Insight from CallRail’s Amanda Raymond
If you ask any of Amanda Raymond’s friends, family members, or colleagues, they’d all agree that she embodies living life to the fullest.
The Staff Engineer at CallRail is currently exploring the great American outdoors in a custom camper which doubles as her portable office. And when she’s not showcasing her coding skills at work, she’s busy exploring, kayaking, solo hiking, or making repairs on her house with wheels. “Everyday something breaks, so I'm learning how to be an electrician, learning how to be a plumber, and everyday I have to learn something new,” she says cheerfully.
This roadtrip is a full circle moment for Amanda because, just over 8 years ago, after quitting her job as a biochemist, she set off on another cross-country trip that reconnected her with an old friend who introduced her to an opportunity to change her career trajectory by joining a coding bootcamp.
“Coming from a biochem background, you had to have a certificate on a wall with a high degree to get through a door. I had a bachelor's, I didn't have a Masters, I didn't have a PhD,” says Amanda. “I knew that I wanted the freedom of a career in Tech and the lifestyle of a coder so I took a leap of faith.” And she dove headfirst into a full-stack web development bootcamp. That leap of faith has helped her transition from a job in science that she wasn’t passionate about and grow a fulfilling career that allows her the freedom and flexibility with a company that embraces her adventurous spirit.
We sat down with Amanda to hear more about her career journey, and to gain some unique insight on starting a career in technology with a non-traditional background. Keep reading for her top 5 tips for breaking into a career in technology.
Tip 1: Acquire the Skill Set: Join a Bootcamp or Use Online Resources
Amanda’s journey began when she attended a coding bootcamp. “At the time I joined, the whole concept of coding bootcamps was new,” she explains. “So a lot of people didn't know what bootcampers were.” But nowadays, bootcamps are one of the most popular ways to learn how to code and, like for Amanda, they serve as a great foundation for career pivoters to break into the world of tech.
Amanda highlights the fact that you don’t have to have a degree in computer science to start working in tech. Career pivoters have valuable experiences, perspectives, and transferable skills that can be hugely beneficial for companies. Amanda sees having a background in something other than tech should be seen, “not as a disadvantage, but as an advantage.”
But bootcamps aren’t the only way to accelerate your learning, especially considering the financial investment required for these intensive courses. “There are so many free resources out there,” Amanda elaborates. “If you have the discipline to teach yourself, you can listen to podcasts, you can do tutorials online, you can watch YouTube videos, the possibilities are endless. Information is free on the internet these days and so at the end of the day, if you're trying to see if you wanna go into tech, I would say immerse yourself with that information.”
Tip 2: Network to Build Personal Connections!
When it came to finding a job, Amanda eagerly recommended networking. “My advice to people going into transitioning into tech is to go to meetups consistently, but don't go with the intent of getting a job,” she warns. Instead, she advises to focus on making connections, and the professional opportunities will follow. “Get to know people, be excited to be there, be motivated to learn, and be curious about the people that you're meeting. Because at the end of the day, a lot of people just want to work with people that they get along with.” Amanda secured her first major tech job at a small startup via a networking event. Her connection with a friend of a CTO of a local startup led to an interview, her first job in tech, and a “forever mentor.”
After a bustling three years of learning under the wing of that CTO, Amanda was ready for the next learning experience via a different lane in the tech industry. “The fervor and energy surrounding ‘startup life’ was incredibly rewarding and insightful for my apprentice-like mind for 3 years, but eventually proved pretty taxing,” she explains. “ I was excited to dig into the next phase of my career transition at a larger company..” So, once again, she utilized her network to transition from her startup to a position in CallRail. “Some of the CallRail admins had previously worked for the same startup I was currently working at, and my CTO advocated for me as a reference to let them know I was going to apply.”. She started her journey with CallRail in 2017.
Tip 3: Leverage your Transferable Skills
When pivoting into tech, your transferable skills will help you bridge the gaps that you might be missing with education. In fact, they can also give you a leg up on your colleagues. In Amanda’s case, applying the scientific method to coding came as a strength. “I use it daily at work for solving problems,” she explains. “It comes down to observing a problem, researching the topic, proposing a hypothesis, running an experiment that can test that hypothesis, analyzing the results, and then reporting the conclusion.”
