How To Change Careers Without Changing Companies

How To Change Careers Without Changing Companies

7 minutes

Your dream job could be well within reach — possibly just a few desks over from you at the company where you already work. While there’s comfort in making a big career change within an organization you’re familiar with, it can be a tricky transition to navigate. 

Applying for a new job within the same organization where you’re employed is fairly common: Hiring managers typically get around 10 internal applicants for an open position, in addition to all of the external people who apply, according to research from Harvard Business Review. You might have the benefit of institutional knowledge and a deep understanding of the company and its mission, but jobs are competitive, and internal candidates are not a definite shoo-in. 

Making sure that you have the skills necessary to step into a new job is the most important factor when you’re switching to a new role or team within an organization. For example, you can’t expect to jump from, say, a non-technical accounting position to a Back-End Engineer without being able to code at a high level and understanding what a Back-End Engineer does. But don’t feel intimidated: It’s totally possible to switch careers and fields entirely, and there are Codecademy learners like you who’ve done it

Find a plan that fits your goals

If you’re trying to set yourself up for an internal move, or just wondering what opportunities are out there, there’s a Codecademy plan that fits your goals. With Codecademy Plus, you can start learning the skills needed to move up to a more technical role right away. If you’re interested in making a total change into a brand new field and function, there are lots of exciting new Codecademy Pro features that will help you take the next step, like coding exams that you can use to test your skills, and Codecademy’s professional certifications that prove your expertise in a specific area.

Here are some more strategies and tips from a top tech recruiter that will help you change careers while staying at the company where you work.  

Do some internal networking

A major benefit of applying to a new position internally is that you already have your foot in the door. You have access to the company’s org chart, so you can easily get in touch with people on a specific team or with a particular role. You may even have personal experience working with folks on cross-functional projects or socializing with other teams at company events.

Start setting up meetings to get to know the people and team leaders in the department you’d like to move to, says Erica Rivera, a career coach and technical recruiter at Google who recruits software engineers, application engineers, program managers, and technical program managers. “If you are in, say, program management, for example, and you want to go into software engineering, well you should figure out what the software engineers do,” she says. 

These can be informal coffee chats where you pick someone’s brain about how they landed their role and what they like (or dislike) about the job. You can also share details about your own background, the type of work you’ve done in the past, and what’s drawing you to a new field. You could even ask them to keep you posted on any job vacancies on their team, or other opportunities that are on their radar. You’ll be surprised how just making a personal connection and talking to people can help give you a boost during your job search. 

Talk to your team leader

It might seem a little bit shady trying to pivot to another role while maintaining your current position and workload — but seeking out new opportunities is a natural part of your professional work experience, and is nothing to feel guilty about. 

If you have a good relationship with your team leader, it’s worth it to have a transparent conversation about your goals, even if it involves moving to another department. “Maybe your manager can help you get to where you’re trying to go,” Erica says. For example, they could help facilitate introductions to key people within the organization who you should meet, or they could volunteer you for projects that are in line with the work you’d like to be doing. 

When Megan O’Neill, a UX Writer at Codecademy, decided she wanted to switch careers from marketing to UX, she had a conversation with her manager early on in the process. “Before I spoke with my manager, I was nervous at first that it might seem like I wanted to quit,” Megan says. “If you have similar concerns, remember that part of a manager’s job is helping you find opportunities for professional growth. Many managers are excited to be able to play a role in helping you achieve your professional goals — even if it means that you may end up leaving their team in the future.” 

These conversations can be awkward, but most team leaders will be supportive of your career progression, and they’ll appreciate your honesty as you go through the next steps. If you have hesitations about telling your team leader about your potential move, you could start the application process on your own and wait until you’re at the final stages to inform your team leader, Erica adds. 

Take advantage of built-in career advancement programs

Lots of companies have formalized programs where employees are encouraged to work on a different team or in a new field for a period of time. At Google, it’s called a “bungee” program, Erica says. “You’re not married to that role, you’re not making a formal change, but it gives you the opportunity to explore and try,” she says. 

Spotify has “embed opportunities,” where engineers can support a short-term project on another team. This is how Back-End Engineer Mindy Seto got to work as a Data Engineer on Spotify Wrapped, for example. Adidas offers a similar job-fluidity program that enabled Serena Isone to get hands-on training and mentorship so she could switch roles from Product Owner to Front-End Engineer

If the company you work for offers a formal system that supports learning initiatives, it’s a seamless way to start building relationships with other teams and plant the seed for a different full-time opportunity. 

Not to mention, these kinds of initiatives benefit companies too, because they keep employees engaged, boost retention rates, and help fill open positions with internal talent. That was the case at RizePoint, a quality management software company that created an internal career advancement track with Codecademy for Business. “Having Codecademy and our training program excites people and actually shows them that there is a path for me in this organization, there is a place for me to grow and I’m not going to just be stagnant in a topped-out, specific role for who knows how long,” Darrel Williams, RizePoint’s CTO of R&D, says. 

Identify your skill gaps (then fill them)

As you gather intel from other folks, don’t forget to ask them about the non-negotiable technical chops that you need in a particular role. “Unless you know hands down, for sure that you have what this new role is going to be looking for, you may have to do some prep work on the front end before you apply,” Erica says. For example, if you want to break into UX Design, you might need to master technical tools like Figma, and start building a portfolio.

You may have your work cut out for you, but once you understand where your knowledge gaps are, then you get to the fun part: learning. There are so many Codecademy resources, courses, and career paths available to help you launch a different (and rewarding) tech career. And we launched exclusive Codecademy Pro features that will help you build job-ready skills, like assessments that test your proficiency and Codecademy’s professional certifications that show you’ve got what it takes to be considered for a new role. 

Related courses

3 courses

Related articles

7 articles