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Career Transition Lessons for Women

By Deborah Shane

Recently, we've seen major changes in many career fields --

Just ask anyone working for a newspaper, book publisher, radio station, or in a manufacturing plant.

But, change ("progress") has always been the only constant in the world, and all of us must learn to adapt.  Flexibility and embracing changes are the keys to survival.

Women are particularly well suited to adapting because of all the change we experience in our lives.


My Story

In the summer of 2005, I realized that my 23 year career in broadcast media -- radio -- was about to change dramatically. I could feel the winds of change blowing in my "corporate culture."

Internal changes started to happen yearly and sometimes twice a year with regard to sales commissions and how we packaged and sold our products and services. New management was brought in; people shifted in a very stable management structure.

It just felt weird. I started my personal transition process, in my head, simply by thinking about why I was feeling like it just wasn’t working for me on many levels anymore, and I wanted and needed it to be working.

First, I had to honestly assess if there were any more mobility opportunities where I was. Then, I had to look at myself, with regard to what I really wanted to do and determine if I was qualified and prepared to do it.

I spent almost a year, going on interviews, both locally and nationally, exploring other industries and employment jobs to try to see what resonated with me.

As I look back, it was really a smart process and revealed a lot about me. Back then jobs were much more plentiful and there were a lot of them in my business. Today, I would not have those same choices and options.

What I Learned

Here are some of the lessons that I learned about the career transition process that you can apply to today’s employment situation.

  1. Identify what you want to do, and what you are qualified to do.

    Look at all your "transferable skills", all those jobs you have done that define all your skill sets. Women tend to have done many things with regard to this, that they may not think count.

    • Did you baby sit or sell Girl Scout cookies?
    • Were you a camp counselor?
    • Did you work in the family business growing up?
    • Did you volunteer?

    And let’s not forget stay-at-home Mom raising the kids and running the household!

    All those things developed skills!

  2. Don’t rush change; trust your process.

    Opportunities will present themselves, but they may not be all the right or best opportunities to take. Qualify the opportunities, based on your situation.

    Women have so many things they multi-task on. Timing will play a big part in things with regard to raising the kids and possibly taking care of parents.

    [Related: Guide to Career Change.]

  3. Be prepared and honest when presenting yourself.

    You really can’t fudge the truth with creating resume writing. Know what your strong assets are and lead with them. Don’t hide your liabilities, but don’t lead with them, either. We all have "stuff," or we wouldn’t be human.

  4. Evaluate your current skill levels.

    The business world has changed and what’s now required to get hired has changed. Review your personal, professional, technology, and social networking proficiency. If you need to upgrade skills, take some local courses through local chambers, schools, professional organizations, online. Women need to be as skill qualified as possible, to earn the job!


  5. Personal Branding and your image set you apart.

    Personality, mindset, energy, attitude, image are all-important today to stand out and be noticed. Again, evaluate where you are with regard to your professional image, online and offline networking, sales, communication skills and being a part of your community. Upgrade, improve, tweak, and grow whenever and wherever you can.

    Women have a natural ability to communicate and connect. Use it to create and share your unique and engaging personality.

    [Related: Guide to Personal Branding.]

Don’t wait until you are out of work or laid off. If we have learned one huge lesson from the current employment scenario, it's pay attention to and keep changing with change.

I found this great blog post on the Harvard Business Review Website, "Get Ready to Become a Changemaker" by Bill Drayton and Valerie Budinich.

"We are on the cusp of a fundamental change — a worldwide change in the skills everyone needs to succeed, in the nature of organizations, and in how businesses must be led."

Women in job search and business: how are you -- and how can you -- be a change-maker for yourself?

Bottom Line

Career transition is happening all the time, even when you are working and employed. Keep moving and changing. Keep adding value for what you do. Stay relevant and current. Think about how you can become more indispensable!

About the author...

Deborah Shane is founder at


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