Skip to content
Job Name
Embracing the Adventure: 7 Tips to Thrive Through a Major Career Switch

In a span of almost 20 years, my career has had several major spins. My work experience began in hotels and restaurants, then I managed executives’ calendars and travel arrangements. In the meantime, I decided to pursue a degree in English translation. And while I was doing that, I landed my first job in recruitment. After spending more than 10 years in the HR area, seven of which at Avature, in April 2022 I decided to make the bravest move in my career so far and joined our Product team. To many, this would sound like a rollercoaster. To me, this is no more and no less than a reflection of who I am―a curious, determined person who would do these and many more things in life.

Going through a major career change has its ups and downs. There is an exciting and fierce desire to experience something new, almost like an involuntary pulse that makes you say Yes, let’s do this! But there is also uncertainty about what the future will bring. What if what I leave behind was better? What if I cannot perform well in the new job? These are logical feelings and legit questions, and usually they are hard to deal with because there isn’t a straightforward answer to them. On top of that, work standards tend to benefit those who specialize in a specific area over those who make horizontal moves and explore very different paths throughout their careers. I will borrow Cate Blanchett’s character’s words in the movie Tàr: “In today’s world, varied (…) is a dirty word. Our era is one of specialists and if you try to do several things, it’s frowned upon.”

We know big changes aren’t always easy. But the satisfaction of pursuing your interests, of challenging yourself to achieve new knowledge and new horizons, is quite an amazing feeling. Looking back to when I started in this new role, I feel so proud of the type of conversations I can handle now with client-facing teams and technical people. So, although this article does not aim at giving magical recipes to very complex and personal career dilemmas, I would like to share some lessons I’ve learnt from my own experience that will hopefully come in handy if you are considering or going through a change like this.

1. Know your strengths

Part of the decision-making process of a drastic career change should include this question: What can I highlight of myself that will make me add value in the new environment? When I changed into this new role, I knew that my added value stemmed from the fact that I had been a heavy Avature platform user and that, as a former recruiter, I knew the day-to-day of the sourcing and recruiting activities. I also knew that I have a lot of willpower and drive when I set a goal for myself, and that would be an asset in unchartered lands. Having your strengths clear and making the most out of them can be your best tools. These strengths can stem from any aspect of your life, not just the typical skills you gained from previous work experience. You will find inspiration in your background, personality traits, and life experience. Now think about how those strengths are linked to the requirements of the position, and how much they weigh in for you to be successful in this new role.

2. Be honest with what you know and what you don’t

Once you know what your strengths are and what you can bring to the table, the approach that has worked best for me is to be honest about the knowledge that is outside my current scope. This helped me set clear expectations with the teams I interact with the most (i.e. stakeholders) and generate empathy in my learning process. Remember: If you are being considered for a different role, it is probably because you were given the chance to prove that you can do it. The people who trusted you with this role know where you are coming from and what you did before that, so why pretend?

3. Invest in self-training

If you are changing roles and are doing something drastically different from what you were doing before, chances are you will need training in the areas that are less familiar to you. In my case, for example, I knew I would need more training in the technical aspects of the product and the insides of how it is built. It is very important that you dedicate enough time and mental space to train yourself in these areas that have direct impact in your current job. If your company has training benefits, make the most out of it! Apart from our training content platform with tons of material, Avature offers four training days a year to attend conferences, events, or online courses, for example.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Making a drastic career switch can lead us to believe that some questions are "silly" because, after all, you do have previous work experience and you are no longer a junior. My last switch from recruitment into product was within the same company, meaning the same field. Imagine switching fields as well! Thing is, you may be a subject matter expert in your current position, but you are looking at that subject mostly from one perspective. It is only natural that you will have questions—questions you might not even had thought of before—when you look at it from a new perspective. Raise your hand and ask for help if, even after exhausting all resources at hand to find an answer (on-the-job training, documentation, the Internet, etc.), the question still stands. This prevents blockings in your learning process and saves the stamina you need to keep investing in your self-training efforts. You will eventually notice that what seemed alien to you at first then becomes more and more familiar.

5. Be patient

Learning something from scratch takes time. Like learning how to play an instrument or speak a new language, learning something completely new is a long-term objective. Set challenging yet concise and realistic short and mid-term goals for yourself to avoid misaligned expectations and frustration. If you find it helpful, or if you need guidance, you can align on those goals with your manager. Feel free to let your stakeholders know that you are in a learning process and that you may need more time to find answers or provide input.

6. Team up to complement skills

If you know your strengths and what parts of the new field you like the most, my advice is that you focus on those as much as possible and team up with other people who master and like the other parts you are less familiar with. This way, the learning process is less overwhelming for you, you learn from others who know their tasks well, and the final output does not suffer unnecessary delays or roadblocks. Learning by doing is fantastic, but sometimes ETAs simply don’t match the time you need to deliver a working result. Less urgent or impactful projects can be the best way to challenge yourself on the most difficult tasks for you.

7. Take advantage of your "foreign" nature

Yes, you come from a completely different field. Yes, your previous job is very different from the new one. You can consider that a disadvantage, or you can focus on the added value it can bring. In my new role, while consciously testing our platform a while ago, I noticed that some functionality could be improved. It was the first time I was using this feature, and having this fresh look helped me notice something that could have simply been overlooked by someone who is working on that subject every day. A different perspective can add a lot of value. Even though there are a lot of things you will probably not know nor master, you are equipped with many other assets that can make you stand out in your new job. Even out of mere curiosity or ignorance, you can make specialists aware of something they had not noticed before, simply because they do not share the same background and you are looking at the issue with a different eye.

To all readers who have taken the big leap or have the intention to do so, I hope these tips help you in your journey to finding a career path that fulfills you and makes you as happy as possible. I’ll leave you with a song by Morcheeba that wraps it up quite perfectly – Enjoy the ride!

Related posts


How to Write a Killer CV

Juli Kantor and Sofi Becker, from the Talent Acquisition team at Avature, share some handy tips to help you craft a killer CV and unleash your career potential.

Loud & Proud

Poli talks about why visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community is important and opens an invitation to reflect about the construction of identity in the context of Pride Month.