Career Advice

The Secret to Changing Careers…Successfully

May 26, 2022

Swapping from a career where you have spent years learning and building your reputation to a completely new path can seem daunting. We will let you in on a trick. A big secret to changing careers successfully is simple – confidence. Knowing your worth and what you bring to the table will go a long […]

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The Second Act Success Career Blog features articles to help inspire you as you navigate your career journey. Plus, you'll find show notes from podcast guests who have shared second act success stories. My hope is that these quick reads will offer advice and comfort knowing you are not alone on your path towards second act success. xo - Shannon


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Swapping from a career where you have spent years learning and building your reputation to a completely new path can seem daunting. We will let you in on a trick. A big secret to changing careers successfully is simple – confidence. Knowing your worth and what you bring to the table will go a long way towards helping you nail an interview or launching your own business. 

We spoke with Beth Tancredi-Chunn in Episode 5 who talks about the importance of knowing yourself, knowing what you bring to the table and having confidence in your abilities. This is key for multiple reasons. 

First, too many women stay in jobs that no longer (or never) suit them. Whether you have outgrown your job or have been overlooked. Whether you are being mistreated or are simply bored and unfulfilled, having a true understanding of your worth is essential. 

Confidence can give you the push you need to search for something new. You KNOW that you deserve more – more money, more freedom, more autonomy, more responsibility, more respect. Honoring your self-worth will eliminate the sense of complacency or feeling of being trapped that some women feel later in their careers. 

Exuding confidence will trickle out into all areas of your career. Confident women are more assertive, their ideas are received better, they speak more assuredly, and they know when it is time to move on. 

Confidence is the Secret to Changing Careers

But, we know. Just telling you the secret to changing careers is “be confident” is a lot easier than actually being more confident. So what can you do? 

These ideas can be used in any career change, but let’s look at an example. Say you have spent your first act working in product marketing, but are looking to transition into working for a non-profit. 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Even if you don’t feel it on the inside, taking little steps can give the illusion of confidence on the outside.

  • Make an effort to remove the hidden, unintentional questioning sound from the end of your sentences. 
  • Stop using qualifiers in your emails and communications. No more, “I’m not sure, but,” or “This may be wrong, but”. Make statements and stand behind what you say. You have the experience to know what you are doing – don’t doubt it.
  • Don’t apologize for your opinions, ideas or criticisms. 


Not Starting From Scratch

Realize that regardless of what career you came from, you have transferable skills. You may be skilled at writing email promotions for consumer brands, but that talent can easily be used to pitch a non-profit to donors. Sit down and make a list of both your hard and soft skills. 

Focus on hard skills: 

  • Do you have any tech or web skills? 
  • Are your proficient in any computer programs?
  • Were you responsible for any program or campaign budgets? 
  • Did you conduct any market research? 
  • Are you familiar with the RFP process? 
  • Can you perform or optimize analytics on search engines, social media, or ad campaigns?
  • What sort of financial skills do you utilize – Forecasting? Budgeting? Statistics? 

Many of these can be built upon in a new career path. If you have experience writing and budgeting a marketing campaign for your former company, talk about that with the non-profit you are interviewing with. Identify how that translates into a benefit for their efforts. 

Play up soft skills:

  • Did you manage a team? 
  • Do you have any public speaking or oral presentation experience?
  • Give concrete examples about times that things didn’t go right and you had to adapt.
  • Talk about an instance where there was interpersonal friction and how you helped resolve it.
  • Demonstrate passion and work ethic by discuss moments you take pride in

Check out this great checklist of other hard and soft skills that you may possess.

Build Your “Why” Story

You want to change careers. You know why, but you need to be able to articulate it clearly. Write yourself an elevator pitch. Be concise, but honest. Be personal, but professional. Highlight ‘why’ you want to make such a drastic change and why the new career path makes so much sense. 

Spend some time working on your story. Make sure you include: 

  1. Why you want to make the change
  2. Why now?
  3. How you decided on the new career path
  4. What are you most excited about with this change and new focus 

When you get it to a place that clearly explains the above in a condense, but meaningful way, share it with a friend or mentor. Let them poke at it and ask you questions. Be prepared to defend your decision. If there is anything obvious or glaring that they point out, address it in your story. 

Then, most importantly – practice. 

Read it to yourself over and over. Practice saying it in a mirror. Say it to your family members. Be prepared to say it to anyone who asks. 

The more you say it, the more you repeat it to yourself like a mantra, the more confident you will be about your decision to change careers. 

Choose Your Passion

When interviewers meet job candidates, they look for many things. Specific skills, work experience, compatibility. They want employees with a solid base of knowledge, but know they will have to train and educate them on their particular business and culture. But it’s more than just checking the skills boxes. 

Hiring managers all understand one basic thing – you can’t teach passion. Finding team members that are passionate about their business or their mission is priceless. Passionate employees work harder, are more productive and stay with the company longer than people who are simply in it for the paycheck. 

And passion breeds confidence. This is why it is so important for your second act career to be something you feel strongly about. Whether you are starting your own business or working for someone else, if you are pursuing something that you love, your confidence will shine through. 

You will talk about the job with enthusiasm. You’ll bring ideas to the table. Passionate employees are confident and confident employees are proactive and hard working. Demonstrating these qualities goes a long way towards overshadowing any lack of industry experience. 

So if anyone asks, the secret to changing careers is believing you can. Be confident. Be passionate. If you can convince yourself, you can convince others that your second act will be your best act.