by Amy Dawson

February 15, 2010

At some point in nearly every woman’s career, we’ve asked “what if?”
What if I’m not given the opportunity to meet my full potential in my current position?
What if I need a new challenge?
What if I want to make more money, work fewer hours, or move up the ladder – and it won’t happen in my current role?
What if I’ve realized I want to do something totally different, like switching to a different leadership role – or a different industry?
In years past, women on a certain career trajectory might have felt stuck on that path in order to move up the ladder, make more money and secure a healthy retirement fund. But today many women are inspired to take their careers in an entirely different direction – and are living more fulfilled lives as a result.

But no matter how great the rewards, making a jump from one career role to another, coming out of retirement, or easing back into the work force after staying at home with young children can be a daunting experience.

How can you increase your chances for a successful career transition before making the leap?

Heather S. Rocker, executive director of Women in Technology, says WIT’s Careers in Action: Success by Design gives women in transition a game plan for taking their careers in a new direction.

“The reason women re-invent their career is varied, but they all have one thing in common: they need guidance on how to make the leap, and they need a support system as they put their plan into motion,” says Rocker. “We have women re-entering the work force, women in transition because of the downturn in the economy, women who are retired but not ready to stop working, and women ready to transition into a different industry or role within their company participate in our program.”

Just a few simple steps can ease your transition from rocky to rock solid. Rocker has these recommendations for women in career transition:

Assess your strengths. Whether you brainstorm a list of your natural talents, enlist friends and family to point out your strengths, or use one of the skills assessments or books on the market, it’s essential to determine what skills you have to make the greatest contribution to any organization.
Develop a plan. How will your skills translate to your new dream job? What skills do you need develop? With whom do you need to connect to make a successful transition? Create a realistic schedule for gathering information, professional development, and networking.
Package your story. Now that you’ve determined your strengths, filled in any gaps in your experience level, and have a plan to get to your destination, it’s time to create your own personal brand so you can effectively tell your story. Make the connection and put it on your resume, in your bio, and play it up in interviews.
Build a support system. Reach out to other women who are in career transition. You can share experiences, build your network, and give one another tips and ideas – essentially building your own personal support group.
Following these steps has helped the majority of women participating in WIT’s Success by Design successfully take the leap into new jobs, according to Rocker.

“WIT engages resume writing professionals, career coaches, and branding experts to work with enrollees in the program,” says Rocker. “These tactical areas are key to the success rate of the program. But one thing that’s important to not overlook is the support aspect of the group setting.

“Transitioning your career can be an isolating experience, even if you’re working with a career coach,” says Rocker. “It’s an important reason this program is so effective: not only does it provide the practical applications needed to take the leap into a new career, but it offers the support of other women in a similar situation.

Find more information here about WIT’s Success by Design program.

About the Author

Amy M. Dawson is a writer and public relations consultant living and working in Atlanta. She writes
about successfully integrating work and home life at