Career Transition: From Corporate Recruiter to Independent Career Practitioner

Career transition

There are many reasons why people transition from employee to entrepreneur or from one career to another. For me, it was a lifelong existential question; which role was meant for me? Which one would give me satisfaction and make me feel fulfilled? Pursuing a business degree was a decision my family made for me; there was no formal career exploration or assessment done at the time. In fact, the concept did not even exist! Questions about my likes and dislikes, my values, and what I was good at were never asked. Eventually, I made a major career transition, moving from corporate recruitment to independent career practitioner. This is my story.

How My Career Transition Started

With a Master of Marketing degree that was 10 years old and more than 10 years of experience in recruitment, I found myself asking questions that made me feel uneasy. What is next for me? Daily, focused contemplation of this question put me in a very negative mental state,  yet I remained hopeful that I would reach a positive outcome. Was my education and knowledge outdated? Was I out of touch with market needs? I needed answers!

Knowing Myself

When the pandemic sent everyone home, I found myself writing down on a piece of paper all the things I was good at, what people came to me for help with, and how those skills might make sense in another role. I took some career assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and CliftonStrengths Assessment to help me understand further. I discovered skills and aspects of my personality that were unknown to me, as described in the Johari Window model. Analyzing my assessment results and the results of other exercises that helped me “know myself” better, I developed a list of jobs that would be a good fit for me. Factored into the creation of that list was my experience in recruitment and HR, which I enjoyed, and my love of learning and sharing knowledge. All signs pointed to the fact that I was interested in, and a fit for, the world of employment! So, I started doing research.

Conducting Research

Labour Market Information (LMI) on Job Bank indicated that the prospects for career counselling — the closest job title I could find that combined all my interests  — was picking up. Following thought leaders in the industry and studying all the relevant websites I could find provided a wealth of knowledge. I also looked up different career development associations and joined Career Professionals of Canada. I conducted research about setting up my own entrepreneurial business in Canada, signed up to the CareerWise by CERIC newsletter, and attended the Cannexus career development conference.

Engaging in Social Networking

Following other career practitioners online, I made every effort to connect with them and ask as many questions as I could. Some shared their personal experiences and others referred me to books and relevant articles. I took in all the information I could gather to understand what I needed to do to make the transition happen. Attending CPC tele-networking sessions was a great way to network with like-minded professionals and to keep myself updated on industry trends.

Bridging the Gap

My information about the world of work was mostly based on my recruitment experience. Knowing that information, theories, methods, and tools had evolved since I started working, I realized I had to get up-to-date. Needing the information, reassurance, and credibility that professional certifications could offer, I spent one year studying for the Career Development Practitioner (CDP) designation by applying for the Certified Career Strategist, Certified Employment Strategist, Certified Interview Strategist, Certified Résumé Strategist, and Certified Work-Life Strategist certifications with CPC and earned my CDP in the summer of 2021.

Managing Stress

The amount of stress was considerable. Managing current employment as well as a career transition is never easy. However, joining membership with Career Professionals of Canada allowed me to connect with other people — via CPC’s Facebook and LinkedIn groups — who were on the exact same path. I also joined the CPC Mastermind Mentoring Group which was very helpful. As part of that group, I dug even further into the world of career development through the research we conducted and I connected with even more people. I’m now friends with so many career professionals!

Developing a Value Proposition and Career Branding

After defining my service offering, niche, structure, and everything I needed from a business perspective, I set up my website and developed a marketing strategy. I leveraged the power of social media to my benefit. Once the word was out, I started taking on project after project, allowing me to assess the viability of the whole career-transition idea for a year before I left formal employment.

Ensuring Reputation Management

I Googled my name and my brand’s name to see what search results would display and learned about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I engaged in blogging and any collaborative projects I could find. Regularly posting content on various platforms, engaging in online career-related discussions, and volunteering time to help the job-seeker community with quick tips helped me fast-track and strengthen my positioning as someone knowledgeable in the market.

Enjoying the Results of My Career Transition

Being risk-averse, I needed a lot of reassurance to find the strength to make this transition happen. The journey has been rewarding and enjoyable on every front. I know it’s only the start and I can’t wait for more to unfold! Recently, I was the proud recipient of three CPC Awards of Excellence. In less than two years, I feel I have accomplished a lot. I am confident in my career path and proud to be contributing to the career development field.

Final Reflections

Career transition is always challenging. It takes a lot of effort and courage for one to leave what they know and dive into uncharted waters but, with the right support and guidance, it can be a truly enjoyable experience. In fact, it may just be the adventure of a lifetime!

Are you transitioning, too? Did you transition to become a career practitioner? How was your experience? How are you managing now? Please share your story in the comments below.

Rita Kamel, CDP, CCS, CES, CIS, CRS, CWS, is a Career and Employment Consultant, an award-winning résumé and interview strategist, and the founder of DossierPro. Her mission is to empower international job seekers by providing tools and information to help them generate career opportunities. Rita holds a master’s degree in marketing and has extensive experience in recruitment. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Wow Rita, that is an amazing accomplishment! Knowing yourself initially is such an important step! Congratulations!

Thank you so much!

What a wonderfully realistic capture of what it takes to transition a career. The number of hours dedicated to learning new skills and acquiring knowledge are considerable.

I think that readers considering a transition will have a genuine sense of the commitment needed and the work involved. And although it’s time consuming, when a person loves the field and the work, it’s less like work and more like play.

That’s what I found when I, too, embarked on a career transition back in 2007. Never have I regretted that decision because I simply loved serving job seekers. I appreciate how Rita’s article reminded me of the joy I had in my own path to a new career.

I wish you much luck to accompany your hard work, Rita! Well done!

Thank you so much Stephanie! I really gave it my all and I’m so happy to know that you’ve taken that journey too. Thank you for sharing!

You’ve made incredible progress in a short time Rita! I am so impressed and inspired too.

Stephanie is right. You’ve made a big commitment and dedicated a lot to achieve this success. Well done. ?

Thank you Barb, this means a lot!

Hi Rita, your story is very inspiring. I’m in the process of making a transition as well and I’m so happy about your success!

Hi Natassia! Thank you so much for your comment and best of luck in your transition! If you need any kind of support, please do not hesitate to contact me.