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Career Change: Are You In For The Short Or Long Term?

 career transition coaching, career book, short term, george dutch, job search, career transition, career explorer, job hunter, intern, recruitment, management, learning, business, hunter, transitions, career, shorts, employment, jobjoy The following is a guest post from George Dutch, President & Founder of JobJoy, a career transition coaching firm. He is the author of JobJoy: Finding Your Right Work Through the Power of Your Personal Story, and several other career books.  George is an approved career expert here at Tim’s Strategy.

For almost 20 years, I’ve been helping individuals find better job fits.  If you are looking for a better job fit, you need to determine which strategy—short term or long term–works best for you at this point in your life.  If you get the two confused, or try to do both at the same time, you’ll probably stay stuck where you are.  Decide now if you are a “job hunter” or a “career explorer”.

Job Hunters

Job hunters are reacting to a bad situation driven by any number of stressful factors, such as:

  • unreasonable workloads
  • a bad boss
  • a toxic workplace
  • the prospect of an impending layoff due to a change in the economy
  • a 24/7 call on your time and energy
  • a change of job conditions from flex-time at home to face-time in the office
  • the fear of being squeezed out of competitive due to lack of educational credentials
  • the unspoken pressure from family to maintain a high income at any price.

As a job hunter, external factors are forcing you to make a change. Whatever the circumstances, you might feel an overwhelming need to get out of your current job.  You must react to the situation.  You need to focus on the problem and solve it.  For example, getting out of a toxic work environment is a short term problem requiring a short term solution.

As distasteful as it might be for some individuals, they might decide that their best chance of getting out of a toxic environment, while maintaining their current pay check, is to do the same thing for another company; or, cross the street, and purchase the services (that they are now selling) for large companies. Or, they repackage their skills and market them for a related but different job target.  This kind of a job search requires a positive attitude, as outlined in Tim’s new Headstrong Book on the subject.

If an external factor, such as a toxic environment, is forcing you to find another job, then do what is necessary to obtain that objective, e.g. get another job for the short term in order to build up the capacity to make a transition over the long term.

Career Explorers

Career explorers, by comparison, are responding to internal pressure:

  • the pressure for more joy and vitality through work
  • a better work/life balance
  • to live more authentically.

Sure, your current job is something you no longer want to do, but you are not stuck there forever (it just feels like it right now). Feelings come and go. Sometimes we are in love, sometimes not.  Most of us get angry, fearful, joyful, anxious, happy, sad, and so on, at different times in different circumstances.  Feelings are temporary. Why should feelings govern our commitment to taking actions to achieve our goals?

A career transition is not the solution to a short term problem. A transition takes time. It is best undertook during a period of stability without overwhelming financial or psychological pressures. A career transition is oriented around creating the kind of life you want; it is not oriented around problem solving.  I recently worked with a client who was able to transition from a reactive orientation to a creative orientation and succeeded in getting out of bad job fit into an exciting new job that better harmonized with her values and talents. Read her career transition story.

Career explorers focus on outcomes not problems.  They formulate a vision of  the kind of job, work and future they want for themselves.  They look at their current reality objectively and see the gap between what they have now and what does not yet exist in the future.  Think of an elastic band pulled tight, one end is your current position in life, and the other end is your future that doesn’t yet exist.

Career explorers are committed to creating that future.  The desire for career change starts to bubble up inside them.  They determine actions that are necessary to move them from where they are now to where they want to go. They adopt not a reactive but creative orientation to their career. Making progress towards a long term goal is about building the life you want.

Understand that a long term goal to have a career that fits your deepest values and top priorities is possible but takes time and energy, two things that are in short supply if you are in crisis, or in serious career pain.  First, get out of the crisis, then take the time to transition.

After reading this post, think about your own situation.  Are you a career explorer or a job hunter?

What changes will you make to your approach?

Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Career Advice

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