By Barri Rafferty, Interim CEO of C200, an organization committed to helping senior women, business leaders and entrepreneurs reach their full potential, network successfully and uplift others. Barri is the former CEO of Ketchum and led communications and brand management for Wells Fargo.
Is it “The big stop” or “The big reshuffle?” Or is it something else? Whichever way you look at it, research shows that a significant percentage of American workers are considering or pursuing a career transition. Being in the middle of this process myself, I turned to my network and some of my C200 colleagues to find out if the traditional career transition rules still apply. Here are some of their most meaningful takeaways.
1. Priority to personal development
My friend and colleague from Ketchum, Hilary Hanson McKean of New Energy Collective, changed her life and career trajectory during Covid. Hilary shared that she really took the time to assess what abundance looked like in her future. “The exercise of asking yourself what will bring you joy professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically gave me the chance to create an interesting one-page, hand-written quadrant of what’s most important for me.” With a single quadrant dedicated to your professional life, it allows individuals to feel comfortable assessing opportunities through a lens that ensures a more holistic approach to life. Things like, are you ready to move house, be in the office full time, or even work in a certain industry become clearer when you can reference your own personal list of what will make you happiest in your overall life, not only the labor quadrant.
2. Spend your time networking smarter, not coining words
“The first thing we often turn to is updating our resume and LinkedIn, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle,” says Lori Marcus, author and executive coach at Crenshaw Associates. She reminded me that while it’s important to have a professional and well-prepared set of “research” materials, don’t over-analyze your resume, biography, or cover letter trying to achieve perfection. . No one has ever gotten a job because of a change in their executive biography.
Lori also mentioned the benefit of creating a personal networking document to help you have more thoughtful networking meetings. “Think of it as a style chart for your career. What parts of your next job are most important to you? Get this document 90% focused on where you want to go next so you can use the meeting to ask questions about specific target companies, and for introductions.
3. Exploratory conduct conversations with a wide range of professionals
Once you’ve started looking for a new job or career, the first round of calls you’ll likely receive are for opportunities very similar to the position you’re currently in. Expand your circle, ask your current network for more names from more people, but this time focus on industries and companies where you want to be. This will lead to more interesting ideas and opportunities. Talking to venture capitalists, board members, recruiters outside of my area of expertise, friends and former colleagues has enriched my discussions and ideas on what could to be the continuation of my career are much more diverse and interesting.
4. SEO is the new player to get noticed
Resume experts at LHH Recruitment Services highlight how today’s search consultants are using technology to scan resumes for keywords. Make your resume easier to find in their databases by looking at job descriptions that interest you for your next role and mimicking that language in your own resume. Perform the same exercise by preparing your new LinkedIn title and the “About” section of your profile.
5. Avoid recurring burnout
What fuels you at work and gives you energy, and what sucks that energy out of you? When looking for something new, how do you avoid falling into another burnout trap? Elaine Taylor-Klaus, executive coach, CEO and co-founder of ImpactParents.com, says the answer lies in embracing your personal energy drivers. “Work is a process. Make a list of the activities that have energized you in your current position and those that have drained your energy. Then, when looking for new opportunities, look for these process similarities. Your new opportunity will allow you- spending more time on tasks and assignments that improve your job satisfaction?”
6. Is a portfolio approach worth considering?
For people later in their career or not ready to commit to one thing, pursuing a “portfolio career” may be an option. This “new normal” we find ourselves in offers us the opportunity to do many things simultaneously. You can have a part-time role while starting a consulting or side business if you set yourself up right. You can even take on an acting role as if I had to try something new.
7. Tackling a hard-to-do initiative can lead to a career transition
Sometimes the career challenge we need is right in front of us. Executive Coach and President and Founder of Great Circle Associates, Lin Coughlin shared the idea of having the courage to take on something bigger, something harder, in the place where you work now. “Many people shy away from the most difficult tasks, the ones that often seem hopeless at first. But on a personal level, you will be spurred by the attempt, and professionally, success can lead to new opportunities and recognition that you haven’t experienced before.. It also gives you new skills to market to others.”
8. Culture is key to job satisfaction
Very often we ask, “Is this job right for me?” without really asking “Is this company right for me?” Every company has an identifiable culture and cultural affiliation is more important today than ever. Finding a culture in which you can thrive and give your all at work will lead to greater job satisfaction. Take the time, look at the company, not just the position, and find your own cultural fit.
Career transitions can be a gift if pursued as a chance to improve both your career opportunities and your life in general. Take the time to expand your network, check cultures, and be true to yourself in the process.