- The coronavirus recession has caused many people to consider making big changes in their careers, but it can be hard to know whether or not to take that professional leap.
- Executive coach Maggie Craddock developed a decision-making tool known as the "professional risk spectrum" to help people consider the risks and benefits of making a career change.
- It's especially helpful to use these kinds of tools to make decisions during times of crisis like the pandemic, when people are more likely to make choices driven by emotion.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The coronavirus recession has caused many to consider making major changes in their careers, but there are a lot of factors to take into account before taking that professional leap.
In an exclusive research partnership with Business Insider, data from the business advisory firm Brunswick showed that 25% of polled US workers are currently looking for or will be considering a job change within the next year.
But making a major life decision like a job or career change can be intimidating. Especially during times of crisis, it's helpful not to let impulses get the best of you.
When Maggie Craddock, founder of executive coaching firm Workplace Relationships, worked as a portfolio manager at Scudder, Stevens & Clark in the '90s, she came to realize the importance of helping people to carefully assess the risks of making difficult decisions.
"As a portfolio manager, I knew it was really important to help people diversify risk under pressure," Craddock said. "What's really important when investing in our careers is having a consistent decision-making process, because when there are risks you want your decision-making process to be consistent."
Craddock brought these ideas with her when she left her job to start her own executive coaching firm. Since founding Workplace Relationships, Craddock has accumulated over 20 years of experience helping Fortune 500 CEOs and senior management teams operate strategically under pressure. She is now releasing a book, Lifeboat, designed to help people navigate professional uncertainty.
The professional risk spectrum is a tool that Craddock developed to help her clients make difficult career choices. The spectrum includes distinct levels of risk for making decisions, and prompts people to stop and consider the potential sacrifices they would make when changing their careers.
At each stage, the chart prompts the decision-maker to consider how their choices affect their happiness and quality of life.
The first, lowest-risk option involves staying at a current job. At this level of risk, Craddock recommends thinking about how the situation at hand meets your current needs.
"You want to think about how that's meeting your needs both in terms of your standard of living and what I call your standard of being. So, in terms of the cashflow that you require to continue to function, to take care of your loved ones, to navigate your own line," Craddock said.
The second level of risk involves translating current skills into another industry. At this stage, Craddock emphasizes thinking diversely about your skill set and how it might be used in other roles. "People need to think about their skills in a wider way, because being a great leader is actually based on working with situations where one size doesn't fit all," Craddock said.
Craddock said that the third level – learning new skills in the same industry – is particularly relevant, since the pandemic has brought entire industries into stages of transition. At this level of risk, it's important to be networking within your industry to be aware of the opportunities that might be available.
"If things are happening within their department, senior managers that I've worked with will often mentor talent that they hope will advance to a senior executive position by rotating them through different roles within a firm," Craddock said.
The fourth level of risk involves learning new skills for an entirely different industry. This requires that people think creatively about the skills that they can transfer as they learn new ones. "We're really taking a more imaginative look at your transitive skills at this stage," Craddock said.
In the final scenario — leaving a job to pursue a life dream — Craddock said it's important to consider whether this decision is a dream they have nurtured in the past and whether they have the passion and focus to make that transition.
Craddock has been using this system to advise people across industries, and says this is especially important in accounting and consulting. "So many people are wondering about the trajectory in their particular organization," Craddock said, adding that they have to consider a variety of factors. "Who are their contacts? What are the new projects that the organization is embracing that they may be able to add value for? Who are the leaders they've worked for in the past that would recommend their analytic skills, their interpersonal skills, their problem-solving skills?"
The spectrum should direct decision-makers away from impulse decisions and toward carefully considered choices. This can be particularly useful during times of crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. "When it's business as usual, most people are pretty good at compartmentalizing feelings. But under extreme pressure, they can have these emotional triggers that cause their brains to flatline," Craddock said. "I want to have tools that are going to help them listen to themselves under pressure."
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