When most people think “job search,” the steps that come to mind include résumés, applications and interviews.

That can feel scary.

Especially if you’ve been working at your current company for many years, the thought of interviews and getting “out there again,” could feel overwhelming, no doubt.

But the truth is, before you’re even at that step of résumés and interviews, when you are looking to transition careers, your successful search starts far earlier than that.


There is important groundwork to be done while preparing to pursue a new career, beginning with personal development, professional development, developing your brand and realizing your goals.

When I connected recently with Brightwood College, they shared some fantastic steps in transitioning careers:

Step 1: Personal Development

The first step to preparing for your new career involves tending to personal matters that may influence your job search. During this step, you should:

  • Create a professional email account and voicemail greeting for your phone.
  • Clean up your Facebook and other social media profiles.
    • Make sure there are no inappropriate or unprofessional photos or posts on your accounts. Employers often search for job applicants online, before extending an invitation for an interview or making a hiring decision. Try searching for yourself and be sure that what comes up reflects well on you.
  • Review credit and background issues.
  • Be mindful of daily language, behaviors and habits that may be too casual or inappropriate for the workplace.
    • It takes time to break unprofessional habits, especially if it has been a while since you’ve been in a professional setting. Practice presenting yourself professionally and monitoring your language so that you don’t accidentally say or do something inappropriate during a job interview.

Step 2: Professional Development

Professional development may refer to a variety of activities, including specialized training, formal education, networking events and other learning opportunities. All are intended to help improve your knowledge, skills and effectiveness as an employee. Whether you are currently employed or looking for a job, consider doing the following:

  • Join professional associations and organizations.
    • Volunteer and look for ways to get involved in your industry.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with others in your industry.
  • Explore the possible career paths associated with your background and experience or, if you are a student, with your program of study.
  • Develop a targeted list of companies you may be interested in and start researching.

Step 3: Develop Your Personal Brand

Once you are ready to enter the job market and pursue a career, your personal brand is how you market yourself to potential employers and those in your network.

  • Practice discussing your learned skills and concepts. It’s important to be able to communicate your strengths verbally.
  • Network within industry associations.
  • Volunteer within industry organizations.
  • Create and refine your résumé.
  • Develop your elevator pitch.

Step 4: Realize Your Career Goals

At this point in the process, you have done plenty of groundwork toward meeting your career goals — you’ve laid the foundation. Now it’s time to put the pieces together.

  • Identify interview opportunities through online searches, your career advisor or your network
  • Market your résumé to potential employers.
  • Keep your career advisor informed of applications and interviews.
  • Ace the interview and start your new career!

Step 5: Consider Going Back To School

This actually could even be step 1, but we’ll call it step 5. I have been so fortunate to have partnered with Brightwood College. The reason I chose to do so, was because of the quality of the education and opportunities you receive attending this College.

Unlike traditional four-year colleges, classes at Brightwood are smaller and offer rich hands-on relationships with instructors. The beauty in attending Brightwood College is, many students are actually working part-time jobs in addition to attending classes and pursuing their degree. And finally, there are campuses across the United States, making it easier than ever to actually consider going back at school AT ANY AGE, and chase your dream career.

If going back to school is something you have entertained, but were too nervous to take the leap, know that Brightwood College is there for you throughout your higher education journey. Students and Brightwood graduates have access to Career Development teams at each of their campuses. That is rare.

What I love about BC is you are never alone.

So, going back to school isn’t just going back to school. It’s going back to school in smaller classes, with advisors that want to help you land your dream job when you graduate. The process of actually going back to school might feel scary, but I assure you with Brightwood College, it is an enriching experience.

I have also included Brightwood College’s infographic for more tips on how to ace your job interview at every stage.

If you’re ready to go back to school, I encourage you to follow Brightwood on Facebook, join the conversation on Twitter and keep up with them on Instagram.

I would love to know if going back to school is something you would entertain!

Disclosure: I am a proud paid partner of ECA. All opinions are my own.