How Do I Manage a Career Change?

At some point in most of our lives, we are faced with the prospect of changing companies, career paths or career choices, and after, let’s say 10 years, this can be a very daunting proposition.

Your brain races through all the reasons why you should stay: “I have great benefits. I know this company and the people that work with/for me. They pay me well for what I do.” And yet, there is that nagging feeling that persists daily – “I am not happy, motivated, or challenged!”

Once you’ve made the decision to make a career change (and make sure the reason to change is valid, but that is for another article), there are specific steps to take in seeking out alternatives.

GEOGRAPHY

Yes, it’s a hybrid world today, but one of the things that was learned from the pandemic is that things can change in an instant. Decide where you want to work, regardless of whether it is work from home, hybrid, or 5 days on location. The worst thing would be to have a work-from-home job, living in New York City for a San Francisco-based company that decides to go all in with everyone back in the office, forcing you to decide to move or give up your job.

INDUSTRY

What is the ideal industry for you? I have clients say to me – “I want to be in technology” – which is great, but what part of technology? Medtech, Fintech, Edtech, Agritech, Adtech, and the list goes on and on. In other words, it’s a big world out there – be specific.

COMPANY SIZE

Now you begin the process of narrowing. How big (or small) is the company within the industry that you work best in? According to the Small Business Administration, company size is defined by employees and revenue:

Small – 100 to 1,500 employees and under $40 million in revenue
Medium – 1,500 to 2,000 employees and $50 million to $1 billion in revenue
Large – 2,000 or more employees and over $1 billion in revenue

Of course, there are many other sizes between these parameters, but you get the point.

COMPANY POSITION

Wait a minute – didn’t you just talk about company size? Yes, I did, and now you want to ensure that the company chosen is also in the right place regarding maturity. The place in time for a company that is ideal for your needs falls into 6 categories:

  1. Seed (Series A, B, C, etc. funding)
  2. Startup (Early-stage, Venture-funded, Late-stage)
  3. Growth (Continuing to focus on innovation)
  4. Expansion (Fully developed and focused on market share)
  5. Maturity (Well known, trusted, holding high market share)
  6. Exit (Investors seek to realize their gain and maximize their return)

COMPANY VALUES

There’s more? Really?

I realize that you thought by now you’d have started looking for a job, and yes, the old shotgun approach is a tried-and-true way of job-seeking. It also defines the difference between a career and a job. You are looking for a career change, not just another job that pays the bills, and this is the first important step in deciding who you want to work with/for and are the values of the company the same or closely aligned with your personal values? You can generally find a statement of Core Values on company websites, and this is a critical part of your homework.

ROLE

Thank goodness, it’s step 6 and you finally get to the job title!

Not so fast – this is also a typical mistake. Say you are looking for a VP of Finance role – well there are many, many definitions of that title based on the company, the work and skill set required, etc. So, before you go job titling, make sure you know the role you want, by defining the characteristics and skills you would be using on a daily basis. Then you can search for titles that typically align with that role.

PAY, BENEFITS, ENVIRONMENT

Now that legislation is making it easier to see salary information in job postings, you are more keenly able to narrow your search quickly based on your own minimum requirements. The total package will be at a later stage during the interview process, and it will be important to have your details all figured out before the negotiation begins.

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS

Now that you have completed your homework and narrowed your search down to 10 or fewer firms, all of which meet your criteria, you begin the real work of interviewing at those firms in a non-threatening way – the Informational Interview. An easy and deliberate way to gain inside information on what it is like to work at this particular firm.

LIVE INTERVIEWS

Congratulations!

You have completed an exhaustive process to narrow down your search for your ideal career change to 5 firms and you are seeking a live interview for your new position. At this stage, you are hoping for 2 offers to choose from, and either will be a winner because you have created an environment whereby any live interview is for a job that you are very interested in.