How to make a success of a career transition

by Mar 21, 2019

Tips for a Successful Career Transition

It can be challenging to make a success of a career transition, but tackling the basic steps in the right way can make a big difference.


You may have only just started thinking about changing jobs. Or perhaps you are feeling hopeless trying to figure out which career path will leave you satisfied. Or maybe you already know what you want but you just can’t land that interview.

3Plus has tapped into our global network to ask the advice of top experts in the field of career transition and job search.

10 Steps to make a success of a career transition

Making the decision to uproot a career that isn’t working for you can be challenging in more ways than one. Not only do you have to leave stability behind to jump into the unknown, you are also faced with the task of figuring out what you really want to do. And once you do decide upon the perfect career path, there is still the job convincing a new employer of the same.  Very often you may not have a great wealth skills or experience in your dream area to back you up. This situation can be compounded if the transition is forced on you by circumstances such as redundancy or being fired. It can be hard to know where to start. Unfortunately, there is no magic short cut. Employers will see through a lack of effort, a half-done online profile, or missing industry knowledge in an interview.

You need to spend some time reworking your whole professional persona. That might mean overhauling your entire CV. Perhaps you need to spend time building up your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, and social media. You should maybe even take some time to learn new skills in the industry you are moving to.This may seem like an insurmountable task. But don’t worry. We can take it one step at a time.

make a success of a career transition

Here are some of the steps the experts suggest. These are only a snap shot but at least will help to get you started.

1. Don’t tread water – commit!

If you feel lost, and have been for some time, don’t let that feeling of unease carry on. There are a wealth of resources online that offer advice and help. And don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you are floundering. There are many career professionals out there who you can consult. In fact, consulting various specialists on their specific areas of expertise can help make turn career transition from a torturous uphill struggle into an exciting ride of self-transformation towards a career you love.  

Even if this is something more leisurely and relatively stress free, it’s beneficial to talk to a mentor or set up a Personal Advisory board. To save time trying to navigate what has become a more complex process engaging a career coach can be a smart investment. Remember to select a coach who has specific knowledge of the job search market. Many coaches while skilled in their specialist areas e.g. leadership or life coaching, may not have the necessary knowledge of the more complex and practical  elements of a structured career change.

Bob McIntosh, Career Advisor and LinkedIn Trainer recommends being open to support “My short answer is to get your head straight. I know it’s vague and somewhat crude, so what I mean is take a brief period of time to decompress. What’s to come could be a longer process than one would expect, so accept the support from loved ones and friend”

If you experience a career transition because of an unexpected event rather than an inner desire for change it can be traumatic. Virginia Franco Executive Career Storyteller also endorses “setting up a support network, or at least a support person. Job hunting can be BRUTAL. It is vital to have a trusted person in your corner that will tell you the unvarnished truth, and let you lean on them when times get tough.”

2. Dig deep

An important first step is self-reflection. Lewis Carrol famously said if you don’t know where you are going any direction will get you there. So it’s not surprising that many of our top contacts cited introspection and careful thought as the very first step.

Cynthia Trivella VP Strategic Relations at Work Scene, suggests  it’s about asking key questions “Why am I looking to transition? How long have I been thinking about this? Am I looking to work on my own and if so is my service or product ready to bring to market? Have I prepared a viable business plan? Am I financially in a place to sustain while my business ramps up? Do I have a support system around me if needed?

3. Look at the financial side

Sarah Johnston, job search expert strategist cautions on the importance of understanding your financial commitments and the implications of a move. “I’d want to know your financial goals for the career transition. I often talk to people who want to make a career pivot but HAVE to make the same income level that they are currently making. Taking a good look at your personal finances is an excellent first step because it will help you set realistic goals.”

Dorothy Dalton, Talent Management Strategist told me “women frequently say they want to be happy and reach their potential  but they fail to put a price tag on their ambitions. Living in a nice house, sending the kids to a good school and going on holidays all require higher salaries. Women need to stop  thinking that being concerned about money is tacky and learn to say they want a decent income.”

4. Understand your values and visions

This is all part of the reflection process and making sure that any move is in line with your values and vision. This allows you to set appropriate goals.

