Confidence: Your Secret to Success in Career Transition

These days, I spend a fair amount of time with clients in career transition. Talking through their job search activity, delving into what’s working or not working and processing the feedback they are hearing. In these conversations, the emotions we experience during a job search are revealed and worked through.   It can be tough mental work. The most common statement I hear from my clients in transition is “This is exhausting!” And, it can be.

Remember your own career transitions?

Think back to the last time you were truly happy and engaged in your work, a time when you recall being excited to get ready for a new week on Sunday evening. Do you recall headhunters and corporate recruiters calling? Were enticing voicemail messages from the likes of KornFerry, Spencer Stuart, PepsiCo or Amazon being left for you? At the very least, I’ll wager recruiters were messaging you weekly via LinkedIN. You were on fire! Your work was getting noticed, your network was talking, and everyone was calling.

Over time, inevitably, things change. Days go by much slower. Sunday afternoons come with different emotions. You notice your attention has shifted to nitpicking all the minor annoyances about work. Now, it seems enough has changed that it may be time to look for something new. What are you hearing from your network? Are the headhunters and corporate recruiters still calling? Are those LinkedIN InMail messages still coming? If you are like most of my clients, you feel like everyone has forgotten about you. You think to yourself All I’m hearing now is Radio Silence!”

It can be emotional regardless of who decides!

Whether you decided your current role had seen better days or you were ousted by the new guard, almost immediately the calls and messages dried up. At least it feels that way. This dynamic speaks to the psychological stress and uncertainty that accompanies career transitions. Once the decision is made, our emotional rollercoaster rolled from the high of being excited about a new opportunity to the low of the anxiety-filled unknown.

Having spent years in executive and corporate search, I know one of the most common pitfalls during transition is losing our confidence. Even when the decision is ours, (which so often isn’t the case at the executive level), our confidence wanes. A career change means there will be a transition period, regardless of whose decision it is. When our confidence is lower than normal, we are at an immediate disadvantage. Oftentimes, we aren’t even aware of how that lack of confidence shows up to others.

At lunch last week with a new client in transition, I asked about his confidence level. He bravely responded “It’s not so good right now. In the last seven years, this will be my third job search.   And, while overall my experiences have been good, this current loss is tough. It hurts.”

How do you respond if your confidence has slipped and you are in a career transition? I recommend these tips to many of my clients:

  1. Conduct an inventory of your best career experiences. Reflect back over your career up to this point.   Revisit your most significant wins, praise-worthy achievements, and best performance reviews. What are the common themes underlying those successes?
  2. Choose a new skill you want to learn or knowledge you want to obtain. Commit to practicing 30 minutes every day and you will make immediate progress. The small daily wins will remind you of your capability and strength.
  3. Find a coach, mentor or other trusted advisor. Or all three. Have someone you can meet with regularly and talk through your concerns and anxieties. Create a safety net for yourself than can bolster your confidence in interviewing, networking, and decision making.

Meaningful investments in keeping your confidence level high throughout job transition will propel you forward faster!

I speak regularly to groups and individuals navigating career transitions and coach them to remain confident throughout. If you would like to learn more, connect with me!