How to Switch Careers, with Danna Redmond

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about how to switch careers.

We all know that we’re likely to change careers several times in the 40-plus years each of us spends in the workplace. But many of us struggle with choosing our next field. Our guest expert this week is Danna Redmond, host of The Career Cue podcast. She says one of the best ways to determine your next career is to start with your skills. Danna and I talk later in the show.

Changing careers doesn’t mean you have to change companies, too. Ben has found a blog post that shows how you can move from one field into another within the same firm. He tells us more in a moment.

How do you make a career switch without taking a pay cut? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Nick Macchio of Holtsville, New York. Becky shares her advice shortly.

First, as always, let’s check in with the Mac’s List team.

Our topic this week is career switching and everybody around this table has changed fields at least once, some of us many times. I’m curious, gang, what is your number one tip for listeners who want to change careers? Jessica, you look like you’ve got a thought.

Jessica Black:

Sure, I can go first.

Well, I feel like I say this all the time…

Mac Prichard:

Repetition can be good.

Jessica Black:

It can be, yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, it can be good.

Just to start taking on skills in that other industry that you want to move into. I’ve done it a lot with internships or volunteering. I speak about that a lot.

Mac Prichard:

Can you give us an example of what field you were in and where you went and how an internship or maybe a class or some new experience let you to get those new skills?

Jessica Black:

Sure. Well, I will say that mine is complicated because I didn’t really fully have an entrenched career to start with. So it was more of, me, as I was figuring out my career path. But it was switching from different fields, I guess. I was in the service industry for a long time, outside of after college while I was trying to figure it all out. So like I said, I took some internships in nonprofits in different areas that way, to be able to build those skills. Then like I said, took on volunteer opportunities to be able to do that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Because right after college I think you worked in the hospitality industry in Europe.

Jessica Black:

I did. Yep.

Mac Prichard:

Right. For two years.

Jessica Black:

I did.

Mac Prichard:

And I think you were working at a hotel.

Jessica Black:

I was.

Mac Prichard:

That is very different than working in a…

Jessica Black:

In an office.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. Well, and very different from, I was working…one of my first internships that I did, when I was trying to switch from the hospitality service industry to more of the nonprofit office type work, I took on an internship in development work. Fundraising, that sort of thing, and it was really fun and interesting and all of that, but definitely helped me learn that I don’t want to work in fundraising and that’s not where my skill set lies. But I was able to gain other skills within that as well, so I’m hoping that was helpful.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. No, I do think that’s very helpful.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

How about you, Becky? You were, I think, right after college you were working at a newspaper. And here you are digital marketing manager at Mac’s List, but there were some other stops along the way, too.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah. For me, I had a lot of the same challenges that most people have when they’re looking to switch careers. I was burnt out on my current industry and I didn’t see a long term path.

Mac Prichard:

Working as a reporter.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, I was a newspaper reporter and I loved a lot of it. I didn’t love the long hours, the low pay, and the instability in print media, so I was ready to look for something a little bit more stable and with a little bit more room for growth in my career. Things like that. So I just looked at my own skills and thought about what things I liked to do and where I could make more money, to be frank. This is a big part of my thought process, how do I survive?

Jessica Black:

That’s important. It really is important.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, and I want to be honest about that, that’s part of my choice, and I know a lot of people have that same question. Actually my listener question today is about that.

Mac Prichard:

Okay.

Becky Thomas:

But yeah, and so I looked at my skills and decided to pursue communications and marketing, and it’s worked out.

Mac Prichard:

So you switched from, I think you were the editor of a weekly newspaper.

Becky Thomas:

I was a reporter. A newspaper reporter.

Mac Prichard:

But in a small rural community.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Which is different than, I think your next stop was working for a marketing firm in a medium-size city. I think you came to Portland, didn’t you?

Becky Thomas:

Oh yeah, well actually, I don’t know how deep to get into this story, but.

Jessica Black:

Go deep.

Becky Thomas:

Okay. So I moved to Portland and didn’t have a job, like every twenty-something, and I took a job at a call center working at an incoming call center.

Ben Forstag:

I knew that voice was familiar.

