Marilyn hates her job. She has many ideas about where she would like to land next and needs help sorting them out.
Rob is stuck in a rut. He has spent so long at the same role that he can hardly imagine doing anything else. He wants to identify new possibilities and opportunities.
Jamie likes what she is doing and would like to stay in the same field, but she wants to find a way to advance within her company or, if necessary, outside of it. She is also open to changing to a new job altogether, if it does not require starting over.
Each of these career-transition questions inhabit Stage 1 of the Career Transition Process.
The Marilyns, Robs and Jamies of the world crave structure around their exploratory work. Otherwise, they live in their own heads, and they fail to make much real progress that will help them out of their current situations and into a better place. I know, because I was there myself once. I also know because I see it every day in my coaching practice.
- Stage 1: Explore: Are you open to and ready for change at this time? What options are available? How and where can you explore further? Who can help?
A successful career transition begins with creative brainstorming, targeted research and empirical exploration.
Creative Mindset and Brainstorming
Having a creative mindset allows you to generate ideas and be open to a range of possibilities. Brainstorming isn’t about vetting, that comes later.
Stage 1 is the “what if” stage.
- What if you changed industries, practice areas or careers?
- What if you stayed in your current role? How could you improve it?
- What if you decided to go for CEO, another C-level role or partnership?
- What if you gave up one of those roles to pursue something new?
- What if you took a risk and …?
While keeping an open mind, research facilitates brainstorming. I often suggest that clients search job descriptions (not to apply, as background material), and read through what they describe as the basic components of the job. Along with job descriptions, they can often pull up resumes of individuals who are already working in similar jobs from a simple internet search. These resumes can give key insights into what actually goes into a particular job, which may be much different than the job seeker had imagined before such research was conducted.
In addition, job seekers in the First Stage of their job search can research:
(1) industries, fields and companies,
(2) what skills they would need to acquire to achieve certain roles, and what that skill acquisition would entail,
(3) compensation in the desired field, and
(4) information about analogous roles that would help them widen their net of possible roles that could be a fit for their talents, skills and interests.
Remember: If you have gone through job descriptions in the past with a feeling of dread, kick that feeling to the curb. These words on a page have no hold over you. You are simply brainstorming to help yourself get on the right path.
In addition to analytical research, the third means to open your mind to the possibilities in your job search is to meet and spend time with individuals in your target fields.
“Hi Pam, it’s Marilyn. Confidentially, I am considering a career move that would put me in a role similar to yours. Would you have some time to meet me for coffee near your office sometime next week? I would like to ask you a few questions so I can better understand what your day-to-day workload is like before I make the leap.”
Take time to network and conduct what are called informational interviews (as opposed to job interviews – you are asking for information, not a job) as you continue to generate ideas and ask people what they know, and who else they may know, to help you explore possibilities.
It is worth noting that you should choose your networking contacts carefully at this fragile Stage 1 of your job search. The proverbial Debbie Downer (who sees everything negatively) will not be helpful for you as you are trying to keep an open mind. Keep Debbie for the vetting process, which is Stage 2 and will be covered in my next post.
Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She helps clients with career exploration and other stages of the job search process. For more information, please visit her website at www.segalcoaching.com.
© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.
Image above: Shutterstock.