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4 Annoying but important things to do if you are planning to change careers.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Even if you frequently dream of changing careers, you might choose to stay where you are because it’s paying the bills and the fear of the unknown outweighs the excitement of taking a risk. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that many workers are dissatisfied with their current jobs, but aren’t finding anything better out there. There are so many factors that go into changing jobs—the economic atmosphere, family, location, age… So, it makes sense that people wait until they find themselves laid off before they take action to seek out their next opportunity.

If you are someone who contemplates changing jobs, here are a few proactive steps you can

take to set yourself up for success.

#1 Get ready to give notice at a moment’s notice

Unless you are planning to exit your current job like Jennifer Aniston in Office Space – which I

can’t publicly condone, but please share the story if you do—you are going to have some business to take care of before you can step into your shiny new opportunity. Job searches can take a year or they can take a few weeks, but as a former employer used to say to me, “chance favors the prepared.”

So why not get ready now? Start tying up loose ends and laying the foundation for your departure from your current position. That might mean writing up detailed SOPs, decluttering and organizing your files, and reviewing your employee handbook for what procedures you need to follow. Review your HR documents to find out how long your health insurance and other benefits will continue after you leave. If you have unused vacation time, (This has never been true for me, but apparently it happens!), you can use this to help cover the cost of COBRA if you need it.

In short, operate as if any day now, you’ll be walking into your supervisor’s office to give your

two weeks notice.

#2 Prepare your interview questions

Every job interview that I’ve been part of inevitably ends with the interviewer asking the candidate, “Do you have any questions for me?” Up until this point in the interview, you’ve been convincing the potential employer you are the right person for their team. But how do you know if they are the right employer for you

What do you need to know about this organization and this position before you commit? What are the red flags you missed when you got hired for your last job? Wouldn’t it feel good to walk in your first day feeling confident that you made the right choice for yourself?

This can be scary for some people, particularly if you really want the job. Who wants to risk asking questions that might rock the boat? The flip side of this argument is that when you are courageous enough to do this, you may not get the answers you want, but you’ll get the information you need to make an informed choice for yourself.

#3 Round up your references NOW!

There are so many ups and downs and stops and starts when you are going through a job search. But then suddenly, you’ve found the job you REALLY want, you make it through three rounds of interviews and finally you get asked, “Can you send us your references?”

Oh sh*t! Now you are scrambling. There’s a good chance you can’t use your current supervisor or co-workers as a reference. And you may have lost touch with your previous supervisor, so you feel awkward reaching out now just because you need something.

Even if changing careers feels like just a passing thought that you aren’t taking seriously, now is a great time to check back in with your professional network. Make sure you have their updated contact information and find out where they are at in their career. Maybe they retired and you need to track them down. Maybe they’ve changed companies and have an opening!

The aim is to warm up those connections, so when the moment comes, you have a list of

people ready and able to say great things about you.

#4 Focus on what you know and avoid the rabbit hole of assumptions

A career change requires courage and vulnerability, which creates a perfect opening for our Gremlins to come up. When you are walking out of an interview, it’s natural to question yourself.

“Was there a better example I could have given for problem solving?”

“I hope I didn’t sound overly confident when I talked about my current job.”

“Was this the right outfit, or was I over-dressed?”

And then it can really spiral when you get a response that they “going with a different candidate” or even worse NO RESPONSE AT ALL! It’s understandable that you start to fill the vacuum with terrible possibilities. While it can be constructive to reflect on what you can do differently next time, it can quickly turn destructive and distract you from your ultimate goal: finding your next opportunity.

Instead of assumptions, here's what you can fill the void with:

  • Review what communication exchanges actually say, not what you think, hope or dread they say. “We are reviewing resumes, and we will follow up” means you can put that application aside and attend to other irons in the fire.

  • Create a list of next steps and take action on those.

  • If you insist on making assumptions, make up something that is more positive or at least benign. “I bet the HR person is on extended leave, and not responding to emails.”

If you need help with any of these tasks, I’d love to be a resource for you. Click here to schedule a free 30 minute-consultation.

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