You’re watching a baseball game. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, score tied … and then a voice comes on. “We interrupt this program …”
The same thing can happen when you’re feeling really good and comfortable about your career. Out of nowhere, you get an interruption. For instance:
Your performance review was less than stellar for the first time since you’ve been with the company
A recruiter called and you realized you were extremely marketable
You get two offers at the same time and now you have to choose
You probably heard that the Chinese word for “crisis” is a combination of danger and opportunity. And that’s exactly what you’re facing now.
Tips on Managing A Career Crisis
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and you should not interpret these tips as legal advice.
(1) Avoid discussing your decision with anyone connected with your current job or business.
Most likely they won’t understand. They won’t have your perspective. And even if they’re honorable people who want to keep everything confidential, it’s all too easy to let something slip at the wrong time. It’s hard because you’ve got friends but it’s rarely a good idea to get them involved.
(2) Recognize that you need to take action quickly.
Offers tend to come with deadlines. A sudden change in performance reviews – positive or negative – needs to be explored immediately. Those nagging feelings of,”I’m in the wrong place,” can grow over time.
In particular, if you suspect your crisis may lead to serious consequences, or you’ve been accused of something illegal or unethical, do not wait to seek out legal advice. If your HR department mentions seeking advice from their lawyers, you need to find our own support. Many attorneys in the US (and possibly elsewhere) offer free 15-30 minute consultations.
Your local Bar Association can recommend specialists. For instance, if you work in the medical, educational, or military fields, you’ll need a specific type of experience and expertise.
(3) Identify possible outcomes from whatever action you take and decide how you will manage those outcomes.
For example, if you accept an offer, you might need to move. If your performance review turns into a serious warning, you usually (but not always) need to look for a job outside the company.
The main reason people hire me is to discuss and manage career interruptions. I’m an experienced outsider, although I’m neither a lawyer nor a psychotherapist.
We usually can identify options and opportunities that are not immediately obvious.
“Mark” was devastated by his performance review. His first reaction was, “How can I respond?”
During our consultation, he realized that he was in a position of strength within his company. He could just submit a quick response. Everyone in the company knew he was a talented contributor; he suspected most senior managers realized his boss was not exactly a superstar.
Robert was able to move to another department, which would make him even more marketable. He clicked with his new boss, who was thrilled to poach him from his original department.
“Alice” was having trouble getting past the interview stage of her job search. With no nibbles or indications of interest, she realized she’d soon be facing a crisis.
She had a compelling resume and a strong network. However, she was not prepared for certain types of questions about her skill levels and experience. Her resume also raised some questions that she hadn’t anticipated.
For Alice, success meant responding to queries honestly but with a different style. She prepared examples of past successes. She plugged the hole in her resume (which was actually not a problem: it was just a matter of wording). She then began to move to second and third interviews that led to a job.
If you can relate to these examples (or know someone who does), consider a Career Strategy Session. Among other things, you have a safe confidential place to talk about what’s really important and you benefit from objectivity.