Becky Thomas:

You were that really mean client that I had to help. Like yelling at me all the time.

Mac Prichard:

Perfect training for podcasting.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, totally.

Jessica Black:

“Please hold, I’ll transfer you.”

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, exactly. I worked my way up in that company and was…well, I did an internship as well during that time, so I was working a swing shift and I did an internship during the day. Then I worked my way into a marketing position, and yeah. I started at the bottom and I think it’s about staying true to your skills and pursuing those things. It is about sacrifice and working hard and doing double duty sometimes. Usually it works out and if it doesn’t then that’s a lesson too.

Mac Prichard:

Ben, what about you? What’s your top tip for switching careers, and what did you switch from, and what did you move to? What was the job that you were in that you wanted to get out of and what did you end up moving into?

Ben Forstag:

So as I’ve said before, my background is in nonprofit management, or my most recent background, and I just got kind of burnt out on the nonprofit thing and decided I wanted to find something a little bit more entrepreneurial. So this desire to change jobs coincided with me moving to Portland as well. I was actually trying to find a job in the business community here in Portland from four thousand miles away in Washington DC and it was not working. Mostly because I was applying for jobs that I found on job boards, including Mac’s List. Then I ended up landing a job, by some luck and some skill, in the nonprofit sector because I gave up trying to make this transition. I worked there for a couple years and then I decided, “I really want to get out of nonprofit so I really want to make this transition.” And the one thing that made all the difference to me in the first failed attempt and the second more successful attempt was networking.

Because instead of being that candidate who’s out there applying for a job and the employer doesn’t see a whole lot of relevant experience in the field on my resume. They don’t know who I am from any other candidate or a hole in the wall. When I was networking in Portland, I was talking to people, even if I didn’t have a whole lot of formal experience in the business community on my resume people got to know who I was and they got to hear some of my other accomplishments, and they could see for themselves how some of my other skills that I had developed in the nonprofit world might play in the for profit community. So I guess that’s my number one tip to anyone. Just network, network, network. Get known, have people like you and want to advocate for you and hopefully take a chance on you.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I had a similar experience, I think I’ve talked about this on earlier shows. I was living in Boston, working for a human rights nonprofit, that was focused on Latin Americans. I didn’t want to leave the city when the program ended, and I struggled with finding my next job, and doing informational interviews, as well as volunteering, (which Jessica was talking about earlier) helped on a congressional campaign, gave me the insights and the experience I needed to make the switch to communications for in-state and local government.

So I went from working for a human rights group that ran programs overseas to becoming the spokesperson for a big transportation project in Boston, The Big Dig. But I wouldn’t have made that switch in careers without the networking like you talked about. Particularly the informational interviews.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, I mean this gets to a point that I think most people know which is, it doesn’t matter how good you look on paper or how qualified you are, it’s the people who know other people that end up getting the jobs. But you can use that fact to your advantage.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Well great tips and I know that Danna will have others for us as well. But before we chat with her, let’s turn to you, Ben, because you’re out there every week poking around the internet looking for websites, books, and tools that our listeners can use in a job search or in managing a career. So what have you uncovered this week, Ben?

Ben Forstag:

Well this week I want to talk about two different things that I’ve found.

Mac Prichard:

More than one.

Ben Forstag:

More than one. It’s a twofer. So, I kind of stumbled onto this data point that I thought was really interesting this week, and it comes from Gallup and an article that they wrote called, When Making Career Moves, Americans Switch Companies. The basic data point here was that ninety-three percent of people who want to change roles or responsibilities leave their current employer to do so. So, that means, ninety-three percent of the time, if someone says, “I want something more from my job. I want to become a manager, or a director, or a president”, they leave their company to do so, which I thought was shocking because you’re leaving everyone who you know and all of your closest contacts in the company and going and starting something new. So this got me thinking about strategies where you make a lateral move in your career without switching employers. Can you advance yourself in the company you’re already in? I think people don’t think about this a whole lot. They think any movement in the company is the company promoting you up; it’s something the company does to you, as opposed to your taking agency in it, and you’re making that active choice to make a career transition.