Having an idea of how your prior skill sets can be applied in your new career is an interview must. Being prepared to explain your non-traditional background can help employers better understand who you are and what you can bring to the table.
Tip 4: Find the Right Work Environment for You
One of Amanda's favorite aspects of working at CallRail is that the company prioritizes employee passions. “CallRail is a place where, if you are passionate about something, then they will do whatever it takes to help you to do it. They want people to be passionate about what they're working on.” And that doesn’t just mean in the workplace. In fact, Amanda credits her current lifestyle to CallRail’s trust and willingness to provide remote opportunities post-COVID. “Not many companies would be okay with what I am doing, but CallRail has been very supportive. My manager has, from the very beginning, been supportive of this track for me.”
Having a sense of support and trust at work translates to overall happiness and wellbeing. “At the beginning of my mobile office journey, I asked my manager to please let me know if I have a decrease in work efficiency, and that I would promptly adjust,” she explains. “And my manager responded with,, ‘If anything, we think that you are going to do better work because you will be happier.’”
To find the best work environment for you Amanda recommends doing your research on company values and culture and asking questions to make sure the company is a good fit. “When you're interviewing for a job, they're not just interviewing you, you're interviewing them to see if that's a place where you can thrive.” She further explains, “At the beginning of your career transition into Tech, you want to find an environment that celebrates where you are currently in that journey and provides you with tangible resources and guidance to take you to the next level.”
Tip 5: Build the Right Mindset
In order to best succeed in this field Amanda highlights three mindset shifts she believes led her to success.
Be patient with yourself. “You have to have a lot of patience with yourself when learning something new. And if you have confidence that you can do anything you set your mind to and the patience with yourself to stick with it (because it won't happen overnight)— you can be successful,” says Amanda. “The patience to stick with myself and continue to believe in my abilities during challenging times was my map to transitioning into tech.”
Get comfortable not always having the answer. For Amanda, starting a career in tech requires accepting that you will need to be a continual learner. “I think that being in tech is kind of like being on a constant roller coaster of newness and learning. That journey never ends, and you have to kind of be okay with that and then get good at it,” she explains.
Be passionate and coachable. As the previous point suggests, teachability is a trait that any career pivoter needs to embrace. During her time as a coding instructor, she noted that the most passionate students were the most likely to succeed, saying “What I saw as a teacher and as a mentor is that the people that were truly passionate, in a way that was contagious, were able to succeed by constantly communicating and staying humble, yet eager to tackle the rigorous process of learning.”
Pleasantly Dealing with Unpleasant People
The workplace is a microcosm of society. Everyday we encounter people who are different from us and in the office you'll find people with different working styles, levels of emotional intelligence, communication skills, values, and perspectives.
So it should come as no surprise that, when working in close quarters with others day in and day out, we may find ourselves having to deal with difficult people.
Have you had to deal with an unpleasant coworker?
Whether it's a toxic colleague, difficult team, or horrible boss, finding techniques to help you pleasantly deal with unpleasantries in the office is key to bringing more harmony to your nine-to-five.
To tackle this topic we hosted an interactive chat with Limor Bergman Gross, a mentor and coach who has been leading tech teams for over 15 years. She is the Director of Mentorship at PowerToFly and is passionate about helping women succeed in the tech industry.
"You can be a delicious, ripe peach and there will still be people in the world that hate peaches."
Limor answered questions from the PowerToFly community about how to deal with unpleasant people in the workplace and here are some of her top tips.
Strategies for dealing with toxic people at work
Dealing with toxic people at work can be stressful and exhausting. While you can't change the behavior of others you can find ways to make working with them easier.
- Find an internal ally. An ally is someone in the company that you trust and can turn to to discuss the challenges you face. It's important to find someone who you feel comfortable talking to about the toxicity you are dealing with so it doesn't build up inside. You may find that you are not alone and that others may be having the same issues with terrible people or teams.
