Sam’s career change came in 5 steps
How did Sam make such a huge career change happen? It took her a year of hard work to get a job she loves. Here’s what she did:
Step 1: Identified what she didn’t love about her current job
Understanding what doesn’t work about your current job is critical for deciding where you want to go next. In Sam’s case, she realized she was frustrated with the conservative investment banking atmosphere. She wanted more freedom to innovate without legacy business models and structures that can inhibit creative problem-solving. She also wanted more space to express herself authentically, particularly as a queer, gender-nonconforming woman. Working from this starting point, Sam decided to focus her job search on tech firms. Once Sam knew that she needed a change and what she was looking for in a new career, it was time for the next step.
Step 2: Overcame the mental barrier telling her that such a big jump would be too hard
At first, Sam didn’t have a model for how to make the career shift from banking to tech. This made the task seem more intimidating than it needed to be. Add in a dose of the imposter syndrome that many women experience, and it’s no surprise that getting to “I can totally do this” was a difficult but important step for Sam. There were two stages to getting there. The first was meeting more people in tech and researching the career paths of people with interesting jobs. The second was doing self-reflection and looking at her own work history with a more open-minded, curious lens. These steps helped Sam recognize that she had the right skills and talents, but had simply taken a different route to getting where she wanted to be. The barrier to entry could be overcome if she learned how to speak the language of the tech industry, met the right people, and developed a way to translate her experience for tech recruiters.
Step 3: Researched and networked. Researched and networked. Researched and networked some more.
Sam spent a ton of time researching the tech industry during her job search. She also networked hard. She used LinkedIn to identify companies where she had personal connections, and leveraged those connections as much as possible. She made new connections through Meetups (she used the tool Meetup to easily check the best events near her), communities like Lesbians Who Tech, and events at tech firms. Before attending any event, she would do a research deep dive on the hosting company and other represented organizations.
Eventually, she decided to quit her job at the investment bank and devote 100% of her time to the search. (Well, first she enjoyed a well-deserved vacation.)
Step 4: Created a compelling, eye-catching career change resume
Having looked at hundreds of resumes a day when hiring for roles at the bank, Sam knew what made an impression and what didn’t. She also knew that her resume had to do extra work because her banking experience could come across as boring or irrelevant to tech recruiters. The resume needed to help Sam transcend her background and showcase her creativity, sense of humor, and outgoing nature.
She did a lot of research (an ongoing theme of Sam’s job search) to find a resume format that would pull recruiters in and make them excited to meet her. She fell in love with the Enhancv resume, and used it to create a compelling, eye-catching, and personality-revealing resume. She included sections about her favorite books and hobbies, mentioned her cat, and laid out her personal philosophy.
After using the new resume format, she found that interviews got way easier. The interests she highlighted on her resume naturally led to real conversations instead of the typical interview questions. Her resume had the same effect at tech conferences; she was able to have similarly genuine, easy conversations with potential employers. This made them remember her out of the hundreds of people they spoke to over the course of a day. (Even years later, some still remember her!) Even recruiters who didn’t normally take resumes were willing to take Sam’s.
Step 5: Got the resume to the right people
Ultimately, a resume isn’t effective unless it’s in the right hands. For Sam, this meant getting her resume to Spotify through a friend of a friend at a trivia night. Her resume also made it to Spotify through a recruiter because Sam had applied for the position online. The result was that two different people involved in hiring for the role at Spotify put her resume on the desk of the hiring manager. When Sam came in for an interview, she and the hiring manager hit it off right away because of their mutual love of science fiction books - which he knew about from her resume.
Just like that, Sam got a job where she could really be herself. It took a year of planning and hard work along with a bit of luck, but it made all the difference. Today, Sam could not be happier. She has her dream job.