Career Transition

Help! I Hate My Job! (Part 1)

Do you have a serious case of Sunday afternoon dread? That moment you realize tomorrow is Monday, and you have to go to work. Again. To a job you where you feel unfulfilled, bored, or overwhelmed. Chances are, you’re not using your strengths at work.

People who use their strengths at work are happier, more confident, less stressed, produce higher quality work, and are more productive. According to a Gallup poll, 25% of adults use their strengths most of the work day, which means 75% of adults are not leveraging their strengths in a way to achieve and sustain the benefits I’ve listed.

Now, what to do about it? Making a change can seem overwhelming, especially if you want to transition to another field. Many people don’t know where to begin.

These three steps can help you get on track to the work you love and are wired to do.

Step One – Ask yourself the following questions and log your answers:

  1. When was a time I felt energized at work? What was I doing? Take note if you were working with PeopleIdeasThings, or Data. You can select more than one, e.g. People and Data
  2. What made my best job ever, the best job ever? If you’ve never had a best job ever, skip this question.
  3. What kind of activities do I not enjoy doing? (e.g. paperwork, attending meetings, working outdoors, etc.)
  4. What do I want that I don’t currently have? (e.g. I want to work with people, make my own decisions, solve problems, learn something regularly)
  5. Ask others close to you: What positive personality traits and strengths come to mind when you think of me? Log their answers.

Step Two – Think about the kinds of work you might do. Would you prefer:

  1. realistic job where you work with your hands or outdoors? (e.g. firefighter, mechanic, contractor)
  2. An investigative job, where you solve puzzles, research, detect, or experiment? (e.g. police work, scientific research, laboratory technician)
  3. An artistic job that involves being creative, such as writing, photography, graphic artistry, architecture, interior decorating?
  4. social job that involves serving society, such as teaching, social work, counseling, health care, or a minister?
  5. An enterprising job where you would make, sell, and manage a product or service?
  6. conventional job in an office such as management, financial transactions, information technology, etc.?

Step Three – Think about attributes of your ideal work environment. Write down two lists. One list contains things you want in your work environment, the other contains things you don’t. I’ve listed 22 examples of work environment attributes. Add others you might think of:

Autonomy, short training time (e.g. 6 months or less), problem solving, managing others, 40 hour work week, non-standard hours (part-time/evenings/different shifts), routine travel, occasional travel, influencing others, contact with the public, making/fixing things, authority, working outside, working inside, working partially inside and outside, generating ideas, working independently from others, project work (tasks that last a week or longer), work that involves precision/exact standards, creating order, high income, financial challenge (advising others on finances)

Here is an example:

Mary works in regulatory and compliance. Her main duties are running reports and writing documentation, working independently in a cubical. She hates her job. After this exercise, Mary discovers the following:

Mary likes working with people and data. She prefers conventional jobs. Her work environment wants are autonomy, problem solving, influencing others, contact with the public, authority, working inside, generating ideas, financial challenge (advising others on finances). Her work environment do not want list contains: routine travel, working solitary, working outside, making or fixing things, managing others.

With this information, Mary can research conventional jobs working with people and data that have the attributes in her want list. Example jobs Mary might enjoy are financial planner, public tax accountant, or personal banker.

If you take the time to reflect on these three steps, you’re well on your way to curing your Sunday blues. In part two, I share a simple process to assist with decision-making and next steps based on your identified options.

Read Help! I Hate My Job! (Part 2)

All the best to you!

7 Steps to Career Transition

​The #1 reason people contact me for help is career transition advice. I meet a lot of people that don’t feel passion for what they do, aren’t challenged, want to do work that serves a greater purpose, or feel a strong pull to a particular calling.

The question they have in common: How do I get from here, to there?

The good news: It’s not as difficult to transition your career as you might think, if you have a plan.

The slightly-less-good news: It takes some time. Most people don’t transition their career overnight.

First, I’ll tell you about my own transition from a .NET software developer to a Career Coach.

My transition took four years to execute, but now I love my job and do what I am most passionate about; helping people meet their career goals.

Let me take you back to 1994. My mother started an executive coaching firm and I was her guinea pig for various assessments: DISC and the MBTI, to start; followed later by StrengthsFinder and WorkPlace Big Five.

