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Why you need to have a happy workforce

People with learning disabilities are often overlooked in the world of work, but they are perfectly suited to many roles.
25th May 2023

Dr Susan Doering: How hard is a career transition?

Dr. Susan Doering, MA (Oxon), PCC


A career transition need not be hard.

If the transition has been forced upon us, then there will probably be negative emotions at play. But I remember one client who was made redundant when the private bank he worked for folded. He reflected that he was in the prime of his life and career, the bank had folded through no fault of his own, and he had all the right expertise and experience. We decided he should reach out discreetly and with optimism to potential employers to let them know he was available for discussions, and then he sat back and waited to be headhunted. He went swimming every morning, read the books that had been piling up on the coffee table and devoted his energy to his church community. Within 3 months he had a new position in the Treasury at the national regulatory bank.

This is a tale of positive mindset, which is the foundation for a career transition.

There are five key components to making the move successfully and fairly smoothy. If you have time to reflect and prepare with these components in mind, much else will fall better into place.

First, know what you value and what you are passionate about. What do you want to get up in the morning and do? What do you want to change about the world? Many people are moving from a corporate setting which they feel no longer matches their values and purpose in life. If you choose a career path that does, you will be more motivated to stay with it and feel more fulfilled.

Second, play to your strengths. Know what your strengths are and talk about them, aligning your passion with what you are good at. It is important to be able to articulate what value you will bring in your next career phase.

Third, get support from family and friends, and from professionals who can provide information, open doors, make connections and create contacts. These may be people in your profession, mentors, coaches, or any manner of people who can help and support you and offer the right kind of advice. A big mistake is to believe (hope) you can make a successful career move on your own. Whether you are thinking of moving within your profession/industry to the next level, or doing something different, or moving from an organisational environment to setting up on your own, you will need a lot of support.

A word about being realistic and recognising when you need support and reaching out to get it. Women, particularly, often lay themselves open to trying to do everything themselves, which only leads to frustration and sadly, failure and/or often burnout. Sometimes it’s necessary to delegate stuff.

Fourth, do your research. This is the practical, nitty gritty preparation part of a career transition – but it’s also fun! This is where you gather as much information as you can about potential work environments by web-based research and by talking to people. Social media sites such as LinkedIn are a useful resource, but nothing beats talking to real people, so go to conferences (thankfully back to in-person!), industry meetups, and all kinds of networking opportunities. Networking is a 2-way activity: you gather a lot of information and at the same time you are becoming more visible to potential employers/clients/sponsors. Then research the companies, research their track record, research how they manage their talent.

And finally, believe in yourself. We started off by asking: How hard is a career transition? Every change is a challenge, and how we react to change often goes back a long way to how we saw our parents face change. If we were taught to be cautious and wary of change, we may have adopted that mindset. But as adults we can say: “That was then, this is now. I have all the resources in me, I have done my research, I’ve got my support network. I’m moving towards my vision of where I want to be. I can do this.”


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