Managing Change and the Job Search

Your job search is a project

March 4, 2016

(Part 3 in a series of 3 posts on how to project manage your job search. Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

winding roadWhat’s On Your Plate?

You have a new project to manage: a job search. Don’t get out the scheduling software just yet. Remember: one minute of planning saves six to eight minutes in implementation. What else is going on in your life that should be taken into consideration? Are there other projects competing for your limited time and resources? Are there relationships, life changes, financial pressures, old fears, or outside interferences? That other activity is your portfolio of projects.

Taking on this project right now may not be welcome. Your portfolio of other projects might not give you the best platform for a job change. You may not have adequate resources. But that’s no different than what is happening in the executive suites of most organizations today. Executives are continuously under stress, reacting daily to huge changes in business and technology. It’s part of the job.

Become Your Own CEO

This a chance for you to promote yourself to top dog and take on the challenge of the project management portfolio. More than the project manager of your own job search, you can be the chief executive of your own career. It helps to tell yourself that you don’t work for anyone else. The old boss is history, even if you are still on the payroll. The new one is unknown. You’re the boss of this initiative, so treat it with all the urgency of a new start up.

Plan for Change

When you start a project like this one, you should plan to manage change. Communication strategies and team leadership skills will be essential.

People embrace change when they believe the value of change is worth the pain. Your job-hunting decisions will affect all the other stakeholders in your life: your spouse, dependents, extended family, and even your friends. Here are some of the questions you need to answer:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Can you adjust to the change?
  • Can those affected by your career go with you and benefit as well?

It is not uncommon for sales and management to sell a concept without presenting a full understanding of the challenges involved. Don’t make that mistake. Take a hard look at your job-hunting decisions in the context of your entire life. Some of the changes you can expect during and after your job hunt include:

  • financial changes (sometimes negative in the short run)
  • relocating your family (new home, school, friends, doctors, etc.)
  • adjusting to a new job, boss, and environment
  • a different commute
  • greater responsibilities
  • new insurance plans and changes in other benefits

Project Management Tip: This job search project is not just about you; it is about satisfying and managing all the stakeholders and their benefits.

If you are the individual initiating change, it will feel a lot better if the change is desirable and people support the effort. But having support at the beginning of a project does not guarantee acceptance later when the discomfort of change sets in, and popular support seldom delivers the value of change over time. In some cases, the project changes things that people rely on, alters their familiar data, or replaces their old products or services with new ones. Engaging and managing the risk of human attachments to their familiar methods is one task of the project management professional.

Managing change is an essential element of any job hunt. As you plan for the changes to come, take into account how they will affect your stakeholders, too. Allow everyone an adjustment period and consider how to help your family accept major changes. Successful change management will help assure a smooth transition and success in your new job.

by Helen S. Cooke

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