So I did a little bit of research and found this really interesting article called Career Change By Staying Put, How To Make A Lateral Move Within The Same Company. This one comes from Forbes.com. And I’ll apologize ahead of time, any article from Forbes you have to sit there and look at an advertisement for about ten seconds before they actually show you the article.

Mac Prichard:

And there’s a quotation too, I think.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, it’s a cheesy quotation from some business executive.

Becky Thomas:

Hey, I like those quotes.

Ben Forstag:

Okay, Becky, I will not apologize to you.

Mac Prichard:

I’m actually in Becky’s camp on this, too. But go ahead, Ben. We’re not going to gang up on you.

Ben Forstag:

So, I thought this was really good and the author just lays out a couple simple tips for if you’re working in an organization and you really want to switch what you’re doing, like, ways you could go from vertical A to vertical B, and negotiate that change in the company. Some of her quick tips were:

One was, enroll stakeholders, and we knows this one. Get people to like you and know you. Network. Make sure that they believe you can do the job.

Two is apply officially and unofficially. This is, again, something we’ve talked about in the past, where you might have to fill out the official paperwork. Most of the work is going to be done by going and whispering in people’s ears and saying, “Hey, I’m applying for this, let’s talk about it.”

A third one that I thought was a really good point was just planning a smooth transition. Because hiring people is this huge burden for people, and so is when anyone leaves an organization. It’s this huge bureaucratic administrative burden for everyone involved, and if you can position yourself saying, “You don’t need to on-board me if you just transition me to this new department. I already know the company culture, I can already help you out, and I’m going to help you find my replacement.” So it’s smooth on both the departing department and the arriving department, so I thought that was a really good point.

So again, the article is called, Career Change By Staying Put, How To Make A Lateral Move Within The Same Company. It’s on the Forbes.com website and we will have the full url in the shownotes.

Mac Prichard:

That’s a great example, Ben, of managing up, not waiting for something to happen, you’re figuring out how you can make it happen, and what the people around you, particularly your supervisors, are going to need to act.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, and in a lot of organization, really any medium sized and up organization, might have multiple different departments or multiple different businesses, especially that are in the same house or under the same company name, and it offers a lot of opportunities to shift around and try new things out. Again, it’s who you know, you’re starting from a really strong place where, if you’re proven good employee in the company and you know other people in the company, it puts you in a position to really get your foot in the door even if you don’t have the skill set that other candidates have.

Mac Prichard:

Well thanks, Ben. If you have a suggestion for Ben, please write him. We’d love to share your idea on the show. Ben’s address is ben@macslist.org.

Now let’s turn to you, our listeners, and Becky is here to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the mailbag this week?

Becky Thomas:

This week’s question is actually perfect for the subject of today’s episode, so that’s awesome. It comes from Nick Macchio in Holtsville, New York. Nick writes:

“I listen to a lot of career podcasts and read a lot of articles and the one thing that’s always missing is: how do you make that career change/pivot when you’re established and have a family to support but can’t afford a pay cut. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges. It’s actually the ONE thing that prevents me from switching careers in hopes of finding work I enjoy.“

Nick, I definitely feel for you here. This is a real challenge and it’s not one to skip over. Money is one of the biggest things in any career and it’s definitely a big part of any decision to make a change. Totally understand when there’s a family to support and you need to make at least the same amount of money that you’re making now. So it’s definitely a challenge, I want to acknowledge that.

The first step is really thinking about it and considering your options. So I would recommend, I would really advise you to do some soul searching about your career and what you don’t like about your current career and what you want in your next career. So if you do have a dream career that you’ve thought about for years or you always thought you’d be great at but never pursued, maybe because of some inherent barriers, maybe come back to that and think about some options. You might be able to combine some aspects from your current career with some aspects of your dream career and make it work that way. There’s a lot more flexibility, I feel like, in today’s career market, and maybe you can do two different jobs simultaneously or work some scheduling things out.

Yeah, I mean, really dig in to see what’s feasible. Actually I was thinking about, we just had a recent episode, a couple of episodes back, it was 101 and Kathy Caprino was our guest and she gave us some really good tactics for you to think about career change and how to really make it happen and pursue it. She talked about salary expectations and some specific advice for really thinking about, how much money do you really need to survive? Is this career change really going to make a huge difference in my career and if so, what can I cut back on right now to make it happen?

