Career transitions: a “Strategic Act” in career management

7 Comments on Career transitions: a “Strategic Act” in career management

Written by Vannessa Rouillon.

Translated from French to English by LiberateYourPen.

Who, nowadays, could have a career life without multiple transitions?

In a world of fast technology changes and complex economies, career mobility phases are multiple and could be either deliberate or undergone.

They could happen when you join a new company, during a training time to relearn a new profession, but they could also happen during a jobless period, or when you prepare for retirement.

Our relationship to work will need a constant renewal. Click To Tweet

Chances are that we may need to adapt to new work environments, to reflect, and to be able to question our knowledge, our skills, our projects… along within a specific period – more or less short – that we call “transition”.

Transition and identity negotiation

In Larousse dictionary, “transition” is defined as a passage from one state to another, an intermediate level, a progressive evolution between two states or two situations, or even, a gradual passage from an idea to its development!

This polysemous concept is interesting to many sociologists and psychologists.

Some of them consider transition as part of the same conceptual framework than lifecycle, paths and trajectories. Some others believe it is part of biographic events.

In fact, transitions are usually intense phases of identity negotiation. They are “self-negotiations through which individuals strive to maintain a sense of unity and self-esteem.” (Mazade & Hinault, 2014)

When I support people in a career transition – in particular when it is their choice to change direction – I notice that:

  • These people always question their professional, but also, personal identities;
  • The change process is never painless;
  • Change implies the end of a lifecycle and the projection into a new environment they don’t control, but need to learn how to unravel it;
  • People need to preserve a common thread, specifically their identity, their values, their drivers, and their dynamics.

It is then a question of making a choice and self-negotiating on what to keep – cause essential – and what to leave in order to move forward.

From seeking adaptation to seeking life quality and meaning

Nowadays’ workers have to learn how to “change their skin”, in a way, “learn to mutate” and adapt to the changing labor world.

They need to learn how to use those “break“ times – which are actually only breaks in terms of economic production – in order to act strategically for their career, and anticipate future movements and disruptions.

More and more people come to see me today with the purpose to anticipate a future redundancy plan; they are in a strategic approach.

Skills assessments are no longer only requested by seniors. Today, they are used by workers at their thirties to embrace professional movements in a more natural way, while keeping an eye on meaning and work life quality.

The prior challenge in career management is to acquire enough autonomy that helps us conduct transitions – or at least find out the appropriate support – and effectively handle identity turmoil.

Conducting a career transition is “acting strategically” on ourselves and on our environment. Click To Tweet

It should not be lived as an unproductive period but concretely a period that gives a sense to our personal and professional paths, the past and the future.

It requires a fresh look at our own “path times” concept, at their psychological value and not only the economic one.


Vanessa Rouillon
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7 thoughts on “Career transitions: a “Strategic Act” in career management

    1. Thank you Ellen for sharing your thoughts! I agree with you that change is good, and our lives ask for it!
      The question is: “are we wise enough to truly listen and act accordingly?… whatever difficulties or failure we might face?”
      I believe knowing (or being close to) our true passion is the key for a successfully perceived change…
      Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you so much Sam for confirming this point! Being aware of the need to question both our identity and our career when facing a career transition is very important. It helps us better understand the challenge, prepare for it, and take the time to address it properly.
      Thank you!

  1. Changes in my life have not been easy. It is only now (65) that I have the confidence to “risk” (says a lot about me) plunging into something completely different. I spent 10 year after I prematurely and voluntarily left my main career before I realised what I wanted to do, really do. I did not waste the “transition” because the transition made me, forced me, to look at myself stripped back like an onion! Now I am doing what I “want” to do BUT my transition and my original career seem to have provided me with the economic wherewithal to do what I am now doing. These periods were the sacrifice I had to make to enable the present. I began as military officer (navy) and now I have built and I am building my own houses AND I am a political campaigner for a liberal, democratic, radical and progressive society. There is not enough time in the day. I met Nadia when she came to stay at my AIRBNB; serendipitous or what?

    1. Hi Paul!
      So glad to have your comment here! 🙂
      Transitions are never easy, especially when we aspire to do something completely different from what we were wired to do. They involve risk and require a lot of boldness and perseverance to be successful. It is so great to hear that you are now doing what you want to do! 🙂
      Thank you so much for sharing your own experience and happy that we have met through Airbnb!
      (By the way, your house is just amazing! ^^)
      Keep up the great work Paul, and have a wonderful New Year’s Eve!

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