Here are some of our observations on working with people in job transitions. Many are looking for their next corporate gig. Some are really clear that going corporate again is not what they want -- so they are making the transition to consulting or some form of 'post-corporate' occupation.
1. After a while all job transition stories sound like BS. Forget the fluff -- it shouldn't take longer than 30 seconds to explain that the company downsized and you're gone. Put yourself in a hiring manager's shoes. They've heard it all before.
2. There is tons of damage out there. We don't meet many people who ever expect to be in transition at this point -- AND IT HURTS! It's really important to find someone to talk to, to help focus efforts, and remind you of what makes you great, different, funny, and valuable. Even the most amazing people we meet lose sight of how great they are.
3. Networking with other transition folks has its place. Because misery loves company and everyone is clear this isn't where the next gig is coming from. Which is helpful. Every success we see is self-driven. Hanging around with people you can't count on for work keeps that focus clear.
4. Recruiters are the first stop for everyone in transition. Finding you're not loved by them is everyone's story. Just remember that recruiters don't care. It's not their job. Recruiters are paid by clients and they will care when you have something the client needs.
5. Stop being a generalist! Almost everyone we meet is walking around with content, knowledge, and experience that makes them unlike anyone else out there. Yet everyone tries to position themselves like everyone else out there! The world has enough change agents, strategists, leaders and motivators! There's no credibility any more. A lady we met recently was all of those - and wanted to be all of those. But, she also had a PhD degree in mathematics. Now that's differentiation. The world can always use a leader who gets the numbers!!
6. LinkedIn is amazing! But it's not a silver bullet. And using it to keep your name high profile by repackaging everyone else's content gets old fast. Instead, start writing your own blog, producing your own videos, developing your own tools, creating your own ad campaign. Unfortunately, many social media tools make it too easy to hide behind others -- and, while that's a great way to ease into blogging and tweeting -- it won't get you a gig.
7. You can't be half pregnant, and consulting isn't for everyone. While the freedom and lack of corporate BS seems attractive, staying busy as a consultant is like non-stop finding a job! It's tough. So inevitably we see people stuck in between -- wanting to be consultant but unable to afford it. Like anything, if you're going to consult - or find a new corporate gig -- you have to commit to it. Over time.
8. Almost no one we meet in transition is putting in the effort they should. Yet, almost everyone we meet is busy, busy, busy. Here's how we think people in transition should spend their time: 1) figuring out what they want to do - like consult, get a job or just mess around 2) defining what makes them different, and 3) going for it - telling a compelling story everywhere - even to recruiters!
9. Being in transition takes most people a long ways from what they're good at. For someone who's climbed the corporate ladder their whole career, being in transition means being without a team, having to learn to sell, having to make the coffee, having to write the presentations. That is where networking groups or coaching can really help. Learn new skills in a safe environment.
10. Saving money is a huge deal initially that tapers off the longer someone is in transition. Although it seems a little counter-intuitive, here's why saving money decreases in importance over time. First, because most people think they will have a job in 6 months and don't want to invest unnecessarily. Second, because it takes a while to realize you can live on less and get comfortable with it. And, third because no one is desperate enough in the beginning. Desperation starts to set in after about 6 months - putting lots of people 6 months behind investing in themselves.
Here's our list of do's and don'ts for successful transition:
Do figure out what makes you unique. Don't be a generalist!
Do move steadily. Don't panic!
Do learn modern marketing techniques. Don't ignore the traditional ones!