How to Be Supportive During A Career Transition
No one experiences a career transition in the same way. What you may find supportive may not be viewed as helpful by your friend or loved one. What one person defines as valuable another may find disruptive or even shaming. Keep this in mind as you offer support to those navigating a career transition. Below is a summary of insights and tips to be genuinely helpful and situations you can avoid that may cause unnecessary stress.
Begin with the fundamentals because how you listen makes a difference.
Prepare yourself to remain present as you interact with your friend or family member. Remember to listen fully without interruptions, this includes:
- Be empathetic.
- Turn off the need to “fix” as you listen.
- Avoid strategizing as you listen.
- Don’t be too quick to give or offer up advice.
- Practice paraphrasing what you hear and not what you think.
Give respect. Remembering to first extend an invitation to collaborate.
Be consistent about asking your friend or loved one if they are ready for your recommendations or even want your advice before you share any suggestions. Agree to specific boundaries for how you will participate. Be sure these are clearly communicated and agreed upon to avoid unnecessary stress.
Create positive check-ins and schedule regular times to meet and communicate your support.
Scheduling a regular day and time to check-in is very helpful to the transition process and for the care of your relationship. Avoid making the “career transition” the focus of every day — a weekly check-in meeting is recommended. Agree on what topics will be discussed. Remember to frame productive questions, such as: “What does support look like for you at this time?” or “Given your current needs, how can I be helpful to you?”
Check-in with your own attitude before offering support.
Be honest with yourself about how positive you are feeling before talking or collaborating with those in transition. Your attitude impacts others in this situation.
If the career searcher finds they are venting a great deal it can be helpful to ask in advance if a time limit for venting is useful. Remember to pivot the venting into solutions and acknowledge their efforts. Agree to highlight at each meeting what is working for this person and where progress is taking place.
Things to avoid:
- Judging the emotions of the individual who is experiencing a transition.
- Critiquing progress or accomplishments.
- Sharing your opinions.
- Offering ideas without gaining permission from the individual.
- Feeling sorry for the person.
- Participating in conversations that make the person’s “feelings” a factual reality.
- Telling the person what they need to do. Do not begin sentences with: “You need to”.
- Asking the same types of questions repeatedly. This may include: “Did you hear back from so-and-so yet?”, “Are you still searching?”, or “Haven’t you found something yet?”
- Summarizing the person’s career story in a dramatic or victimizing way, for example: “It’s awful you have such a hard time when it comes to your career.”
No one needs to transition alone, and it is helpful to seek outside counsel. Promoting Brilliance is available to offer pragmatic and creative strategies for professionals and new graduates in transition.