Jacqui Barrett Poindexter Executive Resume Strategist comments: “For many, a career transition ambition is as much about being introspective and clarifying ‘who’ you are as it is about transitioning from, or to, a different role. After such an exploration, I’ve sometimes seen careerists tweak their current role vs. making the transition leap. In other instances, it fortifies their way forward, with precision and gusto.

Phyllis Mufson, a career coach who specialises  in helping people undergoing career change find their focus told us “Self-evaluation is  important values, current skills, natural abilities, the kinds of problems they like to solve, and more. While this is going on I also want to understand what’s underneath why they’re currently unhappy. Often they are already in the right role, or the right industry but they would thrive in a different environment (small business, academia, corporate), or they need better self-management or other skills. Almost a third of the people who come to me for career transition actually just need a slightly different role, or a different environment or better self-management skills. Then they’re happy.

5.  Create your own personal brand

Marketing doesn’t just apply to a business. Personal marketing can be just as important. Identify the professional niche you want to fill and create cohesion across all your social media platforms. Link and share and grow your network in your particular industry. You might be capable, experienced, and ready to go. But somehow people aren’t even giving you a chance.

Andy Foote knows how to grab people’s attention.  He advise people to maximise their presence on LinkedIn  and wants everyone to focus on their LinkedIn headline “It’s not just your headline, it’s also your calling card. When you are active on the LinkedIn commons i.e commenting on a post or listed on it as a group member or in a search result, there are only 3 identifiers that people see: Your photo, your name, your headline”

In a competitive job market you have to give people a reason to give you and your application a second glance. Identify, and get behind, the skills and traits that only you can offer. That make you unique. And then learn how to market and leverage those skills as something your potential employer can’t refuse.

career coach can help to provide focus and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Find out more HERE about how a career coach could help you.

6. Do a skill audit

If you are changing career, you may well be lacking some particular industry skills for your new profession. Haven’t used excel in years? Need to brush up on digital marketing strategy. Teach yourselves new skills online or take a course. Putting in some legwork now will allow you to start higher up in your new role. Career professionals who have experience with a drastic change in industry can offer valuable guidance.

Ed Han an active recruiter recommends “As a recruiter, I typically want to see multiple years of experience for someone who wishes to be selected for a role for which I am recruiting. But there are always opportunities for people to demonstrate some the skills we are seeking. Showing a career focus by taking a class or certification can be a powerful way to help get across that barrier, because it shows commitment to that goal.”

You might be capable, experienced, and ready to go. But somehow people aren’t even giving you a chance. In a competitive job market you have to give people a reason to give you and your application a second glance. Identify, and get behind, the skills and traits that only you can offer. That make you unique. And then learn how to market and leverage those skills as something your potential employer can’t refuse.

Aed Roberts makes the point that we can drill down even further “Commit to the skill of being happy each day. As with any skill, practice and awareness are crucial. One cannot let outside forces affect how one feels on the inside. Refined happiness abets the triad nature more than anything else.”

7. Target companies

Actually finding and applying for jobs is the next step. And don’t underestimate the power of a good application. If it doesn’t catch the employer’s attention at first glance, then you can say goodbye to even getting an interview.  Meg Giuseppe warns of the need “to identify employers who will meet your career goals and research each employer to find out what challenges they’re facing right now that you are uniquely qualified to help them overcome. With this information, you will be able to position yourself as a good fit for them . . . someone of value to them who can help them fix particular problems.”

This was echoed by Hannah Morgan aka Career Sherpa “I would say the biggest shift for job seekers today is to target companies versus scrolling through job boards. This change in mindset really requires all of these great introspective question be answered along the way to selecting top companies someone wants to work for.”

If you don’t have extensive experience, don’t despair. Read between the lines to identify specific and tangible things the job wants from a candidate. Then prove you can do them in your application. You might try to contact the person currently in the position to ask for information about the role. You might research the company and come up with a solution to a problem in their process. Or prepare a pitch to improve something. Although this takes time, it is a sure-fire way to prove you can solve the problems of your employer.

