May 24, 2023

10 Things to Avoid When Making a Career Move

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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We’ve all been there. You have outgrown your career, you’re looking for a challenge, maybe your culture just isn’t a good fit so you’re considering making a move.

But you want to be sure it’s the right one.

Today I’m digging into 10 things to avoid before making a career change. These are red flags I see so many people make that puts them into a new role they later regret or prevents them from making any moves at all.

Tune in to know what to avoid and what to do instead so you can make the right pivot for you.

What you’ll learn:

  • The common pitfalls people make when making a career change
  • The 10 things to avoid when deciding what move to make
  • The 1 thing you can do to make sure your next move is the right one

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Welcome to Your Worthy Career, a podcast with me, Melissa Lawrence. I’m a career and life coach with all the corporate credit and talent development and organizational psychology. I help women like you get extraordinary results by being more you, not less. I won’t just help you have a career experience worthy of you, but I will help you build your self worth to shift what you think is possible and take the action that will create the career you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s more meaningful work you’re passionate about, making more money, getting to your next level, or being more effective as a leader. We are shattering the glass ceiling here. The one that exists for women at work and the one we put on ourselves with our doubt and inner critic. Each week you will get practical teachings grounded in neuroscience and effective career development strategies. You’ll experience deep mindset shifts and the perfect amount of rule so you can run your career with ease rather than your career running you. You were born for more and I’m going to help you get there with maybe a few dance parties along the way. Your up level begins now.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. I’m so happy that you are here with me today. Now, today we’re going to bring it back to some basics. We’ve been digging into some deeper mindset and confidence conversations, but I know that many of you may be thinking of making a career move or making some change, whether it be within your company or outside of your company and maybe making a pivot. So let’s take a little pivot from the last couple of episodes and talk about 10 things to avoid when choosing your next career move. Because it’s one thing to try to figure out what you do want, but there are also some really clear red flags that I suggest you avoid, things that you don’t do, things that can lead you into a career that you will later regret, and no one wants that. I don’t want that for you. You don’t want that for you. All right, so let’s go ahead and dive in. Now, the first thing to avoid is choosing what makes sense based on your resume. Now, let me explain. I’m not saying that you should completely let go of your experience, your education, all of those things that have gotten you to where you are today.

But it is possible that what you want is a little bit different than what you’ve done before. And when you look only at what you’ve done before, it really limits your ability to look at what’s possible to be open to new ideas or new opportunities that you may have never even considered because you’re really limiting your perspective and your view on the facts of the past as opposed to really being open minded about your future. So when you are looking to make a career change, look bigger than what makes sense. Number two, getting a PMP or other certification that you’re not sure you want. Now, this is a big one. A lot of people, I would say probably over 50 % of the people that reach out to me are telling me that they are considering a PMP or regulatory or other certification or maybe an additional master’s degree or an MBA because they feel stuck and they feel it’s going to make them more marketable. And so they just want to invest in their education and think that maybe that will help them figure out what to do. And those certifications can be really valuable.

Now, some people might think “I have a PMP and it’s amazing”, and this statement that I’m making has nothing to do with the value of those certifications or education. There’s a lot of value in those. If you know it’s what you want. When you’re doing it because you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall or putting a bandaid on something because you’re not sure what you want, that’s where it becomes a problem. So you could go and spend thousands of dollars on a certification. You could go and spend hours and hours studying for these exams so that you can put it on your resume. But then if you don’t actually want that job, it’s just a waste of time and money. It’s like you don’t know where you’re going, but you’re going to buy a certain car to get there. It doesn’t make any sense. So I’ve actually had people that have thanked me because they were thinking, I want to get out of bench work. I want to get out of working in a lab. I want to move into more business management, project management. I’m going to get a PMP, and then I’m going to move into project management.

