Relaunch Your Career With Confidence

ANY TYPE OF CAREER change can be stressful and scary, whether it's returning to the workforce after caring for children or an aging parent, taking time off for personal health reasons or planning a sabbatical. Many professionals put off making changes, even when it would improve their lives, because the process can be uncomfortable.

So if you are looking to relaunch your career or take it in a new direction, even if it is by choice and not because circumstances are forcing your hand, it is important to build a solid foundation to have the strength to take action.

Identify mental obstacles.

First, it's extremely important to identify any mental obstacles that prevent you from taking that first step. Ninety percent of our coaching clients say that they are their own biggest obstacles to reaching their career goals.

Take 30 minutes to think about what may be holding you back: fear of rejection, fear of not being qualified or a concern about something else. Whatever it is, write those obstacles down on paper so you can see them in black and white and therefore be more objective about them.

Next, determine how you can deal with those fears to keep them at bay. Define three action steps you will take this week to stay positive. Find a mentor, hire a career coach or ask a friend or family member for support.

Get clear on your goals.

You must clearly define what your next career goals are, then identify the action steps to get you there. For help with this, you can try one or more of the following:

  • Learn about new career paths online. Try websites like and the U.S. News & World Report Best Jobs rankings.
  • Read blogs specifically for people re-entering the workforce.
  • Research professionals on LinkedIn who are in the industries that interest you. Learn from their backgrounds what steps you might need to take to emulate their career progression.
  • Join industry or professional association groups on LinkedIn or Meetup for support and ideas.
  • Ask two people in your life to be your accountability partners and help you brainstorm ideas.
  • Conduct informational interviews to learn more about an industry, how to get back to the workforce after a break or tips for shifting into a new position in the same industry.

Work on your confidence.

Whatever your reason for wanting to relaunch your career or take it in a new direction, it is important to own what you are doing and present it in a confident way. For example, if you took a career break, determine how that has helped you have a better sense of your priorities, fulfillment and outlook on life. Or, if you are looking to move into a new industry, determine what made you unhappy in your previous industry and how you feel you can make a difference by moving into a new one.

Identify the skills, experience, expertise and wisdom you gained during the past several months or years. During your transition, stress how those transferable skills will make you a more valuable employee in your new career or in your next step. To help you boost your confidence, you must clearly understand your strengths and be able to articulate them effectively. What comes naturally to you? With what do others ask you for help? What tasks have you excelled at in previous positions? For help with this, ask your friends and family to describe you in three adjectives.

Once you have identified your unique skills, determine if you need to enhance them. If you are coming back to the workforce, should you sharpen your skills by taking a few online courses? Or if you are moving to a new industry, do you need any special certifications? Start working on those things now, and that will give you greater confidence when job searching or on an interview.

Communicate your goals to others.

Once you have decided on your career goals, don't keep them to yourself. You can communicate in a few different ways. First, don't underestimate the power of the hidden job market. You never know if a fellow parent at your child's day care may know of a position at his organization. While you want to be tactful, don't be afraid to let others know that you are taking steps toward a new career direction.

You can also communicate your goals with a hiring manager. Create a career one-sheet, which allows you to clearly highlight your strengths. Also, put some thought into what you would accomplish in the first 90 days if you got the job. Communicating clearly with a hiring manager can help you land the position.

If you keep a positive mindset and are committed to the direction you want your career to go, you will be able to successfully relaunch your career with these four elements.