Looking When You Have a Job (aka, the planned transition)

making career transitionsThis last month I’ve sat down with three different people who are currently employed but going to make a major career transition soon. This is very different than what I went through last year, where I had a piddly six week severance (I know, many people don’t even get that).

It’s so exciting to see people take their own careers into their own hands! In each case, the person wasn’t looking for more money, they were looking for something they could be passionate about. Take the guy from my post When Cool People Announce They Are In A Job Search (note the awesome comments by Daniel, Bengt, Chuck, Adam, Kellyd, Pete, Darlene, Krystyna, Maggie and Adrian). He makes plenty of money, owns his own business, has all the perks that he could enjoy, but knows that he would be happier in a different type of organization (like the organizations that he used to lead before he went out on his own).

So, follow your passion, that’s the key. But what about the tactics?

If you have the luxury of looking for your next gig with time to spare (lucky you!), here is what I would recommend you do:

  1. Network. Hate that word? Pick up Never Eat Alone and get a new perspective on what relationships are all about. Then pick up Some Assembly Required to get a ton of networking techniques that you can use right now. The bottom line is to begin to improve relationships with everyone that you can, old friends, new friends, etc. If you haven’t been investing in your relationships start now – see how you can help and give and give and help! (need help figuring out how to manage all of these relationships? Sign up on JibberJobber :))
  2. Strengthen your personal brand. I heard of a career leader yesterday that thinks personal branding is bunk, that perhaps it’s a fad. The only way that personal branding is going away is if Google goes away. Until then people will be looking for information about you, and they will find that (a) you don’t exist (gasp!), (b) you are a party animal, or at least use bad discretion on what you want others to know about you, (c) you are an accomplished professional that cares about what others find out about you… etc. You get the point. If you are going to be starting something new in the next six to twelve months, start building your brand right now, when you start your new gig you will have a solid brand that others can see and understand!

That’s my advice. You can through other stuff in there like read books, get certifications, etc. But I think that those two things, networking and working on your personal brand, should consume the time you have to work on your transition.

What do you think? Am I a broken-record-player simpleton? Am I missing something? What exactly would YOU do if you had six to twelve months to make a transition?

3 thoughts on “Looking When You Have a Job (aka, the planned transition)”

  1. I am skilled on the phone. When I was transitioning, I placed cold calls into organizations that seemed interesting just to express my interest and admiration for what they were doing. They were small companies and appreciated my interest in their niche (mostly software).

    Then I’d add that I would be interested in exploring a position with the company and would like to learn more.

    I got an interview about 20% of the time because I was looking at small organizations and gave a great pitch on the phone. It’s not exactly the topic of this post, but if you are great on the phone, it probably won’t hurt.

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Jason. In fact, I’d extend your two points to say that networking and strengthening your personal brand not only help your next job find you (instead of the other way around) but can help you generate better resume bullets. Here’s my personal sequence of events that has proved this to me:

    – In February, I posted a comment on a guest post Jason did on CollegeRecruiter.com

    – Jason initiated an email exchange and added me to his network

    – In May, I happened to mention to Jason that I was going to Austin on some HP business. Within 2 hours, Jason had arranged for me to meet a group of bloggers based there, including Scott Allen, for dinner.

    – At the dinner Scott gave me a copy of his great book The Virtual Handshake (my review), which I read on the flight home.

    – Taking some personal branding suggestions from Scott’s book, I begin to use my job title (below) in blog comment signatures.

    – About a week after I started doing that, I got approached by the editors of an online Java community, who only knew what I did for a living because of the comment signature, about writing an article for them on HP.com’s architecture. The article is set to run within the next month.

    So, because of my network (well, my use of Jason’s network really) and a simple personal branding technique, I will soon have a writing credit on my resume I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I can’t believe I didn’t start doing this kind of thing sooner. I have definitely been assimilated on it now.

    Pete Johnson
    HP.com Chief Architect
    Personal blog: https://nerdguru.net

  3. I used to hate “networking”. I really thought it was the most repugnant activity imaginable. Even today I don’t like the word itself. Drop me at a “networking” event and I freeze. That said, I have learned to network my own way. I am kind to vendors, I crack jokes and I build personal relationships with them outside of work. I have learned that networking is not just building a rolodex of business cards or talking to people you don’t know at some forced event. It’s about having good relations with people, and helping them before you need help from them.

    These days I’m a resource for other job seeking friends and coworkers just because I have those relationships. I like to connect people with people. If you’re uncomfortable with the word networking, do what I did and look at it as just being good to people. It always pays off in the long run.


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