477: Make Your Career Change Happen With This Unconventional Advice

Finding work you love isn’t impossible, but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort, and step away from the conventional career change route.



Janine Esbrand, Founder of Career Change Makers

Janine helps mid-level female professionals get promoted faster, or land a better role elsewhere with 5-figure salary increases, by mastering strategic positioning and intentional relationship building.

Janine Website & LinkedIn / Austin Website & LinkedIn

on this episode

If you want to land your ideal role (something that most people don’t have!) you have to be willing to do things differently.

Finding meaningful work that pays well is going to take a lot more than just scrolling through job boards, updating your LinkedIn, polishing your resume and attending networking events. You have to be willing to put in a lot of effort and step away from the route accepted by society as the “right way” to get a job.

In this episode, Scott chats with 2 career coaches and business owners, Austin Belcak & Janine Esbrand, who help career changers find their ideal roles using unconventional methods.

What you’ll learn

  • The most effective place to start when you want to make a career change
  • What it means to design your career around your lif
  • The unconventional methods you can use to successfully pivot your career
  • How to build relationships to move the needle towards your ideal career

Janine Esbrand 00:01

I saw someone go from working 10 years as a learning and development manager for, like, a big corporate to then moving into a role as a procurement manager for, like, a government agency. And what was really awesome about that example is she did it within 90 days.

Introduction 00:25

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:44

If your career change goal is to find meaningful work that also pays well, you have to be willing to do some unconventional things during your career change journey. Why? Because meaningful well paid work is not the norm. In fact, a few years ago, Gallup released a study showing only 4% of people worldwide have what Gallup considers great jobs. But let me tell you this, I looked into Gallup's qualification for what they consider to be a great job. And yikes, that job actually just sounded mediocre to me when it comes to what we know is possible here at HTYC, because we've seen so many of our clients make the switch to fulfilling work that they love. Well, when it comes to the level of that work, it's slightly that a teeny tiny miniscule percentage of the population is actually doing the meaningful work they love, that brings them happiness, that brings them fulfillment, and pays them really well. I don't want that to discourage you, though, because what we've seen is that percentage is continuing to grow and grow and grow. And part of the reason we exist as an organization and this podcast exists, is to help more people find meaningful work that pays well, that is better than just what Gallup calls a great job. So if you've been trying to make a career change for a while now, nothing is happening or it's not happening the way you want, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate, if you've been doing anything differently than everyone else, or as Mark Twain would say, "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to reform, pause or reflect." If you want different results, you have to be willing to do things that are drastically different. You can't just go through the conventional methods of career change, because that's what everyone else is doing. And you're not going to find your ideal career doing what everyone else is doing. So if you want something that most people don't have, it's gonna take more than just scrolling through job boards, updating your LinkedIn, your resume or attending stuffy networking events. You have to be willing to step away from the route accepted by society is the right way to get a job. I'm totally using air quotes right now. Today, I want to dive into what it really takes to make an unconventional career change. So I decided to bring on a couple of my friends who are also career coaches and business owners who are experienced in coaching people to get to their ideal careers using unconventional methods.

Janine Esbrand 03:07

My name is Janine Esbrand and I am a Career Strategist and an executive coach.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:12

Janine is a former lawyer turned Career Strategist and is the founder of Career Change Makers that specializes in helping female professionals get promoted faster or land better roles with five figure salary increases. I also spoke with Austin, the founder of Cultivated Culture, who created his own job search system that landed him interviews with Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and after working with Microsoft for five years, he pivoted to career coaching, where he uses his unique job search system to help people make career changes.

Austin Belcak 03:42

My name is Austin Belcak. And I teach people how to land jobs they love without applying online.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:46

During my conversations with both Austin and Janine, I asked some of the common questions that we get from people all over the world wanting to make a career change. Everybody wonders, where should they start? What is the first step to take that will actually move the needle towards finding that ideal role?

