World Economic Forum data indicates that 23% of jobs are expected to change in the next five years as new technologies are adopted, and training professionals are key to helping many industries reskill workers as these changes occur on a wide scale.  The average person will hold between 9 and 12 jobs in their lifetime.  This includes training leaders, who are forecast to see an increase of 6% in available jobs over the decade from 2022-2032.

Learning and development (L&D) leaders may find themselves facing job and career transitions for many reasons. Salary needs, a desire to have greater community impact, a need to leave toxic leadership relationships and a demand for more flexible work arrangements are among common reasons people change jobs. Transitions can include shifting roles within an organization, moving to a different company, launching yourself as an entrepreneur, or changing careers altogether. Transitions can be made by your choice or as an involuntary move by the employer. Whatever the details, here are some strategies for managing an L&D career transition well.

Managing Transitions: The Big Picture

Onboarding and offboarding happen simultaneously and require attention to detail for things to go well. Make a list of the tasks ahead of you and set up a timetable for everything, not just what you need to do at work. Often, a career move involves change to family and home life, perhaps a geographical move, and renegotiation of personal responsibilities. Factor these tasks and discussions into your planning as well.

Telling the right people, at the right time, in the right way, about your transition is critical. The adage that “you can’t over communicate” is really true when going through a transition. Determine who must hear the news about your transition from you personally, and who can hear it in more public ways. Tell key people first and stage the communications to maximize your ability to tell the story in your own way.

Managing your time and energy will pay dividends in your own well-being, your ability to preserve relationships, and your overall satisfaction with the move. People often underestimate how much time things take, from the details of dealing with benefits and other complexities of employment to the time required to preserve existing relationships and build new ones. Keep your commitments to exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep and getting in some recreation. You will find yourself with more energy for the transition if you do.

Strategies for Taking Your Leave (Offboarding)

Consider these offboarding strategies to help you transition out of your current role:

  • Give a professionally appropriate amount of notice. What is appropriate varies by industry, level of employment and organizational culture, but giving adequate notice for a healthy and professional transition to occur reduces your stress level and helps the organization as well. The exception here occurs if the transition is not of your own choosing. You may not have the time to do what you consider to be a professional transition, and you will need to manage your own and your employer’s expectations of what is realistic in this situation.
  • Transfer knowledge as well as possible. Make a list of your ongoing projects, tasks and commitments. For projects where a clear successor is known, hand off the information you have and the work yet to be done, gracefully. When the successor is not known, you may or may not have input into the selection of the person who needs a handoff, and the timing of the decision will impact your ability to transfer knowledge. Aim for as professional a handoff as you can manage.
  • Update your contact list and keep networking. Make sure you update contact information for those you want or need to stay in touch with. Be as generous as possible in building this list: You never know what relationships will build and grow over time, and unless it’s necessary, don’t burn bridges with existing colleagues.
  • Reflect on your own learning. All career transitions, even the hard ones, teach you something. Keep some notes in whatever fashion you prefer and do some self-reflection on lessons learned. Revisit those reflections at three and six months and again at one year after the transition. For most people, the lessons emerge over time, and can help you plan for the next transition.

Strategies for Starting a New Role (Onboarding)

Onboarding strategies to help you transition into your next role include:

  • Manage expectations with your new employer. Resist the temptation to take on tasks in your new job before your actual start date, and while you’re still working at your soon-to-be-previous employer or while on a break, if you have negotiated one.
  • Seek clarity on the goals and metrics for success against which you will be assessed in the new role. This takes time but begin the conversations early and communicate your desire for clarity, and your willingness to help develop those metrics, if possible.
  • Build key relationships. You will know who your bosses, peers and direct reports are, and they will want to get to know you as well as to have you learn about them. There are also people behind the scenes who can be thought of as the “wisdom keepers” of the organizations. Figure out who these people are and get to know them and their roles as well. Make time to get to know people and let them get to know you. It’s a two-way street.
  • Seek feedback. Communicate that you are willing to learn about the organization and its culture and find a few trusted colleagues who can tell you how you are doing on this front. Invite them to give you feedback in real time, as they see things that could be important to your success.

Many people face transitions several times in their career. These tips will help put you in the driver’s seat when you are making a change and will help you build and preserve key relationships in the process.

Being intentional about transitions is a key skill in the lifelong navigation of a career that aligns with your own goals and needs.