Going through career change and career transition - Hays careers advice

Are you experiencing a significant career change? Have you been challenged by career burnout, redundancy or changing career direction? In my position as Career Transition Consultant/Coach with Hays Career Transition Services, I coach individuals on navigating these challenges successfully.

Everyone at some point in their career will experience change and transition. I certainly have experienced fluctuations throughout my career but also experienced lots of growth and development which has brought me to where I am today. Just recently I relocated from Australia to Ireland and then London, moving countries, houses and jobs all within a couple of months.  I managed this transition successfully by accepting the change, being resilient and having a positive mind-set regardless of the challenges. I focused on what I wanted to achieve rather than obstacles and embraced any hurdles as an opportunity to learn.  I also started working with a coach which helped me to clarify my goals and gain a clear sense of direction.

Career transitions present us with the golden opportunity to grow and develop. We can choose whether we respond to the challenges rather than react. If you don’t like the results you are getting in your career, then focus on what you do want to create in your ideal future.

The changing world of work

One thing we can be certain of, is that change is the one constant in today’s world of work, and there is far more unrest now compared to 20 years ago. Change is inevitable and learning how to manage this successfully requires skill and the right attitude.  A normal human response is to resist it especially if we are not initiating the change ourselves, for example if you have been made redundant unexpectedly. If you find yourself in this position, how can you successfully adjust?

How to manage change

First of all it is important to understand change and its different cycles.  As author and speaker William Bridges outlines in one of his books “change is situational and transition is psychological; it is a three phase process that people go through as they internalise and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about”.  Bridges goes on to state how any new transition starts with an ending, something which seems paradoxical, yet is true. Think of a big change in your own life; getting promoted, moving house or coming home from the hospital with your first child. With any transition you have to prepare to let go of your old perceptions and behaviours and embrace new ones.

It is important to remember that when people experience change and transition, they will encounter different emotions. Some people will react to the situation, expressing anger, sadness or frustration. These are usually signs of grieving a loss, for example, if an individual has been made redundant midway through climbing a very well planned career ladder. Others may respond positively and welcome the opportunity to pursue a different path.

The only person who has control over your thought process is you. Begin by giving yourself time to accept the change, to adjust and understand that there will be a period of managing this transition. Self-care and being kind to yourself throughout this process is really important. Look after yourself by eating well and exercising, and do things that bring you joy-whether it’s seeing friends or pursuing your hobbies.

See this time as an opportunity for you to clarify your goals. Start by identifying what you are yet to achieve in your career.  Write down in details of the steps you need to take to reach these achievements, and start taking action in the present.

How can I become more resilient in times of change?

Why it is that one person can withstand multiple crises whilst another person crumbles in the face of change? Research indicates that the number one roadblock to resilience is not genetics, not childhood experiences and not a lack of opportunity or wealth.  According to therapists Neenan and Dryden “the principal obstacle to tapping into your inner strength lies within our cognitive (thinking) style, ways of looking at the world and interpreting events that every one of us develops from childhood”.

People who are resilient often project a positive attitude and develop a mind-set that fosters progress. They see things from a broader perspective and don’t see failure as a crisis but rather as a learning experience. Many things happen in life that we have no control over, but we can control our attitude and how we respond. Our attitude is a composition of our thoughts, feelings, actions and results.  Getting in touch with people, helping them and taking a positive approach in life are steps towards learning resiliency. This is a skill that anyone can learn and develop throughout their lives.

Managing stress during significant times of change

Learning how to manage stressful situations effectively is extremely conducive to navigating change and being resilient.  It is important to seek out support during times of significant change and transition, for example by reaching out and opening up to colleagues, friends and family members.  As I mentioned before, ensuring you make time for self-care making is priority and a worthwhile investment of your time. You should also think about how you can switch off and relax, whether it’s meditation, or going for a walk in the countryside. Sometimes our best ideas and inspiration will come from periods of deep relaxation.

Our perception and thinking style impacts how we deal with stressful events. We have the power to reframe our thinking and respond to a situation. We can catch our negative thoughts, acknowledge them, observe them but we can also let them go and practice re-wiring our brains to think differently about a problem. We can choose to reject our negative thoughts and focus on what we can learn from the change. This concept is called the Fixed vs Growth mind-set, introduced by Dr Carol Dwek. A growth mind-set thrives on change and sees failure “not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities”.

Recent research in brain plasticity demonstrates that we have the ability to re-wire the neurons in our brain to create new and more positive thought patterns, behaviours and habits. You simply have to take advantage of the resources available; be it books, apps, using a coach or taking an educational course, in order to change your way of thinking.

In conclusion, change and transition can certainly challenge the best of us, but we always have a choice in how we respond to the situation. If we can learn to embrace the change and grow from the experience, we will build resiliency and not only survive the change but flourish from it.

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Sylvia is an experienced Career Consultant/Coach with 12 years’ experience working with clients in the corporate, not-for-profit, university and community sectors. In 2012, she obtained a Master of Career Development from Edith Cowan University and completed a research project on positive psychology. She also offers a background in recruitment, human resources and public relations.

Sylvia currently works for Hays Career Transition Services as a Career Consultant/Coach career coaching individuals through job and career changes. In this role, she facilitates one-to-one coaching, delivers workshops, and develops and manages the development of online resources. She offers clients a unique approach by integrating positive psychology, wellbeing and career development. Sylvia also applies a cognitive and solution-focused approach to working with clients in helping them succeed – empowering individuals so they can flourish in their career and life.

She currently holds relevant Professional Memberships and is studying, Thinking into Results, a leadership program with the Proctor Gallagher Institute.