I know that’s vague and it’s a really tough thing, and there’s not really an easy answer for it, but I think it’s definitely worth doing some thinking and some working out the numbers and see if you can make it happen. Because it’s worth making some sacrifices to find a career that you really enjoy, and hopefully you can work it out. It’s a tough one. Do you guys have any other thoughts?

Jessica Black:

Ben looks like he does.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, Ben’s ready.

Jessica Black:

And I have some thoughts after Ben, so.

Becky Thomas:

Yay. Good.

Ben Forstag:

Get in line, Jessica.

Becky Thomas:

Whoa.

Jessica Black:

I’m letting you go full steam, I’m just saying.

Mac Prichard:

I think she’s letting you go first.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, go ahead.

Ben Forstag:

So, yeah totally understand the whole need for money thing. Everyone works for a paycheck, or almost everyone works for a paycheck. I’m sure at this point, Warren Buffett does it for fun and giggles, but.

Jessica Black:

Well, money is an important factor in this world.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, definitely.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

So, a few things I would say:

One is, I think the feasibility of having a second full time job where you’re making money and doing what you love is probably not great, but you could always probably pick up a side consulting gig where you’re doing a couple hours a week of work. Most people have that kind of space where you work in the evening when your kids are asleep or setting aside a couple hours on the weekend.

The other thing I would say, and this goes back to the point I was making before is, network, network, network. If you really know where you want to be and what field you want to be in, what you want to be doing, find the people who are doing that and who are hiring people like that and before you even ask them for a job, just go out and make yourself known to them. Go to the events where they’re networking, ask for informational interviews, do that kind of stuff so people know who you are, because again, there’s a few basic dynamics at play here, I think. One is, people hire folks that they know; hiring is a risk and they’d rather hire someone they know in person, even if it’s not the best candidate on paper.

Third is, you can teach just about anything to anyone in six months, and I think employers know there’s going to be a big learning curve when you bring on a new candidate. So if you can show that you’re really accomplished in your current field and you know how to learn, you’re a good worker, you’re enthusiastic. If you can show all those kinds of baseline skills, I think a lot of employers know, “I can teach this person what they need to do in the job here at my organization.” Organizations have their own way of doing it anyway, so even if you’re perfect on paper, they’re going to try to reteach you to do it once you come on board.

So just networking. Getting yourself known is a great way to keep the current job you’ve got, while positioning yourself maybe to get an opportunity down the road in the field where you want to be.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I have other things to add, but networking was definitely up there on my list of ways you can get around the having to get a second job if you are not able to build those additional skills, if that’s what you need, but networking, I think, is a really crucial component of that. Especially the informational interviews to understand what it is that you need in that switching of careers, and again, to just make those contacts and start building those connections, so that you know about these jobs that may or may not be listed on a job board.

Additionally, I was thinking, I’m a big fan of using the skills that you have in your current career to talk about how you can…’finding the threads’, that’s what I like to say, and I stole that from Aubrey DeClercq. That’s her wording, but I love it because there are always those common threads that you, even if you’re changing careers or industries, that you have. You bring the same kind of general skills to that. So find exactly how you can talk about that, share your narrative, share your story, about how the skills that you have from your previous career is positioning you well for this new career that you have. So that when you are having those informational interviews and you are networking, you can talk about, “I wasn’t able to take an internship, but I have x, y, and z from my previous career that would position me really well for this new career that I want to move into”, those types of things.

That was another thing that I wanted to say, about, if you can identify those threads and how you are a great candidate for switching careers in that way, you may not even have to take a pay cut, because you’re positioning yourself well to move laterally, even though it’s not the same company. So I think those are some tips.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, those are great, because I think there is this assumption that in order to make a change, you have to take an extreme pay cut, but that may not necessarily be the case.

Jessica Black:

I don’t think that’s always the case.

