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Don’t try to get a job and make a career transition at the same time in bad economy

February 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Lately I have talked to several friends and acquaintances who are actively looking for jobs.

They share one thing in common: they have been laid off by their previous employers. But, instead of feeling bitter about the experience, they’re using it as a turning point to find something better and more fulfilling. To certain extent, the layoff is a wake-up call they have been subconsciously waiting for a long time. It’s time to make some changes, and pursue a career path that they truly have a passion for.

I totally respect and admire what they’re trying to do — although the job market is tough and they are without jobs, they still want to make sure they find the right jobs, not any job.

Quite a few of them have been focusing on making transitions to other functional area. For example, a system engineer wants to become a DBA, a PR professional wants to get into business development, and a enterprise sales rep wants to become a product manager.

They’re all very talented individuals. I have no doubt that if they’re given the opportunity, they’ll successfully make transitions to their new roles.

But, everyone of them, without an exception, has hit a wall in their job search process. They had phone interviews and even informal coffee chats with potential employers. In the end, the conversation boiled down to "we really enjoyed talking to you. We’d love to have you. But, at this point, we want to hire someone who has done similar things before."

This doesn’t surprise me at all. In this economy, employers are tightening their belts. They cannot afford to hire an unproven commodity. They want to hire experienced people who can hit the ground running, and start adding value to the company’s top line and bottom line immediately. 

We all have our ideals, and our vision for the perfect job and career. But, we have to face reality. It’s virtually impossible to look for a new job and make a career transition at the same time in this economy.

For folks who’re interested in making a career transition, the best time to think about it and prepare for the career switch is while you’re still employed. In fact, if your desired job function is available in your current company, that’s the best place for you to explore career transition.

I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but it’s very hard to switch to a different job function while you desperately need a job to feed yourself and the family.

Throw away any romantic notion you might have about finding your passion and your dream job at the same time while you’re unemployed. Those are definitely worthy goals for you to pursue. But, do that after you get a steady paycheck. While you’re unemployed, your number one priority is to get a job. You can then figure out ways to pursue your passion and make career transitions. (The only exception is that you have the financial means to last for a long time without having a job. If you have that luxury, then feel free to pursue your own course of action. But, I think for most professionals, they need to get another job in three to six months, if not sooner.)

To get a job, the most important advice I can offer you is to leverage your existing strength, background, and experience. During interviews, your job is to show the hiring company that because of what you have done in the past, you’ll be able to immediately add a lot of value to the hiring company. You’ll be hired if you can convince the employer that the ROI of hiring you is tremendously positive.

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Tags: Career Transition · Recruiting & Job Hunting

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 careers path // Mar 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it without an summary.

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