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It’s an End, Not the End

What I Learned During My Job Transition

Adam Dill recently joined Wicked Foods as Chief Customer Officer. Below, he shares his job transition journey and his experiences working with Navigate Forward.

By Adam Dill

My job transition journey officially began one year ago. On November 6, 2019 around 5:30 p.m. a meeting invite came into my inbox. It was for 8:15 the next morning with my boss and our HR partner. Not in his office, but a conference room.

I had been with the company for 25 years and on the other side of the desk for enough restructures to know what this meant. That might have been the longest night of my life. I got two hours of sleep but a good eight hours of anxiety.

The next morning it was official, we are going a different direction, blah, blah, blah and unfortunately I no longer had a role in the organization. I remember feeling shocked (despite being rather sure of what was going to happen) and quickly working to contain my emotions, smile, nod and thank them for their time. Twenty-five years, 20 different roles, ten moves, two countries and plans still needing to execute came to an end in an uncomfortable five-minute conversation.

What followed is job transition.

Yes, I felt all the emotions: anger, sadness, hurt, excitement, happiness, relief, scared, anxious, betrayed. Over the months as I sat in those emotions, one single truth became clear: this is the end of a story, not the end to my story. This is a new beginning and the opportunity for me to determine what the next part of my story will be.

Four Things I Learned During Job Transition

In this transition, I learned a number of things. If you are going through your own transition, here are the top four I would want you to know.

1. Just Ask

I am slow to ask for help. I am supposed to be the person who helps others, not asks for help. Over the past year I have found people to be extremely generous with their time, encouragement and support.

All it took was me being willing to ask.

Does everyone say yes? Of course not. But if you don’t ask, you won’t ever know.

Be willing to ask for help. You never know where the next connection might come from.

The biggest learning I have had is not to assume who might be able to make connections for you. Some of my best connections have come from people who don’t even know what CPG (consumer packaged goods) stands for. A neighbor introduced me to a CEO that they were friends with. A volunteer at a non-profit introduced me to an EVP from their wedding. A lawyer who serves on a charity board connected me with a COO. Be willing to ask for help. You never know where the next connection might come from.

2. Feel All The Feels

I promise that you will feel a ton of different emotions. Sometimes they might even surprise you. Do not try to push them all down and act like a superhero who is all positive. Even when the change might be the best thing for you, you can still experience feelings of loss or uncertainty.

You need to process your emotions. It will help you not to be surprised later or worse, have them come out during an interview when asked why you left your last role. Allow yourself to feel all the feels.

Even when the change might be the best thing for you, you can still experience feelings of loss or uncertainty.

When COVID-19 started, I heard a promotion that said uncertainty is exciting and frightening. That is so true. I am excited about the possibilities of a new career and afraid of when it will come. I am excited about the time I will have to really be with my family and afraid when my transition will actually end. Fear and excitement, two very different emotions, at the exact same time. For me, it is the timing of the unknown that creates the biggest fear. If left unchecked, that fear can limit the excitement side.

That means holding both hope for the future and not being blind to your current reality. It is staying hopeful on the job hunt and making sure I do not lose sight of what is needed today.

3. Everyone’s Journey is Different—Be True to You

Everyone will have an opinion on how you should manage your transition. Here is the deal. This is your career search, your future and most importantly, this is your life. All of it needs to feel, be and sound like you. There are hundreds of experts out there and insightful posts on how to land your dream job. You can also find experts who contradict each other on every point. You need to ensure your approach fits who you are.

Think of every conversation or networking call like your own personal career advisory council.

  • What wisdom do you see in the ideas that people have shared with you?
  • What resonates with who you are?
  • What have they said that you had a visceral reaction to?

Listen to all the opinions and ideas. Then, remember it is your job as CEO of your transition to decide how you will implement your plan. The only rule I think everyone agrees on is dress nice for your interview and wear pants—even for the virtual ones.

4. Invest In Yourself

Re-entering the world of looking for a job can be overwhelming and intimidating. I needed an expert guide. A coach to push me and encourage me. A LinkedIn guru to show me how to build “my brand” and get noticed. Practice with my interviewing skills. Most of all, I needed someone to remind me that this was not the end, but only the beginning.

Enter a transition service firm. I had the gift of being introduced to the team at Navigate Forward. They became my bright spot when things felt dark and my guides to navigate my transition adventure.

Navigate Forward helped me remember who I was and the value I bring to any organization.

I was truly blessed to be paired with Jill Harmon as my career coach. She knew when I needed encouragement, a reality check or someone to hold me accountable. Most importantly, she helped me remember who I was and the value I bring to any organization.

Take it from me, a great transition guide can make all the difference. Invest in yourself and find a strong transition service firm to travel on this journey with you. Better yet, negotiate the service as a part of your severance. Trust me, the money you will spend now will pay out over and over again on your journey.

If you are in transition, remember that this is simply an end to part of your story. Your story still has a lot to be written and you get to choose where the next chapter starts. Don’t lose hope. It only takes one job offer. You’ve got this.

 

About the author: Adam is committed to repaying the generosity and kindness he was given during his transition by helping others during their journey. He lives in Minnetonka, Minnesota, with his amazingly talented wife and two cool daughters. He is outnumbered by females in the house, including their dog Ginger. Connect with Adam on LinkedIn.

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