Deciding on the next step in your career journey can feel overwhelming. With many ideas in your head, a transition statement is an effective strategy for synthesizing your thoughts into a tangible document that describes what you want next. It serves as the “design” canvas that outlines the characteristics of your ideal opportunity.

The initial audience for your transition statement is you. It will help you analyze various dimensions to first convince yourself of what you are looking for. If you running your own business or a side hustle, this will serve as a guiding force to shape your direction.

The other audience for the transition statement includes your current manager, recruiters, and hiring managers. These stakeholders are not in a position to support your career journey unless they know what you are seeking. You need to arm them with a clear and concise set of requirements to calibrate their mental model.

Using a Transition Statement for Internal Transitions

During my career at Microsoft, I used a transition statement to shape the dialog with my current manager. This would influence the skills I need to build in my current role to realistically enable my next transition. It was a helpful way to get feedback from leaders on what I would need to do in both skills development and relationship building to reduce the friction to that next step. The simple act of this open discussion would often refine the specifics of the transition and timing.

Reorganizations were typical every 6-12 months and a transition statement can be used to influence where you end up. In 2014 there was a significant reorganization in flight and the leadership wanted me to continue managing the same team I had for the last four years. The team was self-sufficient by then and I was on a path to go deep into data science as a practitioner. I remember sending the one slide in my career deck that summarized my transition statement to leadership and requested that they get me as close to that as possible. They respected the fact that I had architected my career path and were open to changing their plan. Having credibility with the leaders, they found a role that enabled me to contribute to the organization while enabling me to chart a new direction. On-the-job work experience together with grad studies at UC Berkeley accelerated my skills in data science. Had I not advocated for myself, it would have delayed my transition.

Using a Transition Statement for External Transitions

Recruiters and hiring managers serve as matchmakers between you and a business need to deliver value. Personal performance and business impact increase when there is a solid overlap between personal and business needs. Your transition statement is invaluable to a recruiter as it enables him or her to filter opportunities and effectively position you to organizations. You do not want to leave it up to recruiters to figure that out what you. Imagine the reaction when you deliver a recruiter a one-page summary of what you are looking for and why. You have just saved them the valuable time of asking many questions and attempting to piece together what you ideally want.

Next Action

A transition statement can take many forms including a written paragraph, one comprehensive one-pager, or a visual concept such as a slide. Be creative and use the format that best works for you and your domain. My experience is that people are willing to support your journey when you arm them with a mental picture of that destination.

Use this overview to shape the design of your next career transition.

Best of luck and I look forward to your feedback! – James

Photo by Caleb Jones