- Shift your focus. Pour your energy into what you can control—your work. What we focus on grows, so by shifting your focus away from unpleasant people you may be able to minimize the impact the toxicity has on you. If possible, see if you can get involved on another project or different product to distance yourself from the problem.
- Get a mentor. An external mentor or coach can bring a different perspective and provide sound advice for dealing with difficult people and situations. Often we feel that our challenges are unique and we are alone in our suffering, however, a mentor can show us that we all face similar obstacles in the workplace at some point in time and by tapping into their wealth of experience they can help come up with creative solutions. If you are looking for a mentor check out the PowerToFly's Mentorship Program.
What to do when your boss is the jerk
Almost everyone has had a bad boss at some time, whether they were difficult and challenging or just plain mean. While the situation may make you feel like the only solution is to quit, there are a few techniques you can try to improve your relationship.
- Understand their behavior. While trying to understand your boss' unfavorable antics might sound odd, this is a way to figure out how to control what you can—your own actions. Understanding your boss' motivations, values, and triggers allows you to adapt to their style, which may minimize conflict.
- Who does your boss like? Figure out who gets along with your boss. Why does your boss like them? What are they doing that works? Learn and try to implement a different strategy. This could be a tool that leads to a better working relationship.
- Talk to them. The best way to understand your boss is to talk to them directly about their working style and their expectations. Some people are micromanagers, some like high-level information, some like low-level information, and some are data-driven. There are so many different kinds of people and by knowing what your boss needs to succeed, you can better support them and often they will appreciate you for that. Talking to them is also an opportunity to shed light on any tension that you may be feeling. See our tips below for navigating difficult conversations.
- Move to a different team or department. If the relationship cannot be improved, changing managers might be a solution. Talk to your HR department about any internal opportunities.
People don't quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. If all else fails, the best way to deal with a bad boss may be to quit. If you have put in the time and effort to improve your situation and you still find yourself stressed and exhausted it might be time to find a new job. There's only so much you can do. Value your time and mental health and find a workplace that values you.
Confronting coworkers who steal your thunder
Whether it's intentional or an honest mistake, a coworker taking credit for your work is a shocking and infuriating experience. It's time to stand up for yourself. While it may be uncomfortable, it's necessary to ensure your contributions don't go unnoticed.
- Have a heart to heart. If a coworker or boss has taken credit for your work, it's probably time to have a one-on-one conversation with them. First, make them aware of the situation, as it may have been unintentional. If it was done on purpose, let them know that it is unacceptable to steal your work.
- Involve a manager. If you are uncomfortable with direct confrontation or if you have had a conversation and they continue to take credit, reach out to your direct manager and HR business partner to inform them of the situation.
- Document your work. Having evidence is your best defense when sticking up for yourself in this situation. Document your project contributions from the start and make sure your involvement is visible to others. Not only does this help your cause but you will also have advocates who can come to your defense if it happens again.
Tips for navigating difficult conversations
Difficult conversations are well...difficult. The truth is, facing difficult situations and having hard conversations is part of any job. While most people avoid conflict, the most effective way to resolve issues at work is to talk them out. Being assertive and sticking up for yourself takes practice. It isn't easy to confront coworkers, but the more you do it the more confident you will become in advocating for yourself.
- Assume positive intent. Most people probably aren't trying to sabotage you and you may be dealing with a misunderstanding. Try to see things from the other person's point of view before confronting them.
- Keep the conversation professional and non-emotional. Tone and choice of words are important when having a difficult conversation. Use "I" statements to express yourself, this can help keep defenses down: I feel like you took credit for my work. I feel disrespected when the team excludes me.
- Offer a solution. The end goal of a difficult conversation is to come to a solution, not to play the blame game. Give them a chance to explain themselves and ask questions to understand why they did what they did. Try to come to a solution together to avoid a similar situation happening again.
Being respected vs being liked
If you're afraid that hard conversations will make you unlikeable, think again. While confronting others may not come across as nice, worry less about likability and focus more on being respected and appreciated.
- Focus on the value you bring. By trying to please others and avoid conflict you may find yourself becoming a doormat in toxic environments. Instead of wanting to be liked, focus on how you can bring value to your team and organization. When you're collaborative and bring value to others, they will likely appreciate it.
