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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Mid-Career Transitions: Evaluation of Commitment, Advancement and Relationships

With competency and identity issues addressed in earlier stages of adult development, those in mid-life (generally around ages 40-50) typically take a deeper dive into career transition. Of course, this period is not without its focus on family concerns (including work-life balance), as developmental constructs are interrelated. Career plateauing or obsolescence may be scary, but career development professionals may be able to support a mid-career change via therapeutic alliance and evidence-based interventions. ~ Melanie Reinersman,

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

FOCUS ON: Schlossberg's Career Transition Theory

The “four S's of transition” theory resulted from Nancy Schlossberg's mid-career struggle with personal change despite desirable actions and goals. Over time, the research and measurement of the variables became a framework that could be used in a practical way. Roles, routines, and assumptions are set before a transition. The period of the transition needs resources to aid coping – this requires examination of Situation, Self, Supports, and Strategies. Listen to Dr. Schlossberg explain her transition theory.

FOR PRACTITIONERS: Does Your Client Feel “Stuck”?

“Stuckness” is an emotion and a situation. Feeling professionally unfulfilled while under the influence of labor market definitions of a “good” career as a linear progression is part of a complex, far-reaching phenomenon. The practitioner may need to consider this proposed theory to increase an understanding of the common client complaint of feeling “stuck”. Read more from the Journal of Traditions, Careers and Guidance.


A review of five major theoretical perspectives on career transitions covered in over 200 publications resulted in seven major directions for future research. Emerging trends and gaps in career stage, decision-making, adjustment, relational, and identity set the agenda for future study, such as the use of a holistic approach, examination of “nonevents”, exploring the effects of changing societal norms, and of course, global and technological influences. Read more about career transition in the Human Resource Management Review.

JOB SEARCHING: Combating One-sided Research

Research is one key to successful transitions, but is often too one-sided to be helpful. Networking can overcome this limitation, as people actually working daily in the desired career can provide appropriate information. Career practitioners may help their clients find people to network with through the use of professional associations, LinkedIn, and alumni directories for starters. Strategies for making the most of networking include using social media to tell others what you are interested in, asking for advice, and attending industry events. Read more from Job Hunt and The Muse.

JOB SEARCHING: Explaining a Career Transition

Background preparation for an interview always aids the process and is especially true when making a career change. Emphasizing the amount of background work completed, followed by sharing long-range goals and transferable skills (including being flexible and adaptable) are keys to a successful interview. Read more.

TOP TEN: Tips to Overcome Stagnation

While both internal and external reasons may be the cause the of career stagnation, the solutions start with introspection and hope. Individuals experiencing a loss of motivation, increased frustrations, and rising doubt, can find relief by working intentionally, setting clear time-bound goals, acquiring new skills, researching salaries, or taking action to get away from a frictional boss or downhill organization. Read more from Lifehack and SimpliLearn.


“We make all sorts of assumptions because we don't have the courage to ask questions.” ~ Miguel Ruiz
“Change doesn't always mean progress, but the status quo isn't always the best result either. It is merely the most convenient.” ~ Harsha Bhogle
"We cannot affect meaningful change if we become complacent, if we become comfortable with our own positions.” ~ Cyril Ramaphosa


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