A 30,000-Foot View of Career Transition

By Ellis Chase

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Many of my clients and students have been put off by what appears to be an inordinate complexity in executing a successful career transition.  I find that what makes the whole deal palatable is an overview of the key elements.

Let's break it down into seven basic parts:

1) You need to figure out what you want.  

Too many people think that building a resume is the first step. It's not. How can you write a resume when you don't know what it's pointing to? A resume is a marketing document, not a record of everything you've ever done. What’s critical is figuring out two or three ideas for your next step.  

I feel strongly that it's a great idea to not only have those two or three ideas, but also to find out what the upside after those jobs might be. Putting pressure on yourself about making the right decision sometimes is too limiting --and even paralyzing. Keep the options open.  

2) Perform a "due diligence" on your ideas.  

Research via the library, or maybe a Vault or Wetfeet guide about areas you might not be familiar with. If the targets are familiar, find out through professional relationships and reading whether your ideas are valid and/or marketable. This aspect of the process is probably the most critical; you want to make intelligent choices up front, or at least as much as you possibly can. This is the heavy lifting in a transition process. Very little immediate gratification, but imperative. 

Watch out for bad advice. You'll know it's bad if it's a minority opinion. That's why you want many opinions.  

3) Build your marketing materials.  

Okay, now you can do the resume. But, even more important is the lynchpin of your search--the two-minute pitch. The pitch will form the basis of all your self-marketing, your approach emails, your follow-ups to networking meetings, a way to brand yourself out there.  

4) Learn how to network the right way.  

High-touch relationship building, not the quick phone call, or the direct plea, is critical to a search. Take the time to learn this most essential aspect of your career, not just the job search part. And keep in mind that you don't have to be a big-time extrovert to become successful at it. The key element is understanding it's a process, not just a one-time meeting.  

5) Keep great records, and stay organized.  

Don't let that offhand suggestion someone made to you slip by. Go through your records daily; it will help you feel you have more control over a situation that's tough to control. And you won't forget that suggestion.  

6) Follow-ups are almost as important as interviews.  

Obviously, interviewing is important, and easier to learn than the first steps in this process. But many tend to write a perfunctory thank you note afterward. That's not enough. It should be a marketing document, reviewing the key elements of the interview, and adding some that were left out.  

7) Maintain a solid support system.  

While branding yourself, you don't  want to create the perception that you're desperate or unhappy. Of course, you will go through those periods during a search, but you need to main an outward appearance of success and confidence. Save the low moods and the anxiety for a small number of friends or family (but be careful even with significant others; you need their support!). Understand that search involves a great deal of rejection. If you get that part, then you won't internalize the negatives so much.

Understanding the big picture of this process should help.  Don't get lost in the details!    

About The Author

Ellis Chase is one of Manhattan’s top career consultants and executive coaches. His book, In Search of the Fun-Forever Job:  Career Strategies That Work, was published by Bacon Press in April.  

You can learn more from and about Ellis on his website, www.ellischase.com and via his blog.


Image source: Flickr / *Crazy Diamond*


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