And then we go through my process that I use to help people discover the career that they really want, and they realize they don’t even want to be a project manager. So that just saves them so much time and money. It made it worth the coaching investment just in that one little tiny decision. So definitely pursue those things if it’s something you absolutely know you want to do. But not if you’re just doing it to try to beef up or make your resume more attractive, right? Because it doesn’t matter what’s on your resume, what matters is the job that you have and whether or not you enjoy it. And those things don’t always go together. Okay, number 3, letting the recruiters that fill your inbox on LinkedIn tell you what to do. Now, I know you are very talented and you likely get people reaching out to you on LinkedIn asking you if you’re interested in different roles. That doesn’t mean those roles are your dream job. And sometimes when we’re feeling really stuck and we’re feeling heavy and we’re feeling like we just want to get out of the misery that we’re in, we entertain things we wouldn’t normally.

And we start looking at things like, Oh, well, this recruiter is telling me that this would be a good fit for me. Maybe I should give it a try. Or you could do that with your boss, too. My boss is telling me that this would be the next step. Maybe that’s what it is. I just need to get out of where I am. And so you want to be careful that when you’re doing that, that you’re not letting other people guide your decisions around your career, because that’s often how a lot of people get unhappy is they are making decisions for other people by what they think they should be doing and not really getting in touch with who they are and what they truly want. Now, that leads to the next thing to avoid, number 4, which is doing what you see other people do. So again, this is another big pitfall that I see where people will come to me and say, I’m seeing a lot of other people go into quality assurance from manufacturing. I’m seeing a lot of people make this pivot in their career. I think that’s what I need to do so that I can get ahead.

And again, those experiences can be valuable, but we don’t know the reasons for those people’s decisions. It’s like comparing yourself to someone else when you don’t really know the inside information, you don’t really know all the details, you’re just seeing the outside. And also, so many people, including myself in the past, had made career decisions for the wrong reasons and didn’t know it. And so you don’t want to necessarily follow someone else’s path. You want to know, just like with the PMP or the recruiters or anything else, you want to really know what is the best thing for you, not anyone else. Now, number five, taking a job in another department for more experience. Okay? So this one is connected to the last one, right? So doing what you see other people do, which was number four, which can be going to other departments. It can also be, Well, the next step is for me to move into this level or get this type of promotion. emotion, so that’s what I’m going to do. That’s another example of doing what you see other people do. This is a little bit more nuanced where you’re looking to say, Okay, for me to get ahead, I’m going to take a job in another department that is a lateral move, not because you want to, but because you think you need to diversify your resume or diversify your experience.

Now, this can be very valuable for your career if it’s what you want. So there’s a theme here around if it’s what you know you want, not like you’re just throwing things out there trying to develop and grow in any way that you can because you’re not feeling like you’re growing the way you want to. So you want to be cautious not to waste time because you could end up really setting your career back for years by doing a move like that into another department for more experience. And it might not even pay off to what it is that you really want to do in the long run. So I would definitely avoid that. Number six is delegating the decision to your boss or your work bestie. So I know from my corporate days, I had work besties. I’m sure you do too. And it’s those people that you talk to that you confide in about your day, about the complaints that you might have about work, the things that are frustrating you, and you ask for advice. Now, your work bestie loves you, but they don’t know you more than you know you. And you might say, Yeah, they do, but they don’t.

The reason that you may think that is because you’re not feeling in touch with yourself, that you’re not feeling like you really know yourself on a deep level, but it is possible to get there. And outside looking in, they don’t know how you think. They don’t know what keeps you up late at night. They don’t know how you feel when you wake up in the morning. They don’t know how you’re experiencing certain people you’re working with, the tasks that you’re doing, they don’t know the micro level of your day in, day out, minute after minute, but you do. So they’re not the best person to help you decide what to do. Same with your boss. Your boss is also going to have a very limited view based on their view of career development based on what they’ve done in their career. So you really want to seek people that are unbiased. That’s where coaching can be really valuable. It’s not someone that knows you that already has ideas about who you can be or what you can do that’s judging you. This is a situation where you’re with someone that sees only the potential in you that can help you overcome blind spots you might not see and be really objective in helping you figure out what you want and getting into that role.

