Transition – Embracing Change
"The average person can
expect to change careers (not
jobs) three to five times in a lifetime”.
(Postgraduate Study, Curtin
"The decisions you make about your
work are important, since most people
spend more of their waking lives
working than doing anything else.”
Laurence G Boldt
Depending on one’s perspective, the prospect of undertaking
a career transition can be exciting and energising, or terrifying and traumatic. The difference may
lie in the trigger, personal circumstances, or, perhaps most importantly, the individual’s own mindset.
Consider these scenarios:
1. Your children are grown, educated and
no longer dependant; your home is paid off; you have a healthy investment portfolio.
→ You decide to abandon the 9 to 5 (or longer) grind and chase your dreams in a new career
that allows you to get paid for doing something you love. The decision is yours to make, on your
own terms, when the time is right for you.
2. You are struggling under the weight of
a mortgage and considerable credit card debt; financially supporting dependants; and, as you are living pay cheque
to pay cheque, you rely on every one.
→ Suddenly there is a recession, your company downsizes, and you become
redundant. It is difficult to obtain a similar position elsewhere, and are forced to explore
alternative employment options.
These are extreme cases, and, in reality, most career
transition scenarios would sit somewhere in between the two. However, for the purpose of analysis, it
is useful to look at the two ends of the transition spectrum.
As these scenarios show, the trigger for career transition
can be personal choice, the desire for more job satisfaction, personal fulfillment, etc, or can be externally
imposed and against your will. In reality, there is often more than one trigger.
A person’s circumstances outside of work can greatly affect
their transition-readiness – some individuals can afford to take a risk in pursuing a new career, and some need to
be much more risk-averse in order to preserve financial security for themselves and their family.
Although differences in the above areas are fairly easy to
distinguish, it is the difference in mindset that can have the biggest impact on a person’s approach to, and
ultimately, success with, career transition. It is perhaps only natural to approach externally imposed
and financially uncertain career transition with a ‘victim’ rather than ‘ownership’ mentality.
However, the difference in pay-off a positive approach can make is significant, even if the trigger is not of your
choosing and your personal circumstances are not ideal.
When approaching career transition, consider the
§ Change can appear daunting at first, but may be the perfect
opportunity to grow, develop, re-engergise, learn new skills, tackle new challenges, meet new people, make room for
a new lifestyle.
§ There is usually more than one road to each destination, and
sometimes detours can be fun, while still getting you to where you want to be in the end (eg: financial security,
job satisfaction, etc).
§ While there is nothing wrong with the ‘one career for life’
model, there is equally nothing wrong with exploring a number of career paths over the course of a
§ Most of us spend a third of our lives at work, but that
leaves two thirds – and how you spend that two thirds counts for more in the end. As the saying goes,
“on their deathbed, few people ever regret not working more, while many regret not living more”.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare for, and
undertake, a smooth career transition:
1. Whatever the reason/s for leaving your current career,
consider what you like and dislike about what you have been doing, and what you would like or dislike doing in the
future. What is your dream job? If you can’t answer this question easily, you might
complete one of many self-assessment exercises available online or in books, or chat with a careers
2. Research careers that align with your interests or passion
and the organisations that offer such careers. Consider networking with people working in those
careers currently, to find out whether they would suit you – and you them. Be realistic, but
3. Stocktake your education, training, skills and experience to
identify the gaps between what you have and what you need to succeed in a new career. What do you have
that is transferable? Perhaps more than you think, as many ‘work’ skills are really ‘life’
skills. What training or skills do you need before beginning a new career and what could you
learn on the job?
4. Brush up on your job search skills. A great
application will get you an interview, and a great interview should get you the job. The most
experienced professional can get rusty on the basics if they haven’t prepared an application or attended an
interview for a number of years.
5. Get a mentor. Even if you had significant work
experience in your previous career, a mentor can be invaluable in guiding you down the path of your new one.
6. Remember how you felt starting out in your initial career,
and apply that same drive and determination to succeed. And embrace the change!
By Trevor Neville,
Principal, and Kirsten Ferguson (Human Resource Management Consultant), TranZition Professional and Executive
Recruitment, Level 3 Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane Qld 4000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: