Seven Steps to Help Deal with Career Transitioning

By Arthur Karp, M.Ed, Certified Counsellor

There is much written about career transitioning. Taking into account with many pensioners preparing to take early retirement and having to make some critical decisions on how they will spend the next 30 plus years. Remember the average life expectancy age continues to rise for both men and women to just past 80 yrs of age. Now we must also take into account how a majority of people today find them-selves changing jobs 5-6 x and their careers altogether at least 2-3x in a 35 year span. Reasons may include economic downturn, recession, dramatic technological advances, changing business practices in a rapidly complex and global world we live in. The result is the need to learn about coping with career transition like not experienced in the past 50 years.

If we adopt the term “free-agency” to those of us working we can safely say the possibilities are endless, however, it is about taking responsibility for our career and becoming truly self-reliant.

Preparation Stage

It is necessary to establish a foundation and clearly examine and leverage what you are good at and feel passionate about. In order to do so you must come from a position of clarity and strength. Evaluating your many assets is of tremendous importance. By identifying your skills, talents, and personality style, only then can you identify with a vision for moving forward. Doing some self-analysis will prove essential and allow for making solid career choices. Asking yourself questions such as “What are you good at, what do you value, and what motivates you” will provide you with some necessary career anchors to begin your journey with.

Breaking through Barriers

Identify and list your fears of a career change. What aspects make it toughest for you when contemplating this transition and achieving your dreams. Do you worry about financial considerations such as possibly witnessing your income dropping when beginning with some new opportunity, the cost of getting re-trained, or do you have a child about to enter University and having to consider the rising cost of tuition. Simply recognizing and defining your fear will help to attain the freedom and release the tension and uncertainty which may be creating for you some paralysis. Perhaps to also put everything in perspective may help. In a matter of time we will see the positives arises from the ashes. How great it will feel to shift from the work you “should” be doing to what you love to do.

Learning / Re-Training

There is one kind of certainty and that is when we add to our existing skill set we add considerable value to our employer. It allows you to take on more projects at work and demonstrates you are evolving and improving as an employee. How good will any re-training look when encountering a performance review at work. Managing your career development is about achieving flexibility as you continuously evaluate and develop your skills in order to remain employable and fulfilled. Although it may take time to learn new skills, or update your old skills, your resume should reflect these new developments. Looking to seek additional opportunities? Retraining for a separate career will allow you to learn something new, and allow you to apply for and be qualified to perform various jobs. Is there much doubt you are leveraging for your success and demonstrating to a potential employer you are ambitious and determined. Staying in tune with the advances made in technology is a challenge to all of us. By being on top of the latest technology your upgraded skills will not only be appreciated but even likely pay you great dividends.


There is no substitute for information exchanged with someone currently working in your chosen profession with whom you may share similar interests and goals. It gives you a real sense of what type of work you will actually be doing and whether it meets your expectations. Building connections in your new career area and finding out more about the industry will help in acquiring future employment and ultimately your dream job. Networking and informational interviewing are critical skills to have during a career transition. Have you yet tried the online social networking world? Using resources such as LinkedIn, Facebook,Twitter, may prove to be an excellent jumping off point.


Do you ever wonder about cultivating your interests, finding opportunities to strengthen existing skills, meeting an unmet need, gaining necessary experience in a new industry perhaps, establishing some new contacts through volunteering your time. The transferable skills you may have such as leadership and management, communication, researching, project management, or computer literacy may be applied to any number of fields. Offering a much needed boost to your self-confidence should not be under-estimated. Achieving a growing sense of accomplishment and optimism as it leaves you with a deepening sense of pride and identity. Acts to protect you against stress and depression. Overcoming social isolation through regular contact with others and building a solid support system. . Ultimately, an opportunity is created for you to learn as much as possible about the job, how you feel about the day-to-day activites and what it takes to succeed.

Find Yourself a Mentor

What would it mean for you to find yourself an individual who is open, seasoned, inspirational, filled with much optimism to align yourself with while you are transitioning. In short it affords you a huge advantage. Soliciting their advice on your chosen industry, companies, significance of some emerging trends occurring is invaluable to say the least. Your mentor may suggest ways of helping you market your unique blend of skills and experience along with identifying contacts for networking purposes.

Creating Goals & an Action Plan

As you decide what it is you want to do, it will be important to create specific targets or realistic goals and to plan how you will achieve it. Assessing the type of work, is it sustainable, will it be a full-time position you are seeking. Taking a series of incremental steps which move you closer to your goal is what you are striving for and help to maintain your motivation. A list of all you must learn and do to carry out your plan before realizing a challenging and exciting new opportunity. Deciding just how much risk, uncertainty and challenge you are prepared to tackle is critical moving forward. Note how this campaign may well have to fit into an already busy life as you evaluate its priority.