All Articles Tagged "career advice"

How Do You Handle ‘Black-On-Black’ Criticism In The Workplace?

May 22nd, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Black business woman arguing/yelling on phone

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As if we don’t have enough to worry about in the workplace, here comes people firing shots who you’d think would understand the struggle.

To answer Jesse Jackson’s question, no we all just can’t get along.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in a world where every Black person I encounter on a professional basis and I are buddies. As with everyone else, you click with some personalities and try your best to dodge others. As much as I would love to have a “support group” of fellow sisters who experience similar workplace issues, it unfortunately doesn’t always happen. In fact, some of them can be the biggest critic and roadblocker.

A good friend of mine works in a predominately Black company and purposely applied for the position for that very reason. Wanting to focus on issues that affect the African-American community, she was so excited to be a part of her new team and hoped to gain new friendships along the way.

Wrong.

“I don’t know what I did but some of those women are just so nasty,” she told me. “I’ve never experienced such unprofessionalism.”

Obviously you can get cussed out by anyone regardless of race, so I think she was a bit overdramatic with that one, but I still understood what she was trying to say. Not every Black professional has an attitude. Granted there are some that can make us hang our heads in shame, I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions about “us” that can affect business deals. Quite frankly it’s a nasty stereotype that has the potential to damage all the hard work we try to accomplish.

Since we’re on the topic however, I can vouch that some of the toughest — and many times unnecessary — criticism I’ve received has been a “Black-on-Black” situation.

As someone self-employed, I’ve had the pleasure of working with people from all walks of life. So long as we had the same objectives in mind (get business done), I don’t care what you look like or where you come from. Throughout my professional career, I’ve learned that everyone has their own way of doing things. Some will be to your liking and others will tempt you to give the side-eye. You can’t control how people handle business and their own actions for that matter.

There have been a couple times when collaborating with other Black professionals made me quite annoyed. No matter how much you agree or disagree, certain situations just aren’t worth taking there. For some reason, certain people are either threatened by what you bring to the table, or feel a need to validate themselves by trying to act superior, which I guess can be the same thing.

Some of my “Black-on-Black” encounters have ended up with a hand in my face (yeah, really classy), a woman rattling off her resume and getting questions about my own Blackness because I focus on general areas of my industry instead of just one. What’s funny is these women never took the time to get to know me or my background and simply tried to project who they thought I was.

At the end of the day, you can’t help ignorant or stupid for that matter. I always try to operate with a basic level of respect for people, even if I don’t really like them. There’s no excuse for “acting Black” or thinking a certain attitude is okay to use with one of your own. In fact, there are folks I know who purposely try not to work with other African-Americans for this very reason. I don’t think I’ll ever go to that extreme because people are people.

Have you ever had a “Black-on-Black” situation at your workplace? If so, how did you handle it?

When It Comes To Success, Does Your Attitude Determine Your Altitude?

May 21st, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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In case you didn’t get the memo, karma is real and will come back to you quick if you aren’t careful.

Yes there are bad people in this world who always seem like their actions never go punished, but they’re the exception to the rule. For the most part, your attitude helps to determine your altitude in both your life and career.

Take that Starbucks manager for example who was caught on tape going off on a customer over a cookie straw. A cookie straw! I don’t care how bad your day is, it’s not worth it to lose your job over a straw. She better hope and pray future employers don’t see the footage. The chances of a company wanting to hire that type of behavior is slim to none.

Call it a power trip or lack of home training, there are tons of professionals throughout the industries who just don’t get it.

I’ve seen this sort of craziness both as an employee and even in the freelancing world. A particular individual comes to mind. Maybe she was the last person picked for dodge ball growing up, but she expected you to kiss her feet before she would even acknowledge you. Working with her was like pulling teeth and unfortunately a necessary evil given she was a decision maker. While I wasn’t willing to let someone interfere with my coin, all I had to do was sit back and let her mess up her own career. Home girl was fired from her position within a few months. What’s funny is that she still tries to reach out to me from time to time on LinkedIn. She’s still looking for employment.

Girl bye.

