Jen was a coaching client who I invited several years ago to tell her story about how she changed careers to pursue one that aligned with her passion towards sustainability. She was willing to do the work needed to chase that dream. As a coach, my job is not to tell people what to do but to provide tools to empower them in the direction they want to go. Jen took the ball and RAN with it, succeeded in landing that first new job in her dream industry, and has some great advice reflecting on her overall journey as well as her search.
What do you do for a living these days?
I work in program management for energy efficiency company CLEAResult .
What career were you in before this?
I worked in the financial industry for 11 years. I was with an investment firm for 6 years doing data management, client services and investment research. After that I worked for 5 years in the low income housing tax credit industry, reporting on portfolios of low income housing projects and responding to ad-hoc reporting requests from our investors.
What inspired you to make this transition?
I am passionate about contributing to a more sustainable future and supporting a healthy environment. It was important to me to align my personal values with the work I do everyday. My job is now in line with who I am as a person and I enjoy connecting with people at the office who have the same mindset.
What were your biggest challenges in changing careers?
I had no energy industry experience whatsoever, and there is a lot of competition in the job market. I had to figure out how to market my skills and abilities in a way that added value to an industry I was new to. In addition, I had to build a network of contacts, follow through on meeting with people I didn’t really know, and deal with the frustration of realizing these people have only so much power to help me actually land a job. As I also hadn’t interviewed for a very long time, I had to study up and practice over and over and over again to prepare for the interview process.
What advice can you share with others thinking about moving into a new line of work?
Do your research. Pick a genre of company you want to work for and start building a list of those companies. Visit their websites (get to know them and what positions they are hiring for), get set up on LinkedIn and find out if you have “connections” with people that work at those companies. Figure out what job boards or job listing sites/newsletter/etc. have the type of jobs you are seeking. Check them regularly and keep the faith!
Work with a handful of recruiters. Let them know what companies you are interested in and what kind of position you see yourself in.
Solicit feedback on your resume and cover letters – preferably from someone with recruiting or HR experience.
Keep a detailed log of all your efforts. This way you’ll remember what you have done and who you need to follow up with. Then start adding to your company list with various other companies and company-types you might be interested in.
Following through on contacts people give you and spending time daily on your search is key. Eventually you’ll find the pot of gold!