Where other people’s advice means well, friends, family, your boss, your work bestie, they are definitely meaning well, but they’re limited by their own biases as well, and they’re not an expert in career development or in psychology or organizational psychology or human behavior. So it’s just really not a good idea for the long run to let them make the decision for you. Number seven is staying where you are because it’s a good job. So this is one that I felt victim to or was guilty of. If you’ve followed me for more than a minute, you may know my story, but this was something that I struggled with. A lot of my clients struggle with, which is you work really hard to get where you are. You make a good salary, you have work that you like. Some of the time, or even a lot of the time, you have good benefits, you have a good routine, maybe you have a good work life balance, maybe you are able to work from home sometimes, and you just don’t want to rock the boat for something better. And you don’t want to risk that good job for something better when you don’t even know if something better exists.

But I’m here to tell you, you can take it from me and the tons of people that I’ve worked with over the last few years, that when you’re thinking about your job as this is a good job, but I’m not happy, I promise there’s something better for you. There’s a reason that you’re thinking that. There’s a reason you’re wondering if there’s something more. There’s a reason that you are maybe wanting to be challenged or feeling like you’re not growing, there’s just a reason for how you’re feeling and you can trust that. When we don’t take action but we are feeling unhappy, it’s often because we’re not trusting ourselves that we know what’s right for us, that we can trust ourselves to know when something is not a good fit because then we look to other people, other circumstances, and we look at what a definition of a good job is. And all of that is determined just by who you are and your experiences. So for me, I grew up in a home where having a job you loved wasn’t really something that people talked about. People talked about things that maybe they were interested in or maybe they wanted to make a difference, but it was really all about getting a job that paid the bills and that had benefits, that had health insurance.

If you loved your job, well, that was just icing on the cake. That wasn’t something that was really required or necessary. And so when I grew up with that type of belief system, then when I got a job where I was making more money than I ever thought that I would ever make from where I came from, for sure, never thought I’d make that much money, never thought I’d be in such a coveted role where I made my own role in the industry. I had excellent benefits. So to look at that and then think, But I’m not happy. I want to be challenged. I want to make a bigger impact. I could do more. That was a struggle for me, for sure. And it’s a struggle for a lot of the people that I work with because you feel like you’re not being grateful for what you have, and then it feels extra. And believe me, you can have a career. It doesn’t even have to be in your own business. It can be in another company where you are feeling like you are thriving, that you were doing the work that you’re meant to do.

I’ve helped people do this by moving to new companies, moving to new roles. Some have started their own business, but some have gotten this by staying in their same job. I have a client right now who is happier right now than she has been in years in her same job. And when we started, she was ready to leave, spending 20 hours a week trying to find another job. Okay? So just believe me when I tell you that you can have something better than what you have right now if that is what you want, even if it is a good job. And it doesn’t mean you’re not ungrateful or that you’re not grateful. Okay, number eight, waiting to see what happens with the reorg. So the industry is really famous for its reorgs, not necessarily in a good way. That the industry just has a ton of reorgs, and some of those have layoffs associated. Some of them don’t. A lot of it is shuffling around. Sometimes it happens just based on the pipeline and the expertise that’s needed. A lot of times how I’ve seen it is you have a senior leader come into an organization, either internally or externally, and they decide they want things to be operating differently.

And so they shuffle things around, come up with new expertise areas, new workflows, and it just moves people around and you end up having new managers or new roles. And so waiting to see what happens with that is not a reason to stay in a job you don’t like. That is something to avoid. And I hear that sometimes too, where people will think, Well, there’s a reorg coming, so let me just see where things fall with that, and then I’ll figure out what I want to do with my career. And that’s just a bad decision because, again, you are allowing other people to be more empowered about your career than you are for yourself. You don’t want to wait to see what happens with the Reorg. You can decide right now to figure out what it is that you want in your career, regardless of the Reorg. And then if the reorg is to your advantage, great. Or even better, you can actually influence what you do as part of the reorg to incorporate what it is you discover you really want to do. I’ve helped people do that as well. And so there’s just so many more opportunities, and you’re not wasting your own time.

