Making a strategic career change

JULIE CHASE | MAY 29, 2020

Finding a new job is pretty challenging. Making a career change is twice as hard. But sticking to one type of role for an entire career is impossible for most of us. In order to continuously learn and grow, we must stretch ourselves by trying new positions, levels, companies, regions and industries.

Just like starting an intentional career, it’s key to be introspective and take careful steps to make a successful move. Here are some guidelines I share with our clients.

Understand your why

While an obvious point, it’s often overlooked. If you don’t know your why then you won’t be able to convince others, and most importantly yourself. And when people pick up on your uncertainty or lack of clarity, they’re less likely to help.

Take the time to write down the reasons you’re interested in the role and then craft a story that ties them all together.

Tip: stay positive — instead of focusing on what you don’t like or are missing in your current role, focus on what you want to gain, the impact you can make and how it aligns with your strengths and passion.

Do research

Even if you’re sure that your target role is the right one for you, you should do your due
diligence. Look at many job descriptions (JDs) of the role on job boards to get a sense of the core responsibilities. Get a compensation report (like PayScale) to understand the salary range in your market.

The best data will come from people on the job. Reach out to your network (including hiring managers) and ask for coffee dates or calls. Many people love giving advice and sharing their experiences.

Tip: craft a list of thoughtful questions — learn about what they love most and find most challenging as well as what they look for in a candidate.

Identify alignment

Once you’ve collected a good amount of data (at least from 5 informationals), review it and look for common themes. Draw a T-Chart and in one column write down the core responsibilities, skills and attributes that are core to the role. In the other column write down your experiences, skills and strengths that align to them — including transferable ones.

Tip: this is also a good time to create a library of stories that showcase your direct and transferable experiences and skills — which you can use in future informationals and interviews.

Focus your efforts

If you’ve determined that this is the right role for you to pursue, then you have 2 options. The easier one is to make the transfer within your company. Network with the people on the team and volunteer for projects. Several years ago, an account executive wanted to move into marketing, but there weren’t any roles available. She asked if there were projects that she could help with. I introduced her to our events manager who was thrilled to have an extra resource. The AE did such a great job that she was invited to interview for the next role that opened up. And guess what, she got the job!

If there aren’t opportunities to make the move internally, then it’s time to look for a new company. This is where a bridge role comes in — the job between your current and ideal role. Sometimes it involves a new role that gets you closer to the ideal job, but sometimes it’s a move into a new company in the same role, but with the intent of moving into a new position later down the road.

For example, I worked with a sales engineer who wanted to become a customer success manager. His current company didn’t have a culture that fostered lateral mobility so he looked for a new job. His bridge role was a sales engineer position at a high growth tech company that encouraged their employees to pursue new roles often. During the interview he was open about his interest moving to a customer success role and they were extremely supportive. He not only got the job, but moved into his dream role the following year.

By taking these thoughtful steps, you will achieve great success in your career goals.

Are you looking to make a career change or want to land a job that you’ll love and thrive in?

If so, then watch our video and book a session with one of our job strategists. We’re excited to learn about your career goals and share insights.