Sometimes career change goes smoothly.
But for a lot of professionals, the experience of career change feels like being on a rollercoaster. The process is one of ups and downs.
It’s not surprising that for many professionals, handling the emotional demands is the most challenging part of the whole career change and job search experience.
This is the first of a series of posts exploring how to navigate your career change, even when it’s an emotional rollercoaster. The good news is that even if it’s a while since you’ve changed careers, you’re not starting from scratch.
Today’s article provides tips for how to build a bridge between your current career transition and what you’ve learned from previous transitions in your work and your life.
The Ingredients of A Successful Career Transition
Making changes in your career can be a lot of work.
You’re setting career goals. You’re researching companies and searching for opportunities. You’re spending time networking. You’re preparing your career communication materials such as your resume or CV.
But for most professionals, it’s not the practical tasks that are the biggest challenge. What’s often more difficult is managing the ups and downs of the career change experience.
The good news is that whether this is your first or your fifth career change, you already know a lot about change.
So how can you apply what you have learned from previous transitions to your current experience?
Here is one way to do that. When you’re in the middle of your career transition, you’re probably not thinking about previous career changes. But you may be missing out on things that already know. You can remedy this by following the simple steps below.
Even if you don’t have a lot of career change experience, you have already experienced important changes in your life. You don’t have to limit yourself to work-related change. In fact, some of your most significant learning about change may come from your personal life.
List Significant Personal and Professional Change Experiences
Here’s what to do.
Make a list of important past change experiences.
These can be any events that are of personal significance to you. Examples might be important achievements, health-related events, losses, or relocation. Now look through your list.
Choose one experience to explore further.
As your reflect back on this change, remind yourself of all the things that helped you reach your goals.
What personal strengths did you use?
Did you come up with creative solutions to difficult problems?
Maybe it was your communication skills that made the biggest difference.
Or was it your ability to plan and delegate so that things got done?
Consider also external supports that were important during this change.
This might include the support of mentors or friends and family. It might include changes you made in your environment and ways that you took care of yourself.
Once you have this list the most important types of support for you during this particular transition, look through it.
What is most relevant to your current change?
What can you build on and improve?
Choose one or two things to apply to your current career transition.
No two career changes are the same.
But it can be reassuring to realize that you’re not starting from scratch.
You already know a lot about change. Build on the strengths you already have.
Reviewing previous change experiences not only helps your to develop your career resilience, but can also be a good way of avoiding mistakes that you’d rather not repeat.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 7, no. 4
About the Author
Jennifer Bradley, Ph.D. helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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