Career Change and Transition Guidance

My last two blog posts have focused on onboarding, a crucial business process. I’ve collected advice and tips for both new hires and their new workplaces. Sometimes, new employees are coming from a similar role or background. In those cases, onboarding can focus on the organization and its unique environment. Other times, however, there’s more to the transition. Career changes and promotions to new roles are both important and challenging. In this blog, I’ll share some insight into making the most of a career transition.

Change: A Natural Process

Changing careers or transitioning into a new role can be frightening. That’s why it’s good to remember that change is normal and natural. It’s what allows us to grow and develop ourselves. This Forbes article provides an overview of the career transition through the lens of changing seasons. I found it quite insightful.

It starts from winter, when you hunker down in “hibernation.” In this period, there’s no need to take action yet. Instead, think about what you’d like your career trajectory to look like going forward. What are your goals? Which skills and connections do you have that will help you? Do you have gaps in your skills or knowledge to address? This is a great time to research opportunities that interest you.

Then, you’ll move on to spring. This is time for planting! Approach this phase of a career change with a growth mindset. You’ll probably learn a lot, grow your network, and update your resume during this time. That will allow you to take advantage of summer, the season to get out and get active. This is the time to apply actively to postings that interest you.

Finally, you’ll reach autumn, the season of harvest. Reaping what you’ve sown, you’ll see the seeds you planted earlier bloom into new opportunities. Remember to express gratitude to those who have helped you reach this accomplishment. At the same time, know that you’re not done. This cycle will keep repeating itself, even if you’re staying in the same role for a while. You can constantly keep an eye out for new opportunities to learn and grow professionally. 

Approaching a Career Transition

That first stage of contemplating a career transition might feel especially hard. That’s even more true when you think you don’t have enough relevant experience. Fortunately, this video from an Indeed career coach should give you some guidance. It lays out clear steps to prepare for a career change.

First, recognize your assets and gaps. On the one hand, identify transferable skills. If you’re having trouble doing that, you may want to speak with a career coach. Unsure what that would look like? This podcast episode from HBR features a career coach working with a military leader approaching a big change. You can hear her guide him through a series of questions to help identify his next steps. (Veterans and other folks can face unique challenges in entering the workforce. For these individuals, coaching may be especially valuable.)

workshopSpeaking of next steps, that’s where the gaps come in. Do you need to sign up for a coding boot camp or gain a new certification? Map out your goals from now until you’re ready to apply. Then, go after them! It’s likely you’ll want to upskill by engaging in professional development. You’ll also probably look for experience. This can come in many forms. If you go back to school, you’ll likely have internship opportunities. Otherwise, create a portfolio of personal projects, look for freelance work, and check out volunteer opportunities in your community. However you grow during this time, remember to update your resume!

Finally, know that you’ll be able to use a cover letter for most applications to tell your story. When you do get to applying, address your motivations for changing careers in this document. Be sure that you paint existing experience as an asset. Get your future employer as excited about choosing you as you would be!

Navigating a Promotion

What if the career transition you’re seeking is closer to you than all that? Let’s say you’ve been promoted, and you’re about to become a manager of a group you’re already part of. First of all, congratulations! At the same time, you’ll have obstacles facing you on the road ahead.

This Forbes article may serve as a useful guide through some common hurdles. For instance, you may find that some team members are offended to see you suddenly become their boss. Others might be a bit too excited, trying to call in favors and slack off now. No matter how they’re reacting, show your colleagues empathy. This is probably a weird transition for all of you. In fact, you may feel hurt yourself because you’re suddenly out of the social circle. You may feel excluded or ignored when your reports get together without you. It’s also likely you’ll be faced with impostor phenomenon. (Check out that blog for tips on managing it.) As you work on learning the new normal and building trust, give yourself grace. Your adjustment will take time.

There are ways you can make that time easier, of course. Start by showing up authentically and being transparent whenever possible. This goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries as needed. For instance, if your coworker-turned-report asks for a favor, let them know clearly and openly why that’s not appropriate. Your colleagues will appreciate the honesty. As you work, stay in regular communication with both your reports and your new manager. Feedback from both perspectives will help you continue to improve. Finally, expand your network. You may find new sources of support among your colleagues in this new role. 

One Transition In Means Another Transition Out

Of course, there are also plenty of transitions that involve changing organizations. In those cases, it’s important to remember that someone coming in is usually replacing someone going out. Here are some tips from this article for how the organization hiring you can support you in your new role.

Hopefully, they’ll take advantage of the full transition period. This means managing communication well as soon as your predecessor announces their upcoming departure. Too often, outgoing employees try to dump too much information at once right as they’re leaving. Following that with an abrupt break in communication, they can leave the organization in the lurch. Fortunately, organizations can make the most of the time from their announcement onward to prevent this.

When you know a key employee is leaving, take these steps to improve the transition for their replacement. First, ask them to document as much as possible. This can include their knowledge, their successful strategies, and their connections. What has been working for them? Who are their key stakeholders? How do they delegate tasks to their team? Understanding this helps in two ways. First, it obviously gives a leg up to your future new hire. But second, it can actually inform whom you’ll hire. Knowing what strengths allowed this person to succeed allows you to look for those strengths in the hiring process. 

With all this going on, it may feel overwhelming to keep communication and documentation clear. That’s where Pyrus can really help you out. It’s more than a software platform for task-centered communication, although it’s that too. (You’ll love finding all documents relevant to the task at hand in one place.) Pyrus also lets organizations create customized workflows to make successful business processes more transparent. Not to mention, reassigning tasks within the workflow is a breeze. Check out Pyrus and all the ways it can support your organization’s transitions to keep moving work forward.