Career transitions: It’s going to be okay

A career transition, particularly an unexpected one, can be a shock. However, it’s important to pick yourself up before your confidence is impacted and use it as an opportunity.

“Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is.”

Many of us have probably been through a career transition, either initiated by ourselves or not. Perhaps it’s because you’ve moved, taken on caring responsibilities, or been made redundant.

Career transitions can be emotional, particularly if they’re not initiated by us. That’s understandable. Shock, hurt and worry about the future are all very normal ways to feel. It can be even more acute if you’re in a frontline manager or leadership role, and working your way up, as the transition brings up concerns about how it will impact upon your burgeoning executive career.

However, it’s vital in this situation that you tell yourself this: it’s going to be okay.

This is not just a fluffy positive platitude – it’s genuinely the best way to manage the situation. Instead of worrying or dwelling on what’s happened, try to silence the inner critic and get into a strong mindset. From here, you can think about how to use the situation to your advantage – by viewing it as an opportunity, not a problem, it might become one of the best things that has happened in your career. After all, change is inevitable. But we can control our response.

And that response should not necessarily be to jump at the first role that comes up due to fear. If a job’s not right, then you have to recognise this and have confidence that something better will come up. You need to make sure you stay in control of your job search and not panic.

Instead, think about how to maintain ownership of your career so that a transition becomes an opportunity. Or as author Seth Godin says.

“Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is.”

Spending time wisely

It’s rare in our working lives to have a lot of spare time. So, when a career transition comes up that gives us additional time, a smart leader takes advantage of the opportunity to think about what they want to do next.

If you’re in this position, try to think about how you are going to challenge yourself and move to the next level?

To do this, try following a process that looks something like this:

  • Think about your wholistic career goals

What is your vision for your own career – in the next 5, 10 or 50 years? Generally, the further you go in your career, the more idea you have about what you want and where you want to go. It’s up to you to take control of this. These goals will look different for everyone – for example, it might be something like ‘I want to keep learning’ or ‘I want to be part of healthcare digitalisation’. Whatever it is, it should be beyond basic needs such as earning money or getting a promotion.

Also, sit down and define your values. What is really important to you, and why? Who are you as a professional?

  • Take stock of where you are on your journey

Once you’ve checked in on your career goals, it’s time to look at where you are. Evaluate and use what you’ve learnt from your previous role and the transition itself.

Try to do an honest evaluation of your strengths and the value you provide – this should go beyond skills that are expected of everyone, like communication and collaboration, to what value you add. What are your superpowers?

Then, try to identify and gaps. Ask for feedback from people who will give you an honest opinion – and make an effort to process, evaluate and understand the implications of that feedback.

Take stock of the market. A useful exercise can be examining job ads that interest you, looking at what skills they require and which ones you do and don’t have – bearing in mind that these roles often list the ideal list of skills, not those of the eventual hire.

An online assessment can also be a fantastic tool for self-assessment.

  • Undertake training or coaching in order to start closing those gaps

Training can be as simple as reading quality articles or doing an online training course. At the other end, an outplacement service can be a comprehensive solution to help you build confidence and reassurance in your professional, financial and personal future.

  • Plan for your future potential.

In addition, start taking additional steps to hone your craft, learn and get better at the specific skills you need. This means not just looking retrospectively, but also to what you need for the future. This means you will not only be better than you were yesterday, but you’re prepared to meet your future potential.

A career transition can feel scary, but it need not be that way. With a strong leadership mindset, it can become a valuable development opportunity in your executive career.

Hunton Executive is committed to helping healthcare leaders through career transitions, from executive search through to coaching. Contact us for a confidential chat if you have any questions or concerns about the above.

For more information on executive search and executive career coaching services, please contact Hunton Executive.


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