Managing Your Personal Career Transitions

Most people have changed jobs at least once and for some, they have even changed career to start afresh in an entirely new role. For example, a number of ex military people have joined the financial services industry.  Change implies experiencing a certain level of discomfort and confusion, even though you have a successful track record in your past work experiences.

Working for a new company means meeting new faces and being part of a new team. Though you may know some of your team members professionally or personally, working with them on an almost daily basis would imply an adaptation period and learning curve to go through.  The novelty of the new workplace can be exciting and stressful at the same time. Coping with stress successfully depends on whether adequate resources are available and your coping style suits the needs of the situation.

Each company has its own culture with implied set of rules and behavioural norms. At the start, you may feel like “a stranger” learning to “fit in” with your co workers. You are hoping that, after a few months, it will no longer be “me” and “them”. It will simply be “us”. This period of adaptation comes with moments of discomfort at times when you ask yourself: “Have I made the right choice?” There are also moments of satisfaction when your personal contribution to the team is largely appreciated.

Some corporate cultures facilitate the integration of newcomers by allowing organizational boundaries to be permeable. Businesses add new people to their team in the hope that they will induce changes to the existing corporate culture. Such changes can be positive as it can lead to the emergence of new perspectives on existing challenges or innovative ideas about the business.  In this scenario, newcomers, in building rapport and trust with their fellow co workers, will perceive themselves as core organizational members over time.

At other times, you still feel like “an outsider” even after a year in the job. It may not be necessarily your lack of skills.  It can be your personal perception of things. It is also sometimes due to the corporate culture of the business that does not provide for the integration of new members.

A more challenging move for progressing your career is making a career shift.  Skills and knowledge are transferable so making career changes is doable. The perceived level of difficulty is higher as there may be no existing comparative framework in your existing repertoire of past work/life experiences. You may find many things to be challenging such as the “ways of doing things” and the “language used” in the new career you have chosen. Each industry has its own “jargon” or technical terms used.

As a result, you feel like a “Newbie” even though you have been working for a number of years. Having the status of a “beginner” can actually be an opportunity for you to bring a fresh approach and allow you to stand out. It is your choice of whether you would like to be “one of them” or being “you” and still be part of the industry community.

Perception with your set of beliefs and values sometimes determine how far you can go in your new career or in a new job.  In both cases, your successful integration relies on your behavioural flexibility, level of critical thinking, humility and openness. Your level of emotional intelligence is another determining factor. Reaching out to people who have had similar experiences or working with a mentor, whose career you would like to emulate, can help you assess whether you are on the right track or not.

It is also important to bear in mind that every culture is dynamic whether it is corporate culture or that of the industry at large. So, timing is sometimes critical and making the wrong choice once does not mean that you won’t be able to carry out the desired changes. It means that you would need to continue on looking for the opportunities that allow you to progress your career.

About the Author

valerie
I work with business owners to help them reinforce their business sustainability . I coach and train professionals working in an international environment or being part of a multinational team.

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