Build Your Own Career Change Board Of Directors

Geschäftsleute mit starkem Zusammenhalt

Career transition can be a scary and lonely place, full of unknowns and uncertainties.

But you don’t have to go it alone.

Nor should you.

I want you to think of yourself as an incredibly valuable entity… as your own company.

You, afterall, are the CEO of your own life. Like any successful organization, you need to appoint a board of directors.

In the business world, a board of directors is a team of people elected by a corporation’s shareholders to represent the shareholders’ interests and ensure that the company’s management acts on their behalf. 

In the career change world, your board of directors will be a group of people who each make a specific contribution towards landing your dream job.

Depending on the board member, they might:

  • Introduce you to the right people to expand your network and open doors for you.
  • Share subject-matter expertise.
  • Point you towards resources & tools to help you during your career change.
  • Hold you accountable for changing an attitude or behavior that will affect your career change journey.
  • Act as a sounding board, provide unfiltered feedback and diverse points of view.

If you are embarking on a career change, consider appointing these 6 Key Contacts to your Career Change Board of Directors:

1. Recruiters

Starting with the obvious, during a career change you want to connect to and network with as many recruiters as possible (especially if they are recruiters in your dream industry or dream job). This may include….

  • External recruiters who work at an agency & send candidates to their client’s companies.
  • Internal recruiters who work in-house at the company you want to join.

How can they help you?

A recruiter is paid by employers to find them talent. They don’t work for the job-seeker. But find the right recruiter, and they can open doors for you!

How can you connect to them?

1) LinkedIn Search

Method 1: Plain & simple: hop on LinkedIn and search for “recruiter” in the search box.

Method 2: If you are seeking out recruiters at a specific dream company, pull up the company’s LinkedIn page and click “See all ### employees on LinkedIn” on the upper-right hand side. You can either scroll the list or click on “All Filters” and input the job title “recruiter.”

Method 3: In the search box at the top of your LinkedIn home page click “People” and then click “All Filters.” In the Industry category, select “staffing and recruiting.” You can filter even further by entering a keyword, such as the recruiter specialty you’re seeking, and then hit “search.”

2) Your Alma Mater

Go to your alma-mater’s LinkedIn page and search for recruiters in your industry of choice. When you send them a connection request, give a nod to your common bond so they know how you found them.

3) Your Network

Tap your network. 

Method 1: After you identify a recruiter you want to connect with on LinkedIn, notice if you have any mutual connections. If yes, reach out to your mutual connection and ask if they would be comfortable making an introduction.  

Or… try the reverse….

Method 2: Go straight to the most experienced professionals in your network and ask them to refer you to the recruiters they know. Or ask people you know in the industry you are trying to transition to, which recruiting firms their employers use. 

When you connect to a recruiter (or anyone) on LinkedIn, be sure to personalize the connection request.

Try something like this:

Hi {recruiter’s name}, 

I am seeking a {insert role} opportunity in {insert location.} I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and expand my network. I have over {insert #} contacts and would be happy to introduce you if you see a good fit for one of your openings.

Many thanks,

{Your name}

How do I follow up & keep the connection alive?

  • Send a short & sweet message thanking them for connecting with you. Reiterate the role/location you are seeking, your years experience, your type of experience & specialties, etc. Essentially, share your elevator pitch. Attach your resume. Ask if they would be willing to speak to you about any opportunities to see if you are a match.
  • Take a look at what job openings they are posting. Suggest names of prospects you know for jobs the recruiter is seeking to fill, but for which you don’t qualify. (When it comes to networking, givers gain!)  
  • Periodically send them links to articles that you think might be helpful to them.
  • Try coming at it from a fresh angle other than just wanting a job- such as requesting a conversation to learn about company culture, asking for introductions to the hiring team or getting feedback on your candidacy. 

2. Mentors

A mentor is a person currently in the position you aspire to have some day.  

They have “been there, done that” and are able to support your growth and development by providing advice and guidance.

How do I get a mentor?

  1. Identify people currently in your dream role, especially those that inspire you.
  2. Do your homework: Visit their website, look at their LinkedIn profile and read any materials they may have published. Get to know the person whose help you are seeking before you approach them.
  3. Send a short and sweet email or LinkedIn message letting them know why you are reaching out. Be sure to reference if you have a mutual connection and something specific you admire about this mentor or their work.

Forbes offers this handy “mentor template.”

Subject: Inspired by your research on healthcare

Dear Jane,

In 10 years, I aspire to be where you are in your career today: coaching executives and working with leadership teams in the healthcare sector. Based on the testimonials on your website, your methodology has clearly made a big impact.

I’d appreciate your help to understand how you entered the healthcare market so I might begin a similar career path.

Jonathan Baker really admires your skills and suggested I get in touch with you. Your insights will add something I can’t glean from the research I’ve done on this sector.