She explained how my personality could motivate, inspire, and influence people. I was captivated and utterly fascinated by her ability to explain my motivations and fears, how I could get the most out of my natural tendencies, and what my potential barriers to effectiveness were.

Watching her perform lit a fire in me. I wanted her job. I wanted to know how people tick, and to help them understand themselves the way she helped me.

But, there was a problem: I was twenty-three.

I didn’t know much back then, but I did know that no one was going to pay a twenty-three year old to coach them. I was just a hop, skip, and a jump past childhood.

For a while, I let the idea of coaching go and pursued a career in IT. However, the desire to coach never left me.

In 2004, I began introducing my co-workers to StrengthsFinder. By 2009, I was facilitating workshops and debriefs at work. After I became an Operations Manager, I started doing team builders and coaching engagements with some of my direct reports.

Fast-forward to late 2011. I decided to try to join the Learning & Development team at work, which would give me more opportunity to coach people. The problem was I had no formal L&D leadership experience, and there were no open positions. Details.

I contacted the VP of the department and asked her to be my mentor. She agreed. Around the same time, I contacted an L&D manager and volunteered to facilitate a customer service training class, receiving top scores on the participant evaluations.

When a position opened up, I had already been volunteering and building relationships with team members. I interviewed for the job and beat out candidates that had years of experience leading an L&D department. I had passion, credibility, and established relationships in my corner.

In 2012, I became certified in 360 feedback tools and other coaching instruments. I was taking on mentees in my organization and it was soon recognized that the people I mentored got promoted.

Around the same time, I started serving as a volunteer career mentor at my church. I mentored and coached hundreds of people in the evenings and weekends on a volunteer basis and continued to hone my craft.

.NET software developer to Career Coach is a pretty dramatic leap, so I’m confident you can jump the gap, too.

The best advice I have for transitioning your career is to focus your effort and energy. Your resources are finite, so you must ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to take on moving me toward my long-term goal, or is it diluting my energy?” It’s OK to say no to things that don’t align with your goal.

In reviewing my transition story, here’s a breakdown of 7 actionable steps:

  1. Find a mentor that does work you want to do. Learn from them. Ask them to recommend books and resources, skills to develop, organizations to volunteer with. Ask them to share the path they took to get where they are.
  2. Ask around and identify organizations that allow you to gain experience through volunteer work. A woman that works for me really enjoys editing, so she currently volunteers as editor for a non-profit newsletter.
  3. Get involved in extracurricular activities, special projects (at work and in your community) which build relevant skills. When I was in IT I was always looking for growth relevant to my coaching aspiration. I mentored other developers. I got involved in cultural initiatives at work. I used development dollars to obtain coaching certifications and training. I volunteered to coach associates.
  4. Obtain a certification – There are many skills you can gain through certification. My certifications in coaching have been a valuable foundation to build on. If a degree makes more sense, and is an option, consider going back to school.
  5. Take Independent Courses – Many training companies and universities offer coursework to help build your knowledge and skill. The more related skills and training you can add to your resume, the better.
  6. Assessments – If you are passionate about moving into a new field, you likely have a strong aptitude for it. Assessments are a great way to provide language to explain that aptitude to others. When people try to pigeon-hole you into roles that match your experience, you can reference your desire to transition your career and explain how your assessment data supports your natural fit for the roles you are targeting. A great place to do this is in a cover letter.
  7. Lastly, you’ll need to convert your resume from a chronological format, to afunctional format. Chronological resumes list all roles chronologically, most recent to oldest, followed by education.

Following is an example of a functional resume for a graphic artist that wants to become a teacher.

First, they list all their transferable and somewhat useful skills relative to teaching.

Next, they include a Related Experience section and list experiences where they’ve gained relevant skills. In this example, the graphic designer was a teaching assistant in college and lists this under Related Experience.


Below Related Experience, they have an Additional Experience section, where they list their graphic design work that they’re trying to move away from, followed by volunteer work they’ve done to gain additional relevant experience. 


Notice the volunteer work, though unpaid, provided relevant teaching and content development experience.

Also, be sure to include anything in your accomplishments that relate to your desired career, even for unrelated jobs. When I was in a technical role, I included coaching successes I had in my key accomplishments on my resume.

The plan will work if you work the plan. Keep calm and stay focused!

All the best to you!