Career change is hard work. Are you ready?

If you want great things to happen in your career, you can't stand still.

If you want great things to happen in your career, you can’t stand still.

Four clients—we’ll call them Derrick, Julia, CJ, and Lynn. Each trying to leap into new careers. All came to me for help. We brainstormed. We ran assessments. We noticed themes and patterns and identified exciting career paths for further exploration. And we solidified research and networking strategies—so they could get vital information about their new fields, and build the relationships necessary to make the change happen.

The similarities end there.

My client of NO

No matter what strategy or idea I float his way, Derrick finds a reason why it won’t work—before he tries it. For example, Derrick works full time, and it’s a pretty stressful job. In career change, odds are that the only way you’ll land the right role is by getting out there and letting people know what you’re looking for—and what qualifies you to make that change. Derrick seemed to understand that. Friends, business associates, professional associations—all could be vastly helpful to him.

But when it came time to start networking– “No time,” Derrick says. How about breakfast meetings? Evenings? Weekends? “Not practical.” Again and again, Derrick has become my client of NO.

Excuses excuses

Julia seemed to be making great progress, and fast. A digital marketing professional, she had taken several years off to spend time raising her young son, and was ready to get back into the market with a focus on content development. Julia was highly organized—and quickly created spreadsheets of contacts and target companies. She knew where to go from there—how to market herself with her great new resume and LinkedIn profile. How to spread the word through her network that she was making a change and was just right for her new direction.

That was a year ago. She’s had one interview in the meantime. I check on her regularly, and this is what I usually hear. “My dad was in town for a week so it was really hard to get work done.” “Summer vacation is a really tough time…” And on and on. Life intrudes. Excuses mount. Career progress is stuck in the muck.

Success finds a way

Like Derrick, CJ also has a full time job. Immediately after our first session, he went to work. In order to make room for his career exploration, he shifted his hours so he could come in early and still have time to research and network during and after work hours. He not only made lists and spreadsheets. He used them, calling contacts, setting up informational interviews with people in new fields as well as with schools with compelling master’s degree programs. He is totally on his way, and I expect to hear soon that he’s embarked on his new career.

Similar to Julia, Lynn had been out of the traditional workforce for years, working from home as a freelancer in corporate promotions. Targeting the growing field of assisted living sales and administration, she embraced her exploration with gusto. She got a quick new certification. She learned to talk about her skills and experience in a way that was compelling to her new audience—and she talked, and learned—at every networking event and one on one meeting she could arrange. She landed her first job in her new industry in a matter of weeks

Similar situations, different outcomes. Which client do you want to be in your job search? Any search is challenging. Changing directions…even more so. Staying open to new ideas and setting effective boundaries is essential to your success.