Merriam-Webster defines transition as “a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.” When we evolve as people, it is likely that the career we are in now, or the career we chose to pursue previously, will change.
Changes in life situations, passions, job availability, or the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment in the workplace are all things we as adults face. So, when you find yourself in transition, what do you do?
Let me begin by sharing a personal anecdote about my own career transition. Fresh out of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, I had dreams of being a television news reporter. I sent out tons of b-roll, video resumes, paper resumes, and even went on a few interviews. At the time, I was in a serious relationship with a man studying to be an accountant. Desiring to be near him as engagement and marriage was on the horizon, I forewent career opportunities in small, unheard of towns around the country for a job in Chicago.
A mortgage and auto loan sales job. Did I mention this was 2008 and smack in the middle of a great recession in the United States? People were in a credit crisis and losing their homes and cars, not looking to refinance or purchase anything? Oh, and that I hated sales. I. Was. MISERABLE.
I left that job after only six months to become a personal banker back in my hometown, waiting for my now fiancé to graduate. We were married and relocating for his accounting career less than a year later, to the greater New York City area. My dreams of television journalism had all but dwindled at this point, knowing the New York market was where experienced journalists’ trumped recent graduates from the Midwest with a year of sales and banking experience. I found a job at a wonderful regional bank and was there until my oldest son was born and the cost of childcare outweighed my small salary.
Unemployed but used to living on two salaries, I was desperate to find a career that fit my new situation. I was blessed to find a remote position from my Indiana hometown that allowed me to stay home with my son and work late into the night after I put him to bed. When my husband was transferred back home, that remote position became a permanent position in an office. I added another child, but childcare was now affordable and I was able to work two days in the office and three from home. I loved my job and coworkers. I started in medical billing and worked my way up to Office Manager, my first time dabbling in Human Resources. A seed had been planted, and journalism faded even further away.
When baby number three was due to be born, my office was unexpectedly closed. I was thrust from the ideal work situation to live as a stay-at-home mom of three boys. Mentally and financially, that transition was one of the most difficult for me. I loved my babies but needed to do something for myself. I missed workplace interaction and I feared that staying home would cause an unattractive gap on my resume.
The culmination of all of this was deciding to pursue a master’s degree in Human Resource Management. It challenged me intellectually, fed my desire to interact with other adults, and added another tool to my belt for when the time comes for me to work again. I babysat in the home to make ends meet and pay for my master’s degree as I went. Now I am excited about my transition into the field of Human Resources when my youngest heads to school full-time.
So, if you find yourself in a transition, like me, what should you do? Here are some steps to ensure your next career is a great fit for you:
1. Narrow down what you want. Weigh pros and cons, research the fields you are considering, reach out to loved ones in those fields, and pray for God’s discernment in your decision. Avoid looking (or feeling) desperate by focusing on what you truly want and applying only to positions in that field. Don’t apply to every job you come across at any company. Know what you want and go specifically for it!
2. Update your personal marketing channels and materials. Sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Careerbuilder are valuable tools to network, market yourself, showcase what you have to offer, and connect you with open positions. Update your resume and tailor it to the field you are considering.
3. Pursue new skills and information. If you find yourself in a season of unemployment, find ways to invest in yourself. Take a class, get a certification, or pursue a degree. This will help you decide your next career and add marketability to your profile. Be prepared to explain your absence from the workforce or your change of field. Decide how you will address it, and practice delivering an honest, precise explanation. Address the question and then circle back to the position at hand and why you are uniquely qualified.
4. Have confidence in yourself and include your family. Ask your family to pray for your next career phase. Explain to them what you are excited about and why you desire to make a change. Believe in yourself and know that you have taken the appropriate steps to find a career you love.
Whether you find yourself seeking a more rewarding career, beginning to pursue your passions, or working outside the home for the first time in years, I hope something you read here resonated with you. May the Lord guide you and give you the confidence to tackle this and many other transitions that come your way!
‘And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ’ – Philippians 1:6
This post was written by Alyssa Kuhmichael. Alyssa lives in Ft. Wayne, Indiana with her husband Rob and 3 boys: Ethan, Asher, and Nolan. She finished her Masters in Human Resources Management in 2019 and is currently preparing to return to the workforce after her youngest begins full-time school.