Austin Belcak 04:03

So the most effective place to start when you want to make a career change is by getting clarity on where you want to go next. A lot of job seekers, they get tempted to just dive in, especially if something has happened where there's some urgency, right, maybe they're unexpectedly laid off from a job or something similar has happened and they feel like they need that income, right. And they feel like they need to jump into something else. They don't want to have a big gap on their resume. And those are all natural things to feel. But what most people don't recognize is that without a clear focus on where we want to go, we're probably going to end up spending more time throughout the entire search than we would have if we just took a couple of extra hours, a couple of extra days to get really, really clear on those next steps. And the reason for that is because we only have 100% of our time, energy and bandwidth, right? And so the more that we divide that up, the more paths that we try to go down, the less focus we can allocate to any of those paths. So if we are saying, "Hey, I might want to be a marketer, but I also am interested in user experience design. And then my friend told me that I'd be really good at being an account manager." If we tried to go down all three of those paths at the same time, it's going to be really, really hard for us to go deep on any of those areas and become an expert and craft our narrative and story around all of these different things that we would need in order to be successful enough to win a job in one of those fields. And so what ends up happening is we're basically tripling the amount of effort that we put into the search, and we're actually reducing our chances for a good outcome. So instead of that, what we want to do is consider all those paths. And then we want to do a little bit of due diligence to understand which one is right for us. And then finally, the best thing you can do is just kind of dive in, dip your toe in the water and start trying to take action that mimics the real world in this industry as best you possibly can. And through that, you're gonna get some clarity on which direction is right for you. And what that's gonna allow you to do is invest 100% of your energy and focus into that one path. And that allows for these compound gains, because now, everything that you learn about this space, every company that you research, every person that you speak to every informational interview you have, all of that knowledge is now going to stack on itself versus being fragmented into these multiple buckets. And that's where you start to see some of these compound gains, that's where you start to build a lot of momentum. And that's going to allow you to be much, much more effective through the rest of your job search.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:28

Okay, Janine was in agreement with Austin. But she also highlighted one of the most common limiting beliefs that can derail or delay your career change before you even begin.

Janine Esbrand 06:38

I would say, the most effective place to start is start with you. So often, when people say they want to make a career change, if they start going out and looking at potential opportunities, they might be scrolling job boards, they might be asking other people for advice. But if you start with you, and you really assess why you want the career change, first and foremost, and then look into what are your values, what's important to you, what are your strengths, so that you can really be making a decision based on where you're gonna thrive versus a decision based on external factors, that is the best place to start. When you're feeling frustrated, and you're feeling like this isn't what I want to do, what I see people doing is wanting to throw everything out the window, and do something else. And I typically work with a lot of lawyers or people in professional services. And so they assume that because they're unhappy, they need to go and do something completely different, when actually they could find fulfillment in either a role that's similar, or even within their own organization, if they did some job crafting, or if they were putting better boundaries in place. So just helping them to see– let's explore all of the avenues, and make sure that you're not just rushing into a big leap when it's not necessary, so that you can save yourself energy and time. And if that's not possible, then we can look at the other options, but just helping people to look at it holistically, rather than reacting from a place of emotion, which can cause you to just say, "I'm just gonna throw it all away and start all over again", it's not always necessary. Oftentimes, people have decided on a path. And they make that initial decision based on various factors. And they go down a route, and maybe they've had to study hard, they've had to train, they spent a number of years to get to where they are, they get there, they're frustrated, and they're saying, "Wait, this isn't what I thought it was going to be." So it's almost like they no longer trust their decision making. Because they say, "Well, I made a bad decision before. And so I'm just on the wrong path. And so I just need to, like, reset and go back to the beginning and start again", without really dissecting what is it about where I am that's not quite working. Because if you miss diagnose the problem, you're saying, it's all wrong. Whereas if you recognize, well, it's not, you know, it's either the environment or it's the clients, or it's the actual work that I'm doing that's wrong, then you can say, "Actually, I'll do something slightly different. But I think people get so frustrated with the fact that they've invested so much time and energy to get here and it's not working, that they just say, “right, okay, I'm going to reset and start back from zero."

