This was purely random, but beyond Monday’s post on career challenges, today’s Brainzooming post ALSO addresses career change.

I was talking with a friend in the midst of a big mid-career change, leaving a lifelong, non-traditional, essentially entrepreneurial profession for various reasons. His goal as a mid-career professional is to take very relevant experiences related to his former profession and turn them into a unique role that COULD fit into a corporation or some type of marketing / advertising agency.

The concept he has created for why he makes sense in this type of role held together for me as he described it.

His case focuses on being so multi-dimensional through his varied experience that he becomes highly billable on many types of client projects (in an agency world) or can help reduce outside provider costs (for a corporation of some size).

I was originally able to offer only a couple of people he should talk with for networking when we talked. Hours later, however, I realized other career tips for him to consider.

4 Career Tips for Making a Career Change as a Mid-Career Professional

As with Monday’s career challenges post, the four career tips here could be applicable to others too. That is especially true for any mid-career professional (i.e., with 15 or more years of experience in one profession) trying to make a big mid-career career switch:

1. Forget leading with a traditional resume as a mid-career professional

With a big mid-career career change, a traditional resume isn’t likely to help all that much in getting your foot in the door (in my opinion). Even converting from a chronological resume to a skills-based resume will simply beg a lot of questions for a mid-career professional seeking a career re-direction. That’s why it’s so smart to create a concept for how you contribute. Your first step in bringing your concept to life is devising an advertising agency-oriented pitch about you, the convertibility of your experience, and how you will bring your concept to life. You goal is to “stage” your concept to sell you, just as real estate agents stage houses to sell them.

2. Go beyond staging and turn your career change concept into reality

If at all possible, figure out how you can actually make your concept completely tangible. For my friend, there are social media-related opportunities to implement his concept in ways that feature his talents and demonstrate he really can fill all the roles he’s proposing. Far better to show that at least elements of your concept actually are working rather than just talking about it. Creating a concept demo (along with the math to back up the business case) can help a decision maker make a positive decision about you.

3. Target non-traditional organizations

For someone in their mid-career phase, making a big successful move won’t happen with a company that has a cookie cutter view of HR, staffing, and job descriptions. That means you have to find a company that looks at its people and its business with a decidedly different world view. One quick test about the right organization? If they don’t know what to do when you say you want to do a pitch presentation for them as part of any interview, they AREN’T the right organization for you.

4. Target senior executives for your pitch

A typical HR manager isn’t going to make the case for a non-traditional hire. A typical HR manager is looking to fill a pre-existing box on an org chart with a candidate who presents the least risk. For that matter, most hiring managers are trying to do the same. As a mid-career professional with a concept and seeking a career change, you should be networking to senior executives who can look beyond the traditional way of hiring people and then do something about it.

If you’re a mid-career professional who has made a successful career change, what career tips do you have?

I’m asking for your perspectives on career tips to help my friend.

Admittedly, I had one job for most of my career, so it’s not like I was getting a lot of experience selling myself into new jobs. As a result, my career tips are more from a hiring manager than a job seeker perspective. So if you’ve made (or helped someone make) a big career change as a mid-career professional, what are your lessons learned? – Mike Brown


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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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8 Responses to “Career Change – 4 Career Tips for a Mid-Career Professional”

  1. Mike – you’re right – a mid-career shift is a challenge for any professional. I am a big believer in using social media as a bridge to that new career. Social media allows people to not only demonstrate what they know (as you mention), but also to expand the network of people who know, like and trust them. If you have what it takes to succeed in the targeted position, network your way into a talent community of other people doing that work. Contribute useful information and resources and you’ll be on your path to the next opportunity.

    I don’t totally agree about the resume being unimportant. One of my specialties is helping professionals making career changes shift their resumes to focus on their new goals. (It’s not about creating a skills or functional resume, either – hiring managers don’t like those formats.) A career changer needs a great resume to help support professional goals. The job seeker needs to feature similar details illustrating the shift via LinkedIn and other social media profiles.