Do I have days when my attitude is less than fresh? Sure, I’m human like the rest of us. That however does not give me a license to be nasty 24/7. Each of us are carrying a burden or fighting a battle that can impact how we feel on a daily basis. While this is understandable, we have the choice not to project our emotions onto others. You never know who’s watching and how it can affect your career.

In addition to watching your attitude, things like hope and optimism can take you far in life. Many successful people I know tend to be the ones who don’t have a “glass half empty” thought process. No matter what obstacle comes their way, they prepare themselves for battle and never stop working until they reach their goals. After all, how can you expect to be happy with anything in life if your attitude is always negative?

I don’t know about you but there have been times when I felt like giving up. There were times when I felt like throwing in the towel because everything that could’ve went wrong did. You start to question if you have what it takes and if the naysayers who second-guess your decisions were right all along. Rather than choose to accept defeat, I made the choice time after time to keep on going. Even if I could only take baby steps, I tried my hardest to keep an attitude of excellence and expectation. Who knows where I would be today if I gave up.

Does your attitude need some adjusting — or maybe you need a boost in the realm of faith? Here are some resources to help you realize your full potential.

10 Ways Your Attitude Can Affect Your Business

How to Have an Attitude of Excellence

Ways Holding a Grudge Can Damage Your Life & Career

How to Create Your Own Luck

How to Stay Hopeful About the Future

“I Quit, Let’s Have Some Cake:” Is There A Proper Way To Resign?

May 10th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Mark Herman cake resignation letter,via reddit

If you wanted to quit your job, how would you go about doing so?

It’s been a minute since I worked for a company (currently about the self-employed life), but am thinking back to times I resigned from a position. For the most part, I kept things expected and a bit traditional with a typed letter of resignation that included my signature at the bottom. Not fancy or out of the ordinary–just a thanks but I’m moving on.

My how times have changed.

In case you missed it, newscast director Mark Herman decided it was time to quit his job, but resigned in a very sweet way. “Today I handed in the most delicious letter of resignation ever,” Mark wrote on Reddit. Rather than do the expected, he had his resignation letter printed on a cake. I guess you could say this is a great way to save the trees and soften the blow considering most of us enjoy a yummy piece of cake.

Apparently his boss enjoyed the gesture and sugar fix which begs the question, is there a proper way to resign from a job?

Obviously the answer is not to act crazy or immature. Those who are ready to curse folks out and flip tables tend to see their actions backfire–in the event a new employer calls for a reference (you can kiss a letter of recommendation goodbye) or to verify your time there.

Want to hear something funny? Years ago I worked with a male co-worker who always seemed like he was two seconds away from punching out our boss. Lord only knows what he was dealing with at home or around the workplace, but this guy was heated. One day he had enough, marched into our boss’ office and yelled, “F*** y’all for real, I’ve had enough!” In efforts to keep things somewhat “professional” he had the “decency” of putting his intentions in writing. Too bad he wrote “I quit” in huge letters and left it on his desk.

Now if you’re laughing at his less-than-tasteful departure you haven’t heard the funny part. My former boss was very good friends with the owner of the company he tried to work for after the debacle. Needless to say he didn’t get the position and unfortunately found himself unemployed for some time.

The moral of this story is to think about your actions. You just never know how people are connected and ways it can affect your future endeavors. I’m a big believer in tact and trying to be as tasteful as possible in every situation. Yes, folks and jobs will test your patience without end, but it’s important to keep your composure so you can take the high road–even if others don’t.

At the end of the day, you’re leaving your job, and when you stop and think about it, there’s no reason to get too upset as you’ve freed yourself from the shackles of a horrible position. Hopefully you’ll do bigger and better things with your new employer, so why concentrate on all the bad that happened? It’s now in the past. Celebrate your future and rise above wasting unnecessary emotions on a person or situation.

main image via reddit

Would You Walk Away From A Lucrative Job Opportunity If It Didn’t Feel Right?

May 9th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Is money your bottom line? I had to ask myself this very question not too long ago.

Working in the freelance realm, there are tons of opportunities that can come and go. A CEO contacted me regarding a position at his company that sounded interesting (in a good way). I wasn’t looking for anything new, but am not unwilling to entertain new ventures. After all, you never know where opportunities can take you, right?