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:59

Designing your career around your life is a practice we focus on. Because if you get this one, just this one thing right, everything else starts to fall into place. Figuring out your priorities, and how your career can work around them will not only make your life more satisfying, but you'll likely be a whole lot happier at any given moment. Janine shared one of her clients stories with me, who focused on designing her career around her life during her career change.

Janine Esbrand 09:27

There was a lawyer that I worked with before who had just come off of maternity leave with her second child, and she wasn't enjoying the work that she was doing before. She was working as a real estate lawyer working on big kind of real estate commercial transactions. And she did it, she wasn't loving it. And then she was also away from her children. So for her, she needs to figure out how can I find a role that I'm going to do that's going to allow me to be the type of mom that I want to be, but also continue my career. And so when she did some of that digging and she assessed what it was she really wanted, she recognized that it was the types of clients that she was working for that was causing her to feel the way that she was feeling. And so she made a shift, working for a different type of client in a different type of firm, and hours were better. And so she was able to find something that aligned better with her values and her passion, but also on the fact that she was in this season of life motherhood. So that's an example of how you can be thinking about your time, your energy, and what your values are, so that you can find a role that honors that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:30

Okay. But I also want you to listen to Austin, who goes into detail about how he created a plan to design his career around the lifestyle he wanted.

Austin Belcak 10:38

People make a mistake when they think about, "okay, I want to be doing this specific type of work." That's great. That should be a part of the plan. But really, what we're looking for is to live a certain type of life, you know, we want to have a certain level of income, we want to be able to do certain things with our time. So you want to have the ability to live in these different places. All of these types of things tend to matter a little bit more than just, "hey, this is what I show up when I do from nine to five", that's definitely one of the criteria and categories, but that's just one of many. And so the important thing is to recognize what that life looks like. So to give you an example, for me, when I started my career, I was working in healthcare, I was specifically medical device sales. And that career was the opposite of the design that I had hoped to have for myself. And what I mean by that is, I was waking up super early, I was waking up at 5:30 in the morning, and I was having to drive a couple 100 miles to these different hospitals. So it was really, really rough in that aspect. But I also wasn't being paid what I thought that I was worth, the work wasn't really something I was passionate about, I had a boss that didn't really treat me well. And so all of these things that lead to, you know, the quality of life that I wanted to have, they just weren't there because I wanted to have flexibility, you know, I wanted to make a certain level of income and I wanted to be doing work that I was excited about that I felt impacted other people. And so what I started to do was sit down and think about the criteria that I specifically wanted for myself. So what would our life look like if all of a sudden we met every single criteria, we checked every single box that we have for ourselves. And so for me personally, that looked like living in a major city, you know, I didn't want to live in the suburbs, I didn't want to live in a rural area, I wanted to live in the heart of a city–New York City, LA, San Francisco, etc. So that was one of my criteria. The next criteria was, you know, working at a specific type of company. I wanted to work at a fang type company– Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. And that's where I felt like I would be able to do work that really aligned with my values. And that impacted people in the way that I wanted to impact them. In addition to that, I wanted to have flexibility. So I didn't want to have to show up and sit in a cubicle every single day in order to do the work that I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to do that from anywhere from my house, from a different city. I wanted to be able to travel and have that flexibility. So that was important to me. And then finally, I wanted to be making a certain level of income. So for me, this was the six figure mark when I was, you know, making this transition, and I was making well below that at the time. And then finally, I wanted to do this by the age of, I believe I said it was 25, because I didn't want to have to wait, you know, forever for this to come to fruition. And so, with those criteria, I had a roadmap, I had a blueprint. And now every opportunity that I considered, I could refer back to that blueprint and say, "Does this align? Does this connect back to the criteria and the things that I had set out for myself?"

