You’re ready for an executive career change and have recently begun to explore new career opportunities. The responsibilities of your current role, however, have limited your time and ability to focus on your next step. Each time you take a step forward in your job search, your efforts are derailed by a crisis, deadline or other distraction. You worry that you’ll remain trapped in your current role simply because you lack the bandwidth to find something new.
So how do you manage your current personal and professional responsibilities while effectively pursuing a new executive career? Finding a new job as you manage an existing job can be a challenging balancing act but with the right approach, you can achieve success.
Follow these steps to maximize your executive career transition:
Begin by defining your current responsibilities. Pay special attention to activities that have the potential to be time-consuming and disruptive to your job search efforts. Do you have a busy month of travel ahead? Are you facing a challenging deadline? Are you in the midst of a product launch, quarter end, PR crisis, etc.?
Competing responsibilities such as these don’t have to delay your career transition but you need to have a clear view of what lies ahead. The better you understand your schedule and associated time limitations, the more realistically you can approach your executive job search.
As a results-oriented executive, you are accustomed to having a full calendar. You regularly take on new responsibilities knowing that they need to get done and believing that you’re the best qualified to tackle them. If you’re serious about making a career change, however, you must be willing to prioritize.
Look carefully at your calendar and to-do list and be honest with yourself. What needs your immediate attention? What can you postpone until the more critical issues are addressed? And, perhaps more importantly, what can you delegate? If you’re planning to make a career transition, someone will need to step into your shoes when you leave. Can you begin to offload some of your responsibilities onto a likely successor?
With a clear understanding of your key responsibilities and how to effectively prioritize them, you can begin to develop a job search plan to guide your efforts. One of the biggest challenges facing busy executives in career transition is the struggle to efficiently use the limited free time they do have. When they find themselves with a free moment, they don’t know how to spend it. Without a plan, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to determine where to focus.
Based on your current schedule, designate specific blocks of time to work on your job search. You do not need to set aside hours of time; 15-20 minute intervals add up over time. You’ll inevitably need to make occasional adjustments due to scheduling conflicts but, to the extent possible, treat these blocks of time as you would any meeting on your calendar. Use these time blocks to take very specific actions, such as contacting key members of your network, conducting research on target roles, etc.
You don’t have time to waste so it will be very important to find a manageable system to track all of your job search activity. Consider using a spreadsheet to track all networking meetings and follow up activity, which will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Use this or another system to manage target positions, interviews, etc. as well.
Proactively creating an organizational system will minimize the stress and frustration of the administrative process. And because your system will increase your efficiency, you’ll maximize your ability to focus on high-payoff career transition activities.
Pursuing a new executive role under any circumstances can feel overwhelming. In addition to the fear and doubt that inevitably surface, there is often anxiety and uncertainty about how to focus your efforts for maximum success. Adding in the high-pressure responsibilities of an existing executive role only compounds the stress. By following these steps to take as much control of your job search approach as possible, you’ll maximize your time and overall success.