Career Transitions – The Lessons

If you base your next career transition on what I like to call “shiny career articles”, all you need to do is polish your resume, ace the interview, and get hired.

So, when I needed to make a career transition, I thought that it would be easy.

Almost four years later, I’ve learned better.

Unlike the standard career advice that you get from “experts”, we all know that the job market can be messy and complicated (and sometimes petty, but that’s another issue). Despite that, we shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or underprepared for the next step in our career. At its heart, career transitions can do two things well: the pivot (external actions) and the redirect.

The pivot involves all of the external activities that demonstrate your transition. This includes:

  • Rearranging your resume
  • Updating your social media profiles to reflect your new focus and title
  • Joining organizations, attending Meetups, and signing up for industry newsletters to stay informed

The redirect is everything on the inside that to support your career transition. This includes:

  • Changing your “elevator speech” when you meet new people
  • Dedicating time out of each day to develop a skill [You can start with as little as 15 minutes].
  • Changing your internal dialogue about who you are

Getting to that point where you can use the pivot and redirect naturally to progress through your career takes time, but you can speed up the process by preparing your mind for the mental work ahead. Four things you want to consider are:

  1. Career transitions are not easy. Despite what anyone says, there is no REAL roadmap for the career you want to transition to. You can use the stories of others as an example, but it won’t be a perfect template.
  2. You can transition up, down, sideways, and off the career ladder. There is an extreme focus in our society on “going up the career ladder”. Sometimes you can find a job or career that is a different industry, category, scope of responsibility, or outside the career ladder altogether (like freelancing, coaching, consulting, etc.).
  3. You will probably need to do “career transition” more than a few times. Although many publications (including the Wall Street Journal) point out that you probably won’t have seven careers over your lifetime, the days of working for one employer your whole life are fading into the past. Prepare your tools now for that future possibility.
  4. You only have one career. I got this piece of advice from Rick Whitted, author of “Outgrow Your Space at Work”. In that book, he argues that we have ONE career, just different phases, and manifestations of it.
Charles Franklin

Charles Franklin is an almost-graduated college dropout who became a freelance writer, virtual assistant, and project manager after he realized that jobs don't grow on trees when he arrived in Atlanta.

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