Becky Thomas:

As we’re really digging into it and really figuring out what is realistic.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I, to your point, Jessica, doing the homework, not only figuring out what it’s going to take, but what it will pay or what the job that you want pays. I think doing your homework and doing the math are the two key things here. Forgive me, Nick, if you’ve done the homework and you’ve discovered that the position you want does indeed pay less, and that’s tough, and that makes for a difficult choice. But if you haven’t had an opportunity to do that research yet, don’t assume that you will have to take a significant pay cut; find out what the numbers say.

Jessica Black:

Or it may be a factor of, taking the pay cut at first and then moving into a significantly higher paying role later. So that may just be a pay up front kind of thing, for the bigger games later.

Mac Prichard:

Right. Know what the career ladder is for it.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Know how much those jobs pay.

Well excellent advice, and Nick, thank you so much for your question. If you have a question for Becky, please send her an email. Her email address is becky@macslist.org. You can also call our listener line 716-JOB-TALK – or send us a tweet. Our twitter handle at Mac’s List is,  @macs_list .

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of our new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere

We’ll be back in just a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with our guest, Danna Redmond, about how to switch careers.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Danna Redmond.

Danna Redmond hosts the podcast, The Career Cue. She has a passion for helping people turn career goals and dreams into reality.

Danna is an accomplished business leader. She worked for almost 20 years for Fortune 50 Companies.

She joins us today from Seattle, Washington.

Danna, thanks for being on the show.

Danna Redmond:

Thanks for having me, Mac. I’m excited to be here.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure.

Now our topic this week is about how to switch careers and I know when you and I talked about this earlier, you think one of the most important starting points begins with people being clear about their skills. Why is that a good jumping off point, Danna?

Danna Redmond:

Absolutely. I think there’s this piece to knowing what I call your competency. So what are you really good at? What do you really enjoy doing? Then I think there’s the possibility to take that into many different areas. So by people getting really clear about that, and some of that may change even as you go through your career, so I also think it’s important to check back in with yourself on a regular basis to make sure that you’re still enjoying what you thought you enjoyed, and if there are new skills that you have learned that you can take into a different area. But I think those are the portable things about an individual or what I call their core competencies, and you can take that into so many different areas. So knowing what those are and having confidence in using those is so key.

Mac Prichard:

I know, both on your show and on your website, you also talk about the value of not only recognizing those core competencies and understanding them but getting really good at the job you have now. Why is that a good thing to do before you switch careers?

Danna Redmond:

Right, well, I think being really good at the job that you are in today does a couple of things.

One, it gives you a brand, or it let’s people know who you are. It gives you some confidence as well. So if you can get really good at what you do and you can get some accolades from that or you feel like you’re moving forward, I think it gives you some more of that confidence that you maybe need to pick up some of those skills and try them in a new area. But even more important than that, I really think it is about your personal brand. Letting people know who you are and what you’re about, and by doing a good job, whether that’s just being able to get stuff done or following up with what you say you’re going to do, it really helps as you start networking and looking for new opportunities. For people who say, “Hey, I don’t have an exact job that fits  your skill set, but I know who you are and what you can deliver, what kinds of things you can deliver, how you deliver, and that means I’m likely more willing to help you in a job search.”

Mac Prichard:

Now, often I think, when people hear the advice to learn new skills, they think, “Okay, I need to go to a course, or take an online class, or attend a conference.” But you say another way to do that is to look for opportunities in your current job. To take on jobs that maybe might make you uncomfortable, but give you a chance to master a new skill. Can you tell us more about that, Danna?

Danna Redmond:

Absolutely. I think looking around in your current company or your current job, and seeing, if you’re in a big company, there might be opportunities where you can volunteer your skills and you can become the subject matter expert for a different team that’s looking to implement something. Or if you’re in a smaller company, you get the opportunity to wear many hats when you’re at a smaller company. So take advantage of those, and stretch out, and think, “Wow, I’m really good at project management and putting plans together and I can organize a project.” So volunteer those skills in other areas that might not be your core set. Maybe you have traditionally done that in a marketing setting, maybe you’ve been a marketing planner. Hey, how about seeing if that works in the I.T. organization. Do they need planners and project managers? So I think it comes back to that core competency that we talked about.

