The Four Stages of Navigating a Career Transition

Whether it’s starting a new position in a familiar industry, changing industries altogether, or embarking on a brand new career, professionals will experience many transitions throughout their careers. Although the reasons will vary, the stages of a career transition will remain the same.

The four general stages of career transition are:

  1.  Clarity: This is the starting point for your career transition. You’ll have to assess your motivation, core values, skills and interests. You’ll also need to consider what you are willing to sacrifice for this transition and decide if you can go the distance.
  2.  Research: A career transition isn’t an easy feat. You’ll need to determine what you’ll have to do and what you’ll have to sacrifice to achieve it. It’s recommended you determine what skills you have and determine the gap between those skills and what’s needed for your target role. Also assess your resources; do you have the necessary funds for training, certifications and licenses you may need? You’ll also want to consider how your career transition will affect your lifestyle in the short term, and how those in your life will support your efforts.
  3.  Planning: When you begin your career transition, you’ll want to develop an action plan and goals. Begin your journey with the end goal in mind, then break it down into major goals and short-term goals. Assign yourself daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that will help you achieve your goals and record your progress to keep yourself accountable. Remember, even small steps can build confidence and momentum over time.
  4.  Action: A career transition can be a long process, but you’ll want to be in it for the long haul. As with any journey, keep moving in the direction you want to go, but be open to detours and unexpected opportunities along the way. Also make sure you periodically evaluate and adjust your course as necessary.

These stages are not a linear process, nor will you only go through them once during your career transition; in fact, you will cycle through them many times. It will seem difficult at times, but like any major journey, it’s possible even when it doesn’t seem easy. Simply remember that transitioning careers is a process that requires clarity, research, planning, action, and the willingness to overcome or seize the unexpected.

As always, UMUC Career Services is here to support you throughout your journey with a robust offering of tools, resources, events, and advice—all of which can be found by visiting CareerQuest.