There was a phone conversation that helped demystify the position and what it entailed. The problems however came after goodbyes were said.

Have you ever had a gut feeling that something was off?

Call me a snob or overprotective, but I don’t believe anyone should give out their personal information too soon. Yes there are contracts and things that come into play, but why on earth are you asking for my social security number before I even see anything in writing? Does that sound a little odd to you? Because it sure as heck sounded fishy to me. Prior to even speaking with this particular company, I did my research to make sure they were legit.

I had a little back and forth via email as I was trying to get to the bottom of things. There were no rude or unprofessional exchanges, but I just couldn’t understand why a company was pressing to get my personal info before I even saw a contract. Can you imagine forking over that and your banking 411 only to back out of the agreement because something didn’t look right? Now you have people with all of your business and you aren’t even going to work together.

A few days passed and I was finally able to get a copy of the contract (in the middle of the night) that helped to make my decision clear. I just couldn’t say yes.

Prior to my decision, I spoke to my husband about the matter. I was so surprised to hear him actually agree with me, not because we don’t see things eye-to-eye, but because he doesn’t mind working a job he doesn’t like if it pays well. The funny thing is, he thought something was off too.

“Babe, you’ve been freelancing for some time now,” he mentioned. “Trust your gut.”

The only thing that kept me on the hook before my decision was the money. Yes it would’ve been nice, but thankfully, my household is in a financial position where we don’t need to rely on it. I realize that’s not the reality for everyone given today’s economy. Does that mean however that you take any position–even if your better judgment votes against it? And we’re not talking about not accepting or leaving a position because it doesn’t bring you happiness all the time. That’s bound to happen. This has to deal with warning signs and whether or not you choose to pay attention to them.

I can recall earlier days in my career when I jumped at any and every opportunity. Bills weren’t going to pay for themselves and I needed to pull my own weight. One thing I’ve learned is that money isn’t everything. Yes it certainly does help to pad your account, but at the end of the day, you need to be happy with your decision, and, more importantly, in a position that you believe in.

Not all jobs are created equal and there might be a reason why you’re feeling funny. The question is whether or not you plan to trust your gut or jump at the chance–ignoring the writing on the wall–because the pay sounds too good to be true.

Headed In A New Direction? You’re Not A Failure If You Let Go Of A Dream

May 7th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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At some point you might need to let go.

It’s been some time since this feeling has “invaded” my thoughts. You might remember me discussing earlier in the year the importance of taking a step back in order to move forward. All of us come to a crossroads in our lives when we have to decide whether or not to stay the course, or adjust our sails.

One thing I’ve learned in my 30 years on this earth is it’s okay to have multiple passions. Kudos to those people who know exactly what they want to do. My husband and father-in-law are examples. They wanted to be engineers all their lives. I on the other hand had no clue and dabbled in many things until I felt like one stuck.

For as long as I can remember, I have been all about decorating and all things interiors. I love the idea of adding personal touches to a home and making it yours through accessories and style. This has been my world for over a decade as I worked with clients building custom homes that eventually led me to start my own company. Since then, things have evolved to home-related reads and tips on my decorating site.

This satisfied a passion inside me for many years that led to some pretty good press and contacts in the industry. There are times I can remember having Carrie Bradshaw moments as I traveled throughout New York City heading from event to event. It was a really great experience that made for wonderful stories.

Well, times have since changed.

I got married, had my first child (currently expecting my second) and moved halfway across the country. All of these life events didn’t mean I needed to give up my dream, but something inside of me started to change–along with my focus on what’s important. I found myself becoming less and less passionate about the very thing that once gave me so much happiness. Did this mean my love for design has completely dissolved? No. I do however feel myself being pulled in a new direction.

There are many topics and causes that pull on my heart. Whether it’s the need to volunteer or highlight tips that can make someone’s life better, I love to help. Don’t get me wrong, decorating is cool and all, but to me, it doesn’t benefit the greater good. This in no way means that those operating in creative sectors don’t have value. Much of their work does in fact make folks feel great and has the ability to transform the everyday into the extraordinary. I personally want something more, something that reaches multiple categories and not just design.

