Ask Becky

Career Changes and Transferable Skills

Are there webinars available to help me make a career change?

One of the most exciting recent additions to alumnae/i career resources is the Alumni Learning Consortium (ALC). The platform produces two to four webinars each month, and alums may participate in real time or access recordings later. Webinars cover career, professional, and personal development topics and are delivered by best-selling authors or experts. One example for career changers is the webinar by Jenny Blake titled “Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One,” based on her book of the same name. A Bryn Mawr alum recommended it to me a few years ago, and now it is one of my go-to recommendations to others. The ALC has several other webinars about or related to career transitions.

Another book I’ve been recommending to alums is Recalculating by Lindsey Pollak. Pollak wrote this incredibly useful and practical book when her keynote speaking career came to a grinding halt in 2020. Using a GPS metaphor, it helps career changers and job seekers find new pathways to desired (or unknown) destinations. The workplace has been rapidly evolving since the Great Recession, but the change has been most radical since the pandemic. The guidance, resources, and frameworks Pollak presents are centered in our current times.

Since there’s no shortage of articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars these days, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to read, watch, or spend precious time on. Ask people whose opinions you trust for suggestions. Not everyone is going to enjoy the same style of presentation or writing, but by talking to people about what helped them, you will save time and find some wonderful resources.

I’m looking for ways to assess how my experiences would transfer to another field. Suggestions?

One of the most common questions I get in career coaching appointments is, “How do my skills translate to other jobs or settings?” Many people I meet with start by looking at job descriptions, trying to determine what skills they “need to have” to be qualified. This can get pretty demoralizing. If you’ve spent any time searching for jobs online, you’ve encountered job descriptions loaded with qualifications that make a transition seem out of reach.

I regularly encourage folks to avoid job postings initially and instead start with broader occupational research. Sites such as O*NET or the Occupational Outlook Handbook provide well-researched, detailed, and standardized descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and abilities typically utilized or required in a specific occupation. If you start with occupational research, you can focus on learning about a role to develop a better sense of how your background aligns with it. From this research, you will glean a greater variety of skill keywords to use when searching job postings. More importantly, you can get more strategic about which of your strengths and motivations to present to a particular employer (since most applicants are not going to have every single qualification stated in a
job posting).

O*NET has a Career Changers Matrix where you can look up one occupation and then see up to 10 related (by skills) occupations. It’s good brainstorming for making a pivot. You can research the ones you find most intriguing through further online research combined with informational interviews and networking conversations.

LinkedIn also has a tool they call Career Explorer that can help you find possible job transitions based on what they call “LinkedIn insights into skills similarity.”

Other sophisticated skills and aptitude assessments are available that could be utilized with a certified and trained coach or counselor. I’m happy to be a resource to you in finding other services you may wish to explore.

Need help navigating the world of work? Career guru (and Bryn Mawr’s senior associate director of Alumnae/i Career Services) Becky Ross is happy to take your questions at