Preparing for a Career Transition? Ask Yourself These Questions
Updated: May 3, 2020
In these uncertain times, you might be compelled to reflect on many areas of your life, including your career. Whether your thoughts are due to unexpected changes like working longer hours, being furloughed, or unemployment, or you’ve been thinking about your next career move for months, it can be tough to figure out where to start. However, if you’re reading this, that means you’re ready to dig in!
Preparing for a career transition involves so much more than simply updating your résumé. It’s incredibly important to develop a greater understanding of who you are and what you want. Even though you may not be an entrepreneur, you should treat yourself as a brand, and set yourself up to attract the best opportunities that align with your purpose and expertise.
The process of gaining clarity is deeply introspective, and here we outline key questions to ask yourself when trying to discover how to showcase your talent. For even more of a boost, watch this video before you begin.
Question 1: What do I do?
When asked this question in the context of our career, we most often respond by giving our job titles and the name of our employer. The problem with the title-employer response is that it still doesn’t explain what you actually do. Instead, define what impact you make through your work. Talk about your contributions to your team and organization. Think about how powerful you’ll sound when your response is something like, “I save lives by providing critical care to vulnerable pediatric patients.” Practice writing and speaking a concise statement about what you do in a way that demonstrates your value.
Question 2: What skills and qualities allow me to do what I do?
Consider your core strengths and abilities. Are you great at building winning teams, discovering ways to improve efficiency, solving complex problems, or developing effective strategies? How are you able to accomplish what you outlined in Question #1? Knowing and understanding your strengths will unlock tremendous confidence. If you’re unsure about how to articulate your strongest skills and qualities, try a professional assessment such as CliftonStrengths34.
Question 3: What message am I conveying?
Now that you’ve defined what you do and how you do it, you’ll need to make sure that your potential employers get the message. When you look at your résumé, does it convey the story that you want to tell? Do you have a strong summary statement? Do your contributions and skills clearly shine through in a consistent way? The goal is to give hiring managers a sense of who you are beneath the job description. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re presenting your brand in interviews and across your professional platforms, like LinkedIn.
Question 4: Is my brand aligned with my vision?
Surely you have an ultimate career goal. Even if you’re working on a short-term career move, you’ll get there quicker and with more sustainable results if your brand is in alignment with your vision. Are you already doing the work, and do you already possess the skills and qualities that will help you achieve your goal? If not, what’s missing? Maybe you need coaching or training or additional experience to beef up your skills and confidence. Figure out where you need to improve and take action.
Many people tend to think that updating their résumé is the first or best step toward making a career transition. And while it is necessary to showcase your talent on paper, it’s also essential to undergo this type of reflection and planning in order to attract great career opportunities. At this point, you aren’t just looking for a job, you’re making strategic decisions about your professional future. Take time to dig deep, become more self-aware and confident, and take charge of your career journey.
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