Being unemployed is not a comfortable feeling. Not only does it disrupt your carefully laid out routine and impact your lifestyle, but it also makes you question your abilities. But the “why” of your transition is something that you must strive to move beyond. You will have to in order to transition into a new role successfully.

Over the years I’ve worked with many people. Exceptionally brilliant individuals. People you would never imagine needing the help of a transition coach, but through a series of events, found themselves in that most vulnerable position. The phrase, “it can happen to anyone,” most definitely applies here. And while we like to feel we are special and tell ourselves, “no one understands my situation,” or “my situation is different because…”, that’s just not true. Yes, there will be parts of your story that make your story unique, but on the whole, there is a formula you can follow to ensure success.

Formula for transition success (A+B+C+D+E+F+G+H+I=NEW JOB):

  1. Be coachable and embrace being uncomfortable. What does being “coachable” mean? It means adjusting your mindset from that of the “teacher” to the “learner.” With a small shift in your mindset you open yourself to self-reflection which leads to personal growth.
  2. Be passionate about finding your next opportunity. That’s the only way you will weather the bad days. Being passionate is nearly impossible to fake. If you are questioning your passion or rolling your eyes at this bullet, it may be time to re-evaluate your career. Ask yourself, what would make me truly excited to go to work every day? Write it down and reflect on what you see there. Because if you don’t truly want it, you are wasting your time. A career shift may be in order.
  3. Have a positive attitude. Much of your success in transition hinges on your mindset. A positive attitude is essential. It not only makes you look like a more appealing candidate, but it will see you through to the finish line. Transition is a journey with many positives along the way if you care to see them.
  4. Be confident. Make sure your confidence is at its highest level. Confidence is like a bank account; you must make deposits regularly. Use positive self-talk as deposits. Stop any negative thoughts in their tracks and replace them with positives as much as possible.
  5. Put your baggage away. Put any emotional baggage behind you so you can focus on the future. This is key. You will not progress in your search if you cling to baggage. Allow yourself some time to process and wallow, but then put it firmly in the rearview mirror. Future employers can smell baggage a mile away!
  6. Remember your advantage in being unemployed — you have more time to prepare. Sure, this may be the first time in 20 years you’ve had any time off, but resist the temptation to adopt the vacation mindset. This doesn’t mean you can’t take time with your family or take that trip to Hawaii for a week. But you must view the transition process as a job once you return. Put yourself on a schedule, set specific daily goals. “I will call xx number of people.” “I will apply for five jobs today.”
  7. Differentiate yourself from the competition. You have to differentiate yourself from your competition both on the alignment side for each position you interview for and the relationship side when you meet new people. You must be able to answer the question, “What do you do exceptionally well, better than most?” If you are unable to answer this question, call on people who have worked with you and ask them.
  8. Focus on what you can control. Activity equals results. In transition you should focus on hours per week, calls made/attempted, expanding your network with every call, and getting paper out. “Paper out” is represented by a cover letter and the resume for a specific opening either with the recruiter or directly with the employer or creating a marketing letter.
  9. And lastly, you have to be intentional. You must move through the steps intentionally and consistently. What does intentional truly mean in this instance? It means being thoughtful and strategic. Thinking through every phone call, every application submitted and every cover letter written. Be in the moment.

As with any math problem, the correct formula above must be followed, in its entirety, to obtain the right answer or in this case – the desired result. Skipping steps not only renders a different answer/outcome, but also shortchanges you on what you are truly seeking – a successful transition. At the risk of sounding like your 8th-grade math teacher, in order to get an A, you must show your work!

Author: Jim Wiederhold

Jim believes his 39 years of experience--particularly his more than 26 years in healthcare--has prepared him well for what he does. His wealth of experience spans key areas, including finance, operations, management, leadership, sales and sales management, corporate, contingency, contractual and retained recruiting, outplacement and transition work and executive coaching.