How To Successfully Change Careers During Times Of Uncertainty

“Everything that’s happened has just given me a fire to do what I want to do now!”

I’ve been blown away by the number of times I’ve heard some version of this from high-achievers in tons of different industries since this pandemic began. While the pandemic has created new levels of uncertainty, for a select few, it’s also ignited a desire to finally take the leap into a career they know will be more fulfilling. 

If you’re one of those corporate professionals wanting to transition into a new career right now, the idea of making a career change can be both exciting and daunting. You might be wondering how to stand out from the crowd or how to show employers you have what it takes to succeed in your new industry. 

But don’t let those questions keep you up at night any longer. Here are five steps to successfully change careers right now. This advice has helped my clients transition from PR to HR, sales to marketing, editorial to e-commerce, tech to non-profit, and a slew of other career changes. 


Step One: Become aware of your options

Rather than jumping headfirst into your job search and saying, “I’m open!” you need to become aware of the various companies, roles, and opportunities available that align with your expertise and interests before you decide to pivot. Doing so will give you a clear focus and will help you make the best-informed decision about the right next step for you. When you take a step back to become aware of your options, you’ll often discover that there are so many different ways to segue into a new industry than you initially expected. 


Step Two: Change your story

You’ve likely spent the last few years immersing yourself in your current industry, and you’re probably used to explaining your experience and accomplishments in a certain way that resonates with that specific industry. But, now that you’re ready to make a change, you have to change your narrative too. This is a challenge for almost every person I’ve helped successfully change careers. But, breaking up with your current industry is a must. 

This means creating a new brag box that emphasizes your value and showcases the unique perspective you bring from your previous roles and industry. It also means breaking up with the language and jargon you used to describe your experience and adopting the language your new industry uses so that you have a better chance of clearly communicating your relevant expertise. 


Step Three: Tap into your unique value

Even if you become aware of your options and change your story, that’s not enough. You also need to know how to tap into your unique and undeniable value. For instance, I had a client who wanted to transition from finance to marketing and felt that her finance background was going to hold her back. But, once she got clear on her options and tapped into her unique value, she quickly discovered that her finance background gave her a leg up for the senior marketing roles she wanted. She realized, along with her marketing chops, she knew better than most typical marketing candidates how to analyze and forecast P&L, how to drive financial growth, and how to identify opportunities to improve business performance.

I call this leverage versus liability. You have to get clear on how to leverage your not-like-everyone-else experience so that companies see it as an asset rather than a liability. 


Step Four: Authentically connect with people in the industry

Part of successfully landing a new role in a new industry as quickly as possible means not waiting for opportunities to fall in your lap. If you’re just submitting your application online and hoping for the best, you’re limiting yourself. Search for people on LinkedIn who work in the industries and roles you’re interested in and build mutually beneficial relationships with them. When done the right way, you’ll not only gain new friends in your new industry who want to help you succeed, you’ll also learn even more insider ways to stand out and show up as a top candidate in your job search. 


Step Five: Don’t assume you have to settle 

The biggest misconception I see from high-achievers eager to make a career change is that they mistakenly believe they have to take a step back or start from the bottom to do it. So, rather than considering how they can make a lateral move or even level up in their new industry, they only apply for entry-level or junior positions. 

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to crawl in the door to change careers, especially when you already have years of valuable experience that could be beneficial to the next industry. One of my clients, Chelsea, made this mistake and quickly learned that she was playing too small. After following these steps, she went from working in higher education to landing an amazing role at CBS, doing exactly what she wanted to do.

If you’re willing to take the time to become aware of your options, change your story, tap into your unique value and connect with new people, you’ll find, just like my clients have, that you can successfully transition into a new career even now, without having to settle. 

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