From Goal to Reality:
Transition Strategies and Steps
Darden’s Career Advisers and Resources offer invaluable support in road mapping and realizing your next transition. For those planning a significant transition either during or after their MBA program, you will need to consider the following:
DEFINING YOURSELF AND YOUR CAREER DIRECTION
Identifying your gifts, talents, passion, and interests; establishing a professional brand or identity; and articulating a vision and set of goals for your professional direction are the most fundamental components of engineering your transition. They create the star that will enable you to chart your course, and establish the hub around which all of your search activities revolve.
PACKAGING YOURSELF FOR THE TRANSITION
Your job search is a promotional campaign and requires the development of key documents, communications, and an electronic footprint that will ensure your success. Examples include resumes, cover letters, networking emails, LinkedIn profiles, 30-second commercials, reason for leaving statements, and more.
DEFINING YOUR "GO TO MARKET" STRATEGY
When deciding to take a product to market, no self-respecting business professional would consider doing so without a comprehensive marketing plan. Yet, when it comes to themselves and their job search, most fail to consider this basic step. It is critical to be thoughtful about your strategy, and approach to any transition you are considering.
TAKING YOURSELF TO MARKET
There are many doorways to the job market. The traditional portals include job boards, career fairs, and recruiters. On-Grounds recruiting may even be an option for a handful of executive MBA students. For the overwhelming majority, however, you will be challenged to expand your repertoire of search strategies. Most will be looking for more senior level opportunities that will be found through a heavily network-driven search process.
INTERVIEWING FOR OPPORTUNITIES
If you are like most executive MBA students, you haven’t interviewed for a job in a number of years and your interviewing skills were developed when you were being considered for more junior positions. In addition, you will be conducting extensive networking and informational interviews throughout your search. All of this will require preparation and practice for each particular type of interview.
Negotiating a job offer is not the same as buying a used car. It is important to consider whether to negotiate or not. And, there are guidelines that can help you through this problem-solving process.
Timeline For the Transition Plan
For individuals planning to make a major career move, each will have their own schedule in mind. Some will want to switch during the course of their MBA program. Others will want to time their transition to coincide with graduation. Still others will have commitments and want to delay their move for one or more years after graduation. Regardless of the timing, the rule of thumb is that the more significant the transition, the longer the lead time one should plan for.
The typical transitions that Darden executive format students consider are dynamic and multi-dimensional. Opportunities emerge in unpredictable fashion, but they do so with tremendous reliability if one is flexible and persistent. So, while the transition process does not lend itself to a linear project plan, we generally advise an 18-month planning horizon that includes the above 6 transition components and unfolds in roughly the following fashion.