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Understanding Change

Finding a new job is about making changes and handling transitions. If we prepare properly, we can manage those changes very well. Change is a part of life, and changing jobs is a part of the work world.

Change is anything that moves you outside of your familiar state. Change can mean improvement, like graduating from school and looking for your first big work opportunity. It can also mean personal challenge like losing a job and feeling depressed about it. It might be somewhere in between, where we accept there can be interesting and exciting things coming in the future.

Everyone adjusts differently to change. It can be awkward at first, but it can also be exciting. Sometimes it can motivate you to achieve your very best. Think about your circumstances around looking for work right now and how you feel about them. Are you excited about finding a new job in the same field? Are you looking forward to a new job in a new field? Are you indifferent but must find a job? Or are you angry at having lost a job?

This is a good time to take a moment to write down how you feel about your new job search in your Learner’s Guide. 


Now think about the people in your support network who can help you through these changes Examples might include your spouse, best friend, or job coach.

You might want to write these names in your learner’s guide.


Change is complex. Many change initiatives fail because we do not allow for a transition period. Transition is the phase between the ending of one thing and the beginning of another. To make your job search successful, you will want to spend some time planning for the transition between your current situation and your new job.

Let’s look at the three phases of transition, what we call the ending, the neutral zone, and a new beginning. The “Ending” phase of transition is the adjustment to not doing something in a familiar way. When we lose a job, or something in our lives comes to an end, we might view that change as a loss, even a negative. Failure to prepare for the loss is one of the largest difficulties for people in transition

In particular, losing your job can be a devastating change that includes:

  • Losing regular income
  • Losing touch with colleagues and friends
  • Not having somewhere to be every day
  • Having to change future plans
  • Having to change the way that you apply your knowledge, skills, and talents

If something in your life has recently come to end, such as graduating from school or losing your job, you are likely in the “Ending” phase of transition. To cope with this part of the change, you can:

  • Talk to someone about what is happening.
  • Do something physical such as walking, jogging, playing active sports, etc.
  • Organize a personal space dedicated to your job search work. This is where you will keep your work ideas, copies of job advertisements, or other tools.
  • Celebrate your previous accomplishment. Even if you did not enjoy your job or schoolwork, try to identify a few things you liked and can celebrate, such as co-workers, pay, or location, for example.

Allow yourself time to recognize the ending of something important in your life. Then, you can move on to the “neutral zone.”

The “Neutral Zone” is a kind of waiting period when we have no access to what we did in the past and no instruction about the future. There is a strong need for support at this stage. Many transitions unleash powerful conflicting forces in people, and support is required to make it through the transition period and successfully implement the change. However, it is important to take the time to complete endings (a grieving period) and integrate new patterns. Most organizations and many people skip the transition and jump into new beginnings.

If you are in the neutral zone, you can:

  • Try to find anchors that remain the same. Routines can help you through transitions such as morning coffee with a friend, maintaining your journal, or celebrating some of the things you have always enjoyed.
  • Dive into work search tasks and make yourself an excellent candidate to ensure your success

In the “New Beginning,” we face something little known or even unknowable and start over, such as in a new job.

If you are at a new beginning, you could:

  • Start some new traditions.
  • Treat yourself to something, perhaps interview clothing or a new book.
  • Celebrate beginning something, like your new job.
  • Help your friends understand the reasons for and benefits of the change

This is a great time to pause. Take a minute to write down ideas for how you can help yourself and others to manage a transition like a job search.


In our next unit, we’ll focus on your values and what you want to accomplish in your next job.