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Four steps to navigate planned or unplanned career transitions

The events of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted that businesses can adapt fast and act in more agile ways than previously thought possible.

However, millions of employees think differently now and are in the process of reassessing how they want their lives to look. A UK-based survey found three in five employees are planning a career change due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker survey reported 26% of respondents plan to look for a new role once the pandemic threat subsides. A global survey conducted by Microsoft (30,000 people in 31 countries in 31 minutes) found over 40% of people are considering leaving their employer this year.

With high unemployment rates across America, the UK, the Euro area, and Asia-Pacific, the Covid-19 pandemic also had a devastating impact on formerly employed individuals. Being at the mercy of socioeconomic and political factors beyond their control, they were challenged in ways that put pressure on their private lives, their wellbeing, and their financial security.

Whether planned or unplanned, adjusting to the expectations and rhythms of a new career move is daunting to anyone. Melinda Harrison (a former Olympic Athlete, Executive Coach, and author of Personal Next) shares four steps to navigate a career transition and overcome difficulties with work.

1) Increase your awareness

“Change something up. Either put your watch on the other hand […], put your ring on another finger, but [do] something that makes you feel uncomfortable,” advises Harrison. This is a tactic she recommends to clients to help them become aware of their negative self-talk. It is easy for anyone to fall into the damaging trap of comparing themselves to others, but it is important to question, “Who are you comparing yourself to and is that what you really want?” adds Harrison.

2) Define your goals

“It takes the strength of you knowing what you want to avoid being caught on someone else’s narrative,” says Harrison. Defining your goals is an extremely personal process and starts with you creating a strong “why” for yourself. Consider the type of impact you want to make, the groups of people or demographics you enjoy working with, or any worldly causes you feel passionate about. Try not to let limiting beliefs hold you back and permit yourself to consider these without reservation and time pressure. As you go through this exercise, you may find that your initial thoughts and ideas have changed. Perhaps certain paths become even more or less appealing, or they make better or less sense.

3) Ask for help

A career transition can be difficult if you do not have support. Contact current and/or former colleagues, friends and family members for tips, advice, insights and recommendations about your transition. Use these conversations as an opportunity to be vulnerable with those you trust. You never know when a conversation can take you one step further towards your goals.

4) Reflect 

Think about fields, sectors, and industries that you are intrigued by – the skills you want to learn, areas you want to become proficient in, and knowledge you would like to gain. This helps you to focus your thinking, and to understand what does this potential new job or career look like or not look like? What is it called? Are there skills, knowledge and contacts you can leverage? Will you need additional resources to help you achieve your goals, for example, extra childcare support? Are there any risks or compromises to consider, for example, time taken away from other activities or relationships in your life?

This step may save you time, money and energy in the long run, so take as much time as necessary.

Learn more here:

The Fix Podcast: Melinda Harrison: How To Manage A Career Change