Turning Anxiety Into Success- Career Change Edition

Every person I’ve helped with his or her career change is different- different dreams, personalities and skill sets. However, there is one commonality among everyone- there is always some degree of anxiety. The fear and worry of making the wrong choice. The all-or-nothing-oh-my-god-what-if-I’m-ruining-my-life feelings of utter dread. Although the degree of intensity of the feelings differs, some level of anxiety around this move exists for nearly everyone. If you’re reading this and thought you were alone, you’re not.

This anxiety is often what prevents people from taking a leap and seeing what might be possible for them, so the fact that you’re still reading this posts shows you’re intrigued by what might be possible for you.

As I move toward launching the Career Change Kitchen Online Course, I’m really aware of this crippling fear that threatens to keep us firmly planted in our current misery/boredom/combo thereof, so I wanted to spend some time helping you reframe your anxiety so you can actually USE IT to get moving on your career change.




  1. The Worst Case Scenario Test. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you embark on this career change and don’t like it?” Write it out in as descriptive terms as possible. BE SPECIFIC. Then ask yourself a) how likely it is that that will happen and b) if it did happen, what could be some possible solutions? Let me put it in very real terms for you. When I was deciding to leave the events world, I felt crippling dread that I would fail. Even when I launched my business, I was all, “WHAT IF THIS DOESN’T WORK, I AM DOOMED!” Also- secret time: I STILL have moments like that from time to time. But I always tell myself that my worst case scenario is to become an employee again at a company. And when I think about that as my worst case, it’s not really bad at all! The WCS for me is not eviction and hunger and no home. Think about what your WCS. Naming it and facing it before you walk away from pursuing a career change (again) is a huge part of continuing to move forward.
  2. Use Anxiety to Your Advantage. This one’s cool. An article in the Atlantic earlier this year talked about using your anxiety in a positive way. Instead of the idea of “Keep Calm and Carry On” or trying to forcibly calm yourself down when you’re feeling anxious, this idea of “anxiety reappraisal” comes down to telling yourself you feel excited when you feel anxious. The idea here, according to the author and the studies, is that anxiety and excitement are both arousal feelings so it’s easier to move from anxiety to excitement rather than from anxiety to calm. Check out the article for how she recommends you proceed.
  3. Practice. Just because you do either of these things once doesn’t mean the switch is flipped and you never experience anxiety about changing your career again. It’s about keeping that mindset top of mind and being aware when you’re slipping into the dark hole of career change anxiety. In the Career Change Kitchen Online Course, I work with you on mindset stuff and help you move through it. Here’s some more info on the course (and click the button to get notified when we’re ready for launch!)

Just to hammer home the point, if you’re feeling anxious about the idea of changing your career, that’s a GOOD THING. It shows you’re also potentially EXCITED about the opportunity. And I can’t stress this enough- you are not alone in this up and down roller coaster my friend!


Tough Career Question of the Week: How Do I Know When to Stop?

This week’s TCQW (that’s kind of a crappy acronym) is from H.J. in NYC. She asks, “How do I know when to keep going with my career exploration and when to stop?”


It’s a fact: When we have full time jobs and are thinking about changing careers or are in the process of changing careers, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are kids to take care of (and be with) and bills to pay and weddings to plan and disagreements with partners, not to mention your actual DAY JOB– all of this is normal. What’s not normal is how we think we need to continue ‘doing it all’ when we’re JUST.TAPPED.OUT.


This is where HJ’s question is coming from. And while Old Jill circa 2011 when I was crazed would say “Keep pushing through!” New Jill says the following- and don’t worry, it’s SUPER simple.


I want you to ask yourself two things:


  1. How are you feeling right now?
  2. What do you need?


If today just isn’t the day for you to revamp your resume, let it go. It will not run away overnight (as much as we wish it would).
IMPORTANT disclaimer: I’m not saying ‘give up’. I’m not saying go back to the status quo. I’m just saying to be light with yourself as you go through this process and give yourself a break. If you need someone to give you permission to do this (as I often do) I, JILL OZOVEK OF SOUND MIND, am giving you permission.


