How to Change Jobs Gracefully

How to Change Jobs

Make a seamless transition from one job to the next, all while keeping your integrity, reputation and brand gracefully intact.

Changing jobs, global pandemic aside, can be challenging. From combating feelings of guilt to balancing how to close out work from your old role while trying to get up to speed in your new role, there’s a whirlwind of things to consider. Nevertheless, creative professionals do it every day, adding to the rich tapestry of their career stories. 

There’s truly an art to “doing it right.” If you’re contemplating making the jump from one job to another, it may be helpful to hear from other working professionals who have successfully transitioned from one job to another, all while maintaining a high level of professionalism and leaving behind a stellar reputation that will follow them throughout their careers. 

Check out the personal stories of 6 professionals who successfully transitioned from one job to another (two did so in the midst of the pandemic!) for helpful insights to consider before taking the leap yourself.

How to Change Jobs - Written Works

How to Change Jobs, According to 6 Professionals Who Did It Successfully

How to Change Jobs - Written Works - Johnne Dawson

What made you decide it was time for a job/career change?  Ultimately, my decision to change companies was a part of a larger plan to find what I’m passionate about and would like to focus my career on. With my 30th birthday looming, I felt that it was important for me to make that leap to determine professional fulfillment.

What steps did you take to make your transitions and what was that process like? First, I had to decide if I wanted to look for something in or related to the field I was working in at the time. Once I decided to stay within the field, I decided to use search engines to determine what opportunities were available and if I met the basic qualifications. 

Then, I narrowed down positions based on locations that I would be willing to live in. I reached out to Brittany (Founder & Executive Editor of Written Works House) to aid in updating my resume and cover letter, and proceeded to tweak those documents for each position. 

Finally, I made a commitment to apply to 2-3 jobs per week that truly interested me and seemed in line with my values. I applied directly to the job position on the company’s website.

What was the most unexpected challenge/surprise/observation you discovered during your transition? The most unexpected challenge during the transition was the apartment search process. My interviews happened before travel was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but were in full swing once it came time to do my home search. A lot of complexes’ main offices were not doing property tours. I eventually settled on my current home because they were the only complex that were providing virtual tours at the time. The decision was made completely on faith….which in all actuality reflected my thoughts and feelings on the whole job change decision from the beginning.

Did you have any fears or feelings of guilt concerning your decision to leave your previous role for your new/current one? Of course I did! My previous employer was my first “big girl” job, and I felt a loyalty to my coworkers I interacted with directly. I felt a little guilty because I understood the impact my leaving would have on the workload.

What’s your current relationship like with your previous employer and how important was it for you to leave on good terms and maintain a positive relationship after your departure? It was super important for me to ensure that I left on good terms. I was honest about my reasoning for wanting to leave, but expressed gratitude for the opportunity they granted me. I did my best to wrap things up to allow for a smooth transition for the individual who would be filling my position. Thus also, hopefully, reinforcing a positive impression of me…you never want to burn any bridges if you don’t have to!

If you could do it over again (change jobs), is there anything you’d do differently? Although the move was a little more stressful due to COVID-19 (moving to a completely new state was definitely not fun), I wouldn’t change a thing.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your transition? I learned that I ultimately need to listen and trust myself. Only I know what’s best for me, so I need to trust myself…the peace of mind is definitely worth it.

How to Change Jobs - Written Works - Nikita Haynie

What made you decide it was time for a job/career change? Four years ago, I was working in Georgia as an Academic Advisor for exploratory students. I was ready for a change not only in job title and responsibilities, but in scenery as well. Initially, I informed the Director of my department I was ready to move up and was met with resistance, so in conjunction with feeling complacent with my life in Georgia, this resistance was the fuel I needed to finally put action behind getting serious about job searching in my field.  I secured a career opportunity at an institution in Kansas and moved to pursue the opportunity. I was in my initial role for two years before transitioning to another role at the institution.

What steps did you take to make your transitions and what was that process like? In preparation for my transition, I had to make hard decisions. One specific decision was if I wanted to renew my lease – I decided to not renew and moved in with my parents for six months. I commuted 2 hours while I job searched. 

