Five Steps Millennials Can Take Now to Change Careers, with José Miguel Longo

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It’s not unusual to switch careers several times in your life, but your first time can be nerve-wracking. Find Your Dream Job guest José Miguel Longo is here to explain how to handle the process with ease. Begin with an assessment of your skills and values and how they align with the industry you’d like to pursue. José says you have to be prepared to take action to change careers; do your research, network with others, and gain clarity so you can remain focused on what you want. 

About Our Guest:

José Miguel Longo is a career and life coach who helps Millennials achieve meaningful and successful careers while gaining clarity and purpose in life. José Miguel also hosts the podcast, Coaching for Millennials.

Resources in This Episode:


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 361:

Five Steps Millennials Can Take Now to Change Carers, with José Miguel Longo

Airdate: August 17, 2022

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. 

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You’re likely to switch careers several times. 

But if you’re in your 30s or even your 40s, you may be getting ready to do this for the first time. 

José Miguel Longo is here to talk about five steps Millennials – or anybody else – can take to change careers now.

He’s a career and life coach who helps Millennials achieve meaningful and successful careers while gaining clarity and purpose in life. 

José Miguel also hosts the terrific podcast, Coaching for Millennials. 

He joins us from Syracuse, New York. 

Well, here’s where I’d like to start, José Miguel; how often will a typical person change careers? 

José Miguel Longo:

That’s a great question, Mac. Oftentimes we find that folks who are looking to change careers, on an average, change in their lifetime two to three times. Which is interesting to see given the gravitas of what we’re living through, considering the great resignation, considering the folks who are potentially looking to move up in their career, but maybe they stay at one job for two to three years, and then they decide they want to pivot. So pivoting from a job to a new job in the same industry versus actually completely changing going from, let’s say, engineering to then going into nursing. So that two to three times is more focused on one industry to another. 

Mac Prichard: 

And why do those changes happen? What’s going on there? Is it a choice, or is it sometimes forced on someone by circumstances or a combination? 

José Miguel Longo:

I think people come to the realization that when they’re in their work, and they’re seeing how they’re approaching their work, they’re doing their job, and then they start to reflect on, am I living my best life? Am I living my truth? Is this job feeding me energy and purpose? 

When they start to do that self-actualization, kind of checking off the boxes to do that self-reflection piece, they start to think, well, what can I be doing that really is more fulfilling for me? They start to ask themselves deeper questions, and sometimes those questions come based on a conversation with a career coach, a mentor, or someone who might potentially have a community that they’re engaged with. They may prompt those questions. The person doesn’t always come to those questions themselves. 

And what we’ve seen happen most is that, given, for example, the pandemic, which has caused so many people to jump from every different type of career path they were originally engaged in to then going into something that was much more fulfilling. We’ve realized in the last few years, a lot of folks are starting to think more about what matters to them most, as opposed to the things that a job feeds you. 

For example, a job that provides you with great benefits versus the salary. And then people start to think about, where am I living my best? And being able to be in this opportunity that makes them feel more fulfilled in life. 

Mac Prichard: 

Now, everyone, no matter what the generation is, as you said at the start, is likely to change careers several times. Are Millennials, José Miguel, more likely to switch careers than other generations? 

José Miguel Longo:

I believe, given the generation that has the most people in the workforce today, which is Millennials, currently, right now, as Gen Y and Baby Boomers are starting to transition to either one career to another, or in the case of Baby Boomers who are retiring at this point, the workforce is consumed by Millennials. And so, given how Millennials are viewing what’s most important to them, they’re looking at their values, and they’re checking off their values, and they’re starting to decide, this isn’t fulfilling for me. 

A great example is how someone will go to school for an education in one field and then maybe ten, fifteen years later, realize that what they went to school for isn’t exactly what they want to be doing in their lives. But they start to come to the realization that they need to pivot or have a change that’s really more impactful to feel more fulfilled. 

Mac Prichard: 

You’re a career coach, and you work with Millennials every day in your practice. Do you find that Millennials are ready to make these career pivots? 

José Miguel Longo:

That’s such a great question. It’s tricky because it depends on who you’re speaking to. Oftentimes, no, which is why they need a coach, and they’re looking for help and assistance. 

And it takes typically a cycle of three to six months to really see the potential in growth and believing and having those uncomfortable conversations that someone might be experiencing in their journey. And being able to assess what they value, what they’re interested in, and making a documentation or reflection helps someone come to that conclusion over time of what it takes to get in that space, and that’s just one part. 

Then there’s the part of like, how do you take your relevant or transferable skills and apply them to this new industry and this new workforce that you’re trying to engage in? How do you open up those opportunities and those doors for networking with folks that are in that space that you want to break into? 

