It can be very disappointing to admit to ourselves that after devoting a substantial amount of time and money toward our career, it isn’t fulfilling us in the way we imagined it would. In these cases, we ultimately have two options–make it work or make a career shift. Career changes can feel isolating, especially if we’ve been in a particular field for a long amount of time, and the sense of “starting over” begins to loom. However, according to a recent poll, 52% of employees are considering making a career change in 2022! The great news here is that there isn’t a is no better time to “start over” than right now.
Career changes are still scary AND they are also wonderful opportunities. Starting over means we become stronger, more knowledgeable and one step closer to getting what we want than the first time around. It also honors our aspirations for taking care of ourselves and creating more joy as we shape a better direction for our lives.
Let’s talk strategy to start a career shift, leading to a more fulfilling career trajectory that leaves us empowered, confident, and excited for the next workday!
1. Find Your Passion
Once we have decided to commit to professional fulfillment by making a career change, our first step is to uncover a “burning passion.” Sometimes, clients share that they don’t have that, or if they do, they don’t know what their passion is. It’s very understandable as we often don’t speak in this language when we talk about work. But after 30+ years of working with hundreds and hundreds of people about what they truly want from their careers, I can promise that we all have passions, and that is the very best and first place to start.
Like building on one’s strengths, tapping into our unique passions, talents, and potential provides a never-ending source of internal motivation and a great deal of joy. And, believe it or not, our passions almost always show up in childhood. They can be found when we examine what made us happy when we were thinking about something, doing it and dreaming of the next time we’d be part of it. Consider what activities made you happy to pursue. What did you love as a child?
When you were in the “flow” of doing something you truly loved, and as the hours passed, it probably felt like minutes, right? When we love what we are engaged in, there is nothing that feels better than being in flow. It is one of the great natural human motivators, and building a new career that fills these passions is where to begin.
2. Determine (And Build On) Your Strengths
Next, let’s identify your strengths and build on them. Positive psychology as is mentioned above, tells us that the more we lead with our strengths, the happier we become. To determine our strengths, consider the attributes we bring to the table in our current positions. Alternatively, we can also allow others to shine the light on our strengths. Ask a trusted colleague, manager and/or mentor what some of your strengths are. Additionally, reflect on which attributes others consistently compliment you on. There are resources online to help, such as this free assessment. The key is, when thinking about our strengths, we should feel confident, energized, and proud, and be excited to have the opportunity to build on them regularly!
3. Put The Pieces Together
We can now use our passions and strengths to brainstorm suitable career pathways and gather the materials necessary to begin a dream career shift. Visualize yourself in the near-future flourishing at work and thrilled with your career. What are you doing? How have you tapped into your unique talents, passions and strengths?
With that in mind, it’s time to update our resumés and collect some references from trusted colleagues, mentors and past bosses. When crafting a new résumé, remember that image does matter as we have become a far more visual culture. I’ve found that using a sharp, clean, and contemporary template with separate spaces for contact information, education, and unique outstanding skills/talents makes all the difference in the world. These categories are viewed vertically, next to the listings of your professional positions. This layout allows us the space to provide wonderful detail about what we have accomplished in each position, and how that sets us apart from others. It’s a consistent winner!
4. Find a Compatible Workplace Culture
After completing steps 1, 2, and 3, it’s time to do critical research towards finding a workplace culture that aligns with our goals. You may have the perfect job in mind, but if the culture of an organization does not mesh with your ideas of a healthy, thriving work culture for you, it can invariably lead to near-future dissatisfaction.
An excellent way to learn more about the culture of a specific organization is to engage in an informational interview with a current employee. The purpose of the interview is to get a sense of what they do, how they spend their days and what brings them joy as being part of a team and the organization. Basically, we are getting an insider’s perspective on how things really are!
To plan an informational interview, identify someone who works at an organization of interest. Maybe you already know the perfect person. If you don’t, see if there is a mutual connection via trusted friends and colleagues who can introduce you. You can do this via word of mouth, and/or LinkedIn.
I have a great best practice to share here. When contacting the person you would like to speak with and asking if they’d be open for a brief chat, try suggesting that you would love to send a gift certificate to a local cafe, or a neighborhood coffee or tea place. It’s a wonderful way of honoring their time, whether or not they take you up on it. If the connection was made possible through the help of someone else, offer the same gesture to that person. Showing gratitude is one of the great gifts we can offer others. There is a wonderful micro-story in Jewish tradition which says that words from the heart enter the heart. I don’t think anything could be truer.
When making “the ask” to meet with them, explain your purpose and interest in seeking a career shift, and that you’d love to learn more about their job, daily responsibilities and the culture they work in. During your time together, let them know what, specifically, about their current career situation you find interesting and exciting. If you are comfortable, near the close of the meeting, ask them to keep you in mind when a possible opening emerges in their organization, or a similar opportunity they think could be a great opportunity.
5. And Finally–Go For It!
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what the future holds. This makes how we live in the present even more precious. Unfortunately, “later” often ends up being “never.” Contact me today, and together we can develop a concrete plan to make a career shift, your new reality. After all, each of us deserve to create work lives fueled by joy, fulfillment and meaning. Enjoy the journey!
"It has been the blessing of my life to have worked with Rhoda, for her support and her pushing me in my career. She gave me the opportunity to move forward without getting in my way. She helps you identify your needs, gives you a strategy in a supportive environment and the room to move forward. She is the ultimate coach."
- Nancy Berlin- Marriage and Family Therapist, Nonprofit Consultant, and Former Hillel Director for over 25 years