Advice for Finding New Opportunities During a Career Transition
Navigating a career transition can be challenging, so we’ve gathered invaluable advice from CEOs and top executives to guide you. From embracing self-reflection and networking to exploring side projects for direction, explore these twelve pieces of wisdom for finding new opportunities during a career shift.
- Embrace Self-Reflection and Networking
- Trust Your Instincts Early On
- Focus on Offering Value
- Leverage Your Past Experiences
- Conduct Thorough Career Research
- Build Genuine Industry Connections
- Showcase Adaptability and Continuous Learning
- Be Selective and Intentional
- Fine-Tune Your Resume for Each Role
- Consider Entry-Level Positions for Experience
- Use Bridge Jobs to Transition
- Explore Side Projects for Direction
Embrace Self-Reflection and Networking
This is the ideal time for self-reflection and honing your research skills by exploring new roles and areas that truly pique your interest. Consider actively participating in your community through volunteering, joining meet-ups, and prioritizing expanding your network.
Transitions present the perfect chance for continuous learning and adopting a growth mindset. Stay positively persistent, recognizing that while challenges may arise, they can be overcome through perseverance and a positive attitude. Life is too remarkable to spend in work that doesn’t allow you to be true to yourself and deliver your best. Don’t wait! Create new opportunities so you can wholeheartedly embrace your passion and live your best life!
Chief People Officer
Trust Your Instincts Early On
Drawing from my own career transition experience, the most pivotal advice I can offer is: Don’t be afraid to leave a situation that doesn’t feel right, even if it’s early on in the role.
I once found myself in a similar situation. Shortly after transitioning to a new role, I realized within just a couple of weeks that it might have been a mistake. Despite this, I convinced myself to stay, believing that leaving too soon could negatively impact my resume. The role, in a small, bedroom-startup, quickly felt limiting, and I outgrew the company’s offerings within a month.
While I managed to turn this period into a learning experience, honing specific skills and adapting to new challenges, in hindsight, prioritizing my mental health and professional growth would have been the better choice. Staying in a role or environment that doesn’t align with your career goals or personal well-being can be more detrimental in the long run.
So, my advice is this: Trust your instincts. If a role doesn’t feel like the right fit, it’s okay to reconsider your options sooner rather than later. Your career path is uniquely yours, and it’s important to make decisions that are best for your personal and professional development. Remember, a brief tenure at a company can still be a valuable experience, as long as you’re learning and growing. Ultimately, your well-being and career satisfaction should take precedence in any transition.
Focus on Offering Value
I used to be an engineer, but I successfully transitioned to entrepreneurship and scaled my business to seven figures.
Here’s what I would recommend to anyone looking for new opportunities while changing careers: Whether you’re looking for a new job or want to start your own thing, focus on offering value. Immerse yourself in whatever field you want to break into.
Ultimately, opportunities will be a lot easier to find if you’ve identified a specific problem people have and can explain how you’re going to solve it for them.
Leverage Your Past Experiences
As I navigated the shift from being a Data Analytics leader to an Executive Leadership coach, I initially believed I had to downplay my leadership background to highlight my coaching credentials. Confused about not securing coaching opportunities I felt qualified for, I struggled to identify my mistake.
The breakthrough came when I shared an article on LinkedIn about leadership red flags based on my own experiences with ineffective leaders. This post resonated widely, revealing my superpower—making leadership accessible. Despite trying to reinvent myself in the coaching role, I realized my corporate background was the source of my empathy, strategic thinking, and impact as a coach. That pivotal LinkedIn post prompted connections and strangers to reach out for coaching, while my Instagram page sharing life lessons expanded my network and opportunities.
Don’t shy away from your past experiences during a career transition. Embrace the journey that shaped your new career, exploring your passions, identity beyond work, and the diverse roles you’ve played.
Conduct Thorough Career Research
I began a career transition, not sure of what to do next. I had one idea in mind (becoming a therapist in private practice), but postponed acting on it because I met my future wife in graduate school. When I circled back to the career change years later, it was too late to build a practice. Someone recommended coaching to me.
I spoke with people who were coaches to understand not just the work, but also the business model for coaching. Speaking with them gave me a clear idea of what the work was, and not just my fantasized notion of the work.
Now, as someone who coaches people about job search and career change, I encourage people to talk with a lot of people about what the work is really like, not just one or two. This offers them an opportunity to see patterns in the answers that will tell them about what the workday will really be like.
I want them to find out what they need to know to break into the field and, where possible, how alumni from schools they’ve attended broke into it.
I want them to find out from their current firm if there are any ways they can transition to the new work at their current firm.
I encourage them to take career aptitude tests to get ideas of careers that fit their personality and then learn what they need to learn in order to break into the field.
