Switching Gears

Navigating a Career Transition

Last week, I met with an old girl friend, who I hadn't seen in six months, for a coffee. Over steaming cups of java, we cooed over pictures of her newborn daughter, guffawed about past loves, and dried tears of laughter sharing memories of our colourful trial-and-error 20s.

When the conversation turned to work, I told her that I was in the middle of a career transition. The laughter stopped. My friend suddenly looked worried and whispering, she asked me how I was doing. Cracking a grin, I assured her that I was fine, excited even, about exploring this new phase i n my work life.

A smile of total relief swept her face, as if I had told her I wasn't going to tat­ too my entire body yellow, after a ll. Truth is, I understood her reaction: for most people, a career transit ion ca n be a scar y, stressful idea and an even scarier, more stressful reality. But with the right support and attitude, it doesn't have to be.

In today's rough-and -tumble economic times, a career transition can happen for many reasons, at any stage and age in your work life. And since job security doesn't necessarily depend on seniority, the only thing left to safeguard is your attitude towards yourself, your abilities and yes , your age.

Take the time to do a persona l and professional inventory of t h e past five years: what were your goals, financial needs, hobbies and ambitions. How do they compare with where you find yourself now on you r career path? If you've drifted away from your dream job or dream life­ style, you thought that you would be earning a living; a career transition present s the perfect opportunity to get yourself back on track towards reaching those long-lost goals.

Regard less of the reasons you find yourself in a career transition mode, there are endless possibilities a nd rewards, for taking the time to explore who you are and what the next chapter of your employment will look like. Below, Rose Minichiello, Managing Director of Career Managment & Transition at Verity International Limited, provides a list of easy, practical tips for navigating a career transition:

Do:

  • Research (on yourself, industry and market trends).
  • Enjoy every step of the process. You'll use the skills that you learn now in the future.
  • Cultivate a positive external attitude ("Attitude not aptitude determines altitude:').
  • Have a plan A, B, C: long-term, medium­ term and short-term goals.
  • Ask for help and follow an experts advice.

Don't:

  • Underestimate the time it takes to go through a career transition or find a new job.
  • Obsess over it, but be consistent in your job search. It's a full time job that requires persistence, so you don't drift.
  • Get discouraged. Be prepared for a roller­ coaster ride of feelings and experiences; you get on at the end of one job, you ride the journey of ups and downs, and you get off at the end of the ride with a new job.
  • Think you can only do what you 've been doing.
  • Sell yourself short.