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Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.

– Tim Gunn

As I transitioned from being a CIO to a CEO there were many days where I felt like an imposter. Was I qualified for this enormous undertaking? Could I think strategically enough? Would others trust me?

I had several close friends, my wife, and my career coach in my corner. Had it not been for them, I’d have fallen prey to self-doubting. This careeer support team reminded me of the entirety of my life’s experiences. Taken in the aggregate, these experiences helped to mitigate the self-doubt and at times, my lack of confidence.

You will go through these same emotions. Maybe you already have. You may think that you don’t have all the experiences you will need to be successful. You may think this, but chances are good it isn’t true.

People get hired every day without the experience they think they need. Sure, sometimes it’s an issue but not always. I’d never been a CEO before. Zero experience! But in my interviews, I convinced the organization’s board of directors through a discussion of my strengths and related experiences that I would be successful. I was competing against others who had been CEOs, but I still got the job. I am proof it happens.

People are not one-dimensional. Employers are looking at you as a complete package. Experience in a particular career is a plus if you have it, but employers are also looking for:

  • Attitude
  • Integrity
  • Personality
  • Humility
  • The ability to listen
  • The ability to get along with others
  • Trainability
  • Work ethic

What your career support team can do for you is to remind you that you are a complex creature in a messy world. Nothing is ever as black and white as you may think.

Why you need a career support team

Your transition will take several months or even longer. Along the way, you will lose confidence and steam and yes, you will at times feel like an imposter. There will be peaks and valleys, and the valleys can sometimes seem very low.

A career support team can prop you up during these challenging times. They will reinvigorate you, give you the necessary confidence you may have lost, and propel you toward your goal. It is amazing how powerful a good support team can be.

I remember multiple discussions I had with two close work colleagues, where they completely changed my outlook on days when I felt very unsure about myself. Although you can go it alone, I don’t advise it. Identify and enlist your support system.

How to line up your career support team

Hoping your career support team will be there for you is a dangerous proposition. They might be your significant other, your parents, a sibling or even a few friends. Approach them at the outset of your career transition and discuss expectations. They may not have the time to assist you with the logistics of your career transition. However, they may still find the time to support you with encouragement and advice.

I recommend you:

  1. Make a list of those close to you who you believe will support you.
  2. Share your plan with them.
  3. Ask them for their initial thoughts.
  4. Attempt to understand how much support they can provide.
  5. Ask them if they are willing to support you with encouragement or something more.

If they are able to support you with more than encouragement.  Ask them if they can:

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses
  2. Review your resume
  3. Review your cover letters
  4. Ask you interview questions

Asking these questions up front and agreeing to a level of support will help you preserve these cherished personal relationships.

Consider establishing a “Career Transition Advisory Board”

This may sound far-fetched, but there are some that have been successful in creating a “Career Transition Advisory Board.” If your support team has the time to assist you, there is a lot they can do for you. Some examples of what an Advisory Board could do include:

Helping you identify your brand and the best way to market you to future employers

  • Helping you brainstorm every aspect of your transition
  • Helping you create a career transition written plan or timeline of activities
  • Reviewing documents such as resumes, cover letters, etc.
  • Extending their personal networks to you
  • Assisting you in identifying your transferable skills

If you go this route, I recommend that you meet on a regular basis and follow a set agenda. Or, you may want to meet for a half-day at the outset and then not meet for an extended period of time. This will give you time to act on the team’s recommendations and provide weekly updates to them.

Take care till next week,



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