Articles from TheCareerAdvisor
 
The 11 Steps in Career Transition
 
If you're in the job market, you may want a job quickly. Few job seekers—even high-level managers—can sustain a job search for more than three or four months without suffering. There's something inside us that says, "I have to be working . . . and I have to be working now."

Job hunting can be a tough road. The job search has been described as "the highest highs" and "the lowest lows." From beginning to end, it's often an emotional roller coaster.

The market is highly competitive. There are usually more applicants than jobs, and supply exceeds demand. It's often lonely, because everyone else is working, and you have way too much free time.

In addition, job hunting is sales, and you're probably not a salesperson. More than likely, you're an accountant, a factory worker, a technical specialist, or a manager. Sales is unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory. Without help, you might make costly, time-consuming mistakes and stay unemployed longer than necessary. Why take a risk?

Every job search is different. It's possible to talk to a recruiter or hiring manager, take a short interview, and be hired on the spot. But that's rare. It's more normal to agonize, to have ups and downs, to suffer rejection and disappointment, and to confront realities you don't like, either in yourself or in the world at large. Although every job hunt is different, a typical transition is somewhat predictable, and these are the eleven steps along the way:

  1. Job Loss
    Sometimes change is forced: you're fired outright or lose your job in a corporate reorganization. Other times, change is self-initiated: you lose faith in the boss, the company, your skills, or your career future—and you decide it's time to move on. Whether your change is forced or self-initiated, it's still difficult, because change itself is difficult.
  2. Focus
    You know you need a job, but you're not sure what to do. Should you continue on your current path or try something new? You're confused and need direction. You talk to friends, read career books, and seek advice. You want to choose the right course, and you're afraid to make a mistake.
  3. Resume
    Trying to get all your life experience onto one or two pages is frustrating, even angering. As you "waste time on the resume," you note a sense of urgency and begin to feel you're not getting anywhere.
  4. Cover Letters
    You prepare letters to friends and begin answering want ads. Once your letters are in the mail, there's a lag time before the phone starts ringing. You're increasingly impatient.
  5. Networking
    Calling to ask for appointments is somewhat frightening. You feel like you're begging and "using your friends," but once you get the hang of it, it's great fun! You discover that others do want to help. However, you lose patience quickly, because informational meetings aren't "real interviews."
  6. Job Search
    You're now Vice President of Sales and Marketing for your own company, "Me, Inc." Hustle is the name of the game. You attend organizational meetings, write to companies, take friends to lunch, and do anything and everything possible to develop job leads.
  7. Interviewing
    The phone rings and you're invited to an actual job interview. You're scared and nervous. This could be the big one, and you could mess it up. You read books on interviewing, role-play difficult questions, and touch up your wardrobe. If the meeting goes well, you're high; if not, you're low. Either way, you're often kept waiting, and waiting is painful.
  8. Disappointment
    Midway in the process you "hit the wall." Although you've tried your best, you don't feel you've gotten anywhere. Nothing seems to be working. You get discouraged and feel you haven't done anything right. You get angry, irritable, and want to quit. Perhaps you can't get interviews; or if you can, no offer is forthcoming. Sometimes the perfect job you've been counting on falls through and you have to start over. Regardless of the reasons, you fight frustration, confusion, self-doubt, anger—and especially impatience. In such situations, these inspirational ideas might help you.
  9. Job Offer
    Finally, you receive a specific job offer. It's not perfect, but it's worth discussing. This lifts your spirits. You get on the phone and fan the flames of other warm leads. If you're lucky, this produces a second or third offer.
  10. Salary Negotiations
    Most companies have fixed salary structures, and there isn't much room to negotiate. You negotiate within the limits. Usually, if you like the company and they like you, salary isn't a deal killer. You reach quick agreement.
  11. New Beginnings
    Once you accept an offer, you feel a tremendous sense of relief—and so do your family and friends. Now you can go back to being a human being. You feel good about life and look forward to your future. You send thank yous to everyone who's helped.

    "Next time," you say, "this whole process will be much, much easier. And I hope there is no next time."

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