Your Career. Winter is Coming.
There are seasons in every career and sooner or later, Winter is coming. How you prepare for Winter is critical to your path but it's also important to have an appreciation for the warm Summer sunshine or acknowledge that what you are feeling is the transition of Fall.
For many, the first time they experience Spring is coming out of school or that first move after 2-3 years in position. It's a season of discovery and the excitement of new opportunities. A relocation to a new job, a new city, and new opportunity on a bigger stage. The feeling of being wanted, valued, and actually courted.
After a couple moves, lots of hard work, sacrifice, and a number of chances taken that have paid off, you find yourself sitting in the Summertime of your career. That Director, Main Anchor, VP/GM, maybe even CMO, COO, or CFO role that you set your sights on. You get comfortable. For some, they get blinded by the sunshine. The glare from their corner office or the fame and attention from that anchor desk prohibits them from seeing what's happening around them. Summer is quickly turning into Fall.
Fall can be the best of times and the worst of times. The first time you see the Fall in your career it can be a white knuckle ride. Everything is fluid. The company's for sale, your department's being eliminated, there are layoffs and cutbacks. If you're in a critical role or influential in the next steps you could be offered a handsome retention bonus. Conversely it could mean that you are given a severance package. They can be lucrative or they can be brutal. I've heard a recent story of a seven year tenured employee in a $4b publicly traded company getting 5 weeks severance. When you are faced with trading 7 years of dedicated service for being thrown out on the street with 5 weeks of severance, you have just entered into Winter.
Winter can feel like a kick in the gut. The organization has literally told you that you are unwanted and unneeded. You gave that job everything and you are completely unprepared to move on. If you are fortunate, they offer you a coach or outplacement service. I know this well. It was an executive coach that gave me the two most important things to focus on as I headed into the first Winter of my career (yeah, I've seen Winter more than most). He specifically had me focus on:
Identifying strengths and passions so that they can be leveraged across industries and functions, essentially widening the breadth of opportunities. He made me think about all the ways I could make my competencies transferable. Today, this is a big part of my career coaching with talent in declining industries like tv broadcast news, retail store management, higher education admin., or construction industries. For example, I find myself frequently explaining to multimedia talent the importance of 'merchandising' their social media content. That is making desirable content available in the right place at the right time to be consumed. Having been in the retail store business a couple times in my career and responsible for merchandising, I can tell you that many of the principles are same. It might be a great time to explore a side hustle!n
Build out your Elevator Pitch to support your career transition. In this particular case you are really talking about your Reason for Leaving Statement. "After 14 very rewarding years at (company name) where I produced and hosted Emmy nominated content, I've decide it's time to leverage my passion to serve and take those skills to another area of interest, the non-profit world. I'm immediately available to pursue opportunities to create content for Goodwill, The Red Cross, or a similar cause and I'm networking to uncover the best available fit."
In summary, the more seasons you experience in a career the better you become at recognizing the signs of impending change. I've grown to look at Winter completely different than most. If you've planned well and are living within your means, it's an amazing opportunity for positive and sometimes exhilarating change. In a world where the average job tenure is now less than 4 years, it's critical that you can prep for change and actually manage it instead of it managing you.
About Mike McNamara:
Mike has held C-Suite, Executive and Senior Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management roles with Equifax, Cox Enterprises, WW Grainger, and Federal-Mogul Corporation. Mike has led sales, service and operations organizations of over 1,500 associates and accountable for P&L responsibility in excess of $250M.
Dedicated to giving back, Mike formed The MBAR Group in 2009 with the sole intent of providing pro bono career and business consulting services to the underprivileged and underserved. Today as founder and CEO of TalentBlvd, he coaches a number of high profile business and media personalities as well as holding advisory board positions guiding a number of multimedia and small business startups.
Mike earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University. He is a past chapter President of the American Marketing Association. Mike and family split time between their adopted state of Missouri and family home in NW Michigan where their philanthropic causes include The Kingdom House – St Louis, BACN in Benzonia, MI., and Samaritan’s Purse, Boone NC