5 essential tips from people who made a successful career jump

5 essential tips from people who made a successful career jump

While searching for a new topic to write on, I thought why not try something new in the new year? Since I have been coaching people who have successfully changed their careers for more than 10 years already, I thought who would give me better advice on a career jump than them? They’ve been there, done that and with success.

So, I went through stories in my book “Career Jump!”, testimonials and reviews and distilled the most common AND most interesting pieces of advice.

If you feel stuck in your career, maybe this year it is finally the time to do something about your professional life - otherwise, you'll go nuts.

What do you really want from your life and career?

“When you feel stuck, that’s when you know it’s time to re-evaluate your situation and think about what is it that you really want from life and your career.”

That’s the most common thing that I, as a coach, hear from my clients. At the end of coaching, I always ask my clients what piece of advice they would give to others who are at the beginning of their coaching journey, and this piece of advice is by far the most common. Acknowledge you feel stuck, take time to ask yourself what it is that you want from your career and use the input to move forward.

This advice was given by my client who changed career from project officer in an NGO to a doctoral researcher in academia. Moreover, she also decided to leave the career she built for herself in the Netherlands and move back to her home country.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

“Pushing yourself into that uncomfortable space where you doubt your abilities is where the magic happens.”

This advice was given by a client who transitioned from her career as an HR manager in the healthcare industry to a director of participation in C-suite educational organisation. “Life is too short to not have some aspects of what you love present in your professional career,” she said. “Your job doesn’t have to finally define you, but it should make you feel that you are a valued team member, and that the purpose of the organisation is aligned with your values and beliefs.”

Find the right support

“Ask for help – different people need different types of support at different moments in their life, so don’t be afraid to ask until you feel you knocked on the right door.”

I truly believe that the more people who support you in your journey, and the more people (given that they are positive ones) that know about your plans, the better. But, as my client writes, we need different types of support at different times. Sometimes we need professional support from a coach or a mentor, sometimes we need the support of our family or friends. The message however is clear – “keep on knocking!”

Learn how to deal with setbacks

“Build mechanisms to deal with setbacks so that you won’t get discouraged quickly.”

This advice comes from my client who made a spectacular career jump from strategy and business development manager to managing director in a sustainability scale-up. “There will be setbacks: for every two steps forward, you’ll take one step backwards,” she said. “Real change takes time. Do not get discouraged.”

But if you are serious about the change, the best thing to do is to anticipate when setbacks come, so if and when they arrive you will be fully prepared. She also mentions that “if you apply for a new job, always have 3 applications in the pipeline. If one opportunity falls away, you are still left with hope for the other two.”

Learn to use your frustration to your advantage

“It is ok to feel frustrated. Frustration can be a powerful tool that helps to motivate you. Use your frustration to come up with new ideas and new direction.”

I love this piece of advice as our society often pressures us to quickly soothe uncomfortable feelings. And of course, there is no point in feeling frustrated endlessly, but if you use your frustration as a tool it can give you lots of insights and ideas.

This piece of advice was given by my client who left the NGO world in order to follow the entrepreneurial path and with time started his own chocolate factory, how cool is that? He further says “follow your natural curiosity to experiment with different ideas. You can’t process everything simply by thinking it through. But by following your curiosity, in time, you might just discover what motivates you.”

So, now I am curious to find out which piece of advice did YOU find the most valuable or the most surprising? Share in the comments below! And if you did your own career jump, share with others what would your advice be!

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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