The decision to transition jobs can be exciting and daunting due to a range of emotions, uncertainties, and opportunities that come with a significant life transition.
While challenging, job transitions can significantly impact your professional life due to the fresh opportunities for professional growth, career advancement, building your network, and learning new skills. But, it can also bring uncertainty, imposter syndrome, or regret.
If you’re planning or amid a job transition recognizing and managing these various emotions is essential. Navigating this phase of your life and career can take some finesse, so this blog discusses five essential things you need to know when transitioning jobs.
1 – Assessing Your Motivation
Before taking the plunge, ask yourself why you want to transition.
- Are you looking to advance your career to a higher position?
- Are you seeking higher compensation?
- Do you feel stuck in a rut and need to be challenged?
- Are you searching for a better culture fit?
- Are you moving to a new area?
- Is your current job security unstable?
- Is your industry’s landscape changing?
- Are you seeking a career more closely aligned with your values and passions?
Regardless of your circumstances, be sure to know your “why” behind this decision. Returning to your “why” will help keep you on track and motivate you to achieve your goal of a new career.
Secondly, ensure this new adventure aligns with your career goals or desires. For example, if you’re looking for a better work/life balance after having your first child, choosing a position that requires weekend or overtime work might not be a great fit. Or, if you’re looking for a more challenging workload or more responsibilities, finding a position at the same level as the one you’re departing may not provide you with the satisfaction you’re looking for.
Regardless of the position you seek, be sure to consider the impact on work-life balance, personal growth, and job satisfaction.
2 – Researching the Job Market
Now that you’ve established your “why” and re-established your career aspirations, it’s time to research available opportunities.
Conducting thorough job market research in your desired field will help you make informed decisions and maximize your chances of success. Use sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc., to see what’s out there. Here are a few tips to help you with your research:
- Identify the essential skills, qualifications, and experience typically desired for your target roles.
- Carefully read job descriptions for positions you’re interested in.
- Research companies that align with your career goals. You can do this by peering at company websites, social media, and news articles to learn more about their mission, values, and company culture.
- Look into industry reports or publications related to your desired field. This will give insight into current trends, challenges, and growth projections. This can also give insight into job availability and security.
- Search for the average salaries and benefits packages for the types of roles you’re looking for.
Remote or hybrid work is becoming more common so that you can apply for jobs outside your residence area. If you dream of working for a large start-up in California but live in Minnesota, remote work could make that possible.
In addition, during your research, don’t be afraid to explore different industries that might be a good fit for your skills and interests. You never know what you might find!
3 – Networking and Building Connections
You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not about what you know. It’s about who you know.” While this isn’t wholly true (knowledge, skills, and expertise will always be essential), the relationships and connections you cultivate throughout your career often play a crucial role in exploring new opportunities.
Knowing the “right” people and being well-connected to your industry can cause referrals and introductions, leading to job offers, business partnerships, collaborations, etc. In addition, the social aspect of having a robust and connected network can grant you access to resources, information, and support from others in your industry.
But you might be wondering how to build a network. The secret is you already have one! To expand or further connect with your network, you can do things like:
- Attend networking events and professional educational seminars
- Join professional organizations (online communities, professional associations, or industry groups)
- Use social media to connect with people and engage in online discussions (LinkedIn)
- Volunteer for industry-related events
- If applicable, connect with former classmates through alumni networks
- Reach out to your existing friends, family members, colleagues, etc., that might be able to introduce you to others in your industry
- Use coffee or lunch meetings to stay in touch
Effective networking isn’t just collecting people’s business cards at a conference. Networking is done right when it’s used to build authentic, mutually valuable relationships.
4 – Preparing Your Application Materials
Now is the time to get your ducks in a row to begin the application process. This includes updating your resume, writing a cover letter, and putting together any work examples needed for your portfolio.
First, let’s discuss your resume. When was the last time you updated it? Probably before you got your current job, right? Think of your resume as a living, breathing document that grows with you throughout your professional experience. The best practice is to make updates when you start a new work position, get a promotion, take on additional responsibilities, earn a certification, etc. Continuously updating your resume makes it easier to use when the time comes, but don’t worry if you haven’t updated it in 10 years because there are steps you can take to do so.
First, carefully read the description of the job you’re applying for. Be sure to note any keywords of skills, roles, or responsibilities that the employer is describing. From there, modify your resume to include your relevant skills and experience. The trick here is relevant. So, if you have a work position from 10 years ago, that doesn’t apply to the job you’re seeking; you might not need to include it. The average resume doesn’t get looked at for more than 10 seconds, so only include the essentials.
Next, it’s time to craft a cover letter. And before you ask, yes, these should be tailored to each job you apply for. Writing a personalized cover letter that directly addresses the employer’s needs and demonstrates your fit and enthusiasm for the position is essential for moving forward in the hiring process. Be sure to highlight further your relevant skills and experience and how you can use those skills to contribute to the company.
Pro Tip: If you have a connection at the company you’re applying for, include their name in the cover letter. Existing connections to the company you’re seeking employment with can go a long way.
Lastly, pull together any additional documentation like transcripts, references, certifications, or a portfolio of your work. Gathering these materials in advance can make the application process smoother.
There are hundreds of articles about writing resumes and cover letters but don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged. You’re on the right track as long as your resume and cover letter are engaging, educational, and personal.
5 – Nailing the Interview Process
Once you land an interview, preparation is vital! Most people are nervous about interviews, but there are things you can do beforehand to prepare and get more comfortable.
- Research the company’s mission, values, culture, and products or services. And if applicable, recent news or new initiatives.
- Know the job description inside and out. Be sure to have specific examples prepared of how your skills and experience fit their needs.
- Prepare answers to common questions like “Tell me about yourself.”, “Why do you want to work here?”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”. The key is to prepare but not sound rehearsed. Have a few things ready to go in the back of your mind so you don’t have to focus too much energy on the “easy” questions.
- Prepare questions for your interviewer. Having thoughtful questions about the role to ask the interviewer shows that you’ve thought deeply about the role and the company. You can ask questions about team dynamics, culture, growth opportunities, challenges, etc.
No one can fully prepare for an interview, but the more you research and practice, the more confident and prepared you’ll feel on the day of the interview. And remember, your interviewer likely wants the best for you. They’re not asking questions to trip you up purposely. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or to come back to specific questions if needed. It’s your interview!
BONUS TIP – Handling the Transition Period
After all of that preparation, you’ve landed the role. Congratulations! But, now what?
Since all professional relationships are essential, communicate effectively with your current employer about your departure by giving them ample time to prepare for your absence.
In addition to that, there are other things you can do to ease the transition for yourself:
- Complete any administrative tasks like returning company property or filing paperwork.
- Take time to mentally and emotionally transition out of your previous role. Reflect on your achievements and what you’ve learned in the role.
- Recharge and take a breather before starting your new position.
- Review your financial plan and make any necessary adjustments to your budget and financial goals in anticipation of the changes that are to come due to income and expenses with your new job.
- If your new job requires relocation, plan and organize your move, find housing, and address any other logistical details like changing your address, updating your driver’s license, etc.
Change isn’t easy, so give yourself grace and embrace the learning curve. Be open to new challenges in your new role, and remain patient as you learn the ropes. You can find peace in knowing that all of the preparation you’ve done for this transition will pay off.
Job transitions are highly personal decisions influenced by professional and personal factors. If you’re considering a job transition, thoroughly evaluate your “why,” your career, and your personal goals before taking the plunge.
If you have questions about navigating a job transition or need help re-evaluating your financial plan after taking a new job, please reach out to us today.