Build Genuine Industry Connections
Based on what I’ve learned, networking is key during a career transition. It’s not just about meeting people but building genuine connections within your industry. Attend networking events, join relevant professional groups, and actively engage on platforms like LinkedIn. These interactions can provide valuable insights and advice about the career path you’re exploring and, often, open doors to new opportunities.
Finally, career changes don’t happen overnight, so be patient, and show your commitment and interest to learn.
Showcase Adaptability and Continuous Learning
Promote yourself as an adaptable, lifelong learner, then prove it by detailing what courses, seminars, or other learning opportunities you took advantage of, why, and the results.
For example, when I interviewed to join the research department at my current digital media company in the insurance industry, I admitted I lacked knowledge of SEO and SEO tools, but emphatically expressed interest in excelling in new opportunities.
I then provided examples of how I took initiative, from pursuing a course in Excel for one company to teaching myself to use a proprietary content development platform for another company, and how that helped these companies better meet deadlines with a streamlined staff.
Be Selective and Intentional
One crucial piece of advice I’d offer to anyone in a career transition is to be selective and intentional in their job search. Rather than pursuing every available opportunity, it’s vital to first understand what you truly want from your career. This approach ensures you’re not just settling for any job but seeking roles that align with your goals and values.
My personal journey reflects this; I experienced a phase of job-hopping, taking whatever came my way, only to realize these positions were not fulfilling my true aspirations. It’s essential to identify what you’re genuinely seeking in your career and then pursue those opportunities that resonate with that vision.
Fine-Tune Your Resume for Each Role
As 2024 takes hold, the job market continues to be tumultuous. The current unemployment rate (3.7%) in the U.S. hovers around historic lows. Yet, despite this favorable figure, thousands of Americans seek, apply for, and interview for new opportunities. As a 20-plus-year veteran recruiter in marketing, I’ve been witnessing corporations—across various sectors—travel down three distinct paths: 1) those that continue to lay off, 2) those that continue to hire, and the most unexplainable, 3) those companies escorting employees out the front door while bringing in new personnel through the back door.
So, how does someone seeking new opportunities stand out from the masses? I recommend fine-tuning their resume to fit each specific role to which they are applying. Use the precise terminology found in the job description, give concrete accomplishments in the sectors the company competes in, and utilize the tone that the company has on its website. I recently heard a career counselor on a podcast suggest to his listeners to change the font on their resume to match the company’s webpage. While that may be a bit extreme, I wouldn’t dismiss it entirely. If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is. Suffice it to say, tweak your resume for each job you apply for. Finding a new job is a job unto itself.
I also encourage job seekers to identify someone who currently works at the company and get insightful nuggets about the company. With the amount of current information readily available via social media, there is no reason not to have all the latest intel. The applicant who offers solutions to specific weaknesses is familiar with the recent product launch, aware of management changes, or can draw parallels between their career path and the company objectives is a step ahead of the pack.
Consider Entry-Level Positions for Experience
Don’t be afraid to accept an entry-level or lower-paying position if it’s in a completely new field that you think will provide you with the relevant experience and learning that you need to be successful in your new career. When I was still a full-time teacher and learning SEO and digital marketing, I took an internship that paid a very low hourly rate simply to try out new things and being able to hone my SEO skills and knowledge.
An additional perk is being able to bill or use work time to complete any sort of learning path—such as joining in on a webinar, reading blog posts or case studies related to your field, or allotting a bit of time each day to complete a part-time course.
Use Bridge Jobs to Transition
I recently interviewed someone with a decade-long background in social work for an IT consultant position. While they had the required certifications and training, they didn’t get hired because there were candidates with a more relevant work history.
I always recommend avoiding abrupt transitions to a whole new career; if you aren’t happy where you are, look around for lateral fields you could switch to without having to start from scratch. It’s important to consider how far back an entry-level job in a new field would take you before you gain enough experience to move forward.
Finding a bridge job where the required skill set overlaps with your current field as well as your area of interest is the best way to switch careers. Consider it a stepping-stone to where you want to be. For instance, I recently filled a customer support position at a tech company with a candidate who had worked as an operations manager at a travel company before. He admitted that he aspired to be an engineer but saw the job as a good way of entering the technology industry mid-career.
Explore Side Projects for Direction
When I found myself in a career rut, unsure of my next move, I decided to take on side projects that aligned with my interests. I conducted workshops on soap-making, and candle-making, and participated in a few beach cleanups. They did not lead to a full-time project but led me to discover a world of sustainability.
Based on this, I created a platform that now supports over 500 brands and 2,000 artisans who make sustainable products of various types. The journey, inspired by a side project, gave me a novel purpose and direction. So, my advice is to embrace the world of side projects. You never know where they may lead you in your career journey.
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