- Nip it in the bud. If a coworker or boss is being difficult or crosses a line, talk with them directly. If that doesn't work, go to their superior to ensure this person understands your boundaries.
- Not everyone likes juicy peaches. You can't control who likes you. Some people will and some people won't. While we all want to be liked, sometimes it's easier to accept that we can't be everyone's cup of tea...and that's ok.
Need more help navigating your unpleasant work situation? Check out PowerToFly's mentorship services here!
When Luisa Hurtado got engaged, her whole team at Facebook celebrated with her.
That may seem like a normal way for coworkers to respond.
But as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, the support really meant something to Luisa. "Everyone was saying congratulations, and they were so happy for me, and that was just so nice," says Luisa of her engagement to her now-wife. "I was treated like a normal person. Everyone's very open, and more importantly, everyone's very supportive; people will understand you and they will not judge you, and that's really how Facebook has helped me."
As a software engineering manager at Facebook, she works really hard to create encouraging environments for other people, helping them find ways to succeed even if they're taking different paths than she is.
We sat down with Luisa to talk about how she came to recognize the importance of intersectionality and finding a workplace that supports it, how she's tapped into communities at work and is building new ones, and what she's learned about her own style of leadership.
Finding her own path
Luisa grew up in Colombia. And while she wasn't the most typical little girl—she preferred cars to Barbies, she says—her family always accepted her.
"I was who I was, and it didn't matter. Like, it didn't matter that I didn't look in the way that everyone in Colombia looked," she says. "That's really kind of what helped me chart my own path because it gave me an advantage. I came here and I was never questioning who I was or how to fit in, because my family was supporting me."
Luisa came to the U.S. after college in order to study English. She ended up getting a job, and now, 12 years later, she's here to stay. Getting used to American work culture has been an opportunity to reflect on her own intersectional experience as a woman, an immigrant from Colombia, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
"I've come to understand that all of these pieces kind of make me who I am," says Luisa. Unpacking systems of access has taught her "what's been holding people like me back," she adds. For example, says Luisa, she was taught to be humble growing up, but realized that American culture encourages more self-promotion. She's found a way to balance both. "I was raised in a different way. I see things differently. I ask questions that maybe other people wouldn't ask," she says.
And in her role, where she manages a group of engineers, half of whom are originally from other countries, Luisa recognizes that she can serve as an example for other people who share one of her identities or who feel like a part of the "other."
"Being very honest with my team about who I'm married to, who I am, where I come from, what my experiences have been, I think that helps other people also be more open," she says.
Not first and not last: paying it forward to others
Luisa's first year at Facebook wasn't easy, but she got through it with the help of a director who mentored her. "She really helped me with my confidence," says Luisa. "She was able to understand what I was going through. Having female mentors that can really help you and have been through the same things as you [is key], because then you think, 'Oh, I'm not alone. It actually has happened to other people like me.'"
Her mentor's specific advice was on how to not take failure personally. For Luisa, a combination of internalizing that lesson and building connections with other mentors and friends who could help reinforce it really helped.
Luisa says there are three groups at Facebook that have been especially empowering:
- Latin@, where Luisa helps coach other LatinX employees on how to advocate for themselves. "They're teaming up managers with engineers to give feedback on their self-reviews. It's important how they communicate what they have achieved, so I help people talk up their accomplishments more," she says. She also appreciates the Latin@ Community Summit because "it's really hard to find Latinos in tech; just being able to see them and be next to them—and sing songs in Spanish—is awesome."
- Women@, where Luisa says she's experienced "lots of community building." "It's a great place where I can see and feel inspired by women who are in higher-up leadership positions and ask, 'How can I get there?'" she says. "The workshops you can take specifically helped grow my leadership skills." She works to pay those lessons forward on her own team: "I take it very seriously to actually help women ask for things they want and give them the opportunities to lead themselves," she says. "I ask, 'How can I be a champion for them?'"
- The D&I team for the FB App, where Luisa has been able to take a more hands-on approach to diversity and inclusion efforts and work to pay it forward for all of the app's users. "It's given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people, but also push for initiatives that I'm really passionate about...I've been able to really exercise my leadership skills with something that I believe in," she says. "I get to build connections and push for things on a larger scale, so I really love that."
