Webster’s dictionary defines transition as “a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.” Many have written that the whole concept of employment is changing – permanently. On that basis, the term transition really makes sense.
With that in mind, if you would describe your current situation as “in transition,” consider what you are doing with your time. If you are focused on replacing a job you had with one very nearly the same, that might work out for you, but it’s not a transition.
I’m not picking on anyone for not complying with Webster’s. What I would ask is that we all wake up to the reality that the demand for many positions is not about to come back to pre-2008 levels – possibly ever. This means competition will be stiffer, compensation will be lower, and the time to land a new job will be longer. Are you prepared?
Let me ask a better question. Did you really love that old job? I mean “wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get to it” love it? Right, I didn’t think so.
Kevin Cashman tells a story in the book Leadership from the Inside Out about making choices. He asks readers to imagine being stranded in a snowstorm and missing an important meeting. Do we rant about it and let it raise our blood pressure? Or, do we realize that one of the things we would really love is a few hours alone - just to think? Do we let a single event derail us or, do we choose to see it as a wish granted? The choice is ours.
You can also choose to live the definition of transition during challenging times. Instead of just another job search, engage in your own transition. Reinvent yourself. Learn.
A number of publications discuss common ideas that may help us connect better to our internal motivations. Three ideas are mentioned quite often. They revolve around seeking autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Autonomy: Rather than submitting hundreds of resumes blindly and hoping for a call back, look take a look around. What problems could you solve for a friend starting a new business? She might need the professionalism you offer but never thought she could afford your price tag. So, help her out. Help her first and let the finances work themselves out (they will, trust me).
Volunteer for charitable organizations or struggling non-profits. If you can make a difference, then people will notice. People you have helped will look for ways to help you. You won’t be going in, hat in hand, asking for a referral. You will gain an ally who has seen you in action and is happy to recommend you.
Don’t even think of saying you don’t have time. If you want to do the traditional job search, it’s going to take 6 – 9 months to find a job you don’t really like. Consider transition activities to be your part-time job for now and, more importantly, part of your journey to fulfillment.
Mastery: For the new role you would really love to have, you might need to master new skills. Let’s say your friend with that new business can afford to pay you half of what you were used to. If you can learn a new skill at the same time, you 'll save the cost of tuition to a business college, meaning you're not taking a pay cut at all.
Join groups and pay attention to the events they host. Many are low or no-cost events. Offer to help with planning. Being a planner is like having a backstage pass. You may be able to meet a knowledgeable or influential keynote speaker in the field you want. How much would that be worth to you?
Purpose: Having a purpose is uniquely human. Finding it isn’t a journey you make alone. Your coaches might be right in front of you. Instead of asking people how they can help you find a job, ask them if they know their purpose. When you find others who know their purpose, ask them how they learned what it was.
Find out who you are and what you are here to do. Learn which skills you need to master to fulfill your purpose.
Taking ownership doesn’t mean going solo. Seeking guidance is an important step in transition. Not transition as a euphemism for joblessness, but transition as Webster defined it.