Stay Clear of These Transition Traps

We all know some outstanding CEOs, they have set the standard for what a true Executive should be and have been mentors for the next generation of leaders.  However, an outstanding CEO does not always make a great search candidate.  Obviously great CEOs have made their mark on their organization and in the field as a whole but it is the rare Executive who can also be an outstanding transition leader.

For those who are searching for a new employment opportunity it is an entirely different animal; great leadership and operational skills don’t necessarily equate to exceptional self-marketing and branding expertise.   Though there are exceptions, the average CEO has moved from one position to another with little of any effort.  It is wonderful to be wanted and recruited and be the “it” candidate for the next organization but it truly takes a “walking in my shoes” mindset to prepare oneself for a successful transition.

Don Skipper of Career Beginnings warns against falling into the following transition traps.  Such a detour can sabotage your job search and make the transition even lengthier.

1)  Lack of Focus – This is probably the most time consuming and dangerous trap of all.  A typical recruiter will ask what your interests are and what you would like to do with the rest of your life.  As a candidate, if you are not focused on what you do best and what makes you unique and special – you will just continue to flounder without any direction.  What is the old adage:  Jack of all trades and Master of None.

2)  No Plan is the Wrong Plan – Many of us grew up with the philosophy of Managing by Walking Around and if you are going to be relevant within your organization it probably still has great value but let’s be honest, such a philosophy is a miserable approach to a search.  Create a transition plan and stick to it until there is reason to shift gears. Include all means to the ultimate end.

3)  The 200 lb Telephone – It doesn’t take long for many to realize that there is less emotional exposure for rejection by using e-mail rather than actual one on one contact via telephone.  I know it sounds old in the world of social media, texting and You Tube but the old fashion telephone call is an immediate and direct way to assess if you are the right person, in the minds of the recruiter for the job.  Many recruiters and HR Departments may not respond to your inquiry but a voice mail message does show the world that you have an interest and you are motivated to make the move.

4)  The Executive Ego – When you have been to the mountain top it is difficult to comprehend that you need to market yourself rather than the recruiter knocking down your door.  Get over the situation and get out there and make some noise.  In today’s market there are numerous candidates for a particular position, especially if it is a “special get.”  You need to promote yourself.

5)  Diversions – It is important to relax and eliminate stress from your life as you prepare for your next life chapter but don’t eliminate the desire for a new position.  Too many have fallen into the trap of improving their golf game, traveling or my favorite comment from an out-of-work contemporary “I will wait until the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.”  Thankfully he did find a new position because he may be six feet under before that impossibility happens.

6)  The Entrepreneurial Venture – How many times have you heard of individuals who have spent initial, valuable time looking for just the right position or maybe even contemplating starting up their own company or buying an existing entity all for naught?  Make sure you include the “traditional search” as part of your plan or you may determine 6 or 9 months out that you have wasted very valuable time and energy on a venture that just isn’t doable.

7)  Discipline – You must be disciplined to achieve a new position.  No one is looking over your should to make the search successful, unless you count the banker who holds your mortgage and your spouse who would like to know the next stop.  If you know the latest story-line of all the soaps or the batting averages of your favorite team, you are not disciplined enough for this effort.

8)  Consulting – We all have expertise that others desire but can’t afford on a permanent basis – we call these people consultants.  If you are going down this road as a Plan B, – jump in with both feet.  However, if it is only a fallback plan, your consulting clients and your recruiter will see it for what it is – you are half pregnant and not making a commitment to either venture.

9)  Finishing the Search – Just because you are a finalist for a position or even if you have landed the big new opportunity this is not the time to stop the search.  In today’s economic situation you must continue to network even if you are comfortable in your new setting.  Who knows, you may be comfortable but your boss may see it differently.  A job search is too important and valuable to put into a holding pattern.  Today’s true professional has one eye open at all times for the next great opportunity.

10)  No Man Is An Island – You hire an architect to build your new home.  You have a dentist to fill that cavity.  You work with the greatest minds in the financial world to guarantee that you can retire before age 80.  Why not get some professional assistance in your job search?  I still believe that you should never pay for a job but why not have a professional author your resume or coach you in the interview process?  More importantly I don’t know anyone, even the most successful of us all who can do life on their own.  We need a network of business associates and friends to assist us in this new and important phase of our life.

Transitions can be a turning point in in our lives and one that can be an outstanding opportunity for future success.  Don’t waste one minute of this time on meaningless or peripheral issues.  Get to work on getting work!

Dan Borschke is a Certified Association Executive who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his distinguished career.  He currently is between positions and has written more than 50,000 words and 80 blog postings on the topics of job search and career transition.  He can be contacted at:

Copyright: MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.


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