What Do I Know About Career Transition?

I was recently interviewed to be featured in a blog post for a national career advancement organization. “Can you give us five tried and true principles that apply to career and life coaching?” was one of their questions.

What a perfect opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learned from working with so many talented and motivated professionals! Here are the big ideas I hear myself sharing with every client in career transition, at some point or another in our conversation.

1. Get your story straight

When asked what opportunity you are looking for, or why you left your last job, you need to have answers that are honest, direct, and positive. For some people, these answers come easily. For others, especially those who might feel direction-less, or whose last job ended badly, these answers will require thought and practice. Remember, you have control over your answers — and the accompanying body language and energy. Practice telling your story from the perspective that is most empowering and in a way that keeps the energy of the conversation moving forward. If you focus on the boss you hated, that’s what the conversation will be about. Likewise, if you focus on the type of challenge you are ready for, so will the person you are speaking with. You don’t want your answers to feel scripted, but you do want to practice different phrases and sentences you might use.

2. It’s all who you know

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: networking matters! When you are looking for a job, you should be talking with everyone you know. Many people make the mistake of networking only with their professional acquaintances or past colleagues. While these people are important, so are people you might know from your gym, your house of worship, your alumni organization, or your child’s school. One of my clients got a lead for a job because she struck up a conversation with another dog owner at the local dog park. Remember: you never know where a job lead or contact will come from.

3. Confidence is critical

I help people transform their self-doubt into confidence. The way I see it, believing in ourselves is critical and underlies everything we do. To show you what I mean, think about your life for a moment. Ask yourself, “What part of my life needs more confidence right now? If I had more confidence, what is it I would be able to do?” Perhaps the answer is that you could leave a horrible work situation and look for a new job; or speak up to your boss and tell him or her what challenges you are ready for; or learn how to play a new instrument. How can you move your confidence up a notch, so that you can take risks and be brave? When we are confident, we radiate energy that impresses and attracts other people.

4. Navigating career transition is like playing chess

When speaking with clients who are looking for a new job, or thinking about looking for a new job, I like to use the analogy of a chess game. When you play chess, you have your choice of pieces to move. Each piece plays a role, and you will likely move all of your pieces during a game. You just can’t move them all at once. Same with job searching. There are many pieces: your resume, LinkedIn profile, interview preparation, elevator pitch, networking plan, and self-confidence. Each of these job seeking “pieces” is important, and we address each of them in coaching, but we take them one at a time.

5. Be kind to yourself

Job searching can be rough, especially when you’ve been at it awhile. Here’s what my clients say: “People don’t get back to me…my emails and calls seem to go into a black void…” Does that sound familiar? Unfortunately, that seems to be the norm these days — which is why it’s even more important to be kind to yourself. You can do this in two main ways. First, celebrate each success along the way, even the smallest ones. Second, take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, and spent time with friends and family. Doing these will make you feel better, which will increase your mood and energy overall.

Lastly, be sure to have support along the way. You get to choose your team, so make it an all-star one. Choose family, friends, and support professionals who are supportive and help motivate and inspire you. Then, after you get your job, you can all celebrate together.

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