Knowing what you’re good at, but then just being willing to look around and try to find those. I’d also say if you don’t find that where you are currently employed, where you’re getting a paycheck, look for volunteer opportunities to stretch your wings into new areas. Because what you might discover then, is just new passion area, or a new skill set that you didn’t know you had before.

Mac Prichard:

Now when people are ready to learn new skills or take on new opportunities to master and acquire new strengths, how do they get clear about what they need to do or what they’re gaps are?Because we’ve talked about playing to your strengths and thinking about a career switch. But how do you get clear, Danna, about the areas you might be weak in and the skills that you do need to add?

Danna Redmond:

Yeah. So, I’m a big believer, as you mentioned, in playing to your strengths. I think going out there and really trying some things and going into an area and knowing that maybe you don’t know everything but being willing to learn is very key. Most times, when you go into a new opportunity, if you can say, “Hey, this is the part of this job, or this role, or this opportunity that I know really well, but I don’t know maybe the technology as well.” Is there a partner or somebody you can partner me with on that team, on that new team that you can learn from, or is there specific pieces that you can go and study? But I think so much of it does come back to having that confidence in yourself. If you know what you’re good at and you’re using those pieces, so much else is learnable that you can learn on the job, or in the role, and having the confidence to just go for it.

Mac Prichard:

So having the confidence, being prepared to take risk. But again, as I think about my skills and what I have to offer and what I need to add, where does planning for that new career come in? How do you get clear about the goals and skills you’re going to need to accomplish that new goal?

Danna Redmond:

Right. Well, there’s definitely something, there’s a career planning model out there that I subscribe to and really believe in. It’s called Planned Happenstance, which means you have to be planful about a certain part of it, and then a certain part of your career, you have to be ready for those opportunities to come your way and be open to those opportunities. There’s always that question in a job interview that says, “What’s your five year plan?” And that one always makes me cringe, because if you were to have asked me five years ago what I would be doing today, I could not have described what I was doing today. What I could have described to you would be the skill set I would have been using and the environment I would be in.

So I think it’s important to be okay going into something and not having all the building blocks totally lined up and knowing that you’re going to learn those as you go, and be ready to learn those as you go, just with different technology, and the world is evolving so quickly. You have to get really good at learning quickly and adapting.

Mac Prichard:

So be open to experimentation, be ready to adapt. Are there other qualities or traits you encourage people to keep in mind as they explore these new careers, and finally, how do they narrow that down into a short list of things? Because you might try a lot of different experiences, but in the end, how do you know that this direction is going to be the one that you want to pursue?

Danna Redmond:

And it might come down to that it’s not just one opportunity that you want to pursue or that you’re going to have to pursue all at the same time. So one way to think about a career or career planning, is this portfolio idea where you go and get a variety of different experiences and each of those could lead you down a different path. So I think it comes back down to knowing a lot about what you enjoy. There’s a piece that’s what you’re good at, but also knowing what are those, what I would call, non-negotiables of a career for you, and whether that’s the environment you’re in, whether that’s the location you are, whether that’s the working environment, the structure. Knowing what your non-negotiables are and then balancing those up against any of the opportunities that may present themselves. Using that, I think, as your final bar to decide.

Mac Prichard:

Any tips about how to create opportunities? I think some of this is implied, as people learn new skills or take on unfamiliar tasks. I think your point is that opportunities will present themselves. But are there ways that people can be strategic about it and create opportunities rather than wait for them to come to them?

Danna Redmond:

Absolutely, I mean I think that’s the piece to the word planned in Planned Happenstance, is this isn’t just a sit back and let things happen, and fingers crossed and good will come your way. It does come from individuals getting out there, networking with other people. So even if it’s people that aren’t in your field, or maybe they are in your field. Having those conversations, doing those informational interviews, talking to the people that are sitting next to you on the bus, or talking to the people that are sitting next to you in the stands at your kid’s soccer game. Just continually being curious about what’s out there in the world, and then being willing to continue to follow any of those. So I think there’s this base curiosity that you have to have, to want to continue to develop in your career and in your jobs.

