Transitions in action podcast

This three-part podcast starts by looking at how even the smallest changes in life can affect your career plans. It then moves onto the four key stages of the career management cycle. Finally, it examines how to bolster your confidence in your chosen career and purge your inner critic.

Part 1: Life transitions and career planning

This podcast explores the issues of life transitions and their impact on our career planning, including the value of employing a technique called “positive transition”. It outlines how any type of transition can affect your career in a small or significant way. It proposes that, before deciding to pursue any given action (or role), it makes sense to think about what you want to gain from undertaking this action (or position), and the positive impact that it will have on your career.


Part 2: The career management cycle

This podcast explains and defines the career management cycle. Specifically, what is meant by the four key stages of: self-awareness, career exploration, career decision making, plan implementation.


Part 3: Imposter phenomena & career transition

This podcast concentrates on imposter phenomena and career transitions, defining what they mean, and outlining 7 steps that could help you purge your inner critic.


Welcome to this podcast on ‘Transitions in Action’ – How to cultivate & develop your career. The podcast is in three parts. The first part is about life transitions and career planning.

Prospect provides a range of careers support to its members and this series of podcasts has been created to help you think about your future career planning and development. The idea behind each of the podcasts is that you can utilise this not only for yourself but you can also start to think about how you can use this to help and support other people, whether that is in your role as a manager, a colleague or in fact as a friend.

In life there are key stages that we go through that have both a positive and at times challenging aspect to it. For example, when we were younger going from primary to secondary school seemed like such a daunting task. How would I find my way around the building, would I make new friends? Now of course we probably don’t even think about this major life transition as we have been through so many more since then.

As we progressive through our life we naturally take on new roles and responsibilities that can have an impact on the direction of our career. This could be at work as a manager of others; at home as a parent or carer or in fact we may have things that were outside of our control such as a health issue, a redundancy or bereavement. Often although the road ahead seems clear, obstacles fly towards us that can leave a lasting impression.  No matter what stage you are at in life there is always a transition ahead. 

A -technique to consider doing after listening to this podcast is to write down three examples of positive transitions that you have had either in a work or non-work setting.  In particular, what I would like you to think about is what made the experience so positive. Did you do something specifically to contribute to this or was it in fact serendipitous in nature? What can be interesting to assess is whether there are any reoccurring themes that emerge.

For example, you may have been asked to take on a project at work that required you to learn something completely new in order to make it a success or you have been working on a piece of research that you had an opportunity to discuss at a conference and as a result of this you and your team gained more credibility in your field. The reason for doing this is that we can easily forget a positive experience and it can be really helpful to reflect and record when something has gone well and why. It can help to show how our inner character and strength can work even when a situation at first doesn’t appear to be favourable.

To accompany this podcast there is an attachment where you can record your answers to this separately. This is entitled:-Recording Positive Transitions.

With any type of transition it can affect your career in a small or significant way.  Let’s  consider one exampleSomeone more senior than you changes their role and an opportunity presents itself for you to go for a promotion. Before deciding to pursue this it makes sense to think about what you would want to gain from undertaking this position and the positive impact that it will have on your career. The second podcast in this series on the career management cycle will really help you to think about your potential career decision making

If I was in a room right now and I was to ask you to raise your hand if you have had any formal careers support then there would be a show of hands in the room but probably not that many. Why is that? Well for one thing your career may have been on track and you didn’t see the need for career and personal development support until now. The fact that you are listening to this podcast suggests two things that you are either being really pro-active and thinking ahead about your career development or alternatively your career needs a MOT.

The second podcast concentrates on the career management cycle. 

Welcome to this podcast on ‘Transitions in Action’ – How to cultivate & develop your career. The podcast is in three parts. This second session concentrates on the career management cycle. In the first part of the podcast series we considered how life transitions can have an impact on our career.

Did you know that there was such a thing as a career management cycle? It makes sense that there would be an approach to it and that you may have gone through it perhaps without consciously realising it. The cycle itself is comprised of four key stages.

  • Self-awareness;
  • Career exploration;
  • Career decision making;
  • Plan implementation.

Throughout your life you will go through these stages more than once. I will explain each stage in more depth.  Remember that throughout this series of podcasts the aim is that you can use the tools and techniques not only to help yourself but apply them to other people. The career management cycle allows you to carry out a career health check and to identify areas that you need to focus on for your future career planning and development.

In the first stage ‘Self-awareness’ it is useful to think about what is really important to you in terms of your values and beliefs. If your values and beliefs are not aligned with where you work then you can continue in a career for the short to medium term but it isn’t sustainable in the long term. There are six key areas to consider. With each one think about how important it is to you and start to create a checklist.

People

How important is it that you work with people & teams? Is it important to you that you work with people who have similar values and beliefs to yourself?

Environment

How important is your work environment to you? Are you happy to work behind a desk or do you need to be on the go all day? Is it important to you that you are in a modern office or has that not even entered your mind.

Location

Where do you ideally want to be based? Geographically speaking what is the labour market like in that area, are there any likelihood of job opportunities? Are you prepared to travel? How far is acceptable?

Money

Be honest with yourself, for some people money is not a driver to career satisfaction but for others it is really important. The reality of this is that there may be some job opportunities that may sound exciting but financially they don’t have the return that is required in order for you to sustain the lifestyle that you need.

Tasks

What do you really enjoy doing in both a work and non-work context? If you were to leave the role that you were currently doing what would you really miss? Consider this question: What else do I need in my life that is at present not available from my role? Is it people, environment, specific aspects of the job/organisation?

How

How do you like to work, do you need flexibility to your working week? How would you describe your current working style? How would you like to work in the future?

