Until recently you may have been enjoying the illusion of a secure job, only to get involuntarily thrown overboard - drifting back to the shore of resume revision while brushing up on interview skills.
With things a bit rocky, the time is right to shine the searchlight on your career and make sure that you are on the right course for who you are today — not for who you have been in the past. See this time as one of possibility, an opportunity for personal and professional transformation. George Sand, the female French writer and novelist, said, "One changes from day to day ... every few years one becomes a new being." In today’s world, this is more true than ever.
Making a major life change does not happen in an afternoon. Even if you have just been handed a pink slip, do not jump into the first career boat that comes by. Take a little time to assess what you want to do and where you want to be. Career shifts are a major life transition and should be treated as such.
To ease this transition and gain clarity and confidence when deciding which direction to pursue, do the following:
• Zap the Time Zappers
You have to make your career transition the top priority in your life. You may have to say "no" to volunteer activities, some family responsibilities and other things that take up the time you need to focus on you.
• Get on Your Side
Stop beating yourself up for what happened yesterday. Instead, get into action and begin to figure out where you want to go. Start taking steps to get there.
• Be Strategic
When choosing your next career move, ask what industry you want to work in, what kind of culture you want to work in, what benefits you are looking for and what kind of record a potential company has in promoting women. Interview any company that interviews you.
• Start with the Simple
There are things that are easy to do, such as reading a book on your ideal career, doing some research on the industry you are considering, having informal conversations with a few of your contacts. Start with these activities to get used to the idea of change; then begin the more challenging activities—redoing your resume, going on informational interviews, participating in job shadowing.
Ask yourself the important questions. What have you learned from your recent work experience? What do you really want? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Would a move to a different place bring other opportunities? What is the best thing you can do for yourself?
• Consult the Experts
Invest time with career counselors, business coaches and consultants. They will give you resources, advice and strategies. Also, read books, go to seminars, surf the Internet. Other perspectives are valuable because they are objective and will assist you in making a decision you can be confident about.
• Talk to Headhunters
Headhunters are a great resource for more than just jobs. They know competitive salaries, hiring trends of the industries they serve, what new job titles are being created and which are becoming obsolete. The more headhunters you talk to, the more current information you will have to help you make an informed decision.
• Conduct Informational Interviews
If you know what you want to do, talk to those who are already doing it. Ask them about the "blood and guts" of their career activities, not just the glamour and perks.
• Get to Class
Take classes to assess your skills and interests; brush up on everything from Spanish to computer programming. There are many educational resources out there that can increase your chances of being successful.
• Get Your Financial House in Order
Get clear on your short- and long-term financial goals, take stock of your living expenses, and eliminate your debt. If you are insecure about your finances, you may choose a new professional course too quickly or stay where you are too long because you need the money. Make your decision based on the merits of position or opportunity, not because your coffers are low.
• Tell Your Loved Ones How They Can Support You
Let your partner, friends and children know what support looks like—taking care of dinner, allowing you time at the computer, picking you up from class. Support would not involve asking you if you should reconsider, suggesting you beg your boss for your job back or wondering out loud if you should forget this silly nonsense.
• Be Realistic
What else is going on in your life? Will other priorities take most of your energy — like a newborn baby, a rebellious teenager, a new marriage, an aging parent, or a health challenge? A career transition will be very demanding initially. It will require personal sacrifice.
• Expect Success
What we believe is what we experience. If you expect it will be impossible for you to make a career move this late in your career, you will prove yourself right. If you believe your skill set is valuable anywhere, you will prove yourself right. Believe in yourself and your ability to be successful. It is unlikely you will take action if you think your efforts will be wasted. Expect success.
Beth Orton, the singer-songwriter, said, "In life, there are no regrets - only lessons we have not learned yet." Making a career shift has many lessons to offer you. If things do not work out immediately, know you can always add a mid-course correction later. Incorporate some of these ideas to support yourself in creating a professional life that you find challenging, invigorating and richly rewarding. You have the power to create it - and you deserve it.
Caterina Rando, MA, MCC, hellps people achieve success with ease. She is author the award winning, national best-seller "Learn to Power Think." To find out more about Caterina’s coaching, keynotes, workshops, and other personal and professional development tools, contact her at 415-668-4535, or visit her website at caterinarando.com.