I know your time is precious, so I’d like to limit my request to 15 minutes of your time at your convenience. I promise to keep our conversation brief, as I’ve already done homework on the field and your work. Also, if there’s anything I can do to help return the favor, please let me know.

Thanks in advance,

Jennifer Smith

During the meeting:

  • If you only have 15-30 minutes, be clear on what you want up front without spending too much time on small talk. She can’t help you unless she knows what you want. Perhaps you want to know how she got where she is now? Perhaps you want to know what skills she recommends you develop to transition into this role?
  • Givers gain! (Are you noticing a theme here?) Ask what you can do for your mentor. Perhaps she’d appreciate you commenting on or sharing her articles on social media, etc.

After the meeting:

  • Send a heart-felt thank you email.  
  • Ask if she would be open to touching base on a quarterly basis.
  • Send regular emails sharing how her advice has helped you.

3. A Former Boss or Colleague You Admire

There are certain bosses over the years who have guided you, given you wise advice, and allowed you to feel heard. Even if they aren’t in the field you are looking to transition into, their support is critical. They know your strenths and your weaknesses. If they inspire you, you may need their words of encouragement or simply for them to act as a sounding board.

Reach out and let them know your current career goal and that you’d love their guidance. Go out for coffee or lunch or schedule a phone call.

Don’t forget to ask if your boss or colleague is willing to write you a recommendation on LinkedIn and/or be on standby to be a reference for you for your next job.

(Be sure to give your boss or colleague a stellar LinkedIn recommendation as well!)

4. Your Network

Here comes the old broken record: 70% of jobs are landed through networking, not applying online. So network!

Many people don’t leverage the built-in network they CURRENTLY have. Don’t count them out just because they don’t work in your dream industry or dream company. They may know someone who knows someone, etc. But they don’t know to connect you unless you alert them!

How to reach out to your network:

Before you tap your network, get crystal clear on what career direction you are going in.    

It’s important that your network understands exactly what kind of job you are seeking. The more specific you are, the more likely a lightbulb will go off in their head about who they can connect you to.

Consider which of these matter to you and share accordingly: target industry, target function or department, target title or position, target level, target duties or responsibilities, target companies, target geography, target culture, target size, target compensation, target pain points you’ll solve, or target skills you’ll use to solve them.

If you do the groundwork for your network, it will pay off by creating the ambassadors you’ll need to open the doors to the decision makers.

Don’t force them to pour through your entire resume. The Muse reccomends you share:

  • A list of your last three position titles, companies you’ve worked for, and responsibilities. Think your resume, but condensed into three bullets.
  • Your ideal job title and function, as well as other job titles and functions you’d consider.
  • A list of 4-5 companies you’d love to work for, plus their locations.

Contact people individually. People are more inclined to help when you make it personal.

When possible, make a direct and specific ask versus saying “let me know if you hear anything.” For example: Can they make an introduction? Can they advise you on companies you are considering? Do they know anyone it would be helpful for you to talk with?

5. Employees from your Dream Company

Make a list of your dream companies. (Don’t worry about whether or not they have a role open for you yet – this is about building relationships.)

  1. Go to the company’s LinkedIn page and identify potential hiring managers (guess whom might be a level up from you), recruiters, HR managers, and leaders one level up from your hiring manager.
  2. Note whether or not you have any mutual connections. If you do, reach out to your mutual connection and ask how well they know the person and if they’d be willing to introduce you.
  3. If you don’t have any mutual connections, send a connection request along with a message.

(Hi I’m ________ with ________ years experience in ______ industry. ________ has always been a dream company for me b/c ______. I’d love to add you to my network.)

  1. Once the connection is accepted, build the relationship. Engage in articles they share. If you notice you have something in common (same alma matar, same home town, belong to the same LinkedIn groups) use that as a jumping off point. Depending on the contact, reach out and asking if they’d be willing to spend 10 minutes answering a couple questions about their experience working at said company (Informational Interview.) Ask questions, be curious, show your enthusiasm.  
  2. Once you notice a position open up, send a note asking if they know whom you should talk to to get additional information on the position you are interested in.

6. Your Career Coach

Before you reach out to ANY of the contacts above, it is critical you have clarity on what your dream career is in the first place!

Your Career Change Board of Directors can’t help you, unless YOU know exactly what you want!

A career coach will help you gain that clarity. A career coach will help you identify what role you are truly passionate about, the role that leverages your unique skills, values, & motivators.

Your coach will also help you device a strategy to put together your unique Career Change Board of Directors in order to help you land your dream role.

In addition to help you with networking, career coaches can help you with re-branding your LinkedIn page, your resume, interviewing, and negotiating.

For a full run down on how a career coach can help you, head on over to my article “How Will a Career Coach Help Me Land My Dream Role (And do I need one?)

Find a career coach who specifically helps with finding your passion and schedule a complimentary coaching call to see if you are a match.


Start the discovery process to uncover what your dream career truly is.

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CLICK HERE to download your Free Surefire Guide to Finding Your Passion.

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career change coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 



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