How to work your way out of a career “rut"Featured

When you feel stuck in your career, identifying what you want to do next often feels impossible.

So…what happens *after* you’ve figured it out?

How do you convince that next lucky employer to give you a shot doing something new?

We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s a moment, sometimes it’s the culmination of a series of frustrating experiences – the realization: “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Coming to terms with the fact that you’re ready to do something new can be liberating, but it can also be terrifying, especially if it means a career switch. If you’ve decided that you want to make a transition – whether it’s from engineering to product management, or from marketing to HR – read on. This is for you!

As women, we already struggle with imposter syndrome. It’s bad enough to know you’re an expert and to still feel this way, but to now convince a potential employer to consider you as a candidate for a role you’ve never held? Forget it! We are discouraged by society when we show our fullest selves – our passions, our skills, our dreams –, especially when looking for work. That can feel like a stacked deck, but it also means you’ve got real power when you turn that on its head.

There’s a simple solution for making the experiences you DO have work for you as you seek work that will honor your potential and not just your past accomplishments:

Framing your career story around what you *want* to do – and why you’re already primed to be great – is your unlock. Here’s what you’ve got to do to get others to see you for what you’re truly capable of:

Do some DEEP research on the area you hope to enter into/job you hope to have.

You’re trying to help others see just how good you know you’d be in this area of new scope. That requires showing up as much of an expert as you possibly can! Google the job, read job descriptions, and reach out to people you know (and even some you don’t) who do the job you want. Elpha in particular is a great place for connecting and learning more about the career you want from people who are doing it today. We’re all here to learn, and that means that most of us [I hope!] are willing to help others along the way!

Rewrite your resume and rewire the way you talk about your accomplishments – the storytelling and descriptions that got you your current career may not work to get you where you *want* to be.

You can’t change the things you’ve done, but you can – and should – change the way you talk about them. So many skills are wildly transferable across a variety of areas, and it’s your job to clearly paint that picture for any resume reviewers or interviewers who come across your background.

  • An example: you want to spell out for the reader how the things you’ve done as a Recruiter will make you a great project manager. You hired 65 people in three months? Great! Don’t leave it at that, tell me about the project management skills you used to coordinate a crew and make it happen (built project plans, established a regular cadence of meetings with stakeholders which you led, kept partners on track through check-ins and checklists, utilized project management tools, etc). You can see clearly how the things you’ve done set you up for success in a new area, but other people often won’t unless you outline it for them.

Use. Your. Network.

The one thing you should always do, but especially when looking to make any kind of bigger transition, is leverage your network. The people you’ve worked with, people you really know, are the ones who can best speak to your skills in action, from experience! This is such valuable information because, unlike an interview, the information gleaned isn’t hypothetical – it’s real. That’s so powerful! Go through your LinkedIn network, reach out to your friends…you’ll be surprised how many connections you probably already have to opportunities that interest you.

The reality is that your story and what comprises its most important components is up to you.

The titles you’ve held never have to dictate what you do next if you don’t want them to! Researching extensively, building your narrative around what it is you want, and leveraging your connections will almost always put you on the path you’re hoping to go down. Most importantly, don’t forget that, as with anything in life, asking for advice, help, or an introduction is sometimes the best thing you can do.

So, next time you find your eyes glazed over at work, thinking to yourself, “I wish I was doing X instead,” dust off your resume and really think hard about how you want the narrative of what you’ve accomplished to be heard.

Once you’ve got people listening to the true story of what you’re capable of, that next right opportunity will hit you faster than you could have imagined.