The process wasn’t easy. It challenged me to think about what I wanted next. I mapped out my specific interests. In the field of Student Affairs/Higher Education there are a plethora of functional areas, so narrowing down the areas I could see myself working in was extremely helpful. In addition to not being bound by location.

Did you work with an agency or a recruiter to be considered for the role or did you apply directly? During my job search, I didn’t work with an agency or recruiter. In my field, it’s all about networking and the connections you’ve made with colleagues at other institutions. I also used Higheredjobs.com. 

How important would you say networking was in helping you land your current/new gig?
It was important, but I would say for me, using my resources was extremely important (i.e. mentors and relationships I’d built with colleagues at other institutions). 

What was the most unexpected challenge/surprise/observation you discovered during your transition? The biggest challenge was the process in general. Within higher education, the process of applying, awaiting a phone interview, and the on-campus interview process can be long and sometimes tedious. It can cause you to question your capabilities and skill set, but I’ve learned that it’s important to stay patient, persistent, and remember the right fit matters.

Did you have any fears or feelings of guilt concerning your decision to leave your previous role for your new/current one? Initially, I felt guilty for wanting to transition from my previous role. However, I am a firm believer that it’s important to pursue spaces where you are valued (valued in your capabilities and in your humanity). You don’t owe anyone an explanation for taking ownership of your career trajectory. 

I personally believe black women often are hesitant to pursue opportunities because we feel an unspoken sense of loyalty to spaces that aren’t loyal to us. It’s ok to do what’s best for you and be unapologetic about it. 

What’s your current relationship like with your previous employer and how important was it for you to leave on good terms and maintain a positive relationship after your departure? I don’t have much interaction with the department any longer; however, when I do the relationship is cordial.  

If you could do it over again (change jobs), is there anything you’d do differently? The experiences and opportunities I’ve been afforded since transitioning to Kansas have been priceless. While some of the experiences have challenged me, I’m grateful. 

The only thing I would do differently (specifically for the initial career opportunity in Kansas) would be to ask more critical and specific questions. 

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your transition? The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the value in obedience and not allowing fear to hold you back from pursuing opportunities. Sometimes, the biggest blessings are on the other side of you stepping outside of your comfort zone. 

I was terrified to leave everything familiar and move across the country. However, I have grown exponentially as a professional and a human. If you’re reading this and you’re afraid to make that transition, I want to encourage you to take a leap even if you’re scared. God can do His best work when you’re uncomfortable. YOU CAN DO IT – LEAP. 

How to Change Jobs - Written Works - Jasmine Nehilla

What made you decide it was time for a job/career change? I’m a competitive woman. As a copywriter, there isn’t a path to the C-Suite. While I’m not sure if I want to go that far within corporatlandia, I certainly don’t want to be restricted from the option. Not to mention, with each promotion comes more money and an increasingly comfortable seat at the table—I can’t deny, those things are appealing to me. 

In my research, the copywriting path in most companies is from copywriter to senior copywriter or copy manager. With solely a writing background, it basically ends there. 

I wanted a position where my creativity (combined with my drive) would allow me to uniquely succeed. 

What steps did you take to make your transitions and what was that process like? Once my manager confirmed there was nowhere for me to move up, it was on me to find my deserved promotion. I started with setting keyword searches for senior writing positions: “communications,” “content,” “HR,” “editor”. I checked for open roles daily. 

I came across positions I never heard of, like “UX Strategist” and “Instructional Designer”. For internal roles, I tapped my HR partner for intel. I would ask for the hiring manager, reach out to them (our company has an open-door policy), and throw 30 minutes on their calendar for a quick interview/networking session. 

In those meetings, I learned that a career in corporate learning was not for me, but I found user experience was hella interesting. I asked as much as I could about the role and department—coming prepared with questions was the key. 

For external roles, I’d just apply and if I was contacted, I’d ask the recruiter questions and conduct a bunch of research via advanced google search ahead of the first interview.

Did you work with an agency or a recruiter to be considered for the role or did you apply directly? I accepted an internal role, so I applied directly after meeting with two senior managers and the hiring manager. 

