How to Change Careers with Confidence
Deciding to make a change in your career is both exciting and challenging. You’re on the brink of a major shift in your life with a lot of uncertainty.
In partnership with The Newsette, we’ve answered their readers' top questions about searching for and landing a new job (with lots of strategic tips and resources!) so you can make that change with confidence.
I recently decided that I want to make a career change, but the whole process feels overwhelming, and I don’t know where to start. How can I make this process as easy as possible? What steps can I take?
Starting a job search is overwhelming and time-consuming—researching open positions, updating your resume, writing thoughtful cover letters, and dealing with the ambiguity of what could be your next big step.
Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to organize your search and prep yourself emotionally and mentally for the application process.
Start by focusing on answering questions honestly about yourself and what you want from your next position. Identify what interests you. What makes you happy or excited in your current role? What makes you happy or excited in life generally? Are there any overlaps? What would an ideal day at work (in any position) look and feel like for you? What are attributes of a company that are a must for you (think about the culture, company size, perks, location, career mobility, etc.)?
Now start to answer questions about what you don’t like. What feels tedious or boring in your current role? What feels tedious or boring in life generally? What are the deal breakers for a job or company?
Answer the questions as thoroughly and honestly as possible. These answers will help guide you and keep you focused throughout your search. They’re helpful to reference if you find you’re negotiating yourself into a role you know deep down will not make you happy (even if you’re feeling anxious about finding a position!).
Now that you’ve analyzed your own wants and needs, begin the research phase. Managed by Q created this spreadsheet to help you organize your search and rate the companies/positions that interest you (and hopefully alleviate some of your stress).
Once you have ideas about what companies you’d like to target and what roles are available, spruce up your resume. If you’re looking at several types of roles or looking across various industries, create separate resumes for each role/industry. For example, if you’re applying to Office Manager positions as well as HR-specific positions, draft two resumes that highlight the details that correlate to the job posting.
I’m looking for a job in a new city but moving is difficult and expensive. How do I search for jobs remotely, and how do I negotiate my contract to include a relocation bonus once I get an offer?
Don’t wait for an offer to start a discussion about a relocation package. Companies typically have a relocation policy in place, so when you’re speaking to their recruiter (or whoever is handling the logistics of your application) ask for more information.
Asking about a company’s perks and policies isn’t rude or presumptuous. In fact, HR and recruiters expect it! And, since you’re probably using your current address on your resume, the company will already understand there is an expectation that you will have to move.
If you find that a company doesn’t have a relocation policy in place, ask if it’s negotiable and could potentially be part of an offer. Keep in mind during your job search that bigger companies that have been around longer may be more willing to provide a relocation package than a young start-up.
I currently hold a senior position at my company, where I’ve been for five years. I want to switch industries, but I have no practical experience in the field I want to be in. How can I make a move without getting a major demotion in position?
Making a move to a different industry can feel intimidating, but keep in mind that you have a lot of valuable experience even if it’s not directly related. Holding a senior position (and working for 5 years) means you understand cross-functionality, office politics, and how to show up and work—so don’t undersell yourself.
When starting your job search, think about networking. Consider every colleague and friend you have that would have insight or advice. Do you know anyone in an HR or recruiting position? Start reaching out and scheduling in-person coffees and lunches. Networking is always a good idea for finding career opportunities, but incredibly helpful when you’re looking to make a change. If you have someone who can vouch for your work ethic, you have a higher chance of getting a more generous offer.
Rework your resume and add any details or projects that are relevant to the new industry in whatever way possible. No detail, piece of work, or project is too small if it can provide industry-specific context.
In the meantime, take classes or seek out programs and events that pertain to the new direction you’d like to move in. You can add these new competencies to your resume (even before the training or event is complete!).
Finally, be willing and ready to go out on a limb and perhaps feel out of your depth. But remember—we are all kind of faking it! Apply to the positions that appeal to you, write strong cover letters, and network!
When switching careers, how do I account for jobs that were “fillers” and are unrelated to my career goals? Are gaps in a resume better than a bunch of jobs that appear irrelevant?
Decide what to include on your resume on a case-by-case basis. Tailor your resume according to the position you are applying for. Sometimes “filler” jobs provide context for soft skills that are essential for certain positions (e.g. If you waited tables, you could address the importance of having a sense of urgency, customer service skills, working under pressure, and prioritizing on your feet).
Gaps in job history happen, and if your resume is written well, that time period won’t matter. If you feel strongly about addressing the gap, do so in your cover letter.
Managed by Q created a job search tracker to help keep you organized when looking for your new career.