The Career Shift Limbo: How Low Should You Go?

Ask The SpitFire Coach



When changing career paths, how low is too low to aim? I’m looking at jobs in a different industry and I have 14yrs business experience, but limited experience in this specific field. Should I start at entry level or is it acceptable to expect to come in at my current level?




I hear a version of this question come up a lot and it’s one that I wrestled with when I was at my last corporate job. In my first year, I knew I was unhappy, but had convinced myself that my role in association management wasn’t transferrable into other industries. Every job post I got excited about, I talked myself out of because I didn’t think I had relevant experience.


I stayed with in that role for eleven years until I believed I could do more and deserved more – that’s when I became a coach.


Women especially struggle with this issue, the data backs it up. According to the article ‘Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified‘, typically men will apply for a job after only meeting 60% of the qualifications on the job description, while women are more hesitant and will only apply after meeting all 100% of the qualifications. 


Let’s get out of the story and get into the facts


You have 14 years of business experience. You are not starting from scratch. You get to choose what you do.


By the tone of your question, I’m sensing a surrender or loss of power. It’s up to you to tell the story and give the evidence on when you’d be a good fit. If you need to take a class or get a certification to feel more relevant or desirable to that industry or company – go for it.


Starting from the bottom in most industries means a dramatic pay cut and ego hit. 


Here are some questions to ponder:

  1. What’s the potential payoff with this position? 

  2. What do you expect this position to give you that you don’t already have? 

  3. How long are you willing to stick it out if there’s no growth? Is the potential sacrifice worth what you think you’ll gain?


Before you make a decision on what positions to apply for, I’d like you to do a little exercise:


1)   Print out your resume, a job description at your current level in the new industry and a job description at an entry level position in the new industry.


2)   Go through the job description at your current level and see what experience on your resume matches. If there’s a match, put a check mark. If there’s a gap, circle it. If you know you have the experience, but don’t have it on your resume, put a ? next to it.


3)   Do the same steps with the entry level job description.


4)   What do you notice?


Maybe your resume needs some updating. Maybe there are some classes you can take. Maybe you’re more qualified than you think…


If you have a question you’d like answered, email