Tapping into these groups of other leaders and people who share her identities and passions has given Luisa an immense support system at work. "I appreciate the sense of community that I can have without me having to be the person leading in the forefront," she says.
And now she continues to pay it forward, particularly to other women leaders. "I think about how I can actually build that space for them that maybe they don't feel comfortable creating, but that I, as an advocate for their growth, can give them access to," she says. "I do have an advantage of being a woman and understanding what it's like, so it's easier for me to catch these things before they even tell me."
Developing her own style of leadership
When Luisa first became an engineering manager, she struggled to step back from the day-to-day work that needed to get done. "I always thought, 'I could do it faster, why don't I just do it?'" she says.
She quickly realized that investing in her team and helping them grow would help them to learn how to do it faster. "And differently," she says. "I would learn something from them, if I would give them the space to be who they are and see how they'd solve problems."
That led to one of the first lessons Luisa learned as a manager: "Just because someone is doing something differently, it doesn't mean it's wrong."
That experience also drove Luisa to show her team that she believed in them even when she didn't agree with how they were approaching something.
"It can become this vicious cycle," says Luisa. "Where a manager sees that an employee isn't performing well, and so then they stop supporting them. Instead, investing in coaching and saying, 'No, I believe in them' and giving them the opportunities can really help. You see people light up and transform and really take on that role when you say, 'Hey, I'm here for you. I know you can do it. We'll do it together,'" she says.
Other key lessons Luisa's learned?
- Come up with a vision, first and foremost, otherwise you'll get lost in a constant stream of tasks without building towards anything. "There's so many things to do that you'll go crazy!" she says. That vision applies not just to your team design but also to the individuals within it: "How do you think about their career in a couple of years? About their goals and how they can achieve them?"
- Encourage your people to find their own way to lead. "The first thing [I tell people] is, 'You do not need to be the loudest person in the room,'" says Luisa. "I make sure it's very clear that when I'm asking them to lead something or drive something to completion...that we can find the right tactics for them," which might be written communication or one-on-one. "Everyone has different communication styles."
- Coach towards collaboration. Luisa encourages her engineers to reach out to their peers. "I want to make sure that those ideas are heard," she says.
- Tell people what your expectations are and give them flexibility in meeting them. Luisa says she makes sure that project leads know what they need to execute on, but lets them determine the best way to do that. For example, she'll be clear that they need to communicate the status of the project to stakeholders. "That could be a meeting, or in a post-it, or something else," she says. "The tactics are different, but the expectations are fairly well-defined."
As Luisa's career has grown, she still questions if she's doing the right thing or if she's setting herself up well for the long run. "I have learned that I kind of need to not listen to that voice," she says. Instead, she keeps pushing herself.
"I'm not the person who's going to take the most risks," says Luisa. "My wife would tell you that sometimes I'm afraid of getting in the ocean because the waves are too strong. So my sense of risk is very different, but it's still helping me push myself a little bit more and not listen to that critic, and be more like, 'What's the worst thing that could happen?' and start there and then move forward."
Learn more about Facebook's open roles.
A version of this article previously appeared on Skillcrush, an online education program for creatives, thinkers, and makers that gives total tech newbies the tools to make major career changes.
Scott Morris, Skillcrush
Face it: there's almost nothing worse than the looming feeling of a career dead-end. Every fiber of your being is telling you there's no future in your current situation, but with a full calendar, getting a new job seems easier said than done—especially if you're looking at a full-blown career change. Who has four or more years to spend getting a new degree or certification, much less the money to spend on another round of student loans?
I reached out to a group of career coaching professionals to get their take on career upskilling without another degree. Is there any way to leave a dead-end job without going back to school? The short answer— "yes!" It's not only possible, but practical, too. Read on to hear what these pros had to say about taking on a career transition‚—minus the crushing debt or debilitating classroom hours.