For the longest time it feels like I have bottled up this feeling and kept it on the back burner. Over time it has become harder and harder to concentrate as the whisper I once heard is getting louder by the day. I can no longer ignore it and am dedicating time to figure out the next chapter in my life.

Have you ever felt like a dream you once had is no longer a relevant vision?

After so much time of putting in blood, sweat and tears to make something work, it can be a really hard decision to let go. If you feel it’s the best option for your life, don’t feel like a failure. Letting go has led so many people to greatness they had no idea existed. It’s very easy to hold on to things we know and make us comfortable, but the real leap of faith comes when we feel a tug in a new direction. No one says you need to go cold turkey and just quit, especially without a plan. All I can say is not to rob yourself of the chance to explore it. You never want to look back on your life and wonder what if.

Life is a book made of different chapters and edits.

Read Ways to Make a Splash in a New Industry

Pass The Buck Much? Do You Blame Others For Your Own Shortcomings?

May 6th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Sometimes I really want to shake people who always find an excuse as to why they can’t do something. It can get annoying.

Yes there are situations and circumstances beyond our control that make life hard. No one will ever take away someone’s struggle to do better, especially when it seems the cards are stacked against you. While all of these variables ring true, that doesn’t give anyone the right to throw their hands up in defeat and not try. At the very least you can say you did what you could to reach your dreams.

It can be really hard to interact with people who have a chip on their shoulders. They love to blame everyone from their first grade teacher to their parents and friends for their own shortcomings. At some point there really needs to be personal accountability.

I certainly don’t have all the answers or see everything through rose-colored lenses. It’s only natural to look at yourself in the midst of failure and second-guess what you know to be true. Rather than wag the finger of blame at people who didn’t hire me or clients who chose not to take my services, I did my best to figure out what I could do to set myself apart from my competition and be more successful.

Whether a family member, friend, or colleague, my patience runs thin when folks try to pass the buck.

“You don’t understand what I’ve been through, my life hasn’t been fair.”

A very good friend of mine had an idea for a small business that was right up her alley. After losing her job years ago, she took a position in the house cleaning industry that inspired her to start her own. With a knack for organizing and keeping things tidy, she did really well for herself, commanding upwards of $60 an hour. Life was pretty good for her until she started experiencing a few setbacks. Call it a lack of manpower to satisfy her growing list of clients or failure to create a marketing plan, things started to unravel.

The truth is my gal pal jumped head first into an idea without thoroughly researching it. While she did bring experience to the table, her lack of a business plan was one of many reasons why her company started to collapse.

Rather than identify areas that needed improving, she started blaming everyone for her failing business. How come her friends didn’t help her? (She really did expect us to drop our daily job demands to work for free.) Why did certain business needs cost so much money? She even threw in race as she believed her obstacles solely occurred because she was Black. (Side note: My friend had a pretty hefty Rolodex of clientele that ranged in ethnic backgrounds.)

I get how easy it is to pass the buck. We see it around the workplace and in our personal lives. Even if folks contribute to the decline of a situation, that doesn’t mean you’re 100 percent blameless, or couldn’t do something to help fix it.

Do you know someone who constantly blames others for not reaching their dreams?

Acting ‘Black?’ Why We Need to Stop Using Racial Labels

May 6th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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"Ghetto" Black woman with attitude

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Folks are real quick to get mad when people outside their race use labels, but ironically, are willing to keep a few for themselves.

“Girl stop acting Black.”

Let’s be honest, how many times have we heard someone say this? Perhaps you’re even guilty of associating Blackness with ratchet and ignorant behavior. As common as it might be, that certainly does not make it acceptable, especially in the workplace.

We really need to be careful when it comes to our general image and how we feed into it. Don’t get me wrong, one person does not and should not represent an entire group of people. Unfortunately, that can often be the case if you work in an office where you’re one of the only minorities.

I can remember times at work when my colleagues and I goofed around on our down time. We would talk about things happening on the job and in the workplace. For the most part, it was harmless banter that wouldn’t raise any red flags with human resources.

“I was so pissed it was hard for me to keep my religion let alone my composure,” said one co-worker.

“Don’t they realize I’m Black?”