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:29

Everyone's career change journey is different. It just is. Maybe you want to completely change industries, or maybe you enjoy your industry, but you're looking for a new company that you resonate with, and a mission that you feel connected to. There are so many unique details that go into your specific change. But no matter what type of change you're wanting to make, it's not impossible, as long as you're willing to do the work and put in the time to make the change. Janine has a specific person she worked with who made an inspiring change.

Janine Esbrand 14:00

I saw someone go from working 10 years as a learning and development manager for, like, a big corporate, to then moving into a role as a procurement manager for, like, a government agency. And what was really awesome about that example is she did it within 90 days. She had just been made redundant and let go. And then she was thinking about what else you might do to really drilled it into her transferable skills. And when she did that, she realized that, "Oh, when I'm looking at this job spec and what this role is about, I actually feel like I could do this, even though it's completely different worlds and completely different roles." And she led with that in the interview process, which allowed her to land the offer and negotiate up her salary. And so for me, it was great to see her do it in such a short space of time without any external unit, people would think, "Oh, I might have to go and do another call. So I need to go and do an MBA or, you know, I need to be trained." But no, she just needed to position herself properly. So some of the things that she did was really look at, "Okay, beyond just the job spec, understanding what is going to be required of me inside of this role." And then looking back at her 10 years of experience and saying, "When did I actually do that thing? So what they're requiring of me? Yes, I didn't do it in a procurement setting. But I have done it, but in a different way." So she got really, really clear on those examples of times that she did that before. So when she was able to answer the questions in the interview, she was drawing on her experience from a place of, "Here's what I did. And here's the results that I got by applying that same skill set, and therefore, I'd be able to do that here." Yep, she got the role. And I remember one year after she got the role, she sent me a card to say, "Thank you. And also, I've just been promoted." So she was promoted. And she really wanted to do some additional learning, and they paid for her to do the courses she wanted to do. So she's just really embedded, and doing such a great job in such a short space of time. So she's loving it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:59

Listen to the story from Austin, where he shared about one of his clients who got the most out of their career pivot by putting a ton of effort in.

Austin Belcak 16:08

One of my first ever coaching clients comes to mind. So when she came to me, she was a high school Spanish teacher. And that was what most of her background was in. But she wanted to transition into tech and into marketing. And so you know, that's a pretty big jump. She was working at a public school, she's teaching a class of students, and now all of a sudden, she wants to get into marketing at a tech company. If you think about transferable skills, you know, there are many, but in terms of stuff that's readily obvious, that's going to be, you know, picked out on a resume, or that a hiring manager is going to kind of jump out of their seat, you know, after reading, the connection there isn't super obvious. And so we had to find a way to help her make this happen. And being a career changer myself, going from, you know, healthcare working in the operating room to then into sales and technology, also a pretty stark transition. You know, something that I learned was that, going through the traditional process is going to be really, really tough. When you're just tweaking your resume, you're applying for jobs online, and you don't have a traditional background, it's incredibly hard to get recognized versus everybody else that's applying for these roles that does have a traditional background. So we have to find new ways to go about this. And essentially, the way that I kind of map this out is twofold. You know, one core component of our job search system is building relationships. Because typically what we see is that the vast majority of people out there, about 75% of folks, use online applications as their primary methods to get into jobs. But the data shows us that when you apply online, you have roughly a 2% chance of getting in the door for an interview. And that's just an interview, right? That's just a conversation. So we haven't even sealed the deal. So that's tough because you're competing with the vast majority of jobseekers for a really slim chance of getting in the door. Whereas if we start to focus on relationships and referrals, referrals only make up 10% of the applicant pool, but they're responsible for about 40 to 80% of hires. And so if you're changing careers, or you know, if you're just looking to level up your career and get a new job, when you look at that data, I mean, it's very obvious where you should be spending your time and in terms of maximizing your ROI. But it's even more important for non-traditional job seekers. Because when we build relationships with people, one, we can pick and choose who we build relationships with. So we can specifically find people who have also come from a non-traditional background and have broken into these roles, and we can learn from them, and we can get their empathy and we can get referrals from them. We can also get a lot more creative in how we illustrate our value. And we have the chance to tell our story, you know, face to face, like a human being instead of in this, like, weird resume jargon that we're forced to use when we're applying online. So for all those reasons, we placed a heavy focus on relationships. And so what she did was, we built out a list of 10 target companies, and we built out a list of 10 to 15 contacts at each of those companies. So we basically had a list of around 150 contacts, all of whom were working in the department or on the team or might have even been the hiring manager for the roles that she was trying to get into. And then we systematically went through each person, we researched them, we work to understand who this person was, what they might care about, goals that they have, challenges they might be facing, both personally and professionally, we scan their social media platforms, we ran Google searches on them, and basically what we did was build out a custom engagement plan for each person on this list. And then every single day, she just showed up, and she executed on that. So some days, she would find somebody who was a content creator, and she'd engage with their content. Other days, she would go and she would cold email somebody and say, "Hey, you have a lot of experience in this field. And I saw you came from a non-traditional background, I'm looking to make a similar switch, you know, what are a few things that you might recommend that I do that I take action on?" And so on and so forth. So she engaged with each of these people in a unique way, that kind of position them as an expert, that position them as, you know, the person who had all of the value. And through that, she was able to build a lot of relationships that lead to referrals, but also lead to a lot of knowledge around what mistakes to avoid through this transition and what to really double down on and what things everybody tells you to do that are actually bad advice and all this stuff that just came in handy when she was thinking about how she was positioning and selling herself. But then we still had to convince people that we could do the job, you know, it's one thing to get a referral and have a great relationship and have one person say, "Yes, you know, I think I'll give you a shot." It's another to convince an entire hiring team and a company to spend, you know, this money that they're going to pay you in your salary, you know, on you coming from a non traditional background. So another thing that we did was we leveraged something that I call a "value validation project", which is, in basic terms, a pitch deck or deliverable that you put together that shows the company, you've done research on them, and you know who they are, you know, what they care about, you understand their goals, challenges, potential opportunities, and then you share some ideas that directly aligned to those specific opportunities, challenges and goals.