Our time on this Earth is very precious. It’s limited. We don’t know how much we have. So waiting around for other people’s decisions for you to take action towards what you want, even if it’s just figuring it out of what you do want, it’s just a better path to figure it out on your own, on your own timetable right now when you want to know, rather than wait for something else in the future because reorgs, they are never ending. Okay? Now, the next one is to Google what to do. Okay, this is number nine. So you can go into Google and you can say, how do I know what I want next? Or what is my ideal career? Or how to make a career pivot? You could Google any of these things and you’ll get a number of different resources. You’ll probably get some from me, too, either from this podcast or from my website or trainings I’ve done or things I’ve posted on LinkedIn, whatever it is. You’ll get a lot of advice on what to do. But that is going to be generic. Even listening to this podcast, I do my very best with everything that I put out, whether it be social media, a training that I do, or this podcast.

Anything that I do that is a free resource, I do my best to make it very action oriented, very tangible, practical, and something that’s actually going to help you today. And I’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the years that I’m delivering on that, that people have gotten results they needed just from my free stuff. So I’m delivering on that. However, what you’re getting from me in these formats of free content is going to be different than what I might share with you when we are working together one on one or in a group. Because when we’re working together, I am personalizing the guidance for your unique situation. On top of it, with coaching, you get someone that can see your blind spots. I always say that your brain can’t solve your brain’s problems. So you can consume content online. You can listen to content. You can Google content that will tell you what to do. But one, it’s not personalized to you. So it may or may not be the best advice for you, and you wouldn’t know it. And two, you’re going to filter and understand that guidance through a biased brain. What you’re listening to right now, even as much as this episode has gone on, has been filtered by your bias.

So I don’t even know 100 % if you’re receiving this the way that I’m delivering it, right? Because we all add our own flavor and story and context and color to stories to what we hear, to what we consume. So when you think about googling the answer, you’re going to be filtering that with a biased brain. And on top of it, it’s going to be more general advice. It’s not going to be personalized to you. So it’s really important. This is why my success rate is so high and unprecedented for the work that I do is because it’s personalized, it’s unbiased, plus it’s being used with the expertise I have in career development or organizational psychology. So it’s really setting you up for success in a way that’s going to be different than a generic solution. Now, number 10, thinking about getting help to figure out what you want, but then you fall into the doom scroll on LinkedIn and you stay stuck because you’re afraid you’re going to make the wrong choice. This is something to avoid. And I just want you to know that if you’re doing this, I see you. This is so common.

So many people do this. I’ve done this. It’s very normal to have that thought that you want to do something different, to question the decisions you’ve made, to have a bad day and then go on LinkedIn and look for something to be better. And then maybe you don’t find something that is better than what you have, so then you don’t think there’s something better than what you have. Maybe you start looking at your old alumni or colleague’s LinkedIn and wonder why they are where they are, and you are where you are, and you fall into this rabbit hole, right? Or you start seeing things you could apply for, but then you’re not sure you’re really qualified or what if you get it, and then what will that mean? And you don’t want to leave your team, right? And then you just don’t do anything. So instead, if you’re thinking about getting help to figure out what you want, if you’re thinking about applying for that job, just do it. I promise you are going to make so much more progress. You are going to learn so much more. You are going to feel so much better, and you’re going to get where you want so much more quickly by taking that action when you’re unsure.

Because right now, not doing anything is keeping you comfortable, and it’s keeping you stuck and unhappy. And you’re going to spend year after year wondering if this is all there is, and then getting to a certain point and regretting, you didn’t make the change sooner. And I know that is harsh, but I know that because that is the story I lived. And that is the story that my clients tell me. I shared the story of my client Sue on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago. At the time that you’re hearing this, it’s probably a month or so ago, and she had said that that was something that she regretted, or maybe she didn’t use the word regret, but what she had said is that she wished she had discovered coaching sooner, that she didn’t realize that it was something that was just accessible. She had never tried anything like it before. She had never done any help in any area when it comes to hiring another person to help with any mindset or career development. And doing that is what put her on the path to knowing what she wants and creating a successful, happy career for herself where she’s happier than she’s been in a very long time doing what she loves.

