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Career Change: Five Actions to Help Execute a Successful Transition

A common coaching request is from individuals considering a career change. These requests are most often from individuals whose career has plateaued and are considering a significant career change with hopes of rekindling it.

Below, I outline reasons people find themselves in this situation, some dynamics to be aware of when contemplating a career change, and five potential actions that might be helpful to execute a successful transition to a new career.

Career Change


Many people wake up one day and ask themselves “How did I get here?” They have become bored with their work, are burnt out, frustrated, or they are disappointed with their professional achievements. Mid-life crisis may accentuate these feelings.

It is common for people to make career changes without a long-term career plan. In some cases, they accepted jobs because someone asked versus it being part of a long-term career strategy. It made them feel valued at the time. Change that follows a long-term plan is constructive and can help realize career dreams and objectives. Change for the sake of change or out of frustration due to lack of progress may sacrifice long-term achievements for a short-term gain.

A career change must have a purpose and follow a strategy. It must contribute to the long-term career plan by offering a new skill or capability. It must be accretive to the goal.


Financial responsibility is the primary factor when considering a career change. This becomes more important with age. As people age, their financial responsibilities increase. Retirement savings, aging parents, children’s education, and financial goals are common complexities people face as they pass the midpoint of life. These factors must play a prominent role in a decision to change careers. Conversely, young people without critical financial responsibility should explore career changes and amass as much diverse experience as possible.

Expertise is another factor to consider when making a change. Competing for a job in a new area means competing against established functional experts. Creating a value proposition for the interview process is important. It is critical to lay out a good proposition so the hiring individual understands the value of hiring someone without the ideal functional expertise.

Economic conditions are another factor when considering a career change. A solid, growing economy improves the odds of a successful career change due to a smaller candidate pool. Companies are more willing to take a risk on someone without the ideal experience. Career changes in a down economy are rarely recommended.

Another important factor is career progression. Making a significant career change often requires an individual to start at a lower level or at a minimum make a lateral change. A senior leader in one function may end up as a junior manager in a new role. The impact of this decision is lower compensation and a potential impact on benefits (e.g. vacation).


Career changes must be made carefully, and much effort must be given to minimize risk when considering a career change.

  1. If you don’t have one, create a long-term career plan. It is very important to make career change decisions based on a logical career progression.
  2. Maintain a high level of performance. Demonstrating consistently high-performance levels are a big attraction for those making hiring decisions.
  3. Leverage strengths and experience when changing careers. Finding a role that is half way to the new career goal, one that leverages about 50% of the current skills and experience, allows one to contribute while learning.
  4. Volunteer for a project or initiative in the new area ahead of the change. This will not only provide a view of what life could be like in the new role, but also provide visibility to the leaders in the area.
  5. Hire a coach! A good coach can help create a long-term plan, help navigate the process and help make an objective, well-informed decision.

Changing careers can be risky and stressful. Having a solid list of actions to follow will help reduce the risk and the associated stress.

I hope this article was helpful. Drop me a note in the comment section below or through the Contact Me form if you have any questions.


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