Scott Anthony Barlow 20:35

Building relationships with people who work at your target organization should be a major area of focus during a career change. Janine gives a few examples of how to start forming your relationships, your network.

Janine Esbrand 20:49

I always say to people, networking is not the traditional sense of networking, where you're like, "I need to work the room and I need to get business cards." It's really about building relationships. And there was someone who was a lawyer who was really keen on moving into the mental health space. And what she decided to do was start a blog within her law firm about mental health. And so what she did was start to interview people around that topic. And she interviewed someone who was in the mental health space who had a consultancy, and she just wanted to find out about her experience. And off the back of that, they had such a good connection, that that person then invited her to come in and do some workshops with her, she then trained, it's a... what's it called, a Mental Health First Aider. And their relationship has continued because she interviewed her initially for the blog. So I think, particularly now, there's so much opportunity where you can just, you know, start a podcast or have a blog, or you can just share your perspective on LinkedIn. And so if there are people that you want to connect with, if you create content, you can then invite those people to be involved in that content. And just by virtue of you having a 30 minute conversation with someone, you're building a relationship.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:59

When you're starting anything new, the first step is often the hardest to take, especially when it comes to a life altering journey, like making a career change. I asked Austin his advice for anyone who's considering making a career change right now, but maybe isn't quite sure.