Mac Prichard: 

I want to talk more about those steps that you recommend Millennials or anybody else take when making a career pivot. Before we get there, José Miguel, I just want to talk a little more about Millennials as a generation. When they are switching careers, are there any unique challenges that you see in them? 

José Miguel Longo:

Always, and that’s the same for everybody, you know, no matter what generation you’re in. With Millennials specifically, right now, there’s always a stigma that’s behind them that they’re entitled, or they’re digital natives, and they think they know everything, or that they are not going to be open to conversations with individuals who are older, and there’s always a stigma around that with work, and it’s super challenging when you bring so much value to the conversation and people aren’t always willing to hear what you have to say, and you have to have a voice to have and keep for yourself. And how do you create that space for yourself in a work environment?

We know there are a lot of conscious companies and employers and businesses out there that are really remarkably doing the work of making sure, in the recruiting practices, that they’re open to the millennial generation, and people of color, and individuals that identify with a disability. At the same time, it’s not just about how do you check the boxes to do these things. It’s also being more inclusive to doing and taking the action when you’re hiring someone.

So, what I always encourage Millennials to do, is to do their work and do their research. And being able to understand, is this organization meeting the values of what I want in an employer? 

Mac Prichard: 

I’m glad you mentioned the stigma that is sometimes associated with a millennial generation because it’s out there, and it’s good to address it. How do you recommend that Millennials address that stigma when they’re making a career pivot? 

José Miguel Longo:

Yeah, that’s a great question. Oftentimes, I love to ask the question, how do you feel as a Millennial? Do you identify with the ideation of what a Millennial represents? Do you feel like it’s impacted you in any way in your career and the jobs you’ve held previously? And then I help the person connect that back to what matters most to them in a job. Connecting those values and those interests to what a Millennial represents and seeing if that actually checks the box of the stigma that’s represented there. 

We all want to break barriers in our own individual ways, and if you’re able to then review that upon yourself or reflect on that, you’re now more empowered with understanding and observation of what you can bring to the table in a conversation. Ultimately, in a prescreening or in an interview, you’ll get a sense from the recruiter or the person that’s the hiring manager of what the culture is like. 

Of course, always do your homework when you’re trying to determine what is the best thing for you and when it comes to a company. But that observation will happen very quickly. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, let’s walk through the five steps that you recommend Millennials or really anybody else takes now to change careers. The first recommendation you have, José Miguel, is to know your skills and interests. How can this help you change your career? 

José Miguel Longo:

This is the most important one; I have to say; they’re all important, obviously, but this one always hits home. And the reason is, most people when they’re trying to change from one career, or they’re trying to pivot from an industry to another, you have to understand what your skills and interests are. If you have no idea what career you’re trying to pivot to or what industry you’re trying to go to, then you have to do some reflection and evaluation assessments. 

This is gonna give you an opportunity to then understand what industry is more aligned with your skillset and your interests. But if you have a clear path as to where you want to go, the questions, starting to do the homework about. How are your skills that you have today- and I’m talking about your power skills; these are skills that, ultimately, you developed working at another company- and how are they aligned with the job description that you’re reading in the moment? 

If you’re reading that job description, I’m always telling folks, make sure that you’re taking a pen or a pencil and a highlighter, and you’re putting notes in the margin of all the bullets that you’ve highlighted that you know how to do the work. If you are able to identify those bullets, and it doesn’t mean that you have to do all of them, that you’re then taking the time and energy to reflect on, how are your skills transferable to that job and identify an example that’s closely knit to that. 

The other thing that comes to mind is doing informational interviewing. That is such an important part of career exploration, but also when you’re looking to transition from one industry to another. It gives you the ability to connect your skills, your values, and your experiences in a better way to know if this is gonna be a good fit and change for you. 

Mac Prichard: 

Tell us more about how informational interviews can help you get clear about the skills that will matter most in making a career change, and how to apply that information as you draw it out from both informational interviews and the research that you mentioned a moment ago; for example, looking at job descriptions. 

José Miguel Longo:

Absolutely. So, when you know your skills, your value, and experiences, when you go to an informational interview, it’s you asking the person you’ve asked to be the interviewee the questions that you want to know about their experience. How did they get to that job? What steps did they take in moving up the ladder? How did they transition from one career to another? If that’s where they’re coming from. And how did they engage in a networking opportunity? 

Ultimately, an informational interview is high-impact, and when I say high-impact is that what you’re gonna get out of that is an opportunity for you to then have more information to help your decision-making and help your reflection process. As to am I in the right direction? What else do I need to change in my process, in my journey, that’s important in my transition of moving from one career to another? Maybe you have to do multiple informational interviews from different folks at different companies. 

