Consider this: Today, people average nearly 12 jobs over a 30-year career. Much has changed in the work world over the past decades. We need to be prepared for greater change in the future.
One hundred years ago, it was common for people to have a single occupation, such as farming or fishing, for their entire working lives. Sixty years ago, organizations such as General Motors or the U.S. Postal Service were likely to be the sole employer for the entire career of a person. Those days are in the history books for the most part. People are leaving jobs now at higher rates than many realize. A key longitudinal survey shows that workers have an “average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48, with nearly half of these jobs held before age 25.” This means that workers change jobs on average every 2.56 years.
Other sources support this and show people don’t see themselves staying put: “It turns out that 41% of global professionals see themselves at their current company for less than 2 more years. Only 37% see themselves staying long-term, for 3 or more years.” This same report states, “When asked how interested they are in hearing about new job opportunities, an overwhelming 90% of global professionals said they are open.”
What, then, is the take-away for individuals interested in growing their careers, knowing that their paths likely will involve many changes? At every turn, it’s vital to take the opportunity to enhance one’s reputation. Building the skill set of making smooth transitions is critical in today’s employment environment where a person is his/her own brand.
Executive coaches often work with clients who are eager to make transitions, either from one position to another with their current employers, or to an entirely new challenge outside of their present workplace. Change is common, especially with leaders and high potentials who want to make a positive difference at work and in life. New opportunities get their attention, especially if they feel stalled in their careers, are not optimistic about their chances for advancement or, simply, if a recruiter calls to talk about a position that piques their interest.
Helping clients prepare for new opportunities that fit with their stated values, purpose, and desired goals is an area where executive coaching can greatly influence career trajectory. Coaches also can work with clients to build their reputation and brand as they move to what’s next. Five coaching questions and considerations when making a job transition include:
1) How do you want to be remembered? You are usually as good as your last act, so make it positive and noteworthy. Always give proper notice, two or three weeks as a minimum. The next job will wait three to four weeks or more for you to arrive. After all, they’ve just gone through a considerable investment to identify and gain your acceptance. They will understand that you need to leave in good standing even if they want you there as soon as possible. They would hope for the same from their employees.
2) What can you do to assist your manager and team during your transition? Leaders need to think through succession plans and work to have successors identified and ready. When leaving the organization, you typically don’t get to name the person who takes your place. However, you can work with your manager to help identify potential candidates and have a smooth handoff with the selected individual during your transition. Provide notes and updates on key projects and goals, so the acting or new manager and team members are current on where things stand when you do leave. You’ll set a positive example.
3) How will you maintain positive relationships with your current and former employers? It is important to remember that careers span 30-40 years. Many people stay in the same or related work sectors during much of their career, as employers often value expertise in their field of work. You never know when a former associate will be hired into your new place of work in a leadership position. If your relationships were considered questionable when they worked with you previously, how do you think their impressions will be this time around? Bottom line: don’t burn bridges.
4) How do you talk about your former place of work or boss? Talking negatively about your previous boss or employer during an interview will often get you eliminated in the hiring process. Every workplace has strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. The same is true about people throughout organizations. You have learned things from your past experiences and work relationships that helped you get to your new opportunity. Given this, how do you want to focus your discussions on your past employer or boss? You alone choose the perspectives and views you share with others.
5) What can you do to grow your network during the transition? A new job is an excellent time to grow your network and add key contacts. Your network is made up of the people that know you best, professionally and personally. Oftentimes, they are the source of future opportunities; individuals tend to reach out to people they know and have confidence in, and refer them to positions they feel could be a match. Keep your networks updated on your move through LinkedIn and other social media you use.
In today’s technology-driven world, change happens at a staggering pace. It’s not a question of “if,” but “when” will you make your next career move. Everyone will eventually leave a job, whether it is to retire, to change career paths, to move to a new location with a partner, being laid off, or for any one of many other reasons. When you finally decide to leave, or even if that decision is made for you, use it as an opportunity to build your brand.
How can executive coaching help you achieve what’s next and build your brand in the process?
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Find out more about Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at oppnacoaching.com
1National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 as reported March 31, 2015 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
2New LinkedIn Report Reveals the Latest Job Seeking Trends, Esther Cruz, June 27, 2016.