How to Make a Successful Mid-Career Change

Is it ever too late to change your career? Etienne Morris, founder and CEO of Morris Recruiting & Consulting, has one resounding answer: No. No way. Absolutely not.

Let’s say it again: It is never too late to pivot on the career path and start down a new road. We are human after all; over time, our interests, values, and talents evolve—leading to a need for a new direction. In this Q&A interview, we speak with Etienne Morris, professional Career Coach for Burlington Code Acdemy and the Sustainable Innovation MBA students at UVM’s Grossman School of Business, about why it’s never too late to change your career goals, how to make a successful transition, and what you can do to easily enter the industry of your dreams. 

Q: First off, what is a “career shift”? 

A: Taking a role that is different in some way from what you’ve done recently from either a micro perspective (job role and responsibilities) or macro perspective (company structure and/or industry).

Q: How do you know when you should make a career change? What are some of the key signs that it may be time for you to make that change? 

A: There are all sorts of signs and reasons for a career shift, but the most common three I see in my consulting practice are a desire for: 

1) More financial opportunity, 

2) More challenge, 

3) (Re)alignment of values with a mission-driven organization, or

4) Self-employment/consulting.

Q: How do you even start to go about changing your career? How do you know what you should even make a transition to?

A: In short, introspection. Think about what you like about what you do and what you don’t like—and WHY. Include in this exercise your past jobs too, not just your current role. Then discuss this with trusted, positive-minded people in your life. It’s amazing how much clearer your thoughts become once you put words to them. 

Think of your financial reality and identify what you need to be safe: a roof over your head, food in your belly, to be warm and dry (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). From here, you can develop a practical career strategy that you can trust and believe in.

Q: What are some of the first steps you should take when entering a new field? 

A: 

1) Research “best questions to ask” in informational interviews/discovery calls and start to curate a list of questions you’d like answers to.

2) Network with people in the field that you are interested in. Have as many conversations as you can arrange and approach these conversations from a place of love, caring, and curiosity.

3) Ask each person you speak with if they have any other people they can connect you with.

Q: What are three things you can actively begin to add to your resume to help you land jobs in a new field right now? 

A:

1) Based on your research, take classes and/or certifications that make sense for you.

2) Write your resume profile to bridge your existing skills and experience with your new direction and include a skills summary (technical or otherwise) that leverages your existing skills from the perspective of your target opportunity.

3) Work on a project that highlights your use of your new skills. This could be something you do on your own (a passion project) or something you do for an external organization (a consulting or volunteer project).

Q: How can programs such as bootcamps (like those at Burlington Code Academy) help you make a successful career change? 

A: Bootcamps are GREAT on so many levels! Some examples include gaining new or honing existing technical skills, providing practical experience, project/teamwork opportunities, and developing industry-specific networking connections. 

Q: How long might it take for you to successfully change your career to your dream job? 

A: SO many factors! In the case of a macro change like a company or industry, it could happen seamlessly with a targeted job search strategy and re-focused resume. In the case of a micro change like a fundamental shift in role and responsibilities, it could take a few months or longer, depending on how deep and how quick you can get involved in your new focus area.

Q: Do you have a final piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?

Research and networking are key to any successful career shift strategy. If you focus your time and attention on those two areas, you’ll do great!

Looking to make your career shift? Burlington Code Academy offers intensive, career stimulating classes in Software Development and UX Design at burlingtoncodeacademy.com. As a BCA student, you can work with our coding professionals and with Etienne Morris on making a dynamic and meaningful career change into the world of coding. It’s never too late to make a change, and we can’t wait to see you in our classroom.