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7 Preparation Steps for a Meaningful Career Transition

Written by HRCap, Inc.

July 28, 2022

Is Right Now the Best Time?

Due to the COVID pandemic, many people have left their careers to work in an entirely new industry. In the 2021 Pew Research analysis, 53% of employed U.S. workers who quit their job changed their occupation at some point over the last year.

Even now, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2022 May survey, about 4.3 million people have voluntarily quit their jobs, while 6.5 million people were hired into new jobs, yet there still are 11.3 million job openings. It is clear that companies are still readily hiring and people are actively looking for new opportunities.

New jobs have been created with the onset of the pandemic, acceleration of digitalization, and adoption of new technologies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, digital marketing will have predicted job growth of 10% by 2030. Companies are actively hiring to keep up with technological improvements when undergoing many digital processes, and the most notable in-demand Skills are in Cloud Computing, Software & Web Development, and AI/Machine Learning.

Yet, despite many job openings, it is still debatable whether this is the right time to switch careers given the current inflation and economic instability. Companies have laid off employees, froze hiring, and even rescinded job offers from candidates that have left their previous position to accept the job offer. This leaves many people in a precarious position, especially with the current economic climate.

As such, there is never one perfect time to make a career transition. It is more about whether you are readily prepared to make the switch. Here are 7 essential steps you must take to become ready for when the perfect opportunity comes knocking!

Essential Steps to Become Readily Prepared

1. Build Self-Awareness

Even though you may want to quit your job, you may be holding back as you are still determining your career path. Before making the decision to leave, you must first assess your skill set, professional goals, passion, values, and priorities in life.

  • What skills do you have that can be applied to a different field? Are there any overlaps in different industries that you may be interested in?

  • Is there something you enjoyed doing in your current job that you would like to do more of?

  • What are you passionate about doing?

  • What kind of impact do you wish to achieve?

  • What are your values and priorities? (Family, work-life balance, financial stability, compensation, work autonomy, collaboration, better work culture, etc.)

Answering these essential questions will give you greater self-awareness, which can narrow down the scope of your career search and keep you focused and grounded throughout the job transition.

2. Assess the Current State

Next, take an objective assessment of your current situation and be practical. You have to be level-headed and understand the risks that may be involved, such as the amount of time it takes to find a job. Therefore, you should create a clear timeline with defined goals and milestones that you can mentally commit to. It is also important to consider your personal financial situation. Determine if you can quit your job to solely focus on the job search. If so, consider having at minimum 3 months' worth of living expenses in your savings before resigning.

3. Research the Market

Researching is the most important step that will help you understand the role requirements of the new job. Start by looking into day-to-day tasks to get a better understanding of the job expectations.

Candidates still find that the job is oftentimes not what they originally expected it to be nor what they initially interviewed for. The Muse’s Shift Shock 2022 survey found that out of about 2,500 respondents, 72% said they found that the position is different from what they believed it to be. To close the gap in expectations, take note of questions to ask the hiring manager and the team, should you be selected for interviews. Craft a list of questions that can help you get a better understanding of the role expectations and what success looks like in the role.

4. Tailor Resumes for Each Role

Take note of the skills and requirements for each job description, and reflect on your prior experiences that may be transferable. Hiring managers look for potential and transferable skills in a candidate.

With Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that scan and filter resumes, resumes that do not have certain keywords are more likely not to be seen by recruiters. In fact, 99% of large organizations use ATS as part of their recruitment process and receive up to 250 applications. Of those 250 applications, about 75% of resumes will never be seen or passed on to a recruiter. By formatting your resume well and highlighting transferable skills and experience, you will be more likely to be considered for the position. As such, tailor your resume to include the keywords of critical skills and relevant experiences found in the job description.

5. Acquire and Deepen Skills

Sometimes even with transferable skills, a tailored resume may not be enough to get a foot in the door. Many hiring managers seek candidates with readily available skills and directly applicable experience from day one of the job. That said, consider taking online courses to add to your resume. There are many paid and free courses available online learning on Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Google Digital Garage. These courses also offer certifications that demonstrate completion and enhanced technical credentials, which can significantly improve your chances of getting hired.

For example, Lisa Gevelber, VP of Grow with Google, shares that from 2018 to 2021, 82% of roughly 50,000 people who completed the Google IT Support Professional Certificate reported positive career outcomes. Although this is just one specific example, professional certifications can increase people’s chances of getting a new job. Moreover, learning a new field, all the while gaining highly desirable skills, can also verify whether you remain interested and passionate about the chosen career path.

6. Network Continuously

Networking is another way to learn more about the job expectation, gain insight into the company culture, and get a possible referral that may increase your chances of getting hired. About 80% of job seekers shared that their network has helped them find work.

Another way to network is by attending industry-specific conferences, seminars, and job fairs - both in person and online. You can gain more knowledge on the desired field, insight into future trends shaping the industry, and a widened network of seasoned professionals with subject expertise.

In addition, actively expand your network through online social platforms such as LinkedIn and Fishbowl. Reach out to past coworkers or alumni for a zoom catch-up or grab coffee to talk more about the industry they work in. You will be surprised at how much people are willing to help.

7. Apply and Interview

For those actively applying and interviewing, remember to keep track and take note of all application details. This will allow for further reflection on what worked and what did not. According to Zippia’s 2022 research, it takes an average of 21 to 80 job applications to get one job offer.

One of the most critical and common questions you must prepare for is “Why did you leave your job.” Hiring managers will want to understand what prompted you to transition jobs or change careers and may look for any red flags as they too would be concerned you may leave their organization for the same exact reasons shortly after joining. Be sure to reflect and come up with genuine answers that demonstrate commitment to adding value to their organization long-term.

In fact, the best candidates are oftentimes passive candidates who are not actively looking for new jobs but are carefully open to learning about new opportunities that would provide greater professional growth and competitive offerings. As such, candidates who continuously cycle through steps 1 and 6 by strengthening their self-awareness, researching the market, deepening skills, and networking actively have the greatest appeal to hiring executives.


When accepting a new job offer, it is important not to burn bridges at your current workplace. It is crucial to complete all necessary work and conduct knowledge transfer if applicable. In fact, nearly 86% of HR managers said that how employees quit a job affects their future opportunities.

Therefore, it is even more important to leave on a positive note. Future employers may reach out to your current employer for background checks, and you may request peers and supervisors to serve as your reference checks. It is industry standard, although not mandatory, to give a courtesy 2-week notice. Work with your current leadership team to discuss how you can best end on positive terms.

The job search process is not a one-time event. Instead, it is an ongoing developmental process for greater career progression and personal growth.

Our Managing Director and Head of Executive Search at HRCap reminds her candidates that:

“Good things happen when you least expect them, but better things happen when you are best prepared.” - Stella H. Kim, SPHR

Therefore, you must take ownership of your own career growth. If done right, taking these proper steps will not only help you transition into a better job, but also advance your career with greater self-awareness, renewed skills, widened networks, and a stronger personal brand.

At HRCap, we partner with candidates in their career journey on assessing their skills, giving counsel, and providing expert suggestions. We help professionals advance their careers by providing resume writing services and career coaching, and also provide job tips and insights on our YouTube Channel.

We are committed to help professionals prepare effectively and work towards their greatest potential.

Sources: HRCap, CNBC, BLS, Muse, TopResume, U.S.News, The Balance Careers, Zippia, Robert Half


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