Making a Career Change
by Emily Kapit, M.S., MRW, ACRW, CPRW
Triple Certified Master Resume Writer & Lead Career Strategist
ReFresh Your Step, LLC–Career Advisory & Strategy
People often ask me how I got into the career advisory field; the short answer is that while working in the corporate world myself, I witnessed far too many people hating their jobs and felt strongly about helping them make a strategic move to happier, more fulfilling career. That was my calling and I sure am happy I answered it, though that feeling quadruples briefly every time a client successfully makes that jump.
Over the course of my career helping people with their careers, I have definitely fine-tuned a number of points that help people looking to make a move so if you find yourself in that position, read on (or share with someone who is looking to do so!).
Assess The Mess: What’s Really Going On?
First off, I advise that you back off from making an immediate move and instead delve what is behind that feeling to begin with. Start with asking yourself the following questions:
- Why did you go into the field that you are currently in?
- Did you make that decision or were there other factors?
- Popular “other” factors include, “My family pressured me into it,” “I thought I would make a lot of money and be happy,” “I did like the work at first but really find it boring/unfulfilling at this point,” etc.
- Would you attribute your feelings of frustration and urge to move more towards not liking the work versus not liking the people/company/situation you are currently in?
- Do you feel fulfilled by the work at all? If so, what aspects of it are important to you?
- What have been your big wins that you are proud of?
- What skills/strengths do you feel you would want to continue doing in the future and which ones do you want to leave behind?
These questions are crucial to next steps so be honest with yourself—this is all in an effort to help you make a real change in your career and, ultimately, your life!
Going back to one of the key points above, it is key to first distinguish between whether you do not like the work itself or are okay with the work but genuinely dislike the company/people/situation. If it is the latter, switching teams or companies but staying within the same field may make more sense for you at this point. Continue reading for some tips that will still help with that goal.
If you truly feel it is the work/industry that you do not like, we can start talking about making a switch and it is at this point that we will want to focus on the actual strategy part. Let’s go!
1. Stop the Pattern; Break the Cycle, Career-Wise
Return to why you went into the field in the first place, document those reasons, and keep them front and center so you do not repeat the same mistakes. If you decided to go law school because you come from a family of attorneys but truly dislike it, remember that this is your career path and not theirs. If you went into the family business of making widgets (whatever those are!) but are passionate about digital marketing strategy, then think through not just your move but discussing with family why you are pursuing an external role…and then do it. Again, this is your career path and as challenging as it can be to make a change, you have every right to do so.
2. Research & Network (The Start of Something Beautiful)
Spend some real time not just thinking through what sectors and roles you want to pursue (and why!) but noting whom you already know in those fields. Additionally, start to research different companies that will make up your target list for when you are prepared to pursue roles.
Why are both of these steps combined into one? Because they are equally important and will play off of each other; in fact, all of these steps play off of each other. Researching companies and speaking to people will help you to formulate the network you need to begin a transition. Building relationships will greatly assist in you developing inroads to different companies but you need to know which companies will be best for your next steps.
3. Theoretical Job Search
While you are starting to connect with people and researching companies in your new target sector, expand your research to include a Theoretical Job Search. Why theoretical? Because we want to remove the pressure of you actually needing to apply for roles. Aim to find between 2-3 target role that satisfy the following two points:
- Roles that you ideally would love do, and
- Roles you their realistically know that you can.
Again, you want to find job descriptions that meet both criteria. Find the common themes in your TJS results and then move on to the next point.
4. Pattern of Excellence for the Winning Transition!
If you read nothing else in this entire post, make it the following line (and I clearly hope you read the whole thing): Identifying your achievements to-date and honing in on the ones most transferable to your targeted field will form the backbone of your updated resume/cover letter + LinkedIn profile, interview prep, and overall confidence. Please go back and read that again!
Still with me? Great. Take some time to identify your accomplishments and measureables from throughout your career and, in conjunction with what you’ve learned about your intended sector, pull out those achievements that are either directly related to what you want to do and/or have a dotted line.
Would some examples be helpful? See below:
- If you are currently in a supply chain role but want to focus on project management, look for the ways in which you have successfully managed projects within your supply chain roles.
- If you have a legal background and wish to transfer that experience into marketing, recognize that your writing skills and ability to see things in entirely different ways would likely make you an excellent asset to a marketing team (you may also transition first to doing legal marketing as a stepping stone to being fully out of the legal world).
5. Professional Documents = All the Confidence
Although quickly mentioned, I want to make sure I emphasize this: you will need fully updated professional documents (resume/cover letter + LinkedIn profile) as you prepare to launch a strategic job search for this transition. Knowing where you want to go, who you want to talk to, and what your transferable skills are will make a major difference in updating those key documents. Once those are done, we encourage you to then ramp up your conversations even more as well as test the waters in terms of applying to roles.
We are always here to provide support to you as needed but remember this: Everything you have done has led you to this point; whatever it is you wish to do going forward, there are ways to make it there and the strategic process outlined above will provide the foundation for doing so.
About the Author:
Emily Kapit is TORI-nominated, Top-Ranked & 3X-Certified Master Resume Writer and will be the keynote speaker at our FREE Webinar: How and Where to Find Your Dream Job in 2018. Kapit is the owner, lead resume writer and head career strategist at ReFresh Your Step. She is a leading triple-certified resume writer, one of only 25 MRWs globally, and the world’s only MRW, ACRW, CPRW with a Masters of Science in Educational Psychology, a field that forms the backbone of her career advisory work. For more information about resume writing, visit refreshyourstep.com.