What is Your Career Change Tactic?

I didn't realize that I had a career change tactic before an interview series with 52 career changes in early 2020. The interesting thing was, these interviewees didn't know they had a tactic either.

I think we didn’t know because we just found our ways without thinking about it too much. But getting to know these tactics and presenting them to the study participants was indeed eye-opening. We realized what we could have done differently and how our career transitions could have been less stressful.

Hence, a post summarizing the six tactics I identified in 2020:

  1. Jump – hold on to what you got until you find the new thing. Pros: You have an income and might be more attractive to head hunters. Cons: You might have to have thick skin to endure your old job.
  2. (Embracing) the gap – this was my default. You quit and take your time to figure out what is next. Pros: Gives you time to think without constraints. Con: Financing and staying proactive when you don’t have a work routine. People I talked to financed this based on their savings, unemployment benefits, or government-sponsored programs.
  3. Bridging – Quit the old work and find a temporary, part-time job that pays the bill. Pro: Gives you time and takes away the financial stress. Con: You might get stuck in the “bridge job” if you become too involved.
  4. Scaling – Slowly scaling back your old job to make room for a new (freelance) career. Participants I talked to gradually reduced their work hours to 80%, 60%, and 40% until they were sure that the next thing would work out. Pro: You still have the security of an income, and you can go back to your old job if your idea doesn’t work out. Con: You might find asking your employer challenging, and you will have to work two demanding jobs simultaneously.
  5. Dipping in and out – This is about doing the new thing during the evening, weekends, holidays, and unpaid leaves. Pro: Allows you to test the waters risk-free and on the side. Ideal for freelance or solopreneur projects. Con: A second job will leave little time for anything else and might require your loved ones to support you/reduce their expectations. Some interviewees found it challenging to go beyond first experiments.
  6. Fading – This is about changing your existing job profile slowly into a new one by volunteering for activities and assignments and specializing in a particular part of your job in team activities. Pro: You can continue your employment. Con: It might not be possible in small firms or very specialized roles.

Got another tactic? Share your experience in the comments!

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