Using your network, and what I mean your network, using the power of the people you know and you have connections with to be able to draw in those folks that are gonna help you develop your skill set, understanding, clarifying where you are. And then moving into the space of like, do I need to apply to a job here? Is there an opportunity here for me or to grow in? 

Mac Prichard: 

Terrific. We’re gonna take a quick break, José Miguel, and when we come back, José Miguel Longo will continue to share his advice on five steps Millennials or anybody else can take to change careers now. Stay with us. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with José Miguel Longo.

He’s a career and life coach who helps Millennials achieve meaningful and successful careers while gaining clarity and purpose in life. 

José Miguel also hosts the terrific podcast, Coaching for Millennials. 

He joins us from Syracuse, New York. 

José Miguel, before the break, we were talking about five steps Millennials or really anybody else can take now to change careers, and you took us through the first step. 

I want to talk about number two on your list, and what you recommend is to look at your network, and you’ve talked about this a little bit in the first segment, but let’s dive deeper into it. 

What kind of review do you recommend doing, José Miguel? And how can you act on this research? 

José Miguel Longo:

Absolutely. Thank you for that. So, when we think about your network. Right? So many people in today’s world will always automatically think, oh, network, LinkedIn. And yes, that’s a very much driven base and social platform, so to speak, that ultimately will help you expand and grow your network. 

But the saying that says, it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know, is often very much leading people into those career connections and that career change. It’s always helpful when you then interact with someone and you do some outreach to help you grow. Not just your network but your own professional presence in engaging with individuals. But asking people genuine and authentic questions. 

LinkedIn as a platform is all about being able to help bring people together in a community that has millions and millions of users every single day. When you use the tool’s algorithm to search for individuals, you’re giving yourself the power and the ability to expand your network. Now, what I mean, that it’s not about who you know- It’s not about what you know. It’s who you know. 

That’s a reflection of saying the most jobs that are out there sometimes are not posted, and it’s people in the network. Whether it’s your inner circle of parents, if you’re a Millennial who has other parents, you’re part of a community. Or maybe it’s your circle of friends, and they work at companies where they have jobs, but they’re not posted. Having conversations about what’s happening in your life and what you’re experiencing can lead to other conversations that can lead you to an opportunity. That’s what people, oftentimes, miss the mark with. 

So if you’re able to connect with individuals and have genuine conversations in breaking those barriers of what you’re looking for and not being scared. Because that’s also the biggest part is taking the courage and leaning in with it and not choosing fear. To be able to ask the question, hey, I’m currently networking into a new industry. I would love to get an opportunity to, you know, pick your brain about what it is that you do and how you get to that job. Or how did you choose that career?

And then, seeing people respond back to you, and I will say, for example, with LinkedIn, outside of just networking with people in your circle, most people respond back to you, and they’re pretty genuine about it. They always want to help each other. 

Mac Prichard: 

LinkedIn is a big place, José Miguel. How do you recommend making your outreach to your network and these conversations as strategic as possible when you’re making a career change?  

José Miguel Longo:

Yeah, that’s a great question. The first thing I would outline is that you don’t have to have a paid LinkedIn subscription to do this. There’s oftentimes- people are thinking that they have to invest in to be able to have a really expansive network and have an expansive outreach. A LinkedIn free profile, as long as you’ve completed your profile, which I’ll talk about in a second, will get you what you need, and it’s just a matter of you searching on the platform and looking for keywords that are used in the algorithm to get to the people you want to look at. And you have the ability to do the search by job, companies, people, and different groups. 

When we talk about LinkedIn, your profile is your resume that never sleeps. I’m gonna say that again. Your profile is your resume that never sleeps. LinkedIn gives you an amazing opportunity to put as much detail and information as you want, meaning what you might limit in your resume, you don’t have to limit on LinkedIn. So you have this amazing opportunity to use a platform that’s helping you present your resume to recruiters, to your connections, to people in industry, to companies, to be able to showcase your skills, your values, your experiences. 

But as well as, what are you passionate about? What drives you? What excites you? What are the things you want people to know about you? And starting a conversation to engage in that will ultimately help you build a stronger network. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, let’s talk about number three on your list, which is, to change careers, you’ve got to take action. What are the most important actions? Give me your top three that Millennials or anybody else needs to take when changing careers. 

José Miguel Longo:

Absolutely. The first thing that comes to mind is, do your research. You have to be able to know where you want to go before you actually do anything. So you want to be able to take the first step in action, which is the research around the companies that are in the industry you’re looking to transition to. Maybe it’s researching people that work at that company and have worked there for a significant period of time. Or it could be the other way where you’re actually just doing the culture research, about what does this employer have to offer? Is it aligned with my interests and values? 

