How to transition between careers

Career + Application


Most people are changing careers several times in their life time. But what makes a successful transition between jobs? Coaches say the four “E”s for success are explore, experiment, engage and expand.

In the U.S. the average employee changes jobs every 4.2 years; in the younger age group between 25-34 years it is only 2.8 years between jobs.

An Insead Knowledge article analysed what it takes to successfully transition between professions. The authors, a group of talent advisors and coaches say: “Preparation is key to managing the risk associated with change.”

Exploring is essential as it will not only reduce the risk associated with changing jobs. It also helps to reflect on who you are, think about why and what you want to change and consider all career options. The authors recommend to take enough time during this phase and not to hasten it.

Experimenting is the second big phase as it not only allows you to try out new things and build new connections but also to reframe and zero-in your search. “This will be an iterative process, and you may well find yourself in a one step forward, two steps back situation,” the coaches write. Do volunteer work or shadowing somebody who already does the job could be an idea for this phase.

Engage is the third “E” which is essential for a career change. Unlearning an old skill set and learning new ones. “Once you have found your new job, you need to leverage your strengths and capitalise on your transferable skills,” the coaches recommend. “During this stage, you must manage your emotions and find personal balance. In your new role, you can expect to experience a number of surprises, frustrations or disappointments.”

Expand is the last step in this journey and the one which will allow new employees to really thrive in their new role. Expansion means to consolidate and grow capabilities but also reflect on the career journey. Up to 50 per cent of externally sourced executives fail within their first 18 months on the job, the Insead article states, reiterating that this step is the one that will make a new career rewarding and challenging at the same time



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