 How important would you say networking was in helping you land your current/new gig?  I’m naturally loquacious; networking is my claim to fame! Outside of the formal interview process, it is so valuable. It’s an opportune time to be inquisitive without any penalty. 

Once you’re interviewing, there’s a level of “did you do your research?” expected. In an informal conversation, you can learn what you need to set yourself up for success while interviewing. It’s also a great opportunity to read energy and evaluate your potential supervisor’s glaring characteristics. 

I recommend meeting with any and everyone once you’ve found a career path that piques your interest. From the administrative assistant (who knows all the dirty laundry), HR, the hiring manager to the senior vice president. If they’re open to speaking with you, get some face time. 

What was the most unexpected challenge/surprise/observation you discovered during your transition? I was surprised at how different departments operate within the same company. And honestly, it all depends on how empathetic leadership is—how invested they are in ensuring their direct reports are appreciated, informed, inspired and happy at work. 

Did you have any fears or feelings of guilt concerning your decision to leave your previous role for your new/current one? Maaaaaan, I was suffering from some severe imposter syndrome. My manager was nervous about me leaving her team and expressed it often. Flattering as that was, I felt guilty. Coupled with the realists in my family asking, “Is the extra work worth it?” I was battling an internal conflict of, “Am I good enough?” and “Is this what I really want?” My copywriting role was safe; corporate communications was unchartered territory and fear was loud. 

 What was the biggest lesson you learned during your transition? I learned that titles aren’t as ominous as people make them out to be. So much weight was placed on a senior role. I was constantly met with the absurd idea I wouldn’t be able to deliver (there goes that imposter syndrome and fear again). Ultimately, I had nothing to stress about. Yes, the demand is stronger and responsibility is greater in corporate communications, but what’s expected of me isn’t unrealistic. 

How to Change Jobs - Written Works
How to Change Jobs - Written Works - Brionna Simons

What made you decide it was time for a job/career change? I wanted a challenge, and I needed to work on problems that meant something to me. 

What steps did you take to make your transitions and what was that process like? I gradually started attending a lot of professional marketing events in Los Angeles. Then, I actually followed up with the people I met, which led to coffees and lunches and strong relationships that built up my network. 

Through networking, I learned a few things: 1) Every career path is different, it’s okay that mine isn’t linear 2) I gained more confidence through conversations; they say comparison is the thief of joy, but I’d argue that evaluating your career to others is encouraging and insightful 3) I started to narrow down my desired career path.

Did you work with an agency or a recruiter to be considered for the role or did you apply directly? I tried a few recruiting agencies but it wasn’t helpful. My personal network proved much more valuable.

If you could do it over again (change jobs), is there anything you’d do differently? YES! I wrote about it in an article: How I started a new job during a global pandemic.

What’s your current relationship like with your previous employer and how important was it for you to leave on good terms and maintain a positive relationship after your departure? I have a great relationship with my previous employer. My bosses are like mentors and I still keep in touch with coworkers who have become friends. 

It wasn’t an option to leave on bad terms. I really value my relationships with employers and expect them to be mutually beneficial. I’m thankful they’re supportive of my professional growth.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your transition? “As long as you’re yourself, you can’t f*** this up.” It’s a Cleo Wade quote that I use when I start second-guessing myself at work. It helps eliminate myself as a barrier to my own performance.

How to Change Jobs - Written Works - LaDaryl Marquis Jones

 What made you decide it was time for a job/career change? After doing some self-realization, I started to seek the right opportunities that corresponded with my passion. At the start of my job search, I had been working with Home Depot for 12 long, great years and realized that all my past experiences counted toward [me pursuing] my current role.

What steps did you take to make your transition and what was that process like?

[A few things were important to my process.] Making the right connections, understanding the field from the perspective of my current/former employees, and creating a list of questions and scheduling coffee chats with those connections that could assist with my transition.

I built on the craft: After understanding the roles & responsibilities, I worked on the necessary skills that aligned with my objectives. I found a mentor, signed up for workshops, completed volunteer work, and attended hackathons. This was a great way to get my feet wet and build confidence to do the job.

