Step 5 – Pack Well for your Journey

This is the fifth (and final) post in our Career Pivot Series: five ideas for engaging transition.

I’ve been hearing from lots of folks lately who are navigating career change and transitions, so am sharing some thoughts about a process for adopting an “orienteering” process as you move forward. 

Read earlier posts:

Step 1 – Be Where You Are

Step 2 – Pick One

Step 3 – Reach out with an “ask”

Step 4 – Locate Travel Companions

Step 5 – Pack Well for your Journey

Build Resumes

Don’t think of your resume in terms of what you have to cut out, but as what you simply must put in. And think in terms of “resumes” not “resume.” Any particular resume that you create should directly respond to a job ad. Think of them as an adjacency pair – for more, see my article Resumes are a Response.  As with academic writing, support every claim on a resume by quantifying and/or showing outcomes (results, impacts, anything that is different because of the way you did what you did). I call this process “putting the SOQs on” (support, outcomes, quantification).  Research (into an organization, analysis of a job ad) will tell you which socks to put on which resumes.

Putting the SOQs on tends to be an iterative process. You cut things and generate new things, add things and then realize they belong on another resume for another job. Then you notice something that is missing, only to realize that it needs SOQs. Bottom line: Keep someplace to store all the rich descriptive detail about all of your experience, because every time you work on a resume, you will create more of this, and it is great to have – these ideas form the basis for things like pocket examples.

Finding Pocket Examples

I have so much to say about these, they got their own post on Career Linguist,

In a nutshell, these are little stories that exemplify how you work, how you think, and what you are passionate about. You definitely want one about a current project, a quality of yours that you would like to highlight, maybe an example of how linguistics is important in the world of work that you are exploring. I like to use free-writing exercises to generate pocket examples – and lists are a great place to begin free-writing.  list all of the jobs (projects, tasks, responsibilities) you have ever had before, or all of the research projects you have ever been interested in, places you have been, people you have ever worked with. Let yourself free-associate and chase ideas down rabbit holes – get off track!!!  The process always generates lots of ideas and there are always many pocket examples in there – things that you hadn’t remembered or thought about in a while.


If you decide to go the applied research route, it may become useful to have a portfolio, which many people nowadays keep online. Your portfolio describes your research experience using the language of the field that you are wanting to make yourself attractive to.  Abby Baujiniemi has done a great job of explaining her previous research experience in her online portfolio.

Places to search for Jobs (non-profit sector) (“business” sector) (government sector)

HigherEdjobs (non tenure-line positions in academia)   

LinkedIn – set yourself up a JYMBI (jobs you may be interested in) search with keywords.

Get Salary information

The best place hands-down is

There, you can also find reviews of workplaces from current and former employees, which can give you invaluable perspective to what it is like to actually work in a place!

Bring a process of discernment

My own approach to career discernment – structured reflection on where you are, where you have been and where you are going – is a tool that I call “the work interrogatives” – in essence, the who, what, when, where, why, and how of work (best place to start is the WHY). I argue that you need to be thinking about all of these, but that certain of them might be calling your attention more than others – which is worth listening to!

Other resources

  • The classic of course, is Richard Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute – some of his resources can be found at
  • One fun way to explore career options: Greta Perel’s quizzes at Real World PhD

Fun, and eerily accurate – my quiz returned just about all of the things I do / have done!

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