First Posted March 13, 2009.
Big change. Little change. It's all change.
I was thinking about this in the context of two friends and colleagues who have lost their executive positions over the past month. Neither leaving was entirely unexpected. However, when it happens, it is the kind of change that most people dred.
Losing a job is a big change. It is symptomatic of the transitions that we all go through in life. If we are tied to our current position, then a sudden change in employment can be devastating. However, if we look at all that we do as in the process of change, then we are of a mindset to adapt positively to this change.
If you are in a situation where your job situation is in jeopardy, or have lost your job, then, consider answering my Five Questions to begin a fresh approach to seeking new opportunities.
First ask, "What has Changed? How am I in Transition?"
Establishing a change perspective roots us in a context that allows see beyond our fear of the future, our anger at ourselves or someone else, in order to recognize the reasons why we are in the situation we are in.
Go back in time to that moment when either you were at the height of your performance and experience, or, when you remember things beginning to change. Chart out the progression of events that took place that has brought you to this point. This becomes a reference point for understanding. We'll see things that we missed or looked over because our attention was elsewhere.
The second question to ask is "What is the impact that I want to have in the future?"
What difference do I want to make that matters? What am I passionate about that directs me toward a different arena for employment?
What is it that I have to offer that makes a difference?
Think not of just the results, the outcome, the impact of the work you wish to do. Think also of what you do well that you can offer to an employer. New job searches increasingly are about mutual benefit. You have skills and expertise to offer, and you are seeking an environment where those assets can find a place to grow and expand their impact and signficance.
Third question, "Who do I want to impact?"
If you want to make a difference, what group, business or social need fits best with the assets that you have to offer?
Think in terms of markets. You are not marketing to sell them something. Instead, you are acting to influence them by the work you have to offer them. Who are these people? When you figure this out, then ask your network,
"Based on the skills and expertise that I have to offer, who do you know that I need to know?
Who do you know that can help me to find the people within that group that I need to reach?"
Treat this as a systematic process of analysis and then act to reach out to those whom you need to meet.
Fourth question, ask, "What opportunities do I have right now to make a difference?"
An opportunity is a context where your skills and experience can make a difference right now.
If you cannot identify any opportunities, then more than likely your experience level in this area where you have a passion to make a difference is not sufficient to secure you a job.
Look at this realistically. Just because you dream it does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. What then do you do?
First thing to do is identify what you have to offer, and find a place where you can do so as a volunteer. If you are veturing into a new field of expertise, then finding a volunteer position in a non-profit may help. It did for me. Here's how.
I went on the board of a local non-profit. I asked them, "What do you need done?" The answer was a long range plan. I said, "I've never done that, but I'll learn." The project was so successful that planning became apart of my consulting skill set when I began my business five years later.
Opportunities are there. You have to find them or create them. And they begin with relationships, not needs. Work your network to find places to make a difference that matters, and the opportunties will come.
Divide your time between acting on those opportunities and doing the due-diligence to find employment. By engaging in impact-oriented activities while looking for work, you accomplish three things.
One, you make a difference in the area that matters to you.
Two, you network with people who share a common interest who may provide the connection to the next job. In so doing, you gain experience and potential positive recommendations from people.
Three, you don't get trapped in a cycle of self-pity, denial and depression.
Fifth question, "What problems have I created that I must address in order to put me in the best possible position to get the next job? What obstacles must I overcome?"
What kind of problems?
Do your best to pay down any debt that you may be caring.
If you are not in good shape, start working out. The stress of looking for a job is a physical drain upon your health. Get some moderate exercise everyday, just a few minutes, to feel good about yourself. Your potential employers are going to be looking at this, even if they don't say so.
Emotional / Spiritual.
Join a support group. In some communities, the local office of the state Employment Security Commission has support groups for out of work executives. Many religious congregations host support groups for men and women under stress. Many professional counselors have support groups for people who work in stressful situations. There is an emotional and a spiritual dimension to how we deal with job change. Take advantage of the opportunity to grow through this transition in life.
Sign up for courses at your local community college to strengthen or expand your skills. Community colleges have courses that begin all through the year. Enhancing your education and marketable skills is also a demonstration to your next employer of your sincerity to be at your best for them.
Big change. Little change. It is all constant change through a life's many transitions. Stay focused on the difference you want to make. Work with your network of relationships. Stay open to opportunities, and you'll come to see what is required to get where you want to be in the future.