Alison Doyle, New York based job search and employment expert advises, “The time you spend upfront investigating companies will benefit you in the long run because you won’t be spending energy applying to companies that aren’t a good fit. Instead, you will be applying for jobs at companies where you know you would like to work. Plus, once you know where you want to work, you can try to network with current or former employees, who can potentially refer you for a position at the company.” 

8. Network strategically

Networking strategically is key to a targeted job search and vital to make a success of a career transition. This is both online and offline. LinkedIn is a great resource for job search, so you want to make the most of it. So often job opportunities arise through contacts, not online postings. So rather than sitting back thinking how unfair it is that you don’t have connections in this field or another, go out and make them. Follow people who have the job you want. Comment  on their posts, tweet them, reach out on LinkedIn. If you’re LinkedIn profile is incomplete, dedicate a small manageable segment of time each day to improving it. Make sure the skills and experience listed on your profile is thorough. Add key words into your bio to make sure you are searchable. You can be sure all future employers check out possible candidates on there too, so make sure yours doesn’t let you down.

Mic Adam works with all things social media and wrote about an experiment he conducted on LinkedIn “Over the course of the last few months when I got a message that someone had a new job, I sent them a message to ask whether LinkedIn played an active role in them finding this new opportunity. Many people actually answered me with their feedback. Conclusion: In about 57% of all cases LinkedIn played a meaningful role. Yet another reason to keep your profile up to date and professional.”

Learn how to sell yourself in a way that is confident but definitely don’t do it with someone you have never met or don’t know. Find your unique way to market yourself

9. Work on your CV and perfect your cover letter

Who said the art of a killer CV was dead? Choosing the right words, showing where you have delivered quantifiable results, and showcasing your specialist skills will instantly lift your resume to the top of the pile. A clear layout also plays an important part in a good CV. Use short sentences or bullet points that are easy to skim-read, and make sure the whole thing is not too text heavy.

Laura Smith-Proulx Executive Resume Writer suggests “Consider who you’re trying to impress and write your executive resume as if you were conversing directly with them. Investigate company websites and employee LinkedIn Profiles to get an idea of their values and approach. Then, structure your executive resume in alignment with their expectations.”

Donna Svei has 25 years in the employment industry comments adds “If you find yourself in a time crunch, send your resume whether your work experience matches the job posting perfectly or not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Check your resume summary, experience section, and education. If your skills and experience are a good fit, you have an 80% chance of winning an interview without customizing your resume.”

It really is  a case of better done than perfect especially in a candidate driven market.

10. Prepare for interviews

Interviews. Most of us hate them, but unfortunately, they are an inevitability on the path to securing a new job. Make sure you do your research on the company and industry you are applying to. Moreover, prepare a wealth of personal and professional examples that you can draw upon. Choose examples that show quantifiable results and changes that you have affected. Many people struggle with interview pressure, public speaking, and self-confidence. If you are out of practise with job applications and interviews, interview coaching with a specialist can help alleviate some of that pressure and get results.

Susan. P Joyce from Job-Hunt says “Employers try to decide if the person is qualified and seems to be someone who is suitable for the organization. Job seekers evaluate the people they meet, the questions they are asked, as well as the locations, the commutes, and whether or not the jobs seem like good jobs for them. Both sides of the process have an opportunity to evaluate the “fit.” Does this feel like a good match?”

It’s important to remember that an interview is a two-way street and you are checking out the employer just as much as they are assessing you.

Going forward

You’ve now learned a whole new approach to career transition. Start to create new habits so that you never get in a position that making a move becomes a major decision or challenge. It’s about career readiness.

Joe Jacobi  Leadership performance Coach suggests that practising self-care every day might even avoid the necessity of a transition. “My answer is health. To check boxes physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Capacity exists in the overlap of these areas. And I would only add, we don’t need a career transition to begin. Checking these boxes every day for many years has been the cornerstone on my own health. Can’t imagine any other way. But I do know transitions require a little more!”

Are you Career Ready? If you need support get in touch with 3Plus today

Hanna Greeman Contributor
Hanna is a languages and logistics specialist. She is currently living in Barcelona working as a Creative Copywriter.
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