I talk to a lot of people who are either thinking about changing careers, are moving from one city to another and will need a job after they move, or are finishing a degree and entering or re-entering the workforce, and I always encourage them to start their job search right away – don’t wait until the last-minute. “But I’m not ready to start something new yet,” is the common response. “I want to get six more months of experience in this job before switching to something else,” the career changer will say. “I’m not moving for three more months and I’m so busy with the move,” says the mover. And so on with the student.
It’s as if they want to close one chapter before beginning a new one, which I understand. Finishing one thing before beginning the next is less anxiety-provoking than trying to manage multiple things at once. That is, until the next chapter begins – jobless.
Don’t wait until you need a job to start looking for a job. Start now. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average American is unemployed for approximately 40 weeks before finding a job.
Think about your life as having already entered the next phase. Making an exploratory phone call is not a commitment. Applying for a job is no guarantee you’ll receive an offer, and if you do, you can turn it down, or negotiate a later start date. There are no neat endings. Our life’s phases may feel like primary colors in the moment, but in between the yellow and red is orange. Take out your brush, smooth your transition, and blur the edges.