Making a Career Change

It’s no secret that making a career change is a major decision. Moms face additional challenges when it’s time to pivot. We have to dig deeper into a potential role and take a look at factors like corporate culture, bias toward mothers and flex-work options. 

You may be ready to delve into a new field or role, or be looking to change careers after a pause in your work history. Whatever your unique circumstances, here’s how to make a career change really work for you.

Define your destination

You may know you’re ready for a career change, but you may not know where to start. First, take a few moments to consider why you’re making a career change. Truly understanding these reasons will make it easier to find the role that’s right for you. 

Take a minute to make a list of the things you’d like to accomplish by switching to a new career. Be specific. If it’s unhappiness that’s driving you, what is it exactly that you feel is lacking in your current role? What is it about a new career that will change this for you? 

This can be as easy as making a quick chart comparing your reasons for changing careers and what you’re looking for in a new career:

Reasons for making a career change

5 Steps to successfully changing careers

Now that you’ve identified why you’re changing careers and what your goals are, it’s time to figure out the how. Changing careers doesn’t happen overnight, especially when you’re moving into a brand new industry or role. Focus on taking things one at a time, using these steps to guide your career change.  

1. Identify your skills

To nail an interview for a new career, you need to prove you have the skills, not that you’ve done the exact same job before. 

Start by considering both your soft skills and your technical skills. Soft skills are the reasons why people enjoy working with you. Technical skills are the tasks you can perform, the software and apps you’ve used, and the processes you’re familiar with.

Example of soft skills and technical skills

Repeat after us: If I’ve used it, I know it. As women, we often downplay our skillset, especially if we don’t feel we have achieved mastery of a task. Be confident in your ability to take a quick online tutorial or course and learn more about a specific skill if needed. 

2. Assess the skills for your new career

Now that you know your personal skills, take a look at the skills your dream career requires. 

Do this by looking closely at job postings, and take note of the skills that are frequently mentioned. Finding a role that uses many of your current skills makes transitioning to a new career easier. For example, project management applications are used across industries. If you’ve used Asana in a marketing career, you can utilize it in a public service career, too.

3. Close the gap

Compare the list of the skills you have and those you need in your new career. Identify how to learn these skills in the fastest, most economical way possible. Remember that you don’t need 100% mastery, just a basic understanding of the functions and lingo. Consider online classes and tutorials through platforms like Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning and YouTube.

Focus on the top 2 or 3 skills max that could be applied in several different roles you’re interested in.

4. Rev up your resume

Now is a good time to start working on your resume. If you want to explain specifically why you’re making a career pivot, add it to your “About” section in your resume, or save it for your ‘Why Me’ statement or cover letter.

📖 Read more: Writing Your Resume to Sell Your Story

5. Activate your network

Next, set a goal to have at least one personal interaction a week to learn more about the roles and fields that interest you. These are opportunities to connect with people who may ultimately benefit your job search, too, by providing referrals. 

Here are a few tips to network like a pro:

  • Look for micro-opportunities to network like joining a Twitter chat or attending a local meetup.
  • Connect with people you know but don’t overlook the second degree connections you have. These often prove more fruitful in opening up opportunities. Search for a job title you’re interested in, and use LinkedIn to see who you are already connected to.
  • Look for recruiters working with the companies you’re interested in working with and reach out to them.

Make a direct ask to each person for 20 minutes of their time to chat about their experience in the role or industry.

▶️ Watch: Unity Hour - The Art of Networking featuring J. Kelly Hoey, author and podcast host, "Build Your Dream Network."

Celebrate your progress

Most importantly, don’t forget to track your progress. Making a list of who you’ll contact and when you’ll follow up with them, for example, keeps you on track. You can also look back and celebrate your progress. Making a career change takes patience and perseverance, but taking a few intentional steps will set you on the right path.

▶️ Watch: Unity Hour - How to Pivot Your Career with career coach Liana Pistell to create momentum in your search and construct a clear plan to change your career path.

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