In a light-hearted moment, I agreed to celebrate my son’s graduation with an activity he selected for us to do together. I certainly wasn’t thinking about a Segway tour! Fear and the promise of exhilaration churned in my stomach as I reluctantly agreed to ride a Segway.
As I finally began to enjoy the ride, I let my mind wander to a recent coaching conversation where my client shared how fear gripped her as she wondered if there was another job for her out there. It is hard to imagine the joy in the future when the present focus is fear. This is true in any life situation – from a mundane activity like riding a Segway to handling a complex life or career transition.
Dealing with Fear
Fear is corrosive. It is like the swift bite of a poisonous snake, paralyzing and potentially lethal. Our default response is to immediately raise objections by listing a series of, “I can’t do this.” In a transition, it is easier for us to assume that we might fail in our attempts to try something new and different. A transition brings out our vulnerabilities in full glory, doesn’t it? So, how do you get past that sinkhole?
- Remember the simple awe and faith with which you approached things in kindergarten. Bring that feeling back as you work through your transition. What activity in kindergarten did you enjoy the most? If you liked to color, pick up crayons and fill a sheet of blank paper with images and ideas. How about pretend play? Try out different job titles by completing a simple analysis of fit. For example, if you were to exchange one day of your work life with someone else, with whom would you exchange? As Tuli Kupferberg said, “When old patterns break, new ideas emerge.”
- A transition offers the opportunity to step back, take a breath and pay attention to what is essential in your life and work. Make time to reflect on what matters the most to you because the clearer this reflection is, the sharper your career focus. Maybe you are ready for a change in your career path? Or not. Pay attention to and identify at least three life factors that might impact your job search today.
What ideas come to your mind as you kick-start feelings of curiosity and optimism and look at your transition as my opportunity is NOW here, rather than my opportunity is nowhere?
Dealing with Preparation
Some folks like order, make lists and obsess about details. And, some don’t. Whatever your style, remember that how you prepare to handle your transition does matter. Why? Simply because preparation helps you design a framework to conduct a proactive and joyful search. Here are a few ideas that might help you.
- People will ask, “How can I help you?” “What are you looking for?” Prepare a memorable, concise and upbeat career focus statement. This statement has the potential to convey energy, momentum and promise. So, take the time to craft and practice it. A career focus statement is the foundational piece of your branding statement or 90-sec-pitch. Imagine where the conversation could take you when people listen to your career focus and respond, “Tell me more.”
- Read the news. Go out and meet people. It’s just that simple. Even for those of us who are introverts. How does this work? For example, you read and share something of value with someone. They remember you because you were generous, intellectually curious and willing to ask questions. They talk about you to the next person they meet. Gradually, you create a buzz. Then, comes a serendipitous bump that opens the door to a remarkable opportunity for you and you graciously walk in!
What three topics are trending in your industry/field? Who might be interested in learning more about these topics? Are you that go-to person for value-add information?
Dealing with the Grind
Most of us start a search with cautious optimism. All seems well until the first bump – leads dry up, the phone doesn’t ring, people don’t call back and employers suddenly face a budget crunch. Exhaustion starts to set in. This is the slippery slide back to square one – fear and uncertainty that is a reality in a transition. Is there a way to make sense of this complex process?
- Recognize and accept that a job search is hard work and a focused commitment is required EACH day. Pause for a moment here and think about how much work it took for you to get results in a complex project within a quickly changing business environment. As you plan your week, what ideas or activities will move you closer to one or two identified outcomes for THAT week? What questions do you want answered about a certain opening, a networking conversation or preparation for an upcoming interview? Keep a laser focus on each activity so that you are clear about how it is helping you move toward the intended outcome.
- Celebrate small wins. Acknowledge what you have done proactively to manage your week, add to your arsenal information you are gathering about yourself and the marketplace and challenge yourself to visualize a day that you control. Make this practical – craft a value-add document for the employer who doesn’t return your call, connect with a third-tier networking contact to explore a possibility or loop back with your first-tier network for support and ideas. What other ideas might move you closer to your next opportunity?
What are some distractions you might need to attend to? If you could change one thing in your strategy, what would that be? Where did you surprise yourself?
There is no guaranteed one job search plan out there. However, there are ideas to be explored, opportunities to go after and talent to share. What would you like to add to this conversation?