5 Tips for Making a Midcareer Change with Little Experience
Ever wanted to make a midcareer change—switching to a new role, or moving from nonprofit to for-profit (or back!)—but you worry you are too far down the path?
Maybe you worry your skills have fallen behind. Or that you don’t understand the lingo. Or that some of your technical skills are out of date.
You worry about someone looking at your career history or portfolio and laughing. Or never giving it a second look.
But maybe you know you need to make the shift—maybe you’re not making enough money. And it’s causing tension with your partners.
Here’s the advice I always give to women considering making a midcareer change:
1. Make the portfolio or update the resume.
It’s the first step in getting clear on what the gaps actually are so you can address them.
2. Reach out for feedback to a few people with insight or a coach.
Your insecurities are likely outsized to the reality of the situation. They will give you an outside perspective about what actually needs improvement. They can even give you suggestions of what to do to fill that gap.
3. Pick one project or effort to practice the new skill that you need to upgrade.
In a portfolio, it could be taking one project and learning to use a new software—just on that one image…. If you’ve been told that you don’t have enough experience leading consensus building, look for the next opportunity in your professional or personal life to practice that skill.
4. Identify one "key study project" that you can use to learn any skills you need to learn.
This might be identifying a meeting to run if you need to upgrade your facilitation skills. Or, if there’s a specific technical skill you need to learn, identify a project you can try that technique on for your portfolio.
5. Give yourself short periods to learn about the skill and apply it.
So that might mean watching a 20 minute YouTube video and picking a specific skill or technique and spending 20 minutes applying it.
Using this “study project” method has helped me uplevel my skills to land amazing stretch opportunities in my career, bringing $20k-$35k projects into the company.
And it helped a woman I know land a dream job even though her skills were rusty while balancing a job and being a mom.
With her upgraded job application materials, she landed the job she wanted… and in just a few months, her company said that her technical skills (that she learned on YouTube) should be the company standard.