Reshaping Your Career Transition Strategy


Sober Recovery Expert Author

Looking back at your career, there are a couple questions to ask yourself: What did you do to land a job? What worked about that strategy? What didn’t work? Did you even have a strategy?

Like recovery, finding a job or making a career transition is a process. And as you’ve heard before, “You need to trust the process.” What is that process, you ask? It’s marketing and if you don’t have a marketing degree or knowledge of marketing and sales, developing a plan for yourself is a daunting task. Like many, you may be at a loss of where to start.

Here's how to go into the job market with your head held high in the second piece of our five-part series.

I learned a basic marketing principle in college that is used by companies to successfully sell a product or service and the same principle also applies to landing a job. It’s called the “Four Ps.” Once you answer these questions, you too can have a successful career strategy for yourself.

1. Product: "What am I taking to market?"

That product is you and by now you should be clear on your unique features and benefits.

Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses

Here’s where being a person in recovery has its advantages. If you are serious about staying sober, you are probably working with a sponsor who is guiding you through an inventory process. The exercise of writing down your character strengths and character defects is a great way to learn about yourself. You’ll see that your strengths, when overused, are actually weaknesses and you may even uncover liabilities that have turned into assets now that you are sober. Don’t hesitate to draw information from this key recovery step. This skill will come in handy when you are marketing yourself to professionals.

Figure Out What’s Important

My sponsor once told me that “Figuring It Out” is not a recovery program slogan. She said this because many smart people in early recovery try to analyze everything rather than just accept the suggestions of others. However, figuring out what’s important to you before embarking on a job search or a career transition is important. This requires you to sit down and explore your core values. In my book, YES! You Can Land a Job (Even) in a Crummy Economy, I walk readers through this exercise, helping them develop a vision for their lives. You can even Google the phrase “core values” and come up with a list of words that can possibly describe your own. However you decide to do it, get clear on the values that really light you up.

2. Place: "Where do I find the person (or company) who can buy the product (hire me)?"

This requires some time to research companies that you want to be affiliated with. At this point in your recovery, you should be very familiar with making lists. Develop a list of companies whose values match yours and that you’d like to work for.

Explore Opportunities & Threats

Have you ever stretched your brain to consider what opportunities lie ahead for someone with your strengths and talents? Have you honestly looked at what obstacles are keeping you from seizing these opportunities? As the fog begins to clear in early recovery, your mind will naturally expand to allow thoughts of possibilities. You’ll more realistically consider threats as well. Here’s where the fellowship really comes in handy. Tap into your recovery friends. These people all want you to be successful. Start talking about the things you’re learning about yourself and how they apply to your occupational situation. You may even bump into someone at a meeting who sees an opportunity for you that you don’t see for yourself.

3. Price: "How much can I realistically expect to earn?"

If it has been a while since you have worked, this step may require some research in order to determine what you can truly expect in a wage or salary. However, if you are currently employed and planning to make a change, a good rule of thumb is to expect a starting salary that is at least what you are currently earning to at most about 10% more.

4. Promotion: "What is the best way to get the message out about me?"

It’s often said that recovery is “a program of attraction vs. promotion.” I’ve found this also to be true in a job search. Once I stopped “selling” and focused on “being” the best version of myself in my recovery process, I started “attracting” opportunities and people who could link me to opportunities.

Get Out There

An obvious way to attract people who can help you land a job is through networking. Studies show that 70% of jobs are landed via referral or networking. People get hired and promoted because they develop a relationship with someone who is in a position to hire or promote them. Are you tapped into networks that make sense? We live in an exciting age of information where viral marketing and online social media are driving relationships so use them to your benefit.

Having a strong in-person message ready is also important. Knowing the right thing to say when you are looking for a job is challenging in itself so knowing the right thing to say when you are looking for a job and new to recovery can be downright overwhelming. When meeting someone, you may be tempted to let the first words out of your mouth be, “I can’t find a job!” “I’m miserable in my job!” or “Who’s gonna want to hire me?” It’s easy to start with the negative but if you want to land a job you will need to develop a pitch that will help people understand who you are and how they can help rather than a look at your current reality which may be fraught with negativity and frustration. Your pitch is what makes you attractive!

Master the Process

Everybody’s got an opinion on the best interview strategies but if you are clear on who you are, what’s important to you and your strengths and weaknesses then you are well ahead of the game. Interviewing is about relationship building. In recovery we mend our relationships with our higher power, ourselves and other people. As you become more self-aware, you will naturally become a better communicator and be able to build more meaningful relationships.

Don’t skimp out on the details either. Check that your resume is updated and accurate and if you’re not sure, ask someone to look it over. You don’t have to spend much (or any) money to produce an effective resume. Also be sure to have reference information gathered and available. If you are online (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), take a close look at the information and how you are presenting yourself in the public forum. Sophisticated employers will definitely take a look at your online persona.

It is possible to find a job or make a career change in early recovery but remember: it’s a process, not an event. If you feel stuck along the way, try to be gentle with yourself. It’s normal to have questions. Talk to someone. After all, it’s progress, not perfection!


Like what you read? This article is one of Marie Therese's five-part career series regarding recovery in the workplace. Check out the next one here.

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