Does Your Motivation for Changing Careers Stink?

Does Your Motivation for Changing Careers Stink?

June 15, 2012 Changing Careers

light bulb - career motivation

“I want to stop reading and rotting and that’s why I want to leave law in pursuit of becoming a marketer!” Changing sectors takes extraordinary efforts and this reason will not move the mountains you need moved to successfully transition. However, you will gain traction if your motivation for the switch exhibits these four characteristics, it’s: 1) authentic, 2) positive, 3) specific, and 4) thoughtful.


You must believe in your motivation so search for a truth that you can share with a hiring manager. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be your primary motive it can be reason number three; it just has to be valid. Brainstorm your personal and professional motivations and then try them out on others to see if they pass this authenticity test; others can sense when a person lacks authenticity. For example, don’t lie by saying you always intended to become a marketer yet your career was sidetracked. Instead, talk about how your clients are marketers and you are always intrigued by the problems they are solving…if this is on your list of truths.

Keep it positive or else your negative sentiments will be met by negative responses with regards to your candidacy. In the same way that you should not talk poorly about an old boss you should not talk poorly about your current or even a former field. Your rationale for moving must be positive. For instance, if you tell a marketing organization that you want to pursue marketing because you want to stop “reading and rotting” as an attorney then chances are you will continue to read and rot. The better approach is to emphasize the reasons why working as a marketer would complement your lawyer-quality research skills.

Point to a situation or moment when you realized that your skills could be better used in another field. If you recall the time when you first envisioned yourself doing something else then use that as your motivation for the switch. If, as an attorney, you approve promotional copy and it was that time when you were working on the Nike tagline, “Just Do It” that you thought to yourself, “I wish I were a brand manager” then share that moment with a hiring manager. Illustrate what you saw that brand manager do on the day you had this epiphany.

As you learn about your new field incorporate your findings immediately as part of your rationale for the switch. For instance, if you currently work in a Spanish bank and you learned that there is a burgeoning industry in China then point to the firm in that hot sector that is opening a subsidiary in Guangzhou as part of your reason for why you want to make that leap (if it’s the truth). Using research findings in your motives shows that you are smart and a self-directed learner which a hiring manager will appreciate since you’ll have a steep learning curve to climb in a new field.

About the author

Melissa Llarena: is the CEO and career coach behind Career Outcomes Matter. Her craft is coaching top executives on how to dissect and deliver the perfect job interview. Her client base includes US-based as well as international business leaders with 15-plus years of experience who are undeniably really good at what they do yet simply want a strategic partner who can quickly fully understand their tangible and intangible contributions to effectively scale up their interviewing skills for the toughest interviews. Click to gain instant access to her 20-page interview preparation kit to gain an edge then schedule a phone call to see how she’d leverage her most powerful insights based on your unique situation -- all in time for your next interview.