The second thing I will go back to say is the network piece as well. So, when you talk about the network, that’s obviously taking action to take an approach at doing outreach. Connecting with individuals and the people who ultimately are gonna help you get into that space. 

And the third thing I’ll mention is being able to understand what timeline you’re working on. When you create a timeline for what you want to do in a career transition, that helps you stay focused, it holds you accountable, and it gives you the opportunity to see and review the work that you’ve accomplished. 

Mac Prichard: 

Terrific tips. Let’s move on to number four on your list of five steps Millennials or anybody else can take to make a career change, and that’s to identify the companies that meet your needs. Why is it so important to know which companies meet your needs? And shouldn’t you just sit down instead, José Miguel, and apply everywhere? Why do you need a targeted list of companies? 

José Miguel Longo:

You want to be strategic. Point blank. Ultimately, the more time you spend job searching, you want to identify what does a company has to offer.Does the company’s values and culture- are those affiliated to yours? 

You want to be able to make sure that where you’re looking and who you’re considering as a company that it really aligns with who you are as a person. You want to feel like you’re seen like you’re heard, and like you’re valued. To be able to do that, you want to make sure that you’re doing the research on the company and making sure that those companies that you’re interested in are going to align and be a good fit. 

The reason a lot of people during the pandemic and after the pandemic have started to make these career changes is because where they were before wasn’t aligning with the person they’ve become after the pandemic. It wasn’t aligned with where they saw their career going or the trajection of their career. They wanted more, and they started to do self-evaluations of what mattered to them most. That is why this step is so important in their process and journey. 

Mac Prichard: 

In your experience, do most people looking for work in general, but especially when making a career change, do they have a list of target companies? 

José Miguel Longo:

It depends on where they are in the process. I would say some people have that exact idea of, like this is where I want to work. This is the company I want to work for, and I think I’d be great at it. And those individuals, that is their goal. There’s no changing their mind. They may or may not have done their homework. Maybe it was something that they experienced in life that made them feel such a strong connection to that organization or company. 

But I would say, for the most part, no. Not many people know where they want to be. I think there’s a distinction between where can I work because I know the industry does that job- for example, obviously, hospitals do nursing, and people know hospitals are gonna help people get better. It’s healthcare. Right? But, oftentimes, people forget that a hospital has an HR team, has an information technology team, and has a finance department. It has customer service. 

So all of these different types of jobs in this particular employer or industry often are forgotten, and people have like this unique idea or vision that just because it’s healthcare, for example, that there isn’t other opportunities at that particular type of company or employer. 

Mac Prichard: 

Number five on your list of steps that Millennials or anyone else can take to make a career change is to prepare for the interview. What kind of preparation matters most? 

José Miguel Longo:

Absolutely. This is the one thing that, oftentimes, scares people. And the interview is just a conversation. I think if we take the word interview out of it, people might feel a bit more comfortable about going into the conversation. Ultimately, you want to do as much research as possible and understand what this position represents. I would also suggest that job description we talked about before that you used to apply to the job, you got yourself halfway there. You’ve applied to the job, now they’re asking you to the interview. Making sure you’re reading everything about the company’s culture and history and aligning it to your experiences. 

But also, those examples I said to put on the margin of the job description when you’re reviewing it, making sure you bring those examples to the table when they come in asking you those questions. 

They want to get to know you, and you want to get to know them. It’s all about fit. You want to bring that information. Have notes if you want to, and being prepared for that interview. And obviously, a lot of interviews today, given the sense that we’re living in a more remote, digital environment, are done through Zoom. I would say it’s okay to have your phone or notecards to be able to help you in navigating the conversation. 

Mac Prichard: 

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, José Miguel. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?

José Miguel Longo:

Absolutely. I’m most excited about the next steps in my career practice, and coaching practice is to work with Millennial parents and essentially is building programs and courses to help the parents of high school students that are going to embark on their journey in college in developing the essential skills that they need to be successful in college and in their future career. 

Mac Prichard: 

I know listeners can learn more about you, your services, and your podcast by connecting with you on your LinkedIn page, and, as always, when sending out a LinkedIn invitation, I hope they’ll introduce themselves and also mention that they heard you on the show. 

Now, José Miguel, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about the five steps Millennials or anyone else can take to change careers now? 

José Miguel Longo:

I would say, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s a lot of people out there that are invested in wanting to help people be successful in their career journey. 

Mac Prichard: 

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Next week, our guest will be Mike Stroud.

He’s the associate manager for talent acquisition at the Tillamook County Creamery Association. 

You know where you want to land your next job.

 In fact, you have long hoped to work for one employer alone.

 But you’re not sure how to make this happen. 

Join us next week when Mike Stroud and I talk about how to get your foot in the door at your dream company. 

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Matt Fiorillo. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.