After building a bit of experience, I was able to connect with the right people to build my story on how I could impact the company.

I had to practice, practice, practice when it came to interviewing and building my portfolio. 

Did you work with an agency or a recruiter to be considered for the role or did you apply directly? I did not work with anyone outside the company or a recruiter. I was able to manage the relationships within the organization.

How important would you say networking was in helping you land your current/new gig?  Networking is an essential part of the process. I wouldn’t have accomplished this alone. My confidence and experience expanded greatly after receiving the feedback needed.

What was the most unexpected challenge/surprise/observation you discovered during your transition? I was really surprised by the support and willingness of the people around me. No one gave up on what I was trying to accomplish. This was uplifting and exposed me to the importance of growing in the right environment.

Did you have any fears or feelings of guilt concerning your decision to leave your previous role for your new/current one? Yes. Entering into a world of unknowns has always been uncomfortable for me. 

What’s your current relationship like with your previous employer and how important was it for you to leave on good terms and maintain a positive relationship after your departure? I always visit my old coworkers. It’s important to give back and pass on the knowledge. These people are part of the journey.

If you could do it over again (change jobs), is there anything you’d do differently? Nope, everything happens for a reason!

What was the biggest lesson you learned during your transition? To never give up!

How to Change Jobs - Written Works - Sarah Kellner

What made you decide it was time for a job/career change?  I wasn’t happy with the direction my team was going in and felt it was more a systemic problem than something I could just change by moving teams. I was ready for something new at a different company. 

What steps did you take to make your transition and what was that process like? I always make sure that my LinkedIn stays updated, so about a month before leaving my previous company, I flipped that handy “open to new roles/recruiters” switch on LinkedIn.

I’m lucky to have some big-ticket companies on my resume, which makes me attractive to recruiters and they began reaching out to me. I interviewed with a few companies before finding my current role. 

Did you work with an agency or a recruiter to be considered for the role or did you apply directly?  A recruiter with a third-party contracting company contacted me on LinkedIn. She wouldn’t disclose which company the requisition was for until a few calls later, but said that it was big tech. So I ended up accepting the role as a contractor, with the hope of a full-time, or permanent position. 

After a year, I’m doing my final round of interviews for a full-time-employee role! I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay open to staffing agencies and contract work during your job hunt/transition. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door. Many companies like to do “trial runs” with employees via contracts.

How important would you say networking was in helping you land your current/new gig? Not much, actually. This was primarily based on my experience. But knowing how to talk to people, maintaining contact and establishing relationships definitely played in.   

What was the most unexpected challenge/surprise/observation you discovered during your transition? The biggest surprise was how extremely different the two roles are from each other, even though they’re both content related and sound the same. I learned a lot about myself during the transition. I realized that I’m a very strong detail-oriented person, so a position that focused on vision, and at time, vague strategy-work wasn’t for me. I like to be “down in the weeds,” as they say in the corporate world, and this new position made me realize that’s ok. I just needed to find a role that played to my strengths.  

Did you have any fears or feelings of guilt concerning your decision to leave your previous role for your new/current one? My only slight guilt was not giving enough notice to my former employer, but it was just poor timing, as I had a vacation planned. Other than that, I have zero. I feel good about my contributions to my previous employer and know that it was a great stepping stone to find this gig. 

What’s your current relationship like with your previous employer and how important was it for you to leave on good terms and maintain a positive relationship after your departure? I’m connected with many of my former managers and colleagues on social media. It’s good to maintain contact to keep your network warm. Plus I worked with a lot of great people there. During my exit interview, they informed me that I’m marked as approved for rehire, but I like to go forward, not backward 🙂 


Part of our mission at Written Works is to provide valuable information to those who may desire similar career paths, but can’t seem to gain access to these very limited spaces. 

Our content is created to empower and inspire aspiring professionals to write their own narratives by learning from the experiences, (and sometimes mistakes), of others; experiences that can help teach others how to best navigate these “hard-to-reach spaces” and successfully grow, advance and accelerate their careers. 

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