And had she found that earlier in her career, she wonders what would have been different, but she’s grateful she found it when she did. And that is what a lot of my clients tell me is they didn’t realize because coaching might be new. It’s new to go and hire your own personal person to help you with your development. That might seem new or foreign, but like I’ve said before, there’s a reason that companies spend tens and twenties and thirties and forties and fifties and sixies, thousands of thousands of dollars on coaches for their senior leaders and for their leaders they’ve identified for succession planning because it works. It’s just not something that they invest in the masses. And I think that should change. I honestly think that should change. I think there’s a lot of value in having an external coach, though I will say that. So when I say I think that should change, I put my actions where my mouth is. I created a career counseling program when I worked in industry. It was really great and I loved having it. That’s how I started and knew that I really wanted to do this coaching full-time on my own.

And why I left, one of the reasons I left and started my own business was because I wanted to coach in an unbiased way. When you have an internal coach, the coach is an employee, a contractor of the company. So there’s more people involved in knowing what you say. It’s not always 100 % confidential, and there’s sometimes an agenda. So for example, if you have a leadership development program that has coaches as part of it, maybe meet with a coach once a month. There’s an agenda for those and that information is being fed to other people. When you hire someone on your own, it’s someone that’s working for you, that’s only invested in you and doesn’t really give a crap about anything else. They care about you. For me, I don’t care about what your boss thinks about you leaving. If that’s the best fit for you. Your HR isn’t going to know. I am there to help you know what you want and navigate whatever career development you want to achieve in a way that feels good to you and help you navigate that when it comes to making those changes if that is what you decide to do in the workplace.

So it’s just like having an expert, an ally, someone that’s on your side that’s able to help you navigate the things that you want to in a safe space. Those are the 10 things. If you feel really called out right now, just know you’re not alone. These are all things I’ve struggled with, clients have struggled with. And there is a new way to make career decisions. There is something different than what you’ve been doing. And that’s using a process like the one I have created that is grounded in science and career strategy. It’s proven to work. Because when you make the wrong career decision, it costs you time, money, stress, and it lessens your quality of life, which is why you’re afraid to make the wrong decision. But the workaround for that is to make sure your decision is the right one. And that’s what I help you do. When we work together, you get into a career you love. You not only make more money, and I’m not only helping you with the interview process with the negotiation, we cut out the stress and anxiety. You become more confident and you wake up being happy to go to work.

And that makes you better in every other part of your life. That’s how sometimes you’ll see my clients talking about how they’re better parents or a better partner, or simply just have a happier life, even though we don’t talk about parenting necessarily, or we don’t talk about their partner necessarily. It’s because there’s a ripple effect to you really working on yourself and developing personally and professionally in this way. You make a one time investment in your career and in the most important asset you own, which is not your house, it is your brain, and it gives you everything that you want. It’s the best deal on the planet. So if you are feeling called to work together, the first step is to schedule a consultation with me. We will discuss what you want to be different, my process, and decide if working together is a heck yes for both of us. And if it is, we will schedule our first session. If not, you will at least know what the real problem is. You will know the process to solve it instead of guessing and trying to figure it out on your own. It is really win-win.

But either way, keep these ten things in mind of what to avoid if you’re considering that pivot that will at least help you know what not to do as you’re looking to make a transition. All right, have an amazing week. Talk to you soon, cheetahs. The episode is over, but your next level is just beginning. If you’re ready to have the career that you really want, I invite you to schedule a coaching consultation to work with me where you will identify a career path to your next step, build your confidence to tackle any career challenge, make more money, and work in stress less with my proven process. Head over to to get started.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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