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Professionally transitioning? A top-10 list on how to embrace it

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Below is a top-10 list of insights from a professional transition I undertook in 2020. If you are an experienced executive undergoing a transition, know that about 70% of the best roles are not advertised and the way to find them is by speaking with your connections (i.e., networking). The other 30%? Those you might find through a retained recruiter (20%) or an online job board like LinkedIn (10%).

1. Get on with it.  If you have baggage from your last role, jettison it. Leave it behind and get ready to take the next step.  It's of no use to have your mind stuck in the past when a great opportunity awaits around the corner.  Yes, easier said than done, but it needs to be done.

2. Commit to networking.  You are an experienced person and have the benefit of knowing many people (who support you).  This is the time to re-connect with those you have lost touch with and request their support.  Find ways to reciprocate.  This is what makes networking valuable, but it takes a commitment to do it right.

3. Build a list.  Pour a hot coffee, grab a yellow pad and write a list of all the people you will reach out to.  Start with family, friends.  Move to former colleagues and bosses.  Expand to other people in your extended community.  Your list is bound to be several hundred.

4. Reach out, don't be shy.  Tell everyone on your list that you would like to give them an update and request their help or ideas.  It's amazing how helpful people who know you are.  It's even more amazing how serendipity happens -- interesting ideas come from the most unexpected places.

5. Re-balance.  There is only so much you can do.  Grinding non-stop through a networking search leads to burn-out.  Ideas need to percolate and steep.  While they develop, do things you enjoy or you haven't done in a while.  If you have kids, do something with them that makes them smile.  If you have a spouse, meet him/her for lunch.  Go to the gym or a daily walk.

6. Get feedback.  Sometimes you get stuck in a rut.  Ask people you have recently interviewed with or met for their feedback on what you can do differently.  You may uncover an insight that helps you get over the hump.

7. Upskill.  If you have extra time on your hands, try learning a new professional skill.  Experiment with technology.  Maybe you've always wanted to learn how to use digital marketing or visualization software.  Take a Udemy or Coursera course or ask a friend to show you a new best practice.

8. Focus on a target.  Decide what the top criteria for your next role are.  Ideally there are seven or less (e.g., industry, geography, responsibilities, culture, organization structure, career opportunities, hours, etc).  Ensure they are concordant with who you are, where you have been and how you can grow.  Use these criteria as a filter for how you use your time and evaluate opportunities.  Keep an open mind, however. The 80-20 rule applies.

9. Leverage other professional networks.  You are not the only one to have gone through your situation.  Professional network organizations are a wonderful community of people who have gotten through similar periods in their professional careers.  Find the best one that fits with your interests. Participate in chapter meetings and job clubs.  The support is powerful.

10. Pay it back.  Share what you learn with your friends and colleagues.  You never know how what you know can help someone else.  They will appreciate it nonetheless.

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