In transition? Here is What You Need to Know


If you’re in the midst of a career transition, you know that it is a time that can be difficult to
navigate. Changing careers, reentering the workforce, or switching industries can feel like an
unwieldy undertaking. External challenges such as ageism, lack of direction, and outdated skills
can make this process seem overwhelming. Although there are undoubtedly obstacles, a career
transition is not an insurmountable endeavor. Here are some tips to help you on your journey
to your new career:

Acknowledge what you cannot control. Ageism is real. It’s unfair, it doesn’t help any company’s
competitive position, and it’s illegal to discriminate based on age. But the reality is that it exists.
You will not make ageism go away, but there are things you can do to mitigate your experiences
with it. Make sure you are up to date on the latest technology, focus on your experience and
the value you can add to the company. Keep the discussion to your recent experience; don’t
talk about what you did in the 1990s.

Competencies are key. People often conflate competencies with skills when they are two
separate things. A skill is something that can be executed to achieve a particular result. A
competency is a combination of skills, knowledge, and behaviors critical to success. Lead with
your competencies and focus on why and how you have succeeded, rather than merely running
through a list of your accomplishments. Competencies are squishy and intangible. Think of
someone who can take complex information and break it down into something simple and easy
to understand. That is a competency that distinguishes someone because it is in short supply.
Competencies are largely inherent; skills can be learned.

Network. The importance of networking cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, many people
only actively network when they need something, such as a job or new business. The truth of
networking is that it is a two-way street, and you should be offering assistance to those in your
network on an ongoing basis. You need to pay attention to what’s going on with your network
so that you can nurture and cultivate it; otherwise, it may wither or become choked with
weeds. Networking is the best way to find a new role, so be authentic, considerate, and ask for
advice, not a job.

Upskill yourself. If your skills, technical and otherwise, are out of date, it’s going to be
incumbent upon you to scale them up. If you are currently unemployed, you may be able to
access training via your state’s department of labor. In addition, there is a wealth of online
learning platforms that can help you freshen your skills, and many of them are free or low-cost.

Seek out resources. Some resources can help you in your career change. Some universities and
research organizations offer services for coaching and mentoring those in transition. These run
the gamut from working with a career coach to attending free workshops on workforce reentry.

Career transitions are complex and multilayered and often take more effort than expected.
Periods of uncertainty can seem eternal, but they are temporary. Manage your expectations, be
proactive, set reasonable, achievable goals, and get support for yourself in your journey.
Remember, it’s never too late to start over.

About The Author:

Debra Wheatman is a certified professional resume writer and certified professional career coach with more than 18 years of corporate human resource experience guiding and directing global clients in determining career goals and identifying career choices. She recently published her newest book, “Help! to Hired: Adventures, Secrets, and Successes in climbing the Career Latter,” available on