At first you might brush off the comment as being playful. Lord knows it wasn’t the first time or the last I heard someone Black poke fun at their own behavior or another by referring to their race. It’s sad to say, but you almost become immune to it. I didn’t think much about it until I later realized we were in mixed company. Needless to say the same person who joked about her temper got mad when a fellow co-worker who wasn’t Black asked her not to “turn Black” on them. Yeah, that didn’t go very well… at all.

One thing we really need to remember is folks are watching and listening to us. While it doesn’t give them the right to make inappropriate comments, are you really surprised if and when they do?

Truth be told, if someone white associated race with behavior in this manner, we would be ready to call the press and ask for Al Sharpton to make an appearance. Yet, some feel it’s harmless and shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Well, which is it? Because you can’t have it both ways. We can’t have a double standard when it comes to demanding a certain level of respect, but turn a blind eye or be okay when the stereotype is self-inflicted.

Yes there are generalizations about Blacks that may or may not be relevant. Folks love to associate us as being sassy, hot-headed and ready to knock someone upside their dome if they cross us. Even if we know someone in our life who fits this description, that doesn’t mean we should label their behavior as being being “Black.” It sends the wrong message and places labels on us that can hurt our career. Whether a joke or not, there are other ways to describe someone’s actions without bringing in their race.

Unfortunately this happens too often at work and gives those with established bias to think of you as less of an equal.

Have you ever used your race to describe a person’s actions? Do you think it’s all in fun, or sets us back?

Not What You Thought? How To Manage Disappointment

May 4th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight, photo via Breathe Sport Twitter

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Alright, let it out. After Saturday’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, many folks are trying to call up their cable provider to see if they can get a refund. In many ways, it wasn’t worth $100. Sometimes you get what you pay for and other times you make a bad investment.

The question is how will you handle disappointment that comes your way?

All jokes aside, disappointment is an unfortunate feeling that can really affect our outlook on life. When things don’t go our way it’s very easy to question our own abilities and maintain a level of faith necessary to persevere.  Some might call it losing your swag or a shock to your self-esteem.

Life has a funny way of maturing you, that is, if you allow it. I would like to think I’ve gotten better about handling disappointment over the years. Rather than throw myself into a “Why me?” state of mind, I do my best to try and reassess the situation so can I figure out the next step. Of course there are times when this proves to be challenging, but you can’t knock a girl for trying.

Disappointments have been a very humbling experience–at least for me. If I’m not careful, I can unintentionally stick my nose up at a person or situation because something didn’t work out in my favor. No matter how much hurt I feel, there’s no real excuse to become envious or make a bad experience worse with my attitude.

Can you relate?

Here are some tips on handling disappointment.

Vent. There’s no point in trying to keep how you feel on your chest. Let it all out. Speak with a friend or family member, journal in a notebook, or take a boxing class to physically relieve yourself of aggression. It’s okay to feel frustrated and hurt about what happened, but it’s not okay to allow it to consume you.

Look for perspective. Once you calm down, it’s time to take a look at your situation. What happened and why? For the most part, there’s a pretty good chance it wasn’t random which means you can pinpoint the source. Always do your best to look for perspective as everything life gives us can be a learning tool.

Find a solution. Ah yes, the time has come to make lemonade from your troubles. It might sound a little cheesy but is nonetheless important. While you might not have control over your situation, do realize your actions are a choice. Decide today that you’re going to find the silver lining in your life by making any and all necessary adjustments.

Stay hopeful. I’m a firm believer that things always have a way of working out. Yes there is heartache, pain and crappy situations, but there’s also great things that can and will happen in your life. Stay optimistic that what you’re going through is a temporary setback that can set you up for future success. If we never experienced disappointment or rejection, we would never know just how powerful we truly are. Sometimes it takes situations like this to open our eyes and get us back on track.

Don’t dwell. Does it really make sense to focus all of your attention on things that disappoint you–especially if you’re trying to move forward? Stop dwelling on the past.

main image via Twitter

Stop Being So Defensive: Ways To Lower Your Guard

May 4th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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All of us have something that makes us feel defensive. Whether a person, situation, or issue we deem a setback, it’s very easy to put up a guard. There are times when I need to check my own attitude because of how quick I jump to conclusions for little or no reason. Have you ever been around someone who goes from zero to 60 over the simplest things? If only chill pills came in the form of chewing gum.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s never good to be on the defensive all the time. It simply doesn’t help when it comes to productivity or being a good team player. I can recall situations in the past where a co-worker made it next to impossible to work together. Here I am focusing on deadlines while he nit picks everything little thing because he assumes I don’t value his opinion.