It’s only when we begin to make conscious choices about how we’re feeling and moving through this stuff does the real progress and change begin to take root.


So follow me and grab a walk or a bubble tea or a weekend or week off from this career change work. And come back and rejoin the cause when you’re recharged. That’s when your best work will happen- I know it.

Tough Career ? of the Week: How Can You Get Employers to Think About Your Skills Creatively?

This is a new series I’m starting to answer YOUR burning career needs to help you think creatively about your toughest career challenges. Comment below and I’ll write you a blog post (and let me know your email so I can let you know when your personal answer is up!)

This week’s Tough Career Question is from Emily in New York, NY. Emily writes:

How do you get potential employers to think about your skills creatively as it applies to their needs? I’m trying to potentially transition into a different career and I’ve tweaked my resume and written excellent cover letters (I think at least) to outline my skills and how specifically they would transfer well to the position at hand but it’s still very difficult to get any traction or even an interview. It seems like companies think very literally and uncreatively about a person’s experience. If you don’t have 5 years (or whatever the requirement might be) in a particular industry, they just dismiss you and move on. Is there anything else I can be doing to really drill home the fact that I am worth interviewing? Should I be really up front about my lack of experience in the industry but then drill into all the ways it doesn’t matter?

This is one of those things that really grinds my gears. It’s a common occurrence and happens for a variety of reasons. One reason could be that the more corporate you go, the more rules-based and rigid they become to satisfy various quotas, rules, etc. Or, as I’ve seen first-hand, the hiring team is overworked and understaffed, so weeding out resumes that aren’t an exact fit on paper is a quick time saver. Sad, but true. Lastly, maybe the hiring team isn’t thinking creatively about the role for whatever reason.

I tell you all of these potential reasons, Emily, because this is one of those times where it’s time to get off paper and get in front of them physically. I know that sounds crazy- and I don’t mean to show up at his or her offices demanding to speak to someone, so let me explain.

You’ve done a bang up job on your resume. You’ve tied your experience and skillet in your cover letter to exactly why you’re a fit for these jobs and you’re still getting radio silence and/or a “no”.   How about considering building your network up and networking your way into the company? Who of your first-degree connections on LinkedIn knows someone there? Can you ask for an introduction? Is a representative from the company speaking at an upcoming networking event? Sign up to attend and introduce yourself to the speaker while there and follow up via email. If this company is ‘the one’, talk about it with whomever you’re with- at a friend’s house for a dinner party, at events, at weddings- you name it. I truly believe this is not DOA until you’ve tried to network your way into the company.

CreativelyCase in point: A client of mine worked in marketing for treasury services for JP Morgan. Not exactly the sexiest work in the land. She wanted to work in marketing for a higher end fashion brand. She was told “no” tens of times and got radio silence to her application the other dozens of times. So we got thinking creatively and started her on the networking circuit- setting up coffee chats, asking friends for intros- she spent a lot of her post-work weeknights meeting up with people in fashion. And once she got in with one, she was introduced to others. She was able to tell them exactly what she had been trying to get across in her cover letters and sure enough, she got a job within a couple of months working in fashion!

This approach has another added benefit. Maybe you’re reaching for that one top company (my client’s was Burberry in fashion), but you end up at another equally great company in the same field. She may not be working at Burberry yet, but she’s in the field at another well respected company in fashion. So as you build up your network in your field, maybe you get your next position at a similar organization. Thinking creatively, strikes again!

Remember, there’s so much at play here besides someone reading your cover letter the way you want them to. There’s timing- Burberry didn’t have any openings for my client, for example. There’s the email black hole. There’s those damn keyword portals that suck up your application and run it through an algorithm for Pete’s sake! So why not take yourself offline and network your way into the field? It may not be the EXACT company you want that bites, but it can get you in the door of that new field. You’re doing a great job, Emily- please know this is one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s them’ issues, but there ARE things you can do to get around it!

