8 tips for a successful career transition

career pivot compensation networking Jan 12, 2023
Person sitting at a desk with a computer. There is a cup in front of them as they stare at work on their monitor.

If you’re determined to spend this new year in a job that supports you and is fulfilling, you have to be willing to put in the work to make it happen.


BlackRock, Thinkific, and New Flyer are just some of the companies that have had mass layoffs, and we are not even two weeks into the new year yet.


If switching careers has been on your mind before, now’s the time to really think about what your next move is. Here are eight steps to help you determine if a career transition is right for you – and how to get you there. 

1) Determine why you want to leave your current role

There are plenty of reasons why people leave their jobs. These reasons can be personal or professional barriers, but they can also be about lifestyle. All of them are valid. You spend most of your life at work, so it should be fulfilling in as many areas of your life as possible.


When you identify why you want to leave, make sure you don’t land at a new company that is going to deal you the same cards. 


For every reason why you want to leave, there should be a solution or an action in your job hunt or your new prospective companies that will be the reason why you will stay.


If it is an unhealthy work environment, you should determine what kind of company culture you are looking for. Do you want colleagues that feel comfortable emailing and texting about work problems after hours and on the weekend? Do you like that your boss publicly disciplines staff?


If not, you have to intentionally seek companies that respect these boundariesGo to company websites to learn about their workplace culture. Then reach out to staff through LinkedIn or email to find out what it’s really like. You don’t want to jump out of one bad situation and into another one. 


If there is no room for professional growth and development, find a company who has a track recording of promoting and rewarding people who put in the work. You can find out where they are by asking people in your network, or looking online.


The Muse has published a list of companies that are committed to career growth, which includes: 

  • Wells Fargo
  • Stantec
  • HP
  • Cleveland Research Company
  • LegalZoom
  • Dropbox
  • MediaRadar
  • Capital One
  • MBI
  • HCSC
  • Open Systems Healthcare
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group
  • Asurion
  • AT&T
  • Gap Inc.
  • Facebook
  • Allstate
  • Tory Burch
  • Veterinary Specialty Center 


Source: Dropbox Job Openings


If there is no work-life balance, look for jobs that have 35-hour work weeks, 4-day work weeks instead of five, and companies that give their employees more than a week of vacation a year.


But that’s not all. Will people expect you to always have your work phone on you? Does the company glorify people who show up hours ahead of schedule, work through lunch breaks, and clock out at night? Work-life balance is about the day-to-day, so look carefully. 


If you don’t enjoy it anymore, ask yourself what job will challenge you, allow you to be creative, and help discipline you to improve personally and professionally. This will keep you from signing a contract that will give you the same unfulfilled feeling as the one you’re experiencing now.


2) Learn compensation standards across industries

Just because you are starting over at a new company or in a new industry, doesn’t mean you have to take a pay cut. This is especially true if one of the reasons you’re leaving is because you want to make more money or have more benefits.


Here are a few websites that can show you what your colleagues are making annually:


3) Try some freelance and volunteer opportunities in similar or related fields

If you work in a job or have a skill that can be contracted or performed on a freelance basis (which most can), try to dip your toe in a new role that way. Many companies are looking for support with communications, project management, coding, sales, and more – but they can’t necessarily hire someone for a year and provide benefits. If you find enough clients that will consult with you or hire you for a couple of weeks or months, you can see if the new role or industry is a good fit.


Fiverr is a great website for freelancers. You can sign up, build a profile with sharing your skills, and wait for clients to hire you for work. 

4) Review your skills

Which brings us to your skills. What can you offer? 


Expand your mind beyond your job title. Yes, you may be a social media coordinator, but what skills do you use to perform your role? Social media’s professional skills take communications, project management, administration, and in some cases, design. Social media personal skills include independent work, team work, organization, creativity, growth and strategy, and more. Suddenly, your social media job has made you a great candidate for a sales job or a marketing role. 


