When I think of career defining moments,

I like to think of the positive ones. Things like getting a promotion, starting a new role, and receiving a bonus all come to mind. However with all those positive moments come the struggles and adversity. And there is one experience I can’t ignore that challenged and forced me to grow as a person…

One of my most challenging experiences came during my first 6 months out of college. I was working for PepsiCo as a Retail Sales Associate/Rep and I hit the #2 spot in our sales scorecard. Instead of being happy about my accomplishment, I was honestly relieved because I knew my manager would finally get off my back. I realized from this experience that PepsiCo’s may not be for culture for me.

One piece of advice that I’ve always followed in life is to always put yourself in a place with the most options. So I decided to give it 3 more months to see if I at least could grow to like the consumer package goods industry or the role. And in the meantime I started applying for jobs to set myself up if I decided to leave.

I spent the next 3-6 months working my normal 50+ hour a week job, coming home, working out, and then just applying over and over again for roles. I applied to a total of 60+ jobs and received only 3 offers (that’s a 0.05% success rate). The entire experience made me question my value and my competency – when I had 4 internships under my belt, a business degree, and a ton of leadership experience in college (LinkedIn profile here). My friends and family had to remind me that I was qualified and that I would find a new job.

Ultimately I received an offer and accepted a finance role at the Boeing Company. I’ll never forget this applying-rejection-and applying again time period in my life. So I wanted to share this story today to anyone who’s looking to leave their job. Whether you’re a recent grad 6 months into your role or you’ve been at the company for 3 years, if you’re looking for a change in your career this post is for you.

Here are 10 steps to figure out your next step in your career:

1. Ask yourself why you want to leave your current job

What’s driving you to want to find another job? Are you no longer learning in your role? Is there a lack of growth opportunities in your team? Are you not being supported by your management? Whatever the reason is for you, I’d recommend being able to articulate (in a professional, respectful way) why you want a new job.

One reason you should be able to speak about this professionally is when you start to interview with other companies, they may ask you’re why you are looking for a new role. A second reason why you should identify this is so when you personally start to look for opportunities, you know what to look for.

2. Reflect & Ask yourself what you want in a new role

After you ask yourself why you want to leave your current job, its important to identify what you want and need in a new role.

What type of work life balance do you need in your life? Are you okay working 6 days a week during busy season? Do you like competitive environments? Is there a specific skillset you want to build?

3. Here are four ways to move in your career

  • Switch Industries: Are you wanting to stay within your industry? What other industries sound interesting to you? Why do they sound interesting?
  • Switch Functions: If you worked in sales and discovered it wasn’t the right fit, what function do you want to try next? Finance? Accounting? Marketing? Business Development? Etc.
  • Move Laterally: Whether you’re switching functions or industries, are you okay taking on a role the same level as you?
  • Move Up: Whether you’re switching functions or industries, are you looking to jump to a more senior level?

4. Identify 5-10 target companies who you want to reach out to or  types of roles.

After you’ve answered why you want to leave your job and decided whether you want to move into a different function, it’s research time . I’d recommend looking at the company websites, LinkedIn, social media channels, and see if they’ve been in the news lately. I’d also recommend trying out the products of the companies you’re interested in to see if you can sell or support the product.

5. Update your resume

Resume: Update your resume with what previous roles you’ve done. Remember to include your accomplishments and how you impacted your role and team. Some companies prefer only one page and other companies will accept 2 pages. But I’d recommend keeping your resume to one page if you’ve recently graduated from college.

6. Update your LinkedIn

Update your LinkedIn page with a clear head shot. Cropped festival photos or photos taken with more of the landscape in mind than the person are not good LinkedIn photos. Whether you have a professional head shot or an iphone photo, make sure your face is clear, smiling, and your top half is in business attire.

  • Like your resume, take the time to update your previous roles and what you accomplished/how you impacted your role and team.
  • Don’t be afraid to also start adding people to your network – if you went to college together, worked together in a previously role, or are friends outside of LinkedIn, send them a connection!

7. Reach Out to Your Network

One way to find a job is to use your network. Start talking to your friends and family about where you want to work or what you want to do next in your career. Ask for their help and guidance. Ask them if they know anyone that could potentially do an informational interview with you.

My senior of college, I connected with the Google Recruiter. I had met her my junior year, connected with her again senior year, and attended her office hours. She became vital in my network in helping me move along the hiring process.

After I first applied to Google, I received an email stating that they had reviewed my application but proceeded with other applicants. However, the recruiter I had connected with pushed my application and resume through. I ended completing 2 phone interviews and invited to interview in person. Though I wasn’t offered a position after 4 rounds of in person interviews, I learned the importance of leveraging my network.

8. Schedule Informational Interviews

A great way to learn about a role or industry you’re interested in is to sit down with people who are in those roles and industries. I highly recommend scheduling informational interviews. Here’s what, why, and how to schedule an informational interview.

9. Schedule Practice Interviews

Interviewing is a skill. And like any skill, if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you haven’t interviewed in a while, I would reach out to any friends in human resources/recruiting and ask to schedule a practice interview with them. I would ask them to ask both behavioral and out of the box questions they might normally ask during an interview.

10. Accept + remember there is always room to negotiate.

Don’t be afraid to ask for your value because honestly the worst thing that could happen is the company says no. Here is also some guidance on how you can ask for your value.

These are the 10 steps that can help you figure out your next step in your career! What tips do you have to finding your next job?

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Photos: Holly Phan