MISC Tips to think Creatively about your skills:

  • The cover letter call out. I had a client call herself out in her cover letter to Anthropologie. She started the letter with something like, “I know it may seem strange to see a professional with 9 years of accounting experience applying for this merchandising position, so hear me out.” She was called back within minutes and got the position.
  • Drop off the application in person. I know, old school and semi-stalkery right?! Well, it has to be the right context, but if it at all makes sense to walk your application over to a prospective employer, you never know what might happen. Most people don’t do it, so why not do something that makes you stand out?
  • Multimedia: Why not put your cover letter together in a different way? The key here is to do it in a way that shows you CAN do the job. If you were going for a graphic design position, maybe the cover letter is done as some sort of graphic design project, for example.
  • Do part of the job for free. If appropriate, take the part of the job that you don’t technically ‘have’ and show them you can do it. This is related to the multimedia tip above but if you don’t have a creative multimedia way to do this, why not just go out there and ‘do’ that part of the job? Maybe you’re going for a fundraising position but don’t have the formal experience. Is there a place you can volunteer for where you learn the ropes for free and put it on your resume? How can you SHOW you can do it? Fundraise for a cause you believe in for free? Think creatively and see what happens!

Taking Advantage of The Summer Job Drought: Friend Edition

Summer- especially August- is often considered a useless time to do anything with your career. I mean, no one is around, everyone is off gallivanting at the beach and no one is reading a single email. Might as well sit around and drink margaritas. Right?

Well…..while job searching and interviews may not be as robust during this time, there are some ways to keep your job search moving and grooving. And this doesn’t mean ‘don’t apply to anything!’ during this time, by the way- just be aware that it might not move as quickly as you might like.

Beat the summer job drought

Folks tend to overlook their friends as a potential source for a new gig or connection. I remember back when I was really truly unhappy with my career – the LAST thing I wanted to do during my time off and time with friends was talk about work. Or, you might also be feeling ‘less than’, meaning you’re ashamed that you ‘are X years old and are the only one to not have it figured out yet!” So I totally get it if you have a disgusted and/or confused look on your face right now. Why would you want to bare all about this?? I’m here this week to tell you that this is EXACTLY the time to start talking about it and here’s why:

  • Build Your Support Network: Who knows? Maybe she is going through something similar and has also kept mum for the same reasons. This way, instead of having walls up around this, you and your friend(s) can really support each other around your individual goals. Not feeling like you’re alone in your unhappiness is kinda the best feeling in the world and a huge jumping off point to making lasting change for yourself. The accountability factor here could be a major boost for this traditionally quiet job hunting month.
  • Potential Connections: If you’re at the stage where you’re able to say what kind of company (or what company specifically) you’d like to transition to, or you can clearly state what your ideal role is, maybe she knows someone who could be a good contact! And maybe that contact is around this month and able to meet up in a casual way before fall kicks into high gear. And don’t underestimate who you might know to help your friend out, too.

If you’re intrigued and still reading this, you might be saying to yourself, “This sounds good, but this has never been my jam. How do I get this kind of thing into motion?”

Well, I’m glad you asked, because I’ve jotted down several ideas here. See what strikes your fancy- pick 1 or 2- and get out there!

  • Events: Summer events for most networking groups are in high gear right now. Find an event in your area for Ellevate Network, Levo League (and many others), grab a friend and head on over! Make sure not to only talk to each other all night, but definitely regroup for a bite or a drink afterward to compare notes- not just what you learned and who you met, but how you felt about doing this kind of thing.
  • Get a Group Together: If you have friends from different walks of life that you think would have things in common and might be able to help each other out, get a group happy hour or potluck going. You can say it’s for job brainstorming or you can see what comes up organically.
  • Ask a Buddy: The direct ask! Maybe you have a specific friend who’s alluded to job frustrations. Express that you’re finding yourself in a similar boat and you’d love to meet up for a coffee or lunch to discuss in more detail and see how you can support one another. Better yet- take a PTO day and head to the beach this summer for some brainstorming in the sun!

