New Year, New You: 4 Tips for Embarking on Your Career Change Journey


Amber Westbrook

Does this resonate with you?

You’ve been successful at your job for 10 years and, while the corner office is finally yours, you’re suddenly asking yourself questions like, “Why am I here? Am I happy? Do I like what I am doing? Or am I using my talents and skills in the best way?”

That, my dear friend, is a mid-career crisis. This is the phase in our professional lives when we suddenly feel the urge to re-evaluate our job, its alignment to our core values, and whether we’re fulfilling the dreams we promised our younger selves.

If you’re going through this phase right now, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly a third of US workers under the age of 40 are considering a career change right now, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.

And in my 17 years of experience working in technology, I have seen these questions raised by college students stepping into the workforce, junior teammates, and even senior executives. No matter your age or experience, just by asking the questions listed above – and with the help of a little courage - you can start the journey to define what career path is right for you.

While I’m not a certified career coach, I have been in the trenches before and know the complexities of changing careers. After 10 years in the learning and development industry, I found myself in the same situation that you may be facing today – I wanted to find my true passion and strengths.

It certainly took guts, patience, humility, and perseverance – but this whole journey led me into the tech industry, where I joined Nexient – the team of professionals in charge of ridding the world of crappy software (We’re hiring, BTW).

Here are my four tips for success as you embark on your career shift journey.

1. Understand your “why” and discover your “best”

First, you need to identify why you are making this career shift – and if it’s for the right reasons.

It’s important that you don’t make this life-altering change based on a bad day or week at work. Take the time to evaluate your current role, your dislikes, your expectations for career fulfillment, and your skillsets, interests, and core values that are guiding you to make this change.

This is also where doing a personal inventory comes in handy. Start by identifying the things that bring you joy and the things that drain your joy: What tasks are inhibiting your happiness? For example, monotonous or repetitive tasks may change how you experience work, especially if you’re lacking true passion for those tasks.

Once you have a foundation about the things that don’t spark joy, examine what you’re good at. Feel free to ask your friends and coworkers to provide you with their feedback as well. Determine what about you makes you unique and a valuable teammate.

2. Look for professional career advice

Find an expert who will look at your personal inventory, provide you advice on career paths unique to the joys and skillsets you outlined in step number one, and challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone.

Asking a professional instead of a family member, friend, or past/present coworker, will ensure they provide you with unbiased and objective advice to nurture and advance your career journey.

For example, when I was amid my career change, I partnered with a local recruiter to get insight into the job market and leveraged my LinkedIn network, picking their brains about the new profession I was looking into.

If you do this, ask questions about what they like about the job/role, what they don’t like, things they would do differently, etc.

3. Stick your neck out and thicken your skin

Continuously put your name out there – with countless resume and CV submissions, interviews, and networking, but you need to be mentally prepared for some rejection.

While it hurts in the moment, those scars and battle wounds ultimately will build your confidence, empower your interpersonal skills, and give you time to self-reflect so you can land your dream job.

Once you get more comfortable interviewing and have a firm understanding of what career path you want, you can weed out the companies that aren’t a good match and focus on the handful of companies that will enable you to grow the career you’re passionate about.

It’s a game of patience, but eventually, you’ll look back at your job-hunting experience and laugh about how stressed you were.

4. Don’t give up and ask for help if you need it

I always say that whatever is hard, the result is usually worth it. And it should be. As simple as it sounds, you have to be patient and put in the work to be successful.

My career shift took nearly 1.5 years. The first step – understanding my “why” – was my biggest hurdle because emotions, distractions, and insecurities kept me from being honest with myself. I asked for help and found solace in a life coach to help guide me through my career change journey.

So, changing careers is not an easy process. While there will be times of self-doubt, there is always the opportunity to ask for professional advice and guidance to help steer you back on course so you can fulfill your dreams and find true happiness in your life’s work.

Use the 4 steps outlined in this blog to help guide you on your own career change journey so you can be successful in building the job of your dreams. Good luck!

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