Mac Prichard:

What are some common mistakes you see people make when switching careers, Danna, and how do they overcome those challenges?

Danna Redmond:

You know, I think a real common one is not giving yourself enough of an opportunity. Like, thinking very, really, linearally about your career, or think, “Oh this is my skill set, I’ve only ever been a product manager in I.T., so that means the only place I can continue to go is to seek out jobs within an I.T. organizations.” Why not pick up those skills and look around at other places. Are nonprofits an option? Is there the same thing in marketing? So I think that I see people sometimes limit themselves. I see that a lot when people have worked on a technology. They get very married to “I’m an expert on a particular type of technology”, and think then that that’s the type of technology they have to stay in, when, quite honestly, many of the skills that they will have developed are applicable into other technology areas. Especially if it’s product management, systems analyst type folks who have gotten really good at a particular technology. But then they don’t realize, wow, that piece about being really good means they’re a systems thinker, a planner, they know how to get user requirements, and that is applicable in other areas.

So I really just encourage people to not just put your blinders on when it comes to possibilities.

Mac Prichard:

Any other tips about how to break out of that mindset, because I see that a lot as well with people I talk to who have always done one thing and just can’t imagine doing something else, or think they have to go back to college or get a new degree? What are some, not shortcuts, but concrete steps people can take to break down that mindset?

Danna Redmond:

Yeah, I really encourage people, just even in their own lives, to think back, where were they ten years ago, and likely they weren’t doing the same thing ten years ago. People need to look back at their own career history and realize how they’ve evolved and changed. Or maybe they weren’t working ten years ago and now they are. Just looking back and knowing they’ve already evolved and so they can continue to evolve.

Even in your own personal life, I think it’s an interesting thing to think about, ten years ago…the technology, we didn’t carry around small computers in our pockets, right? Most of us were still talking landlines ten years ago, but every single one of us has adapted to carrying smartphones and how to use them. You can think, “Oh in my own personal life, I’ve finally…I don’t even need my VCR anymore. I’ve learned how to do streaming videos, and streaming on my tv.” You do have that ability to learn these new skills and pick those up and take those to other places.

So looking more internally, people will realize, “Wow, I really have evolved”, and I now challenge them to think about that in their career as well.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I love the image of the VCR. It was such a big important part of people’s lives in the eighties and nineties and now I can’t even remember the last time I saw one at a Goodwill.

Danna Redmond:

There used to be this joke, “Oh, my VCR, the time flashes because I’ve never been able to learn how to change the time on my VCR.” Hey, you don’t need that skill now, right? So.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, but it’s a good reminder that in all of our lives we’re going to go through a lot of change, both personally and professionally. Well thanks so much, it’s been a great conversation, Danna. Now tell us, what’s coming up next for you?

Danna Redmond:

So we’re going to continue to be publishing weekly podcasts, on The Career Cue podcast that I co-host with Stacy Harris, my podcast co-host. So we’ve got those coming out weekly, with lots of great guests, all about career development topics.

Then we’re also planning a few more career development workshops, here. We’re based out of the Seattle area. We’ve got a couple more of those on tap and I’ll be looking around the country and other places that we might take those career development workshops.

Mac Prichard:

Well I know people can learn more about your work, that you and Stacy do, by visiting your website which is www.thecareercue.com. I encourage listeners to check out your show. I’ve listened to a number of episodes and you and Stacy do a terrific job.

Danna Redmond:

Thank you, Mac, and same to you. I’ve always enjoyed listening to your show as well.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, well thanks for joining us today, and it’s been a pleasure having you on the show.

Danna Redmond:

Great, thank you so much.

Mac Prichard:

You’re welcome.

We’re back in the studio, with, Becky, Jessica, and Ben. What are your thoughts about my conversation with Danna? Who wants to go first? Jessica, you’re in the starting gate.

Jessica Black:

Sure, I’m fine.

Mac Prichard:

You’re leaning into the microphone.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. I can go first. No problem.

That was a fantastic interview. I really enjoyed a lot of her points, but I did really like at the end, talking about that technological side of things, that there are ways that people can…I think a lot of people get into that mindset of, you spoke to this, but, “I’m entrenched in this career and there’s no way that I can learn these new skills.” They feel like it’s this daunting, big task, and get scared about it.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it can seem scary, can’t it?

