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Business Intelligence Careers

How to Successfully Navigate a Career Switch

7 min readView all articles
By Lauren Rosenthal
Apr 18, 2023

Career change is daunting. With a potential recession looming, you might be wondering: Is it the right time to make the change?

Never fear; you’re in good company! In 2021, over half of employed U.S. adults who quit their job changed their occupation entirely. There are plenty of reasons to want to change your career: increased job satisfaction, higher pay, the opportunity to work remotely, better work-life balance, more meaningful work, and the list goes on.

So if you’ve decided to take the leap, the logical question is: What next?

There are a ton of options out there, so you need to find a way to narrow it down. Do you want to keep working in the same industry but a different position? Are you ready to leave your current industry altogether?

Here are a few tips to successfully navigate a career shift.

Think about why you want to make the change.

This is a key step that many people tend to skip. Figuring out why you’re feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied is pertinent to making sure that you are fulfilled in your next career.

I tend to think about this almost like a decision tree: are you unhappy in your current role or in the career itself?

If it’s your role, maybe you consider asking for more responsibility, other job duties, or a lateral move within your company. This could still involve some upskilling or reskilling but may not be as drastic of a change as an entire career shift.

Sometimes, a position might be a great fit but the company is not. Consider how you feel about your company culture and the work environment. If you like your job responsibilities, you could look at different industries or companies while staying in a similar role.

Salary, advancement opportunities, mismatched values, work-life balance, stagnation in skills, and general dislike of the work are just a few of the many other reasons why your career might leave you feeling dissatisfied.

Assess your skills, interests, strengths, and weaknesses.

If you’ve decided that your current career just isn’t for you, the next step is to assess your skills and interests. Start with…

  • What are you good at?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • Are there any parts of your career that you do enjoy?
  • What do you want to learn?

If you’re a person who likes concrete questions to answer, you could take a Myers-Briggs or Enneagram personality test. While they won’t give you all the answers, they can give you some good insight and a jumping-off point.

Consider both soft skills and technical skills. Reflect on past work experiences and where you’ve shone. Take note of if you’re a great communicator or problem solver. Maybe you discovered you’re a great manager or critical thinker. While technical skills are important, recognizing and indexing your soft skills will help you narrow down your interests and next steps.

Think about if you’re interested in learning new technical skills. These could range from data analysis skills like Excel, SQL, and Power BI to front-end web development skills like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, or something else entirely. Recognize that if you’re starting from scratch, technical skills will likely require considerable upskilling and decide if you have the time, effort, and money to put into that.

You can use all of this information to identify potential career paths that align with your strengths and interests.

Research your options.

Once you’ve looked inward, it’s time to do some research to narrow down potential career paths. This could involve things like speaking to people working in fields you’re interested in, attending webinars or meet-ups, reading articles, or taking courses to learn more about the career.

In today’s social-media-centered world, you can also follow people on LinkedIn, join groups related to your interests, and more. If you’re anything like me, you can also watch TikTok and YouTube videos for inspiration.

This is a great time to reflect on what’s important to you in your next career. Look at job listings to get an idea of qualifications, salary range, skills, and experience required for the careers you’re interested in. Research what advancement opportunities there are in different careers and industries to make sure they align with your expectations.

You might also consider making a list of your ideal company culture and work environment, as well as your nice-to-haves, must-haves, and deal-breakers. Keeping these in mind from the outset will help guide you and narrow down your options as you move forward.

Grow your network.

Networking is essential for all job searches, but it’s particularly important when you’re changing careers. Building your professional network allows you to learn about job opportunities, learn from those around you, gain industry insights, and connect with peers and mentors.

There are many ways to build your network. You can...

  • Attend industry events and conferences where you can meet people in the field and participate in discussions, panels, and sessions
  • Join professional organizations related to your desired career
  • Go to informational interviews and coffee chats with professionals in the field
  • Use social media like LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with people in the field and share relevant content
  • Participate in alumni events to connect with fellow alumni who work in your field

Between virtual platforms, local events, and even large professional conventions, the opportunities are endless -- you just need to take advantage of them!

Update your Resume and Cover Letter.

It’s especially important to update your resume, portfolio, and cover letter during a career shift. You need to showcase your relevant skills and experience.

There’s a ton of advice about resumes on the internet and different industries look for different things. You may need to do a little bit of research to figure out exactly what you should do to update your resume.

This could mean:

  • Reframing some of your job duties to showcase the skills needed in your new career.
  • Adding certifications and a projects section.
  • Tailoring your resume to each job application to highlight the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.
  • Using keywords from the job description to help get your foot in the door.

Cover letters are often not required when applying for jobs; however, as a career shifter, you may want to consider including one if given the opportunity. A well-written cover letter is a great way for recruiters and hiring managers to get to know you better by helping them understand your background and how your skills and experience can be transferred to the new role.

Build your Portfolio.

Some careers require more than just a resume and cover letter.

Data analysts most often create portfolios to showcase their work. As a career shifter, this allows you to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills for the job to which you’re applying.

A data analyst’s portfolio typically includes anywhere from 3-6 projects that show different skills and expertise, as well as insights and recommendations. Creating a high-quality project portfolio can help you demonstrate your ability to work effectively with data.

Practice your interview skills

Depending on your previous career experience, you may be rusty on interview skills.

That’s okay!

No matter how experienced you are, interviewing can be stressful. Practicing those skills can increase your chances of success.

You can look up common behavioral interview questions online and get pointers on how to best tackle them. While you should definitely practice, I don’t recommend writing out an answer and following it word for word. Have a list of points you want to cover but you don’t want to sound too scripted.

If you’re searching for a data analyst position, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to complete a technical interview. Don’t stress. Stay confident in your skills and go through solving the problems out loud so your interviewer can get a good idea of how you think.

Even if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Use that as a way to show how you deal with hardships and issues that arise.


After all this, the most important step is to apply.

Remember that list you made back when you were doing your research? This is a great time to pull it out and make sure that the companies and jobs you’re applying to align with your expectations. Doing this will allow you to target specific roles and companies, rather than apply to countless positions that are not actually a good fit for you.

You might think that you should only apply if you have 100% of the skills in a job posting, but don’t let that fool you! Companies often list a set of skills that the ideal candidate should possess but most of the time, they recognize that it’s unlikely to find that “unicorn” job seeker.

While the statistics vary, research shows that if you meet 60% or more of the skills listed, go ahead and apply. After all, the worst that can happen is that you don’t get passed through the interview process.

Applying can be the hardest part of your career shift.

It takes patience and perseverance to go through the process. It may also take time to find the right job in your new field but applying strategically, using your network, tailoring your resume and cover letter, and targeting jobs for which you are qualified can all help you to be successful in your career transition.

Wrapping Up

Changing careers is a big undertaking. By breaking it down into steps, you can stay motivated and on the right track.

When you’re ready to make the leap, use these steps as a guide to successfully transition into your new career:

  • Figure out why you want to leave your current career
  • Assess your skills and interests
  • Research your options
  • Build your network
  • Update your resume and cover letter
  • Create a project portfolio
  • Practice your interview skills
  • Apply, apply, apply!

If you follow this guide, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career transition. Best of luck!

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Lauren Rosenthal

As an Account Exec and Data Analyst on the Maven Team, Lauren plays an integral role onboarding & supporting our B2B teams, helping analyze our key success metrics, and producing great content.

As an Account Exec and Data Analyst on the Maven Team, Lauren plays an integral role onboarding & supporting our B2B teams, helping analyze our key success metrics, and producing great content.

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