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Sensible Career Transitions for Professionals

By August 15, 2018No Comments
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An early retirement may not always be welcome. I was recently approached by two people with challenges similar to each other. Both are experienced in their fields with long careers in the energy industry.  They each have high annual earnings and years left in the workforce before planning to retire.  As happens all too often these days, their employers are replacing them with new faces – oftentimes less-experienced talent. All of a sudden, both are facing a forced and unexpected retirement. Even with a financial plan in place, this can be a crippling derailment.

A career transition later in life can be frightening for anyone.  Studies show over half of Americans are unhappy with their jobs yet only 6% of those over age 451 actually make the leap. The overwhelming majority remain attached to misconceptions about late-in-life transitions, preventing action.  The average person changes jobs at least 11 times by age 451. At this point in life, many people continue to work for 15 years or longer. It’s therefore reasonable to expect a couple more job changes before retirement.  Switching careers can be a positive thing, create better satisfaction, and is possible with the right plan.

Find Clarity

There are two players in the game: those choosing to look for a new career and those forced to.  For both, gaining clarity on the cause of the transition – and the effect it will have on your professional relationships – can help. The process leading up to a career transition will vary for each person. Some plan ahead, some act on impulse, and others get surprised. Understanding the root cause of the transition can help with maintaining an objective attitude.  Succumbing to emotions can cloud judgment about the next step and can affect behavior.

Regardless of how a transition comes about, exiting with grace can have a lasting impact.  When a new opportunity arises, especially if there’s better pay involved, it can be tempting to jump ship and take it.   Oftentimes, this happens before people consider the full impact this can have on their former coworkers or previous company.  It’s possible to leave a job while maintaining strong professional relationships with former coworkers and supervisors.  A significant contributor to that outcome is engineering an exit where neither the company or your coworkers suffer as a result.

Gain Confidence

Uprooting from a lengthy career can be an unsettling experience.  Many people struggle with the thought of being a new employee again; others may face challenges finding their new niche.  To successfully transition careers at any age, it’s important to adopt the right attitude. For those choosing a transition, it may be to take a new position, learn a new skill, or take a run at entrepreneurship.  Those on the unexpected journey can self-evaluate to find the right direction, or seek professional help identifying potentially marketable skills.

Today, more people are switching careers than ever before. Creating a plan can help overcome the uncertainty associated with a job transition. For many people, finances are a primary source of stress.  Planned and otherwise, a job transition will likely have a significant impact on your financial plan. This can affect your decision-making and your demeanor. Gain more confidence in your decisions by speaking to a financial advisor.

Stay Committed

Job transitions are rarely cut and dry. It may sound strange but employers have been known to deny resignations.  Companies can be hesitant to lose talent and may employ various strategies to change minds. The decision to transition should weigh all the options. Clarity and confidence will help you stand by your decision to make the right move for you.  A strong commitment to your decision will help you explain, in the right words, your reasons for leaving to supervisors, coworkers, and others.

At this stage in your career, you may be of significant value to your organization. Peers may rely on your skills, and junior employees may count on your mentoring them. Your exit can affect everyone in the company, all the way up to the CEO. In the age of social media burning a bridge can result in a public spectacle. To help preserve your professional relationships, help them understand your reasons for leaving.  Those ushered out the door will likely skip this challenge but for those choosing a departure, it’s important to stick to the plan.

A career change is an important decision. Dedicate time to planning and preparing before dropping your resignation on the boss’s desk. If a decision sounds good, sleep on it. Patience will help ensure decisions are strategic and logical, rather than knee-jerk responses.  Companies have a reputation for cutting costs by replacing dedicated, long-term employees.  This may be the opportunity to start the business you’ve been thinking about or find a career that makes you happy. Speak to a financial advisor and discover your options.  For more on planning for financial changes and other intelligent financial insights, visit

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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.