Nathan Tanner

Three Steps to Successfully Manage a Career Transition

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. 

Last summer I interned with LinkedIn in HR, a not-so-natural move for someone who previously worked as an investment banker and financial advisor. While I was excited for the change, I showed up to the internship with virtually no experience in human resources. Sure, I had helped prior companies recruit and train new employees, but those tasks were in an informal capacity.

I felt good about the path I was pursuing, but didn’t know for sure whether HR would be the right place. Needless to say, LinkedIn took a risk when they hired me.

As I shared in a prior post, I had a great summer at LinkedIn, and I’ve since accepted a full-time offer. My career transformation was a year in the making, and I took three steps that helped me successfully manage my career transition.

Talk to everyone in that field

When I was considering transitioning to HR, I reached out to everyone I knew who had HR experience. I spoke to recent MBA grads, seasoned professionals, and even cold emailed a few Chief HR Officers. I was impressed with the amount of time people were willing to spend answering questions and sharing insights.

I wanted to know the good, the bad and the ugly, so I reached out to some who had left the field and others who had a less than stellar opinion of HR. In total I spoke with over 40 professionals, and with each conversation I felt more confident that I was heading in the right direction.

Jump in feet first

Once I felt good about my new path, I jumped in feet first. As professionals, it’s easy to get distracted by the many career options we can pursue. We often hesitate to commit to a certain path because we’re concerned we might later change our mind. It’s a valid concern, but it often prevents us from taking action.

When we fully commit to a plan of action, it’s amazing how opportunities become available. When we tell others our plan, they can ensure we’re connecting with the right people and they’ll do what they can help us reach our goals. If at some point we change our mind and decide that the path isn’t a good fit, we can always pivot. Until then, jump in feet first.

Find a role model

When I joined LinkedIn it was critical to find someone that I could look at and think, “That’s the professional I want to be.” I was fortunate to find several role models during the summer, including my manager. With role models, it’s especially helpful if you can observe how they carry themselves and how they interact with people. A lot can be learned from watching successful professionals.

LinkedIn strives to create a culture of transformation, and the company certainly enhanced my personal transformation. In addition to having a great manager, I was fortunate to have numerous lunches with HR leaders. These interactions gave me the opportunity to ask questions and receive career guidance.

By the end of the summer I felt confident that I was on the right path and I’m grateful that LinkedIn helped me transform my career.

Career transitions can be tough to navigate, but we can take proactive steps to ensure we’re heading down the right path. When considering your transition, talk to everyone you can in your prospective field, jump in feet first, and find a good role model.

Like what you read? Click here to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.