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Thursday, February 10, 2005


The Career Change Blues (and Other Colors): The Beginning

My intent with this series of posts is to offer another story, a different perspective to job hunting and career transition. I wasn't sure if I should or could do this, but a fellow blogger and friend reminded me that I'm not alone. He's right. I am definitely not the only one out there right now who is working hard and struggling at the job search. And definitely not alone in trying to create a life and career that's focused on passionately living true to my purpose and talents. If you're in the middle of a career change or thinking about one, my hope is that my experiences and insights resonate with you. Please feel free to comment or email me privately.

(Before reading further, I would recommend breezing through my earlier post: Let's Change The Way We Hire Talent, Okay?)

I think the one thing that has surprised me the most is not just the vast range of emotions I've experienced, but the speed in which they change. It's not unlike a rollercoaster with the highs and lows and nausea-inducing loops coming in rapid succession. There are times just this week I have felt energized about going in an exciting new direction, depressed when even temp agencies don't contact me, confused when amazing job leads suddenly dry up, and scared witless whenever the idea of paying the mortgage comes up. Then, there's the feeling of sheepish embarassment that comes with not having a job and anger for anxiously waiting for a call or email to set up an interview that never comes. I'm sure there's plenty more out there.

One thing that I've tried to remember through the job search process is that each of these feelings is valid. They are a part of the entire process as painful as that may be at times. Sometimes they seem managable, sometimes they seem overwhelming. Find someone you trust and love and share what you are going through with them. You're not alone.

With these wildly conflicting emotions comes a question requiring action: How do you manage to keep moving, keep working toward the career that's sparking the whole process in the first place? Here are three things that I am doing right now.

Taking Care of the Basics Tough as this is at times, I'm trying to take care of me. I'm running for the first time in years, trying to eat better, (trying to) meditate. I'm also looking for part-time/temp work, which has a couple of purposes: one, it would get me out of the house and occupy my mind with other things; two, it would bring in some income.

Informational Interviews I'm finding folks who are doing the kind of work that I want to do or work in organizations that are attractive to me. So far, I've met some amazing and interesting people. I don't consider it networking, I do think of it as relationship-building. I'm joining professional organizations and volunteering on committees. It's effective, but requires patience (something that my wife would agree is not one of my stronger attributes).

Envisioning that 'Perfect' Job At some point, someone's going to ask what kind of job you're looking for. You can give them a vanilla answer or you can give them you idea of the 'perfect' job. This is a time to dream and to inspire yourself. When times seem bleak, its gratifying to have this mental picture available. This is how I defined my 'perfect' job for a friend recently:
It would be a manager of leadership development programs for a mid- to large-sized organization.

Ideally, I would be able to do one-on-one coaching with managers and executives, helping them to develop working environments that reward creativity and their employee's innate talents. I would also be able to conduct faciliations and trainings to small to medium sized groups.

I also have to be surrounded by highly creative, energetic, soulful people; individuals who love to learn and help others learn. The organizational environment should be one that encourages risk as well as reflection.

And while we're talking 'perfect,' I want to be fired-up each Monday morning when I go to work. I want to be proud to tell people of the work that I do and the organization in which I work. I want to know that what I do has meaning and purpose and that I am contributing to the wellbeing of those professionals around me.

I think that covers the main stuff. And you know, I do believe its out there and someone is searching for me, too. Its just having the faith that it will come. And soon. :)
I guarantee there will be more to come. If you're out there and experiencing the career change rollercoaster, my hope is that you'll arrive back at the finish both soon and safe. But most of all, I hope that place you arrive is where you are most fulfilled, most passionate, most able to use all that makes you unique.

Categories: c.Careers

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