One of the biggest issues I constantly have to deal with is the need to feel that I’m right. I’ll admit I don’t know everything, but can sometimes take certain criticism to heart if I feel misunderstood, or even undervalued. Because of this, I sometimes go into situations expecting a certain amount of backlash and resistance.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have a plan B in the event your original idea doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean pessimism is the way.

Trust is an important factor when it comes to life and our careers. Without it, you never really make the connections necessary to see the success you want or experience true happiness.

Stop resisting the inevitable.

Here are some pointers that will help you lower you guard.

Let go of your fear of failure. You’re really going to miss out on life if you never take a chance. No one has all the answers or knows all the details when it comes to how their story plays out. Let go of your fear of failure and the need to be in control. Who knows the opportunities that are coming your way and what you’ll miss if you close yourself to them.

You can’t control rejection. God bless you if you ever find a way to dodge rejection. It’s a hard pill to swallow but one that comes with the game of life. A big reason why folks are unable to lower their guard is because they can’t deal with the idea of being rejected. Just because you hear “no” doesn’t mean you’re incompetent. It wasn’t the right idea or move for the time being. Believe it or not, rejection can actually be a good thing as it forces you to go back to the drawing board, analyze your ideas and try again.

Say goodbye to the past. People would have such a bright future if they learned to let go of past hurt. You can’t go back in time and erase what happened so why dwell on it? Today is a new day which means you need to wipe the slate clean. The road to future endeavors and pursuing your dreams is difficult enough without carrying past baggage.

What are some ways you try to lower your guard?

Let Your Heart Guide You: Ways To Make A Splash In A New Industry

April 30th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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I’m a firm believer that all of us have different paths. While we might be good at a particular task or have working knowledge of a certain industry, that doesn’t mean we’re a one-trick pony.

For as long as I can remember, I had no clue what I wanted to do in my adult years. In college I made the decision to study architecture and design that later turned into an art history degree. During those years I worked in the interior design industry designing model homes and helping clients with new construction endeavors. It was a really fun gig that made me feel complete in many ways.

However once the recession hit — and thus the end of the housing boom — I randomly accepted a job at a global financial institution where I worked with clients to help plan for their retirement. This was a bit short-lived (I think I only stayed for a year and a half) as I found more copies of Architectural Digest around my cubicle than The Wall Street Journal. Following my gut, I packed my bags, moved to the New York City area and started an interior decorating business that morphed over the years into a lifestyle website.

As much as I love design, I’m discovering it doesn’t fill me the way it did in the past. There are so many issues and topics outside my industry that tug on my heart strings that could very well lead me to a completely different arena.

Whether life forces your hand through an unexpected circumstance or you make the decision, it’s okay to take the chance. I know lawyers who left their careers to start a catering business. You would think they were nuts for wasting such a prestigious degree–and spending hundreds of thousands on an education–but if it makes them happy, let them be happy.

Have you ever felt like you should pursue another venture outside of what you know?

It’s actually pretty common.

Before you make the leap, it’s important to make the right moves that will help ensure future success. Here are a few tips.

Find out all there is to know. Sure you might think you know about an industry but don’t make a jump based off assumptions. Research everything you can about your new path: its growth rate and requirements (e.g. certifications and degrees). If you know anyone who’s currently operating in the arena, reach out to them to get insider tea.

Look for transferable skills. No matter how far apart you think your new industry is, there’s a good chance you can apply current skills to your future job. Look for any openings that hint at job requirements, and pay attention to noticeable patterns. This will help you tailor your resume to show off any relevant experience and knowledge you already have.

Be willing to start over. I don’t care if you’ve been in your current field for over a decade, if you need to start over in order to pursue a new industry, you have to do it. Don’t rule out things like lateral moves, internships, or even volunteer opportunities that can align you with the right people. Humility and hard work can take you far in life.