How to Tackle Career Transition or Job Change with Confidence

In a recent overview of 10 years survey responses collected by Jan Tegze, Senior Recruiting Manager at Solarwinds and author of Full Stack Recruiter: The Modern Recruiters Guide, Tegze summarizes Seven Top Reasons Why People Change Jobs. Data from over 8500 individuals is shown in his chart above.

Causes for career transition or job change is prompted by 4 forces—external, internal, developmental or unexpected, often traumatic events.

  • External events such as layoffs, mergers, new leadership or company reorganization are triggers for personal and career shake-up.
  • Developmental drivers such as readiness for a mate, family, home or new personal circumstance can snowball into career changes.
  • A divorce, unexpected illness or disability may also elicit change that impacts your work-life.
  • Often it’s an inner need for greater challenge, typically in a role with increased responsibility, recognition and compensation that motivates a transition or even a radical change.

Some changes feel like triggers and induce anxiety or desperation, a fight or flight response. We become reactive, making rash choices that may detour a career-life path or worse, result in a lifetime of undesirable consequences.

A better perspective is to approach them as “Choice Points.” When it’s a Choice Point, you have a choice in how you respond or capitalize on any circumstance. Creating a whole-life, an integrated life perspective is an awareness that decisions in one area of your life affects all other areas. So any job, career or business change is complex.

At each Choice Point you can settle for less, never knowing “what if,” or you can take control and strategically plan how you respond to the choice point so you build toward a better outcome. Thoughtfully create steps that actually lead where you want to go.

On the other hand, if you do nothing, you’ll be right where you are now.

Here are some tips to approach a job change or career transition with clarity and confidence.

Stand Still and Listen

Instead of exiting a job dramatically with negative emotion, seeking a promotion with lots of over-zealous activity, or starting a new venture without a strategic plan and supportive team, a great starting point is to “Stand Still.” Standing Still is taking a breath, framing the discontent as opportunity. It’s an opportunity to become more self-aware so you assess fully, listen to what the discontent is telling you and then, from that centered place opening to new possibilities that are right for you. Finding the right people to guide you there.

Face It and Think Strategically

People seldom seek change when things are going well. Seeking to consciously grow during these times is then a choice versus a push. Because the force of nature is all about growth, if we are not doing so, circumstances will arise to create discontent or circumstances leading to eventual change–desired, planned for or not.

So the internal or external circumstances leading to the need for work-life change are less important than how you approach it. You don’t have to like change. Just don’t whine or avoid it—embrace it.

Do Good Work

It goes without saying that while looking you continue doing a good job at work. In fact, to the contrary, be professional, fulfill your responsibilities, you want to make the change without burning bridges and with your head held high. But do it with self-awareness. Again, if you scramble and make change in a state of anxiety or desperation the chances of your new life or work being truly satisfying are slim.

If you make a desperate move it’s like treading water or losing ground. Instead, thoughtfully create strategic steps that actually lead where you want to go.

Preserve Some Time

To explore your discontent and do something new or different in your work-life, you will have to carve out some time. You probably feel you have “no time.” However, time is the top commodity for any real and satisfying change. Be open to new ways you might manage your time wisely and preserve some for yourself.

Conserve Your Energy

Lasting change requires mental energy and sometimes zaps emotional energy. Yet making a transition or job changes that stick—requires emotional and psychic energy.

This kind of energy makes people think they are “doing nothing” or ”wasting time” but it’s often more draining than lots of busywork. No one else can see the energy required, but you’re going to need it. You are going to need time and space to think and envision, to sleep, dream, and rest. Probably while you keep your current work-life and figure out next strategic action steps.

Start by noticing every place you give without being directly asked for help, or every time you over-give when less is what’s required. People who are discontent are often over-achievers, giving more to others and neglecting their own needs. Like some of my clients who have practiced these suggestions, you are probably a great problem-solver, giver, fixer, and everyone around you lets you do it. You have to figure out if that’s what you want to be known for, if that’s what your identity is founded on.

Manage Creativity

Top performers use their creative ideas wisely. If you are discontent in your current work-life, it’s important that you learn when and how to share your creative ideas, innovations, solutions or insights.

I suspect that you have a deep-seated creativity that you simply take for granted. You may even be saying, “No that’s not me,” but if we conducted a work-life overview to strategize career choices, you’d probably list many ways in which you applied your creativity—again by helping others achieve their goals.

I’m not suggesting you be withholding. Simply make better choices about what you share. Preserve your ideas, solutions and creativity so you can learn from it as it bubbles up, so you find a good new home or outlet for it where it is truly welcomed, appreciated and rewarded.

Safeguard Expertise (and Maybe Even Money too!)

Expertise is a valuable commodity to be shared at appropriate times with the people who truly see and reward your contributions—versus squandering or hijacking them.

You’re probably like my clients many of whom give it away, they are not compensated for it; thus others don’t value you, they take you for granted, you end up resentful.Many of those in management or director level positions make huge amounts of money for others and are not rewarded themselves. Some even practically run companies without being brought on as partners. They are greatly undervalued.

The challenge is to not give away all your expertise during the transition. Do what is required—while you figure out what you really want to do—but do not give away all your goodies! Your expertise is valuable and can make you financially profitable if you put yourself first to figure out your new direction. From that place of clarity you will be a wise and valued contributor, leading in your work and life.

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