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The First Steps Towards a Career Transition

In my line of work, I often come across senior corporate employees who are contemplating a career change. Many have been in their current role for a while, and some have been with the same company for decades. Change can be a daunting prospect, especially if it’s been a while since you last sought alternative employment.


When you are thinking about changing your career, there is a lot to consider. Our jobs are fundamental to our survival, so making a change as huge as changing industries, needs to be well executed.


When you move within an organisation or from one corporate role to another, your job description is usually clearly defined: you get the car, phone, executive package, etc; you effectively, hit the ground running.


It’s an entirely different story when you branch out on your own.

When I worked in a senior role for Boots, I had a PA (the fabulous Steph) who did everything for me. When I left and started my own business, I found myself having to call her to ask how to do the simplest of things, like, how to book a train.


It felt pretty overwhelming at times.

Transitioning careers is not an easy thing to do; preparation to transition requires time and effort - the enormity of which is enough to put some people off.

I think that the very first step in any career move is deciding that you ARE going to make that change. But then what?

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”
Tony Robbins

In this article, we’ll look more closely at what is involved in taking those first steps towards career transition and explore areas that might be holding you back.


What Does Success Look Like to You?

This is an important question to ask yourself before you make that first step. You need to be clear on your goal and have a sound understanding of what you will need to do to get there.

If you don’t know, now is the time to find out.

You must also be honest with yourself about your current abilities so that you can identify any skills gaps you may have.

When I was researching the requirements for my own career transition, I realised that formalising my knowledge through industry accreditation would greatly benefit my move. So, as part of my transition, I did just that. Twice.

Some changes will require you to learn new skills or earn qualifications and although this may take time, know that career transition is a journey, not a sprint.



How is your time management?

Managing time, setting priorities, and maintaining a work/life balance is something I often work with my clients to perfect. Many of them who are looking to transition are still in employment, so committing time to the cause can be a real struggle.

After a busy executive day, having the willpower to sit down and do a few hours of learning or planning can be hard.

If handled poorly, career transition can cause a lot of upheavals, so it is important to strike a balance without stretching yourself too thin, upsetting your family or your current boss.

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
Stephen Covey

I find Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix is a great way to understand how my clients are using their time and identify where they are wasting it.

I ask them to make a note of everything they do over a set period, in 30-minute intervals. Then, at the end of that period, we sit down together and allocate each of the tasks completed into a quadrant in the Time Management Matrix.

The idea is, that anything that falls into Q3 and Q4 needs to be stopped, Q1 needs to be better managed and Q2 is where they need to be spending most of their time.

“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must take it.” Charles Buxton


Managing Your Public Persona

When making a career change, you must also consider your online persona. The first thing employers and potential clients will do when they are considering using your services is look you up on Google.

You should make sure that your accessible social media accounts reflect the image of you that you wish to portray. If they don’t…you best increase your privacy.

LinkedIn is a great platform for anybody considering a career transition; it makes it easy to make connections, grow your own network, and market yourself to the right people. There is a trick here, however, that is often missed. I tell my clients that they should market themselves for the future they want to create, not the careers they have.

For example, if you are a functional Head of Department, but your goal is to reach the Boardroom, then your CV and LinkedIn profile need to reflect the role you might apply for - a functional head CV won’t cut it.

“Succeeding in business is all about making connections.”
Richard Branson

In the modern world, your online profile is your passport to making great connections. These connections form your network, and your network could expose you to new opportunities.


“Your network is your net worth.”
Porter Gale

Your Network

You may have already read an article I wrote earlier this month on the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people. In the context of career transition, it’s all about seeking people out who will make your career transition a smoother experience.

Gain contacts who work in the industry already, get in touch with people you know who have already transitioned from the corporate world and seek out potential future clients. Speak to the experts; executive coaches can be a great help to anyone looking to make a career change.

When I made my move from corporate, I used the services of several coaches to help me to navigate areas where I knew my knowledge was lacking. I knew I was a great leader and coach, but I needed guidance when it came to running a business and marketing myself

Use the resources available to you; it makes the whole process quicker, easier, and less of a lonely experience.


Don’t Be THE Reason You Don’t Succeed

We’re all guilty of getting in our own way sometimes, but don’t let the way you feel about yourself and your prospects, be what stops you from progressing. Without knowing it, you may be lying to yourself….


Self-Limiting Beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs are opinions we hold about ourselves, our abilities, and where we fit into the world around us.

These beliefs can be formed as a result of our own experience, the experiences of other people, or even just hearsay. The opinions we hold have been forming since childhood and can be so ingrained on our psyche, that we don’t even realise the influence they have over our actions.

Here are some examples:

- That’s just the way it is.

  • I’m too busy.

  • I’m not good at that.

  • I’m not experienced enough.

  • I’m not connected enough.

  • They’re better than me.

  • I’m too young/old.

  • It’s too late for me.

  • I didn’t go to the right school.


“If you accept a limiting belief, then it will become a truth for you.”
Louise Hay

Image: Jofulllife-blog.com


Did you know that human beings have a negativity bias? Our brains cling on to the memory of that one time something went wrong, over the many times it went right.

This naturally occurring positive-negative asymmetry is thought to be a result of evolution; for early man, paying attention to, remembering, and sharing negative experiences could mean the difference between life and death.

Having this bias towards negativity means that to remain balanced in our opinions, we must make a point of recalling our positive experiences. The key is to recognise when our thoughts are falling into that self-limiting trap and do something about it.


Comfort Zone

You knew it was coming, didn’t you? That old adage: “you need to step outside of your comfort zone.”

Well, it may be trite and a bit of a cliché, but trust me when I tell you that it’s absolutely true.

“Don’t settle for comfortable misery, a sad state where you’re hanging on to what is predictable and familiar at the risk of letting exciting opportunities pass you by.”
Dan Miller

We all know people who should have moved on from their current position years ago, but the thought of change paralyses them. Instead, they just shuffle along until retirement, having somehow convinced themselves that where they work ‘isn’t that bad’ or that they can ‘put up with it’ for a bit longer.


Don’t let this be you

“If nothing ever changed, there would be no such thing as butterflies.”
Wendy Mass

Try to think of your safe, secure, present job as a butterfly chrysalis. It has nurtured and sheltered you as you’ve grown, but now that you’re as fully formed as that cocoon will allow, it’s time to break out, stretch your wings and fly.

Ok, I know that’s a bit naff (so naff it needs to be made into a poster over a graphic of a mountain), but seriously, do you want to be a caterpillar your whole life?

Over the past few weeks, I have shared articles with you on taking risks and building confidence. Both these pieces contain helpful hints about how you can prepare yourself to take a step outside of your comfort zone. It’s all about mitigating your risks and maintaining a positive mindset.


I know it can be frightening; stepping outside of your comfort zone takes guts – but you don’t have to leap blind, and you don’t have to take the journey alone.

“Who, exactly, seeks out a coach? Winners who want even more out of life.” Chicago Tribune


Transition Coaching is all about me supporting you through your career change and helping you to maximise your own potential. I can work with you to set goals, draw up solid plans and then hold you accountable to sticking to them.

Why not get in touch? Maybe contacting me, should be YOUR first step towards a career transition.


Pick up the phone and call me: 07799474776.

Or drop me a message: Paul@paulstarbuckassiociates.com

Let me help you to be all you can be, in 2022.

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