Before You Resign, Try to Save
When it feels like your job or career is hitting a dead-end, the first thing you should do is assess whether or not it's salvageable, says Andy Chan, founder at career coaching center Prime Opt. Rather than jumping into the job market immediately, Chan suggests talking to a manager about making a change to your current duties. It doesn't mean telling your manager you hope to leave your job—the goal is to see whether they can offer you new tasks in your current position, or whether they might even be able to put you in a new role on the same team. If it isn't possible to come up with an acceptable solution after transparent conversations with your supervisors, that's when it might be time to look elsewhere. Ultimately, Chan says to think about the future development of your career path and ask yourself, "Does my career path have a ceiling? Is my current position limiting where I can go, career-wise?" If your answers are "yes," Chan says it might be time to start considering a new job or an industry change.
Commit to How Awesome You Are
If it's truly time to move on, and you're hoping to escape a dead end job without the cost and time burden of more college, career coach Carlota Zimmerman says it's important to realize there's no one-size-fits-all-secret. "I've had clients who've gotten new jobs through LinkedIn, others who were introduced to a company that was hiring by someone in their knitting circle, and still others who got an interview after talking to a fellow college alum at their alumni association Christmas party," Zimmerman says. "Commit to the process, commit to the belief that you deserve a job you love, commit to the belief that you have something to contribute. Commit!" she says. Zimmerman adds that this is particularly crucial if you've been in a dead-end, depressing job for years. "It's akin to being in an abusive relationship," she says. "You have to learn—all over again,—to believe in yourself and your abilities. The worst thing you can do is half-heartedly attend one networking group, speak to no one, and go home deciding, 'Oh well, I guess my boss is right, I'm a loser.'"
If you're in a toxic workplace where you aren't getting the encouragement, challenges, and opportunities you need to be happy and fulfilled, it's easy to overlook just how draining that unhappiness can be. Before formulating the specifics of your plan for career change, it's important to take some time, reorient your perspective, and go all-in on the commitment Zimmerman describes. Your dead-end job may have sapped your enthusiasm a long time ago. Recapturing your drive and reframing your self-worth is the first step toward something better.
Up Skill on Your Lunch Hour
Once you've kicked the tires on your commitment to career change and reoriented your POV to one where you KNOW you deserve a better job, it's time to take practical steps toward making that job a reality. You might have put off career change in the past due to the fear that a lack of relevant degrees would make your transition impossible, but Career Counselor Rebecca Beaton says that—despite the myth of degrees being a barrier to entry—today's employers are less interested in whether or not applicants have x or y degrees, and are more focused on skills specific to the roles they're trying to fill.
What's more, Beaton says that plenty of skills necessary for either entering a new career or improving your marketability in your current one, don't require a fortune and excessive amounts of time, to acquire. Skills like programming languages, spoken languages, software suites, and management techniques can all be learned at your own pace during chunks of downtime—say, during your lunch break, or while you're waiting for a dentist appointment.
According to Beaton, once you have a general idea of what you want your new job or career to be, then it's time to review online job postings and learn what specific skills are required for that line of work. After you identify the skills you need, Beaton says there are thousands of free or cheap online courses that can be found through sites like Udemy, Coursera, EdX, or Pluralsight. Online courses like these will give you a good foundation in the skills you're interested in learning, but Beaton says they'll also serve to give you a better idea of your fit within a particular career path.
"If you thought you wanted to become a web developer but took a coding course and hated it, you might want to consider a different avenue," says Beaton. However, if you love your coding class, you can take it a step further and invest in something like an online 3-month bootcamp program. After you've taken a course or two and decided you're on the right path, Beaton says the best way to solidify those skills and generate experience for your resume is to do some actual work for a client using the skills you've been learning. "Find someone you can work for, probably at either a reduced rate or for free," says Beaton. "It's a great way to start building your portfolio."
Through this process of researching job listings, building on your skillset, and putting those skills to work in practical situations, you'll be firmly on the road to career change, sans massive student debt and four or more years of your life spent languishing in classrooms.
Don't Be Shy
Developing relevant skills is a big part of career change, but those skills won't do you much good in a vacuum—making connections in the industry you're hoping to break into is just as important. Valerie Streif, Senior Advisor at Mentat, a San Francisco-based organization for job-seekers, recommends setting up informational interviews with people working at the kinds of jobs you're interested in. That way, you'll be networking and meeting potential future colleagues while learning more about the skills you need to sharpen as you make your career move.
