What Does It Take to Transition into a New Role?

by Pranav Ramesh
January 25, 2022

IT Systems Manager Jason worked his way up to a managerial position at a local university over the course of a decade. Watching the university struggle with decision-making and budget cuts during the pandemic, he started thinking about what this meant for his career. Was it possible he could be laid off? Would staff be reallocated to other units again, causing his workload to increase without compensation? For the first time, Jason considered what a career move might look like for him.

Have you taken time recently to reflect on your career and where it’s heading? Has your supervisor started giving you increased responsibility, and with it, additional challenges, and professional growth? Many employers have enriched and enhanced their employee engagement and wellness programs because of the changes the pandemic has brought to the workforce.

But if things are still as frustrating at work during the pandemic as before, perhaps it’s time to consider a career move. And statistics prove you won’t be alone. According to reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover Surveys, over 38 million American employees quit their jobs in 2021. While this report accounts for transitions across all sectors of the economy, these striking numbers show just how many of us are willing to consider a career move.

Preparing for the Transition

Don’t Burn Those Bridges

As Jason began to consider his options, he remembered an old adage from childhood: don’t burn bridges behind you when you leave, especially in the workplace. He continued to assess the university’s financial status and closely monitored crucial decisions made during the pandemic. Jason was also cognizant that the timing might be right for him to make a career move. He had just wrapped up two larger projects for the university and things were to be relatively quiet for a while. The successful coordination of these projects would provide a nice boost as he updated his resume.

What’s the workplace culture like?

Jason began searching for employment opportunities outside of the academic realm and reconnecting with contacts who might have potential leads for him. He began to think about what he wanted in his next position. Priorities for Jason included a more flexible work environment and a culture that better supported employee engagement and wellness.

Organizational psychologist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Adam Grant, an expert in motivation and rethinking, recommends asking what makes the culture different from other companies. Do the stories people tell about their workplace indicate it is a fair place to work? Is it safe to bring up improvements or to suggest new projects? Can an employee control their fate at this company?

Trying to get honest answers to these questions can help a prospective employee understand the company culture. It can feel fruitless to accept a new position and find yourself in a situation similar to the one you were trying to leave. Certainly, salary increases can provide motivation for a career move, but money often isn’t the ultimate motivator, especially when salary ranges are similar for positions across industries.

Be Prepared for Adjustments

It is essential to determine what your dealbreakers are, just as it’s important to understand what you’re willing to compromise. Sometimes, you may need to expand your employment search across different sectors or try searching for slightly different job titles. How jobs are described in one industry may differ from one another. Another option for those considering a career move would be to seek out the advice and assistance of a recruiting firm that specialized in specific placement within their profession.

Expect and Anticipate Challenges

It can be intimidating to start over in a new company, but after careful consideration about what to expect, Jason felt more confident in his decision to move on from the university. But he also knew to prepare for and anticipate some challenges. Not only are there new names to learn and processes to follow, but Jason will have to make sure he stays motivated and on track working in an alternative working environment. There will probably be some politics and personalities to navigate. No workplace is perfect, but the transition to a new role can bring fulfillment previously unfound in past work environments.

Settling into a New Groove

Once you start a new position, don’t be afraid to set yourself up to succeed. If a mentor is offered, consider accepting the potential guidance. Just as it took courage to re-evaluate your career, remind yourself that it will take time to learn some of the skills required for this new role. Take advantage of “check-in” meetings with supervisors to make sure you’re on the right track and projects are progressing as scheduled.

After careful preparations, Jason decided the timing and circumstances were right for a career move for him. He interviewed potential employers just as they interviewed him. Understanding company culture was critical as he accepted a new position. With the help of a recruiter, Jason now works for a private company with significantly better employee benefits and works remotely 75% of the time.

Considering a career move can be daunting at first. But simply reconsidering your current role and what it means to you can be a healthy exercise in re-evaluating one’s choices. If you feel stuck or in need of a change, try taking Adam Grant’s quiz to see if rethinking your employment, or beliefs, can benefit you and your career goals.


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