Gone are the days when an individual was hired out of college, spent four decades at the same company, and then retired with a pension. According to Indeed, the average person now switches careers 5.7 times — and that’s before they turn 24 years old.
The coronavirus pandemic has added fuel to the fire. The crisis caused mass layoffs, shut down industries for months at a time, and left millions of employees making career pivots and scrambling to reorient and restart their careers.
If you’re familiar with the concept of a career transition, you’re likely well aware of the emotional and professional turmoil that it can cause. Here are a few tips to help you cope with fluctuations throughout the turbulence and change.
Guard Your Mind
Whoever came up with the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”? Because it turns out that the verbal and mental impact of job loss and career transition can actually be a very hurtful time of life. In fact, one-fifth of Americans that have been unemployed for a year or more report that they’re actively receiving treatment for depression.
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can guard against the mental health challenges of a career transition. A few examples include:
- Learning about symptoms — like self-hate, helplessness, or fatigue — that can help you identify a developing mental health crisis.
- Taking steps to foster healthy sleep — such as journaling or maintaining good sleep hygiene — to avoid the nasty side effects that can come from things like depression.
- Maintaining open and honest lines of communication with an emotional accountability partner as you go through each transition.
By heading off any mental health concerns, you help to set yourself on a positive and successful path forward, no matter where your career is headed.
Grease the Logistical Wheels
It’s great to fantasize about being able to stay at the same place for years at a time. If your reality seems to point to a more rapid rate of change, though, it’s wise to do your research and establish some logistical guidelines to help you through each transition.
For instance, it’s a good idea to do everything you can to roll over a 401(k) retirement plan from a previous employer. You can either move it into an IRA or into a new 401(k) package with your new employer. The former may be the best option if you don’t want to make the adjustment each time you change jobs.
It’s also a good idea to save up a financial emergency fund to help float you through any lapses in income. Switching jobs can often leave you without income for weeks or even months at a time. When this is the case, you want to have a nice little nest egg to fall back on.
Little preparations like these can do wonders in reducing the emotional stress and logistical pressures that come with a career change.
Maintain Your Networks
Your professional network should extend beyond your current job. In fact, being reckless with your communications and social life is a big mistake that many professionals make.
Instead, use your transitions as an opportunity to shore up your current network. Reconnect with past coworkers. Explore new areas or industries that might be tangentially related to your current field. You can even reach out to past college professors and alumni, as 75% of modern employees say they’re likely to return to school during their professional lives.
One way or another, consider where you can use current connections for future professional growth. Career transitions should never be a time of burning bridges. They should be a time of revitalizing and expanding your professional connections.
Finding Success Through Transition
Change isn’t always a bad thing. On the contrary, if you can approach each career transition with a positive attitude and a constructive mindset, it can help you tap into the countless benefits that each change has to offer.
So review your current situation and consider how you can make improvements. Do you need to guard your mental health? Are your finances or other logistics needing help? How is your professional network? Review each area and consider how you can dominate your career with each step that you take moving forward.