By Caroline R. De Marco, Vice President, Regional Accounts, Managed Markets & Government Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline
So, you think you’re ready for a career change? I’ve been there. I understand. I think changing careers can be a wonderful move and I know from experience that taking that leap of faith can change your life for the better. But before you jump, consider the following:
1. Why do you want to transition?
Really think about it. What is your core reason or motivation for moving on? Are you not feeling challenged? If that’s the case, what are the skills and talents you want to make sure you get to use in your next career? Outlining this will help you select what careers you should consider next.
2. What will you give up or gain if you transition to a new career?
It may seem basic but make a pros-and-cons list to fully assess what you might lose if you switch careers. Be sure to give equal focus to both sides of the argument so you understand the full scope of your decision.
3. What skills and competencies will you need to be successful in your next role?
Whether you are starting your own business or looking to join a new team, you need to identify what skills you might be missing ahead of taking this next step. Once you have these identified, develop a plan to make sure you acquire those skills/competencies.
4. Who do you need to check in with ahead of this change?
I would suggest consulting the following people ahead of any big change:
- Your “board of directors”: former bosses, professors and other trusted people in your life who know your talents and capabilities and will give you insight and the tough feedback needed to keep you focused and address your blind spots.
- Your nurture network: friends and colleagues with complementary backgrounds and skills that can support you when you make the transition, either with leads for new roles or customers/clients for your new business venture.
- Your family: significant other, roommate, spouse, parents—whoever will be personally affected by your decision. After all, you’ll need to make sure they’re on board and aligned to support you in your transition.
Once you’ve gone through this process, you will be in a better place to determine a path for making the transition. Also, depending on the answers to these questions, you may realize that there’s more groundwork that needs to be laid before making this move.
If you’ve already done the internal due diligence and determined that now is the time, then be sure to develop a solid transition plan that is time-bound and includes a stakeholder engagement map that can get you the contacts or clients that will be critical to landing your new role or launching your new business. Also, be sure to use your network—now is not the time to be shy about leaning on your board of directors and work connections!
Last, be mindful of the internal voices (or “Internal Border Patrol,” as Teressa Moore Griffin calls them in her book Lies That Limit) that are constantly telling you what can go wrong and making you afraid to take those critical next steps. The best way to silence those voices is to make sure you have a rock solid transition plan in place that accounts for worst-case events. On balance, be sure to give voice to and document scenarios of all the wonderful things that could happen when you make your transition.