By thinking through each of these areas then you can start to create a checklist that will help you to identify any areas of change, what to prioritise first and how prepared you are to make a change. There is a checklist that accompanies this podcast. This is entitled, ‘Creating a Checklist’

Stage 2 of the Career Management Cycle is Career Exploration. In this stage you are generating career ideas either to cultivate and develop your career in your chosen industry or alternatively to look for options outside of your sector. Questions that may be useful to ask yourself and undertake further research on are:-

What have people from a similar background to mine gone on to do?
What steps do I need to undertake to explore this career idea further? Do I need to undertake additional training? Is this a growing employment area? Finally, how much will it cost me in time, money and emotional effort to pursue this route?

As well as listening to this series of podcasts, the ‘Selling your Strengths and Skills’ will be a great accompaniment to Stage 2.

Stage 3 of the Career Management Cycle is Career Decision Making and this can often be the hardest one to do. For some people writing the pros and cons down of a career decision can help them to logically come to a decision. Professor John Krumboltz of Stanford University has developed a theory called “Planned Happenstance” of career planning. The essence is that it recognises that there is an element of chance in many career decisions.

If you think back to your own career has it been a series of carefully thought out steps or were there instances where the direction of your career changed based on a chance encounter that you had, in essence an unplanned opportunity. To accompany this podcast there is a worksheet entitled, Planned Happenstance and Career Decision Making.

The final stage of the career management cycle is ‘Plan Implementation’ in essence you are putting a plan in place to bring your career decision to fruition.  In this stage you are really starting to think about how you obtain your career goals. By identifying any obstacles to your progression this can help you to work out what you need to plan first. If you are thinking about going for an internal promotion, then is your CV up to date? When was the last time you had an interview? Is there an opportunity for you to practice beforehand?  Alternatively you may be going to your next appraisal and you want to make sure that you highlight all the achievements that you have made as you would like to take on additional responsibility in your current role. 

When you reach this stage of the career management cycle remember to listen to the two excellent podcasts on ‘How to create an effective CV’ and ‘Preparing for Interview’.

The next podcast in this series looks at challenges to career progression and concentrates on the concept of imposter phenomena.  

Welcome to this podcast on ‘Transitions in Action’ – How to cultivate & develop your career. This is the third and final part in this series and concentrates on imposter phenomena & career transitions. In the previous podcasts we looked at life transitions and the career management cycle.

Imagine that you are about to write a research paper, give a talk on a new funding discovery or meet your boss for an appraisal, instead of being proud of your accomplishments and achievements what is actually running through your head is “I haven’t done enough experiments; I haven’t got enough data; I can’t write the paper well enough; I am not prepared for this meeting" then there could be more to this than simply a lack of confidence or self-belief.

Imposter Phenomena was first cited by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in the 1970s. Imposter phenomena was identified by individuals’ when they revealed that on a regular basis they had an overwhelming sense of being a fraud in the workplace.

This extends to them questioning whether they are in fact good enough to do their job and at times they feel that someone would tap them on the back to say you that they are out of your depth and didn’t deserve to be in their role. Initially, with their research the dominance was skewed to more women than men but it transcends to both genders. What is clear is that there is a greater incidence of it happening with high achievers. Students, first-generation professionals and children of exceptional families seem to be especially susceptible.  

An example cycle of how someone with imposter phenomena responds to an invitation to speak at a forthcoming laboratory conference accompanies this podcast.

So what can we do to remove the inner critic in you?

Let me share 7 steps that could help you purge your inner critic

Be aware of your language choices. If you find yourself thinking you were lucky to have secured that funding or publish that paper then stop for a moment to think about how much work and energy you put into it to make it a success. You worked hard to earn it, be proud of your efforts.

Your accomplishments. Throughout the year and every year write down your accomplishments. This is particularly useful for your appraisal, for your CV but also as an aide- memoires to remind you that you have achieved a significant amount even when you thought that you had not.

Recap on your work. In a similar way to accomplishments, make sure that you go back and read through old research papers that you have written or plans that you have created. Not only will it remind you of the fact that it was a great article but it can be really cathartic to reflect back and think that you actually produced this and it was a great piece of work.

Acceptance. There will be times when you will need to accept that some tasks that you do both now and in the future will not be perfect. Try not to focus on what can’t be delivered and instead concentrate on what is realistic and achievable. Once you have done this try to stick to your plan.

Consider the benefits of mentoring. This can have a dual effect in that by becoming a mentor you will be able to support a junior colleague as they go through their career and by doing so you’ll gain an insight into their concerns and anxieties plus develop/refresh you own mentoring skills. These will of course be different from your own worries but there will be common themes that emerge that will help you to realise that you are not alone.

Don’t feel guilty about your success. If you feel guilty about being more successful than others, ask yourself whether that feeling actually benefits other people. Undoubtedly it does not. Remind yourself that you can do more to help other people prosper in those areas where you are already a proven success.

Learn to say ‘no’ to activities that you feel have minimal benefit on your career. Do you really need to attend a committee or are you accepting the invitation out of misdirected appreciation.

By understanding more about this area it will help you to pinpoint examples of when you have felt this way in your past. In addition to thinking about yourself there may be people that you know who are exhibiting signs of imposter phenomena who you could support by acting as a role model and offering peer support if appropriate.

Prospect provides a range of careers support to its members and this series of podcasts has been created to help you think about how to maximise your career potential.  Within this series, specific podcasts were referred too. You may also find it helpful to listen to the  “Change and you” podcasts (of which there are 3) , which explore the impact of change from an individual perspective plus offer some techniques to employ whilst change is occurring and where its anticipated including how to adapt constructively.