Charting a New Career Course: What to Think About When Changing Direction

Guest Blog (Monthly Column) by Ms Rory Kelly Connor, Career Coach and Brand Strategist, New York

Recently, I participated in a prestigious high-powered coaching roundtable event for career professionals in New York City. As a certified Career Coach and Brand/PR Strategy Expert, my role was to facilitate and guide discussions with two large groups on what to think about when you want to change career direction and how best to go about navigating that change.

People came to the topic for a wide variety of reasons. Many loathed all or a significant part of the work they were doing, instead wanting to break away and only focus on the one or two areas they really enjoyed. Others had absolutely no interest any longer in a particular field and wanted to completely change arenas. Still more loved the craft involved in doing their work (for instance, writing or design), yet wanted to transition the content of what they produced or supported. Quite a few expressed their inability to move out of established career tracks or current positions at work because of HR’s dynamic resistance to their desire to shift gears or unable to see the possibilities from their resumes. And a significant number felt, called in another direction with a need to clarify and fulfill their life’s purpose.

Conversely, what they all shared was that all attendees wanted change in their careers. What was also synonymous was that they were all in some degree of psychic pain, ranging from people mildly uncomfortable who were pushing for new opportunities in different departments with their current employer to people who were in a great deal of pain and quit a confining job within the past week. Overwhelmingly, they all seemed to sense the need for clarity, direction, strategic guidance and support.

And that’s where I came in, sharing insights that help people navigate career changes thoughtfully and strategically, creating more successful transitions.

Get Clarity and Direction

Before you make any major change, it is crucial to identify the real reason(s) for wanting change in your career, as well as getting clear on what you want to be doing. You can work on getting clarity by asking yourself the following questions:

·    What are my work values, the most important thing(s) to me in my work or workplace?
·    What skills sets do I have now and what skills I may need to develop in order to successfully change directions?
·    What other unique gifts and talents do I have that may have career value?
·    What is my preferred working environment?
·    What hours do I want to work? How many hours?
·    What kind of people do I want to work with/for? What culture do I want to work in?
·    Where do I want to work (size of company, city/suburbs/home)?
·    Do I like autonomy vs. being managed?
·    What are my core values around career? What does career mean to me in my life? What needs or desires does it fulfill, satisfy in my life?
·     What priorities or needs does my career fulfill (salary, benefits, other factors)?
·    What do I want to be doing in my career?
·    Where do I want to end up?
·    Where am I now and how does it differ from all of the answers above? What needs to change?

Once you have clarity on these questions, you are better able to see where shifts need to happen to bring you more in alignment with where you want to be and where you would like to go. Then you have a better compass to navigate a new direction.

Create a Strategic Plan of Action

After clarity is reached, it’s time to create a strategic plan of action for your transition, a step by step blueprint to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Begin building your strategic plan by determining the immediate next steps needed to get started, which will include many of the following:

·    Establish objectives
·    Develop new skills
·    Meet new contacts
·    Try new things
·    Interview experts in your chosen position or area
·    Conduct research on your new arena, know your new marketplace
·    Complete further education, certifications or seminars
·    Reformulate/revise your resume to rebrand yourself in a new light to potential employers or clients
·    Determine timing and priorities, mechanism of how and when to best transition
·    Others

Once you have outlined your next steps, establish S.M.A.R.T. goals that will propel you forward to your desired career. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific (tangible steps), Measurable (how you’ll know you accomplished each step), Achievable (you are capable of doing it), Realistic (you can accomplish along with everything else in your life), and Time-limited (have set deadlines).

Now you have a plan in place that is strategic, organized and clear, with steps to get you to your goal line. Powerful place to be when you want to make a change in career direction.

If Needed, Get Support

One final note…When you are trying to execute a major change in careers - especially when you are trying to navigate outside of your comfort zone or knowledge-base - there is great value in hiring a consultant or coach for support or guidance. Make sure to choose someone with expertise in either career transitioning or working specifically with people in your new career arena. These experts may save you a great deal of time, energy and money by providing you with connections or resources that would otherwise be unknown to you and guiding you in the right direction that gets you powerfully and efficiently to your new career or position.
Brief Profile
Based in New York and Philadelphia, and serving clients worldwide, Rory Kelly Connor is a Peak Potential Coach, Certified Life & Career Coach, and Brand/PR Strategy Expert. For more information, please visit
Can You Imagine Life Coaching LLC © 2011


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. In a way, you are my role model. My two primary interests are personal branding and career coaching (I am putting this remark on the blog post too)


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