Through Looking Forward Lab, a learning and development company designed to serve as the “go to” hub for innovative workforce and professional development solutions for Gen Z, under the Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC umbrella, one question we often hear from Gen Zers is, “I care about how I enter, but also, what’s the next step in my career?” CEO and Founder, Tammy Dowley-Blackman, encourages young professionals to see everything as a learning opportunity to have a great life and career. “That’s what you have in front of you—a chance to both be in and fully vested in the professional setting you’re currently engaged, to learn and grow, but to also be thinking about what your next incredible opportunities are going to be.”
Here are some helpful tips for Gen Zers navigating career transitions.
Tammy notes that, “It is important, how you enter an organization, an agency, a company, but also from that very moment to think about what’s coming next.” For some, it may mean taking a new role at their current place of employment. For others, it may be accepting a position elsewhere. It could also mean graduate school, taking a break to travel, or trying something completely different. Regardless of the situation, it’s very important to exit gracefully.
“Think about what it means to maintain those relationships, all that you’ve learned, being respectful of everything everyone has given you,” advises Tammy. “You want to be able to come to people for references or to ask questions and get their take on things.” Keep in mind that you have a long career ahead of you, so you may also end up working with some of those people again down the road.
On November 3, 2023, Fortune’s Orianna Rosa Royle reported that “Gen Z could wave goodbye to résumés,” stating that many companies are moving away from relying on this traditional job application requirement in favor of skills-based recruitment. Citing TestGorilla’s The State of Skills-Based Hiring 2023 report, a global study that included 3,000 employees and employers, Fortune noted that “92% of the employers surveyed reported that skills-based hiring is more effective at identifying talented candidates than a traditional CV.”
Given this information, it is vital to track your work and build a portfolio early in your career. In “Gen Z and the Performance Review Process,” published in November of 2023 on the TDB Blog, we discussed the importance of building a portfolio. According to Tammy, “It can be an invaluable opportunity to showcase the teams you were part of, share learning and outcomes, and provide insight about the work you performed on the project.” In addition to performance reviews, a portfolio can be highly beneficial when navigating career transitions.
Whether you have signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) or not, honor confidentiality. “This includes information about the people you have worked with, the projects you have worked on, and the clients you were doing work for” during your tenure. Per Tammy, “That’s a level of professionalism that you want to be known for and carry through your career. So honor that confidentiality.”
“The takeaway here is that planning for the next position is like most things in life,” says Tammy. “It begins the moment that you’ve accepted the current position, and it’s not because you’re not settled into the current work, or you’re not grateful or excited. It’s because you know you will have a long career, and you are beginning to think about what that might look like and the kinds of things that will help you make the best decisions. All these opportunities are available to you, and you want to be thinking about what’s in your best interest, what will serve you well, and what you will enjoy most. You want to think about that in a way that allows you to learn, to collaborate and contribute, and in the end, whatever decision you make, you want to be able to exit gracefully and professionally.”
Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC is a certified National Supplier Development CouncilMinority Business Enterprise (MBE), Small Business Administration (SBA) Woman OwnedSmall Business (WOSB), and Women’s Business Enterprise Network Council (WBENC) woman-owned company. The company is comprised of a suite of brands, including TDB Group Strategic Advisory, a management consulting firm; Looking Forward Lab, a learning and development company focused on Gen Z, which partners with corporations and higher education systems to offer a full-service learning engagement model that delivers workforce development solutions; and Cooper + Lowe, an incubator for women interested in transitioning to entrepreneurship and thought leadership using the tools of a company that has successfully scaled.