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Figures for jobless rates are forever changing, but we all know how important it is to have our own “career support plan” for that rainy day when a career transition or job change looms on the horizon. Perhaps you’re in a transition right now.
I’ve transitioned several times in my career. I’m a former Buyer for Bloomingdale’s. I’ve worked in the non-profit sector. I trained and coached Fortune 500 sales managers. Most recently, my transition took me from the technology giant, Oracle Corporation, to a very satisfying career as a business consultant, trainer and coach. I’d like to share some personal and professional insights on career transition with you.
Regardless of the industry, career transitions are a great opportunity to explore new ground. Change challenges us to fulfill our potential as human beings and achieve great things. Successful people are those who take on new ventures and push through the fear of failure, the voices of naysayers and the critical doubt in our own minds.
One underlying constant that is present in all who have succeeded at a career change, starting a business, getting promoted, etc. is – support. "Behind every great [person], is a great [person]" is true for anyone who is up to something larger than where they’ve been before. Support might come from teamwork. It could come from your spouse. It could be your own inner strength. What support system do you have in place to keep you growing and reaching for those higher goals you’d like to achieve in this lifetime?
When working with clients I always suggest they list five people that are on their support team. I call them your Top 5. They could be living or dead. These five people help to balance out the negative thoughts and behaviors that often crop up while you’re walking the tightrope of life’s transitions. They’re on the other side of the chasm, cheering you on. Reminding you of your value, your worth – who you really are.
Quite often, in thinking of their Top 5, clients will be reminded of friends, co-workers and former classmates that were incredibly supportive during other transitions in their lives. Over time, these people drifted away. "She was there for me when my mother died." "He recommended me for my last job." "I never thanked him for helping me land my first client."
I urge my clients to reconnect with as many people as possible who knew them, liked them, and may be in a position now to help them move forward in their career. Who better than those that knew and loved you to do you a favor and help you once again? You’d do it for them, right?
Keep an eye out for people you know in industry associations, community organizations and other groups you may be affiliated with. You may find people you know in The Directory of Business Entrepreneurs on the website of ZeroMillion (www.zeromillion.com). Chances are, if you had something in common once with someone, you may cross paths again in like-minded places.
Services such as LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) Spoke (www.spoke.com) Classmates (www.classmates.com) and other web-based networking sites, as well as Google and other search engines are a great start for finding these "past admirers". What a welcome sight to find the name of someone you spent countless working hours with! Perhaps they’ll be your next client now?
An added benefit to tracking people down is that they, like you, may have wished to have stayed in touch and just never got around to keeping in touch with you. We often forget the difference we make in other people’s lives, too. So do them a favor, and update others on your whereabouts.
I recently worked with a media executive in New York City who was nose to the grindstone for six years at his job. He fell out of political favor over time, and decided it was time to move on to another job. His commitment to his current employer and family engagements had prevented him from keeping in touch with former colleagues. When a job opportunity presented itself, he knew that references would be a key differentiator for him, if he could track down some of the people who left his employer over the years. At my coaxing, he joined LinkedIn to see if he could find these former co-workers there. One was there, but more importantly, that person was linked to someone at the company he was interviewing with. He was able to get an introduction to them that ultimately secured the new opportunity!
The moral of this story is to value the relationships you have while they’re in your life. We help each other, support each other and never know when we may need a hand from a distant friend, co-worker or classmate, to dispel the negative chatter in our minds or to lend a willing hand through the challenging change from career or other life transitions.