10 Career Transition Strategies for Senior Executives


A career transition marks a pivotal point in your life and career that allows you to re-evaluate your past and plan for your future. With this comes a lot of pressure. Stanlee Phelps, SVP of outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison wrote a great article offering 15 'Strategies to Ease a Career Transition', providing the inspiration for this article. Read on to avoid negativity and ensure that you are approaching your job search with the correct mindset.

  1. Don’t panic, evaluate – Career transition is a great chance to re-evaluate your career goals and path. View change as evolution.
  2. Learn from mistakes – Any mistakes you made in the past must be left there. Now is the time to move forward, reinvent yourself and strengthen your brand.
  3. Project positivity – Never talk negatively about previous or current experiences during networking or job interviews, including regarding former employees. People respond well to positivity. Think of any time you have met with a person who is overly negative from the start – you are unlikely to have wanted to call them back. The same goes for professional situations.
  4. Leave on good terms – former colleagues will become your number one networking source down the line.
  5. Share you search (and your feelings) – Stanlee Phelps highlights that too many executives in transition bottle up feelings and do not utilize many networking sources available to them due to pride or shame. Call on your support network for help in your job search and for emotional guidance. Yes, a few acquaintances may not be able to help or know how to handle your difficult situation, but your closest friends and family will soon become your strongest motivators / job search facilitators.
  6. Perfect your package, before you sell it – before you contact anyone, you must know exactly how you can help them, help you. Have your career objectives defined and your strategy for each contact ready. What contacts may they have? What do you want from each situation? And perhaps more importantly, how can you help them?
  7. Prepare for rejection and thank them – Unless you’re the luckiest job seeker in the world and find a perfect match first time, rejection is going to happen and often many times. You must treat each experience as a learning exercise. One contact I know sent a great email thanking the interviewers for the opportunity and learning experience after he was rejected for a position. It turned out they had made a mistake and the head of talent called him back for an interview. The gracious response added yet another positive element to his application and even called his accidental rejection to the attention of the head of talent. Positions close and re-open all the time, building lasting bridges is essential.
  8. Prepare for the long haul – plan finances, undertake new interim ventures, complete further education, and prepare yourself mentally for up to six months and beyond.
  9. Relax – Finding a perfect fit for your career objectives and skills takes time. You probably neglected relaxation during your executive position, so now is the time to develop relaxation techniques and plan activities to ensure you are on top mental and physical form for your job search.  
  10. Reward yourself – Gains small or large are one step closer to landing a job. Appreciate your achievements and you will capitalize on each step forward that much more.

Nothing anyone can tell you will prepare you for a career transition as it is a period of intense self-reflection that will often result in life-changing outcomes. Just make sure you take a step back and align yourself mentally. Running ahead with process can sometimes do more damage than good, and lack of preparation will exhaust your ability to stay at the top of your game.

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