By John O'Connor
Here are a few best practices from successful executives in transition that I have worked with over the last few years:
1. Accept and Learn from Rejection - Accept immediately that rejection occurs in almost every phase of transition. It means that your overture to "grab a cup of coffee" or to "just get a conversation going" with a key person might get derailed or might not happen. I have had to counsel executive job seekers on this. For example, one client let weeks pass by, and he really went through the motions on significant additional meetings and contacts because one of his main connections did not want to meet with him. Or at least that's what he thought. It turned out the person did not "reject" him but had other commitments. That person could have been key to helping him and turned out not to be the pivotal person. So he felt rejection. Rejection in any form can ensure that you lose momentum. That's the most dangerous part.
2. No One Team Member Determines Your Fate (or Your Attitude) - You and your attitude matter the most in a search. In the 20+ years I have counseled executives in transition, it still surprises me a little that executives can get knocked down if people around them let them down. Many executives are used to getting things done, putting their credibility on the line and performing with a team. You depend upon your team. In your last job you may have had a level of accountability that you do not have in your transition. Other people, including your references, may not "produce" like your team at your last job. Your spouse may not be as supportive as you need them to be. Your key contacts may not churn up the best ideas for you or do it in the time you expect. But your overall plan may work if you don't push or let others determine your attitude or fate. Inspire others with your positive, proactive and exciting attitude. It is possible.
3. Improve Everything You Do and Everything about Your Strategy - Transition can be an opportunity to improve relationships in your life, including your family. Invest time and energy into building relationships with key decision-makers. Write and produce professionally. Do self-study and push yourself to take courses or improve, on faith, the skills you will need to perform at the highest levels. Get professional help from a qualified career coach to assist you in creating the right mindset and tactics for your search strategy. Take pressure off those around you and be accountable for your attitude and your results. Own this transition. Invest time with family, friends and laugh a lot. Learn to laugh at yourself.
Lastly, most clients I have worked with report that they are better off in a year after they transition then they were in their last opportunity. Funny, isn't it? A transition can be a great reprieve from your career. I know a lot of you don't like it, and it feels empty at times. But I challenge you to revise and recreate your work life mission now. This is a time to find your next calling. Accept the challenges. Solve them. Work a schedule. The evidence of things hoped for will be revealed in your attitude and actions - the only two things you can control in this life.