How to transition into a new career in 5 steps

career pivot career tips compensation networking Jul 01, 2022
Two women sitting across from a man at a table with papers and pencil spread out between them.

 If you think it’s time for a different career path, you are in good company, and it is possible.

You may have come to this decision for a number of reasons. You may be unfulfilled in your old role. You may not be getting paid enough. You may be seeking a new challenge. 

Whatever the reason, entering a new career takes commitment, but it can be done. 


Here are the five steps to transition into a new career:

  1. Identify your ideal role
  2. Build strategic relationships 
  3. Communicate your value
  4. Negotiate your compensation
  5. Make an impact

Now let’s break this down. 


#1 Identify your ideal role

It is important to make a list about what was not working for you in your old position so you know what to avoid. But you also want to be proactive.

Don’t just subtract from your old experience. Add what you need in your future work.

You need to develop an idea of what you want from your next role so you can actively work towards it. You need to look within yourself, you need to look among your friends, and then you need to look online.



It doesn’t matter if you are transitioning from charity work to tech, or from the bank to a creative industry. There are skills you can take with you anywhere. Find out what professional skills you have that you would like to carry into your next role.

If you love customer service, but hate being on your feet all day, there are jobs in tech where you can help people from the comfort of your desk. 

You don’t have to sacrifice the parts of the role you love to get rid of the parts you hate. Try to figure out what interests you, motivates you, and challenges you. 

There are plenty of career quizzes that can help you figure this out, along with the skills you have or need to accomplish this. 

This job bank’s quizzes help you figure out your interests, abilities, and work activities so you can narrow down your search.

The Balance Careers also has a number of popular career aptitude quizzes for you to try. 


 Your friends

Think of the friends who love their jobs – or even the ones who just don’t hate the idea of going back to work when the weekend is wrapping up. 

Consider what you have in common. Maybe it’s your degrees, your hard and soft skills,  your personality traits. Ask yourself: can I do what they do?

Even more importantly, ask your friend. See what a day at their office looks like to figure out if it is a good fit. But these questions are more than just “do you like your job?”


If you interested in a friend’s work, ask these questions:

  • What inspires you about your job?
  • What challenges you about your job?
  • Does your job pay you enough to live comfortably?
  • Is there room for professional growth in your job?



Once you have done some self-reflecting and have bounced a few ideas off your friends, you should head to the internet with more purpose.

There are several websites that share job openings. Check them out below:

 See this list for some top job sites.


Once you shop around different companies and research what they offer in work, pay, and professional growth, you are one step closer to your new industry career.

#2 Build Strategic Relationships

The next step is knowing who you need to know. Why? Because relationships are referrals.

This is where your friends and old colleagues will come in handy. Tell them about your ideal role and what you have to offer. Ask them if they know anyone who would be willing to answer questions about openings in companies they work for or if they can point you towards others within the industry you’re trying to break into.

If you know what jobs you are looking for, try to find the people to connect to in LinkedIn Groups.

Source: CFRE International Network LinkedIn


From HR to tech, LinkedIn Groups give you direct access to people in your industry, the companies you love, and the roles you want. All you have to do is punch in a few words into the search bar and choose from the thousands of groups available to you.

If you are even more familiar with your future industry, consider your favourite companies and organizations, whether they are hiring or not. Make a list of who works there, and plan how you can get into their corner to learn from them and meet more people. 

It’s not just management you’re looking for either. Entry-level and middle level employees are also key. 


Get your name in as many rooms as possible. 


Luckily, it is normal to build relationships online these days. Here are some websites to try out:

See this list for other professional networking platforms.


The difference between getting the job or drafting another cover letter could be knowing the employee that can put in a good word to their manager. 

Networking platforms like LinkedIn are a great place to start, but you must learn to cultivate those potential relationships by actually asking people to coffee or virtual meetups.


When you meet with people, remember it is about give and take.


Consider what you can do for them so they don’t feel like it is a one-sided relationship. 

Maybe you know professionals that can help them with contract work. Maybe you can introduce them to new clients. Maybe you can help them find new recruits. 

Ask how you can help and start a mutually beneficial relationship to make your first interaction a positive one. 

Being prepared with knowledge of the industry and company, showing your passion for the line of work, and offering them value for their time will make people more receptive to conversations with you. 


#3 Communicate Your Value

Now that you have identified your ideal role and you have spoken to people in the industry, it’s time to share what you can offer to the hiring world.

Don’t be intimidated by this. There are plenty of transferable skills between industries. 


Your resume is where you tell people about what you’ve done in the past, and your cover letter is where you sell people on what you can do in the future.


Make sure you quantify everything in your resume. Be specific. Brag about yourself.

You didn’t just create social media posts for your company. You created and coordinated over 100 posts reaching over 12,000 followers on a weekly basis, leading to a 30% increase in website visits. 

Elaborate on such tasks in your cover letter. Tell a story and make yourself the main character. Take sentences from the job posting and copy and paste them into your cover letter.

Source: The 3 Skills 


Connect the activities you have done to show management that you will be able to do the same thing at your new job – hopefully their company. 

#4 Negotiate Your Compensation

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to deal with a pay cut when you transition careers. As long as you meet qualifications and complete a strong interview, it should not matter that you have come from a different line of work. 

That being said, compensation negotiation is hard. 


But to know what you are being paid, you must know what others are being paid.


Levels, Blind, and Payscale are good places to start. Enter your position title and out comes the average salary. This gives you a starting point, but you need to dig deeper. 

You should also consider reaching out to current employees that are in and around the roles you’re seeking. Discover what people at the company are making to know what kind of compensation is available to you. Whether you get to someone on a call, through email, or on a career forum, you should invite employees to talk about their position and their compensation. 

The more you know, the better equipped you are for a back-and-forth with the hiring manager.

As 3Skills co-founder Joshua Alawode says,

“As long as you’ve done your research and you understand what the market is paying for your role, it is not unreasonable for you to ask for what’s fair.” 


#5 Making an Impact

Once you’ve been given an offer, it’s time to prove yourself. You’re still new and you still have a lot to learn – especially since this isn’t the same industry you have come from.

Be intentional about your professional growth. Initiate the conversation with your manager about your employee development plan early on. In this meeting, you need to tell them where you came from and where you want to go. 

Try arranging monthly or bimonthly meetings to discuss your progress, how you can improve, and areas for you to challenge yourself. Ask to shadow your manager or some employees who work above you so you are already getting an idea of the work you will be doing as you move up the ranks.

When you do this, you are also becoming more known in the company, building your network, and establishing yourself as someone who is dedicated to excellence.

Transitioning careers can be scary, but you have the skills you need to work effectively anywhere.


Luckily, the Project Pivot program starts next fall. We'll take you through all the steps to get from your current industry to your dream career.

The next cohort starts September 12 and applications' deadline is September 1. Apply today. 


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