Jessica Black:

It can definitely seem scary, and I think that fear, and kind of getting into your head about it all, leads to more fear, and not moving at all.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

I think that her reminder of, we’ve all done these concrete things and we’ve all adapted and we’ve all evolved. Even just looking at, I liked her point about looking at what you’ve done ten years ago and how much you’ve evolved and changed throughout that. But then also, smartphone technology and all of these things that we just adapt to and we learn. We have demonstrated that we are capable of taking on. I think that can be easily transferred to professional skills as well.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Reminding ourselves that we each have a story like that. We were all very different when we were teenagers, or in our twenties or thirties.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Whatever age, wherever we may be in our career.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, and finding those threads, like I said before, but she mentioned. The skills that you had ten years ago that haven’t changed but have evolved and have grown, and strengthened and all that.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Ben, you look like you have a point.

Ben Forstag:

I had a point. Jessica kind of took it all.

Jessica Black:

I’m sorry.

Ben Forstag:

No, it’s okay, I think we took the same thing away from it, which is that we’re all evolving in our careers all the time and we tend to hold ourselves back when we stop and critically think about it. When we get to this career juncture where we want something different, we’re like, “Well we can’t do that because I do this.” But you weren’t always doing “this” whatever this is.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

And I know that’s certainly true for me. Last year, when I think about what I was doing, how I was spending my time last year versus this year, it’s like, “Whoa, there’s a really big difference there. I’ve got a different set of skills.”

Mac Prichard:

You’ve learned new skills, everyone around this table has.

Jessica Black:

I love it.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, and one day I’ll get good at podcasting.

Jessica Black:

Stop it.

Mac Prichard:

Becky, your thoughts?

Becky Thomas:

No, you guys are totally hitting it. I think that the other thing that I liked that she said, was, really thinking about, and you guys have already touched on this, the underlying skills that you have that have enabled you to do the work that you’re doing, still transfer to a totally different job. To really highlight that when, either you’re interviewing or you’re starting in a new field, like, “Here’s what I can do to contribute right away, and I can learn the rest.” Just be really ready to keep learning. Keep contributing.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, agreed, and I think about all the skills I learned in my twenties that I don’t use now, but.

Jessica Black:

Like which ones?

Becky Thomas:

But you do, just in a different way, is what she was saying.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. Right.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. No you’re right, a lot of writing and editing.

Jessica Black:

Sure.

Mac Prichard:

For particular products, like news releases. Then of course, I was learning how to trade currency on the black market in South America in the 1980’s. But that’s a skill…I guess helping people with financial management

Ben Forstag:

I feel like you need to qualify that one, Mac. People are going to get the wrong idea of what you were doing in South America.

Mac Prichard:

I was working for a human’s rights group, but…

Becky Thomas:

Sure you were.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. We’ll talk more about that.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

In a future show. But the point is, I just love the fact that we all have these stories inside of ourselves. Sometimes, many of us forget them, and it’s a good reminder.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. I like Becky’s reminder that they all compound, that we still use those skills, they just look different, and we’re building upon them, rather than losing them.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Well great, well, Danna, thank you for your contributions, and thank you team, for your thoughts, and thank you, our listeners, for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

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When it’s time to switch careers, you need to play to your strengths. Highlight what you’re already good at – those skills that will help you contribute right away – and show people that you’re willing to learn the rest!

On this week’s episode, guest expert Danna Redmond encourages career changers to create a plan, but also be open to opportunities that come up naturally over time. It’s important to be ready to go into something new without every step clearly outlined.

Start with a couple best practices:

  • Network. Let people know you’re interested in a new career path, and ask questions.
  • Assess your skillset. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into your existing area of expertise. Think about the skills that make you an expert, and ask how you can apply those in other areas

This Week’s Guest

Danna Redmond is hosts the podcast, The Career Cue. She has a passion for helping people turn career goals and dreams into reality. Danna is an accomplished business leader. She worked for almost 20 years for Fortune 50 Companies.

Resources from this Episode