Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Embracing Professional Change

2018-12-10 11:04:59

I know a lot of people who really don't like change. I personally feel a certain amount of change regularly is good, but I don't like out and out chaos in every facet of my life at once.

As professionals get older and have worked for the same employer for many years, often they become entrenched in the identity of working for XYZ. When, for some reason, their jobs end, they desperately cling to the belief that they need to find another position inside the same employer. While this seems like a logical thought, the truth is often that although they may be qualified, and have a good review history, if they were eliminated from one job, the chances are that they will not find another one inside the same organization.

I've seen this happen at several local employers in the area in the last decade: Microsoft, University of Washington, HPE, Amazon, and Boeing. The truth is, if you were singled out for a RIF, or left your job for some other reason (ie sabbatical, FMLA), you already have a mark against you. Often, when decisions are made to eliminate positions, factors that are considered can include seniority (which skirts the ageism line), cost to the company (ie lots of time off for medical/personal issues) or less than stellar annual reviews ("meets expectations" rather than "exceeds expectations"). Rather than try desperately to try and get another role in the same organization, this is a time to look at new opportunities.

Take stock of your skill set. Perhaps it is time for a change, or to pursue some classes or a certification that will lead you into a new area. Reinvigorate your career. This is the time when working with a career coach/counselor (the difference is whether or not the person has a related degree like Social Work, Psychology, Organizational Management, etc. Coaches usually don't.) You can also go to your local state unemployment office for free services such as testing or skills evaluations. If nothing else, get your resume updated and reviewed by people that know current trends (this would be hiring managers in your field, recruiters/HR folks, or people at your local unemployment office…I caution against “certified resume writers” unless they have either a recruiting or HR background, as they probably aren’t familiar with legalities associated with current hiring practices or how Applicant Tracking Systems work.)

If you are content with your current job/career, it is time to start networking. Most people that have been with the same organization for years make the mistake of not building out their professional network, especially on LinkedIn.
• Start with people you have worked with, especially former managers/supervisors and peers.
• Then look for recruiters that may specialize in your skill set, both agency and corporate professionals.
• Next, concentrate on other professionals in your discipline, possibly that you have met at a conference or other professional event.
• Finally, take a look at your social circle. Some great general contacts to cultivate are auto mechanics, real estate agents, hair stylists, B2B sales professionals, waiters/bartenders, taxi or ride-sharing drivers. These are professions that tend to meet a lot of people and have clients in a variety of industries.

True story: one of my friends started driving for Uber when life took a downturn and ended up being part of several new ventures professionally based on conversations with riders.

If all else fails, it may be time to put out a shingle and start your own consulting business.
• Decide on a name
• Get a business license
• Create an LLC (there are online services that can help walk you through this)
• Get a website up and running
• Open a business bank account
• Identify the one or two services you offer, and start getting the word out to your network.
Starting a business isn't that expensive, but one of the best things you can do is get yourself a good accountant or bookkeeper and understand how taxes work as a contractor.
• There is an organization called SCORE ( which can be a good resource. It is comprised of senior and retired professionals that volunteer their time to help small businesses in a mentoring capacity.
• The SBA (Small Business Association is another resource for information.

The truth is, change helps to keep us from stagnating, and is not a bad thing. It can be scary but is a reality of life today.

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The Long-Term Ramifications of Ghosting An Employer

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