Activating the best of you!

How to begin a career change

Dear Joan,

I’ve been working in banking for over 25 years. I started as a teller right out of high school and am proud to say I’ve had several promotions, and even moved to a new bank for a better position a few years back. At this point I am itchy to try a new industry.  The problem is that  I have no idea how to get started, and honestly, no idea what other job or industry I am qualified for. I have worked mostly in banking operations but I do know I enjoy helping people and have always been good at customer service and training. Can you kindly offer some guidance?

Thank you,


Dear Bobby,

First of all, pat yourself on the back for clearly achieving decades of good work and progress in an industry that has undergone many changes and has had many challenges. You survived and you flourished! And it’s excellent that you are self-aware enough to recognize that it is time for exploration and re-creation. You also have clear preferences and a track record of proven skills. It’s an exciting time for you!

Many people get to the point where they are ready for the NEW but just don’t know how to start. Here are some concrete first steps:

  1. Surprise!  Clients sometimes come to me thinking that they are ready for a major pivot and ready to leave their industry and leave their employer only to find out that they can ‘scratch their itch’ in an easier way. The surprise is that sometimes people don’t realize that they are merely unchallenged in their current position and might find new opportunities for growth, new direction and re-creation within their own industry and sometimes within their own organization. For instance, you mentioned that you know you like to help people and you must be naturally good with customer service and naturally good with explaining things. Well, have you considered doing an informational interview with managers and leaders in both the customer support department and the training and education department? It might very well be that considering you already have years of familiarity at the bank, and have played various roles, you might be perfect for a lateral or even an upward move into a position in a new department.
  2. Peak Performance Exercise.  Do this exercise when you an hour or two to devote to it. It involves thinking, reflection and writing.  Think about three times in your career where you have really been at your best. Times when you were in the flow, enjoying your work, your project, the people you were working with, the scope of the project and the outcomes and results. Write down all aspects of three times you had your best times. Include the challenges, the opportunities, the problems you solved, the resources your used, what you enjoyed and what you can take credit for. Next, read back over the three narratives and identify the SKILLS that you demonstrated. Then make  list of all the skills and all the outcomes and results. Put them in order of both impact and interest. That should give you a pretty good view of what you are good at and what you enjoy.
  3. Learn about other fields and set up informational interviews – There must be other industries and fields that have some appeal to you, especially now that  you have determined some of your key skills and areas of impact. For example, perhaps you are thinking of joining a training department. Research to find local training professional organizations, go to their web site and look at the topics they discuss and upcoming events you can attend. Then, look for some of the leaders both in the organization and ask to schedule informational interviews where you can find out the inside story and views on the profession. Ask about their challenges, the opportunities, how they into the field, what they see as the success factors, etc.  Yes, Bobby, make it easy to get started by starting within your own organization, then branch out once you have a clearer sense of your preferred skills. You have what it takes to start on your journey for the NEW! Good luck to you!             Onward in your career development and success,                                                                                                   Joan

Recent Post