• Jon Mechan

Managing Career Transitions

A few years ago, a client of mine lost his job.


Here's how we got him a role he loves.


(I'll call him 'Jim' in this article.)


Step 1: Grieve the loss


Losing a job is traumatic, no matter the circumstances. It's important to take time to grieve what was lost so that you can look forward to what's next. You will go through the famous five stages of grief, probably several times, and in random order.


It's also important to take a bit of a break - even if you don't have a long runway before you need income, taking some time off to reset and refresh will prepare you better for the work to come.


Jim and I spent some time together on this step - talking through what had happened and reflecting on what he learned from the experience. He also took some time off, spent time with his family, and had a short vacation.


Step 2: Clarify next role


It's tempting to jump into the first opportunity that comes along when you're out of work. So the next thing to talk about was purpose - we didn't want to get him just any job. We wanted to get him a really good job that would satisfy his needs and align with his core values.


This is where we got into some really great deep work together - we explored what it was that he'd loved about his previous role, his biggest achievements, and what he hadn't enjoyed as much. We looked at his motivations and got some clarity around his values, and, looking at the bigger picture, what he wanted his life's purpose to be. This allowed him to be much more selective in his job search.

 

Since working with the wonderful Robert Ellis, I now use these questions to help clarify what the next role should be:

1. What do you want to talk about all day?

2. Who do you want to talk about it with?

3. What do you want to be known for?

These questions can really crystallize what sort of roles you should be applying for.


 

Part of this step is also to decide on the criteria to be used when assessing which roles to go for and, ultimately, which to choose. For example, does the company do something you're excited about? What are their values and are they aligned with yours? What sort of remuneration will you accept (i.e. equity arrangements, options, bonus structure etc.)?


Waiting to hear back from potential employers can be demotivating...keep going!


Step 3: Prepare for success


With a clarified purpose and selection criteria in mind, we could then move on to the next stage - preparing for success in the application process. This meant updating Jim's resume, ensuring it was pitched at the right level and tailored to the roles he wanted, and doing some interview practice.


The key thing with interview practice is not to learn rote answers, it's to get comfortable with the idea of selling yourself. This is not something that most people do on a day-to-day basis, so it takes practice. We ran through some questions and ensured that he was hitting the key points he wanted to mention with each one.


Step 4: Practice and reflect


Now comes the real work - getting into conversations with potential employers. At this point, Jim was largely on his own.


The main objectives were to remember that he was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing him, and to ensure that after each call he took some time to reflect on what went well and what he might do differently next time.


Networking is a key activity at this stage - **use your network** to get referrals and to ensure your resume makes it through the awful automated screening processes a lot of companies have in place these days.


Step 5: Keep going


The final stage is all about iteration. Just keep going. Have the calls, go through the interviews, and don't lose heart if you're not immediately successful. I've heard it said that you should plan for a month of job search for every $10k you want to earn.


In Jim's case it took a while to land the job, but when he did, he absolutely landed on his feet, in a more senior role, in an industry he's passionate about, and he's rapidly progressing his career there already.

 

I hope this was helpful. If you're in the midst of a career transition right now, don't lose hope! The right role is out there for you...try following the above and see how you get on.


Once you land the dream job, onboarding and your first few months are critical - I'll write about this in a future article.

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