Swapping from heels to high tops is easy, but when it comes to changing career lanes, it’s not like you’ve kicked a spare job under your desk. Even so, if you’re constantly stuck or stifled at work, you deserve a more fulfilling path, and we’re here to help you find it. From exploring new jobs in your current field to pivoting your professional world completely, millions of women have made changes for the better in their work lives. If you’re looking to do the same, here’s how to get started, with advice (and a handy job tracker) from the experts at Managed by Q.

I recently decided that I want to make a career change, but the whole process feels overwhelming. Where do I even start?

We get it: Starting a job search is a job in itself, but there are a few things to make you feel more in-control of the process, and they should start before you even begin to research open positions.

First, answer some honest questions about what you want to do next. What makes you happy or excited in your current role? What makes you happy or excited in life generally? Are there any overlaps? What would an ideal day at work (in any position) look and feel like for you? What are attributes of a company that are a must for you (think about the culture, company size, perks, location, career mobility, etc.)? 

Next, answer questions about what you don’t like in your current job. What feels tedious or boring at work? What feels tedious or boring in life generally?  What are the deal breakers for a job or company?

After you’ve been totally honest about your own wants and needs, it’s time to begin the research phase. Managed by Q created this spreadsheet to help organize your search and get you started. Click here to begin working towards your dream job. 

I’m looking for a job in a new city, but moving is difficult and expensive. How do I search for jobs remotely, and how do I negotiate my contract to include a relocation bonus once I get an offer?

Pro tip: Don’t wait for an offer to start a discussion about a relocation package. Companies typically have a relocation policy in place, so feel free to ask for more information. 

Asking about a company’s perks and policies isn’t rude or presumptuous. In fact, HR and recruiters expect it! And since you’re probably using your current address on your resume, the company will already understand there is an expectation that you will have to move.

If you find that a company doesn’t have a relocation policy in place, ask if it’s negotiable and could potentially be part of an offer. Keep in mind during your job search that bigger companies may be more willing to provide a relocation package than start-ups and small operations.

I currently hold a senior position at my company, where I’ve been for five years. I want to switch industries, but I have no practical experience in the field I want to be in. How can I make a move without getting a major demotion?

Making a move to a different industry can feel intimidating, but keep in mind that you have a lot of valuable experience, even if it’s not directly related to the job you want. Holding a senior position (and working for 5 years) means you understand cross-functionality, office politics, and how to show up and work—so don’t undersell yourself.

When starting your job search, think about networking. Consider every colleague and friend you have that would have insight or advice. Do you know anyone in an HR or recruiting position? Start reaching out and scheduling in-person coffees and drinks (and be prepared to pay, since you’re the one asking for favors). Networking is always a good idea for finding career opportunities, but incredibly helpful when you’re looking to make a change. If you have someone who can vouch for your work ethic, you have a higher chance of getting a more generous offer.

Rework your resume and add any details or projects that are relevant to the new industry in whatever way possible. No detail, piece of work, or project is too small if it can provide industry-specific context.

In the meantime, take classes or seek out programs and events that pertain to the new direction you’d like to move in. You can add these new competencies to your resume (even before the training or event is complete!).

Finally, be willing and ready to go out on a limb and perhaps feel out of your depth.  But remember—we are all kind of faking it! Apply to the positions that appeal to you, write strong cover letters, and network!

When switching careers, how do I account for jobs that were “fillers” and are unrelated to my career goals? Are gaps in a resume better than a bunch of jobs that appear irrelevant?

Decide what to include on your resume on a case-by-case basis. Tailor your resume according to the position you are applying for. Sometimes “filler” jobs provide context for soft skills that are essential for certain positions (e.g. If you waited tables, you could address the importance of having a sense of urgency, customer service skills, working under pressure, and prioritizing on your feet).

Gaps in job history happen, and if your resume is written well, that time period won’t matter. If you feel strongly about addressing the gap, do so in your cover letter.

Ready to get started? The pros at Managed by Q created a job search tracker to help keep you organized when looking for your new career. See it here.

Related