I got the chance to interview Sarah, a former client of mine, who, after 14 years with a Fortune 500 bank, made a career leap from sales and product development to training, which had been a smaller component of past roles she loved.
She has since made two career pivots – both within the world of training. Her leap has taken her from coast to coast. Today, she works for a high-tech company where her training strategies are relied on to increase user adoption and grow revenues.
Food For Thought
“When people think about career change, they often don’t consider variables in the background, like spouses or children,” Sarah says. “I had to think about what was right for me AND my family. We moved west as part of a lifetime change.”
Fortunate enough to relocate with her current role, Sarah knew that long-term, this was not a sustainable solution. “I knew change was coming, so I prepared over the course of a few months,” she recalls. This involved a great deal of self-reflection.
When it comes to preparing for career change, Sarah advises job seekers that “You’ve got to read, be curious and ask a lot of questions to understand the job or industry that you are looking to get into.”
In doing so, Sarah notes, “both my heart and head were into it.”
In Sarah’s case, it began with a lot of reading and sleuthing on LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is a great source of knowledge when it comes to people bio’s, company bio’s, and to discover who people are following,” she says. “It is truly a rabbit hole of information – and I recommend people follow the rabbit holes!”
In her view, this approach helped her to be able to speak knowledgeably about topics when interviewing.
A Chunked Research Approach
Finding time to hunt was tough in Sarah’s case because she had a day job. Striving for flexibility, she took advantage of 5 minutes of time here and there to do research and take notes on her smartphone.
“Then, when I had more time, I’d use my notes to delve deeper,” Sarah recalls. “I often spent an hour day but it was in 5-minute chunks.”
The adage “patience is a virtue” certainly applies to career change, according to Sarah. “Sometimes when you commit to making a change,” she says, “ it feels like such a big hurdle that you expect it to happen immediately. That’s unrealistic.”
She advises job seekers to remain thoughtful about opportunities while remaining aware that, “it’s easy to waste time worrying about things beyond your control.”
Applying online did not prove fruitful, Sarah admits. “Systems are not designed to take risks on career changers like people are.” She encourages job seekers to meet people and make personal connections. ”They often can become advocates for you on the inside.”
Sarah dealt with career change skeptics by carefully reviewing job descriptions, tweaking her resume when applicable and really thinking through her history to creatively show how her experience, albeit in a different role and industry, were ideally aligned.
Parting Words of Wisdom
When it comes to making a career leap, Sarah is a firm believer in the idea that the grass is not always greener. “You have to be passionate about what you want to do, while remaining realistic about the pros and cons.”