Challenges of Executing a Career Transition

Individuals in their late fifties and sixties face their transition to the final chapter of their careers in many many different ways, ranging from denial that they are aging to a full blown self-analysis to plan an altogether new career.  A more typical strategy is to analyze how thirty to forty years of skill building can be leveraged in a perhaps surprising arena. Whether they acknowledge it or not, everyone in this age group is in some form of transition.

Not surprisingly, individuals who make transitions after many years with the same employer are disadvantaged.  They tend not to have been opportunistic about their careers, are less nimble in presenting themselves, lack familiarity with how hiring is done at the senior level, and tend to make assumptions about other employers that may not apply.  They can benefit from my services.

Business school students face formidable odds for productive employment.  But the harder and changing times have forced them to be more creative than to limit their choices to simply management consulting and banking.  For some, the imperative to examine both themselves and the job market more carefully, as well as engaging in essential networking, should serve them well in the future.

Decision making on the part of employers has slowed to a crawl. Uncertainly and anxiety about adding expenses is widespread.  For those in the job hunting stage of their transition, this has argued for keeping momentum on the search until the deal is signed.

In the final stages of negotiating a position, people tend to forget that, to fully achieve what they want for themselves, they must appear to remain a buyer not a seller.  This is much harder than it sounds, because usually the candidate has already made up his/her mind that they want the job.  I have spent a lot of time on this.

Another common shortcoming in the actual job search is the inability in an interview to finish a thought and a sentence without becoming too wordy or verbose.  I find this almost a universal tendency, especially when people are a bit nervous.  I spend time with some clients using video technology to provide feedback on interviewing skills.

There are two simple models as careers unfold: careers that are managed and careers that are comprised of a series of relatively random or fortuitous events.  All of my clients, in making the decision to examine their career strategy and choices are in the former category.  I do not know how to reach the second category, even to simply promote the desirability of career management.

I have worked with people of all ages.  One of the hardest chores of all the people I have assisted falls on those who are young parents, successful in their careers thus far, busy beyond belief with family and professional commitments.  For these individuals as a group, it is very difficult to both meet present commitments and keep perspective and objectivity on their career situation.  It is hard for everyone to be objective about how ones career is going, but particularly hard for this demographic.

Once my clients have determined a course of action for their career and enter the job search stage, tenacity is all important.  Especially in an uncertain economy, this process, even for the most talented, is punishing.  Months can go by with no positive feedback or results, a condition to which none of my clients is accustomed.  My role in these cases has been a little like a coach working with a marathoner, with encouragement and tips on how to run through the pain.

One final point, for all the obstacles, challenges and frustrations that exist, and the infamous inefficiencies of the job market, one truth overrules all others: exceptional talent and leadership are rare.  There is always a place for it.

The majority of my clients have come from personal referrals by people who know both the person seeking assistance and me.  Thanks to all of you who have taken the trouble to make such referrals.  I am proud of the quality of work done by both sides, and look forward to many more years of exciting engagement.

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