6 Ways to Banish Fear When Changing Careers

Career change can be an inevitable thing. Particularly since these days, the 25 or 30-year tenure at one company is pretty much a dying tradition.

For top-level executives, the thought of leaving the comfort and security of a familiar place, people and routine can be daunting.

This career crossroads can happen for any number of reasons, with the dreaded pink slip coming from companies that are downsizing or rightsizing or by executives that are looking to have more control over their career path by forging their own route. These days, many are opting for a more “freelance” approach.

In fact, according to the MBO Partners State of Independence In America 2017 study, approximately 37 percent of the workforce have entered the gig economy. In Canada, 30 percent of workers are currently engaged in some kind of contract work, and estimates from several sources are now predicting that in Canada alone, that number could rise to 50 percent over the next few years.

Whether you decide to go freelance with your current company, get a new full-time job or go out on your own as an independent consultant, there are steps you can take to make the process easier.

Do these common fears ring a bell?

  • Will I be able to get a position that is comparable (rank and income-wise) or higher up the food chain in a different organization?
  • Will I have enough money to get me through while the transition takes place?
  • It’s been years since I’ve searched for work. How will I position myself best when looking for a new position (translation - looking for a job is much more than simply sending in a resume and getting a meeting - today's smart freelance fractional, and interim executives, know they have to match their greatest strengths with the prospective company's current pressing needs)
  • With all my experience behind me, how can I be sure that I'm on the leading edge of the new world of work (in other words, how much have I moved with the times re digital disruption and other factors that organizations today are grappling with and how can I bring my best value to the table?)?

All these issues are real concerns. But they can be overcome.

Here are 6 critical steps to mastering the career leap of faith journey.

1. Take a realistic inventory of all of your skills: Determine what your stand-out strengths are and prioritize them with your lesser-loved traits. Don't simply pick something you are good at but actually hate doing, as that will not take you far.

2. Be exceptionally clear about what you're trying to accomplish. Spend quality time thinking about and documenting what that is. Will it be a full-time, part-time, contract or advisory job? What kind of company suits you best? And how will you manage the ebbs and flows of embarking on this new adventure?

3. Be practical about the time involved. Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither is something as important as finding a new executive role. Like actors, being prepared for rejection is simply part of the game. A positive mindset will not only get you through but show your potential clients that you have what it takes to serve at the very highest levels.

4. Yes, passion can play a part. Being passionate about what you do is just as strong a selling point as your deep skills and experience. Passion helps you stay motivated over the long-haul and shows your superiors that you really care about what you do. It also doesn't hurt the pocketbook. As the famous saying by Marsha Sinetar goes, "Do what you love and the money will follow."

5. Managing people and expectations. You know you have to navigate many complex and multi-layered relationships as you transition out of your current position and into a new company. Here, is it crucial to put yourself first by ensuring you "teach others" how to treat you (translation - create healthy boundaries that ensure you won't be emotionally tripped up by unexpected events). Whether you're dealing with the boss and employees you are leaving or reaching out to new prospects, the best thing you can do is instill confidence in all involved by letting them know where you stand.

6. Make a plan and stick to it. As simple as it sounds, without a carefully though-out strategy that covers every angle of what it takes to search for that new and exciting role, it will be hard to take concrete action towards it, and stay the course.

It's no secret that making a career change is no small feat. The odds can be stacked against you. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that competition is expected to stay fierce for executives from 2016 to 2026, with an 8 percent growth during the period, depending on industry.

The good news is, there are endless opportunities to work on your terms as a freelance executive in the gig economy. You can find work that fits your lifestyle and your income goals.

How can you find the ideal company that fits the bill? A great place to start is by using a purpose-built platform like Kahuso that brings together executive talent with organizations that are ready to hire now.

Congratulations, you just made your next job that much faster to find.


Michael Carter

Co-Founder and President of Kahuso Inc. A serial technology entrepreneur, Michael co-founded Kahuso in 2015, with a mission to change the way the world works.

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