Austin Belcak 22:16

If you want to make a career change, and you're hesitating on taking the first step, the best thing that I can tell you right now is that it's going to be hard, it's going to be a journey, and there's really no getting around that. But every day that you wait, every day that you hesitate to take the first step on this path is basically one day that you're robbing of your future self who's living in this new world where you're in a job you love, where you're working on stuff that aligns with your values, where you're getting paid what you're worth. And I don't think that's fair to do to your future self. So the best thing that you can do is just start by taking the first step here. And I think a lot of people feel that the journey is so long that it's either impossible, or that they just need to speed through it, they just want to get it over with. And at the end of the day, this journey is, let's call it 10,000 steps. And that's the amount of steps that we're going to need to take to get from where we are to where we want to go. And so instead of trying to do, you know, 10 stints of 1000 steps, where there's just these marathons, you know, every single weekend, you know, you show up and you try to knock out 16 hours of work on this career transition, that almost always fails, because it's not sustainable, and there's no real momentum, and there's no real consistency. And so instead, the best thing that you can do is just allocate a little bit of time every single day to take one step on this journey. And what I found to work best is roughly half an hour, 60 minutes per day, and having a very specific plan. So when you think about this job search, when you think about this career transition, try to dial in to the very specific things that will move the needle for you. So patience is key here. I know that's not the easiest thing to hear. But just getting started is going to help you get through this journey faster. And every day that you wait is again, a day that you're robbing from your future self who's living in this new world, doing work that you're happy about that aligns with your values, getting paid, what you're worth, and all of these other things that align with the life that you want to live.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:13

Janine had some advice on the same subject for anyone who is hesitating to make a career change.

Janine Esbrand 24:18

I would say that the clarity that you're seeking is not going to come from you figuring out in your head, because you don't have the information that is required to make the decision, which is why you can't make the decision. So what I would say is, now is a time for exploration. And just because you're exploring doesn't mean you're committing. So you might say, "Okay, I'm going to explore." you're not handing in a notice yet, you're not doing anything drastic, you're just exploring the options. And once you explore and you gather data, it allows you to make a data driven decision. And when you can make a data driven decision, you're going to feel so much more confident in it rather than thinking "oh, I don't want to make the wrong decision." You're going to be able to make a decision that's informed.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:01

Having an extraordinary career, not just a good or great career, but having an extraordinary career that is meaningful isn't impossible, but you have to be willing to put in the time and effort and step away from those conventional methods that everybody thinks should happen. Step away from those career change routes that everybody else is doing by using unconventional tactics. I'm confident you can join the super specific group of people that mentioned at the beginning of this episode, those people who are doing meaningful work that they want to be doing, that allows them to be more happy more often, enriches their lives and even pays the more, you must do different to be different. Now, go make it happen.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:46

Many of the stories that you've heard on the podcast are from listeners that have decided they want to take action, and taking the first step of having a conversation with our team to try and figure out how we can help. And if you want to implement what you have heard, and you want to completely change your life and your career, then let's figure out how we can help. So here's what I would suggest, just open your phone right now and open your email app. And I'm going to give you my personal email address, scott@happentoyourcareer.com just email me and put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And then when you do that, I'll introduce you to the right person on our team. And you can have a conversation with us, we'll try and understand your goals and what you want to accomplish in your career no matter where you're at. And we can figure out the very best way that we can help you and your situation. So open up right now and send me an email with 'Conversation' in the subject line; scott@happentoyourcareer.com.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:49

Hey, I hope you loved this episode. Thanks so much for listening. And if this has been helpful, then please share this podcast with your friends, with your family, with your co-workers that badly need it. Here's a sneak peek into what we have coming up in store for you next week.

Speaker 3 27:09

It felt like I was wearing 2000 pounds. Like I felt depressed, I had major brain fog. Any action I needed to take felt like moving through molasses.

Scott Anthony Barlow 27:24

Back in 2005, I was working in a job that had me considering driving into a ditch or jumping out a second story window. Nothing fatal, but you know enough damage to give me some time off work. Crazy, right? Well after gaining 50 pounds through medicating with food and multiple anxiety attacks, I was pretty desperate for an escape. When I wasn't thinking about how to collect workers comp, I was internally screaming there has to be something better than this. There has to be. And since then, I've talked to many thousands of people who felt just like I once did. And this shouldn't come as a shock or huge revelation, but your job, your work should not make you physically or mentally ill. Work shouldn't suck the life out of you. Actually, it can do the opposite. It can add excitement, it can add fun, it can add purpose, it can add fulfillment and so many other positives to your life. All that and plenty more next week right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until next week. Adios. I'm out.

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