to see opportunities opening up for yourself at tracks positions which are in alignment with your overall career goals. This is when having gained the knowledge & experience required to pursue them will make all the difference – so do plan ahead & have a clearly defined long term career path.
9. Ask for help, advice, or mentorship from someone you respect the most in your career and take it to heart when they say what works best for them doesn’t always work best for you -because you are not them.
10. Make a plan for what your life will look like in five years, in three years, and one year from now. Be honest with yourself about how realistic they are based on your current situation and be active daily toward making them as realistic as possible -because you deserve it.
Bonus tip:. Surround yourself with people on their own journey of change and transformation; there’s nothing like perspective from a peer to propel you forward.