Streif says the best approach is to send a warm outreach email to your interview prospect and ask if you can take them to lunch. If you're at a loss for who to reach out to, talk to any current industry connections or acquaintances you have and see who they can put you in contact with. Then, Streif says, when the meeting happens, take notes and make sure not to be too pushy or to outright ask your interviewee to help you get a job. Focus on listening, gathering information, and establishing a connection with your interviewee as a future professional contact.
Resume Coach Robyn L. Coburn says that attending industry-specific networking events is also a must when laying the foundation for a career change. Sites like Meetup, Eventbrite, and Eventful are good places to start searching for relevant events in your area. While Coburn knows that networking feels daunting at first (and for some people, it never stops being scary), the key to making it easier is preparation. "Instead of thinking of networking as a job interview, think of it as a fact-finding mission," Coburn says.
Coburn also suggests preparing two or three questions about the job or company you're interested in that require more than a "yes" or "no" answer, and to be ready to ask the people you meet. Much like an informational interview, this is a chance to listen, get better insight into your career of interest, and start getting to know people in the field. And remember, you don't have to speak to the CEO of a company you want to work for, in order for a networking event to be successful. Coburn says that simply connecting with one new person who works in the field is enough to make the effort worthwhile.
Don't Sell Yourself Short
So you're building skills in your downtime, and making connections to learn more about the industry you want to break into, but when you're ready to make that final leap you'll need to package yourself in a way that stands out to potential employers. What can you do to polish off your resume and market yourself in the best way possible?
Streif says DO fill your resume with transferable skills—anything relevant you have previous experience with, alongside any skills you've familiarized yourself with in preparation for changing jobs—but DON'T add fluff.
"This is something so many people struggle with, and doing it incorrectly won't help your chances of making a career move," says Streif. "Trying to make up for a lack of experience with excessive, meaningless words like 'effective communicator' or 'team player' isn't going to fool anyone. You need to be creative, think of the SPECIFIC projects you've completed in your current role, and brainstorm how those responsibilities transfer into a different role or how they'd help you complete tasks in a new one. Specificity is key!"
Beaton says that your resume is also a great place to circle back and present any test work you've done while building your skills, even if you did it for free. "The fact that you worked for free or cheap isn't relevant to the employer," says Beaton, "the main thing is that you have the right skills and you know how to use them. Beaton says it's also important to include the results you achieved for your client (or employer) using those skills. For example, if you took a course to learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and did some free SEO work for a friend, you might put something like 'Optimized full five-page website, resulting in a 200% increase in traffic and website appearing on the first page of Google for two primary keywords."
Marketing yourself effectively is as important as any aspect of your job search, so don't sell yourself short—everything relevant to your future job counts, and it's up to you to advertise it proudly.
Leave on a High Note
Finally, Coburn cautions, never complain about your current job or company during your transition process. "If you are asked why you want to move on," says Coburn, "express your reasons in terms of your own growth or needs, rather than due to not liking your company. Coburn suggest the approach of, "It's been a great place to work, but I've reached as far as I can go there and I want to make a contribution in a larger organization with more opportunity to advance," or, "It's been a great place to learn about the industry from an industry leader, but I'd like to find a smaller company where my skills and experience will make a difference in the day-to-day operations," depending on the type of company you're applying for.
Maintaining a positive relationship with your current job while you work toward a career change is also critical, Coburn says, because it's important not to leave a job you have without securing your financial situation and—hopefully—your next position.
"Remember," says Coburn, "the currently employed person is always more attractive to employers than someone who is out of work." By the same token, Coburn says not to accept a new job offer out of desperation—a surefire way to end up in another unsatisfying employment situation. Instead, take your time and really consider any new job opportunities that come your way—how will it address your current job unhappiness and how will it help you grow your career moving forward? When the right job comes you'll know it, and—through upskilling, networking, a solid resume, and a positive commitment to change—you'll be in a prime position to make your move.