Friends are often our biggest cheerleaders and confidants as we bumble our way through all areas of life – dating and family relationships among them- why shouldn’t career progression and happiness be included? And there is no better time than summer- when it’s quieter and people have a bit more time- to reach out to friends and see what happens. Send me a note and let me know how it goes!

4 Simple Steps to Determine Whether To Turn Down A Solid Job Offer

Yes, yes, you read that correctly. In this post, I’m going to show you how to turn down a job offer that you actually kinda like. (But first, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!)
Sound counterintuitive? “But I want to be employed YESTERDAY, JILL!”, you may be screaming at me through your computer screen or phone. I know- TOTALLY get that, but stay with me here.

A client who took my 30-Day Swift Kick in the Pants Career Change Challenge earlier this year inspired this post. She just told me she got a job offer and turned it down. It looked good on paper and ticked some of the typical boxes- decent pay, an opportunity to manage a team and the ability to do so at a growing company. But ultimately she couldn’t quite say ‘yes’ to it. I sat down with her over frozen yogurt earlier this week and got some insight into her process, part of which I’m sharing here. Make sure you download the worksheet that accompanies these steps so you can come to the best conclusion for yourself like she did.

So, how do you determine that a job offer like that –attractive in many ways—is ultimately something you should turn down?

If you want the worksheet that accompanies this post, click here or the giant image.

Job offer

  1. Check in with the gut. Sometimes there’s something non-verbal or intangible preventing you from being all BEES KNEES about the position. When you get the offer, make sure you thank them and of course, never accept it on the spot. Make sure you ask for a timeframe to respond (2-3 days is reasonable.) Once that’s all over with, think back to the moment they called with the offer. What was literally going on in your gut? Did you experience a tightening? Butterflies? A pit forming? This is what we’re talking about when we talk about the gut reaction – how it FELT. It might have been a fleeting feeling that your conscious mind immediately tried to suppress so it’s important to dig deep here as this is part of the key to figuring this ish out. Basically- and I’m no Brain-Sciency Lady (that’s an official term) so this is not backed by scientific experiments at WeWork or anything- our conscious mind can sometimes swoop in to rationalize the whole shebang and make it into something it’s not. For example, if you’ve been out of work for a couple of months, your thoughts swoop in to suppress your gut reaction and make you think this is JUST THE THING for you, when it might not be.
  2. Document your initial thought. NOW it’s time to bring in thought. This is slightly different than gut reaction- again, what was your initial thought? Was it “Oh shit, now I actually have to do that job?” Was it, “YAAAAAASSSSS! Can’t WAIT!” Was it somewhere in between?
  3. Check in with your long-term career goals. What are they? How does the position support those goals SPECIFICALLY? This is info you should have from the job interview process, and if you don’t have it, do not just say, “Oh well” and accept it! You can go back to the hiring manager before you said you’d get back to them with a final answer and ask some questions to help better illuminate this for you. It’s vitally important!
  4. Pay attention to other nuances. If it doesn’t tick the box in fitting your ULTIMATE career goals, does one aspect of the job offer set you up for a bigger move in 2-3 years? Does the increase in pay help you set aside capital to launch your business idea someday? There’s nothing wrong with leveraging a job opportunity with long term career progression- do not forget that! One of my clients who ultimately wants to go into urban design ultimately decided to take a job at a design firm doing photo editing work she’d done for a magazine. The people and network at the new firm is MUCH more in line with urban design and the photo work is much closer also. Lastly, the company is very much about the development of their employees, so when she expresses interest in learning another aspect of design to get closer to urban design, they’ll be open to it.

So, if you want to the worksheet to help you come to the right decision on your job offer for your career and your life, click here! And send me a little note when you’re done to let me know what you decided!