    That said, do not count on sitting back and applying online with a career change resume. Networking and actually “being” the professional you want to be by doing the work you want to do – even if you find a pro bono opportunity to do it – are key.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Thanks Miriam! I was hoping to get a counterpoint on how to approach the resume. You’re absolutely right that a variety of forums (including LinkedIn) aren’t going to handle a pitch approach very well!

  2. A lot of viable info but tough to make blanket rules to a reader who will assume this works all the time.
    The degree of career change is always a factor. How drastic of a change will this be? Is it a huge stretch or realistic………
    Personally, I went through a change. Parlayed my experience as a Medical Practice Admin into a career as a recruiter in the healthcare industry.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jeffrey! My friend’s switch is probably comparable in scope to your change. Obviously not everything works all the time, but I appreciate the additional ideas being offered!

  3. Mike Brown says:

    From Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW (careertrend.net)

    Good morning, Mike,
    What an exciting topic on Brainzooming this week, one that is near and dear to my career-beating heart : )

    You’ve made some excellent, inNOvative points here, including your advice to devise an ‘advertising agency-oriented pitch’; staging the concept to ‘sell’ you and such. Of course, social media is a fertile channel in which to further implement the concept. I love it.

    I’ll add this: from a non-traditional, savvy “resume strategist’s” point of view, where strategic storytelling reigns, I would assert, BUILD a resume, but abandon resume ‘rules.’ If these unfamiliar, turbulent career change waters are navigated with finesse, and you are crystal clear on your destination, then you can build a compelling resume ‘course’ that will reach the reader. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t say, hire a professional storyteller (resume strategist) to guide you through this process.

    In other words, deep introspection, value-story building and ‘staging’ your message meticulously and with power to solve your target’s pain points, you can gain attention and extend conversations, with a resume!

    I LOVE the idea of targeting senior executives for your pitch <– absolutely agree! … and non-traditional companies. Also, research local business journals, the Internet, LinkedIn, even Facebook, and keep your ears to the ground in regard to companies (especially small and mid-sized organizations) that are experiencing growth and operational expansions or other positive shifts. Find companies in the throes of market change and competitive positioning and pitch yourself there. Be unabashed, but be ultra focused on HOW and WHY you can help them. Be meaty, concrete, measurable, nuanced and CLEAR on THEIR needs (forget about what YOU are trying to accomplish for YOU for a moment and view your messages through their lens before presenting).

    Having collaborated with MANY clients over the years who are setting their new career course, some after 15-20+ years having experienced what you described (non-traditional, entrepreneurial career paths, including business owners and other leaders who now are ready and eager to contribute to more collective, corporate goals), I know it is an achievable, exciting, yet circuitous path toward their next adventure!

    Thanks for initiating this career-adventure topic on your blog, Mike! 

  4. Mike Brown says:

    Thanks Jacqui for sharing your expertise! As I mentioned in the comment to Miriam, it was definitely the hope to get some thinking going on how and where a resume fits into my friends strategy!

  5. Mike Brown says:

    From Max Schutte of www.pinelandsdirectory.co.za

    Hi MikeI spent most of my corporate life within one company, but significantly changed careers three times during that time. From a technical scientist, to an information systems designer, to a market researcher and innovation catalyst before leaving to start my own business 4 years ago.Each time I changed I was just a year or two ahead of when the functions became mainstream.My approach was to present my proposed career change as a business case – explaining what the role was about, how it would benefit the company and what I planned to do.The career change applications were never made to the HR department which, as you say, wants to tick boxes to fill available positions.Instead they were presented as a business pitch to senior managers and division heads with a well prepared business case.If they liked the pitch, they had it in their power to create a new position for me. (not all the pitches were successful!) While these were all internal pitches, I guess it would apply equally well to a new company.The approach has the advantage of not having to compete with a string of “better qualified” applicants seeking the same job. You are also talking to business people with a much wider view than an HR policy and willing to discuss the proposal to make it work.regardsMax SchutteEditor


  1. Career Change – 4 Career Tips for a Mid-Career Professional | Job seeking information | Scoop.it - December 7, 2012

    […] This was purely random, but beyond Monday’s post on career challenges, today’s Brainzooming post ALSO addresses career change. I was talking with a friend in the midst of a big mid-career cha…  […]