If this exercise is difficult for you, read a friend’s resume. Read your own resume. Check job descriptions from your company. See what roles and responsibilities they list under your position to remind yourself of the full scope of your work.



Look online at job descriptions for the position you have and the position you want. That way you can also see what skills you don’t have, but may want. 


5) Enhance or learn new skills

After you look at what you have to offer, consider what you’re missing. Not every transition is a clean sweep. You may need to fill those gaps. Luckily, there are plenty of online courses and bootcamps that can help you do that.


Some are free and some need a bit of an investment, but the point is, you will have more qualifications that will help you land a job in a new company or a whole new industry. 


Here are some companies that can help you up-skill:


Source: LinkedIn Learning


If you have trouble figuring out what skills you are missing, ask people in the jobs you want to review your resume and tell them to tell you what you’re missing. If you are still at your job and you are comfortable discussing a career transition, ask your manager what skills you would need to have to be promoted or work in a different department. 


6) Record projects you have completed 

While you are reflecting on your current job, take detailed notes of all the projects you have completed. Big or small, individually or on a team – name them all. 


Answer these questions:

  • What did the project entail?
  • What were your responsibilities?
  • What was the timeline?
  • What did you contribute?
  • How would you improve?


Answering these questions for yourself paints a picture of the project from beginning to end. Maybe you went above and beyond of what was expected to make your manager or client happy – that’s worth recording and repeating. Owning that you can work within your responsibilities and identify when more effort is needed to complete a project is a great trait. 


If you find that some projects did not end as successfully as you hoped, that is okay too. Taking note of what you did wrong will help you improve in the next chance you get. It will also give you a great story when an interviewer inevitably asks you to tell them about a time when you failed or let your team down. 

7) Make a list of 10-30 prospective companies 

Thirty may seem excessive, but it does give you a chance to cast a wider vision. The goal is not to copy and paste as many resumes and cover letters as you can. It’s to get a better sense of the jobs and companies that are available to you.


When you think of where you work, think beyond the one to two years you will put in at the start. Think of where you may want to end up in five years and even long-term. Think of small companies where you may have some connection with a few people on the team, but also consider that big Fortune 500 company that would seem like a miracle to land. 


Group these companies into jobs that are attainable, jobs that may require a little more work to land, and then dream jobs. This will give you a sense of where to apply yourself, what you need to work towards, and what you have yet to achieve. 


Apply for companies in each category. It’s all part of the learning experience. If your application gets turned down, ask the recruiter what experience you would need to have a better chance next time. If you make it to the interview and get turned down, ask the interviewer how you could improve. Give yourself options, even if you are only looking for one job for the time being.  


Glassdoor has made a list of best places to work in 2023. From great perks to more skill development and work-life balance, these 25 companies are a great place to start. Check them out: 

  • Google
  • Roche
  • QuadReal
  • Ericsson-Worldwide
  • iA Groupe financier
  • Microsoft
  • eXp Realty
  • Dejardins
  • Salesforce
  • Accenture
  • Mackenzie Investments
  • SAP
  • Schneider Electric
  • Nokia
  • Ciena
  • Levio
  • Apple
  • Grant Thornton LLP Canada
  • Bell
  • Intuit
  • Sun Life
  • Nike
  • Hydro-Québec
  • Autodesk
  • Thomson Reuters


Source: Glassdoor


8) Build your network

But before you press “submit” on any applications for the companies on your list, make sure you have built some sort of relationship with someone who works in the company.


LinkedIn connections will tell you where people work. Their LinkedIn activity will tell you how they work. But to get to the bottom of what the company looks for in an employee and what their teams value in a colleague, you should have a conversation with an employee. Look for fellow entry-level or mid-career professionals, managers, or recruiters. 


Whether you have messaged them on LinkedIn to ask how they enjoy their jobs or you have met them for coffee, you should have a point of contact in. Not all relationships are the same, but having a contact on the inside always helps.


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