Switching Careers Isn’t Starting Over

For Candidates

switching careers isn't starting over

By our guest blogger, Trung Ngo


Before becoming an engineer, I didn’t realize how much communication and collaboration went into writing code. You have to communicate effectively to prevent messy merge conflicts and to work in parallel with other engineers. You have to communicate the progress of your work to project managers and product teams so people can plan around your work. Building software takes a lot of coordination.

When I made the decision to switch from a career in marketing to engineering, I largely saw it as starting over. The blank slate was exciting. But leaving behind a career I invested so much time and effort into was scary. I felt uneasy about starting over. It felt like acknowledging that I had wasted time.

I see it differently now. The transition from marketing to engineering was not starting over. Instead of starting at the beginning, it was more like going back to a save point in a game. I moved back a little, but the path ahead was familiar. The experience I gained as a marketer set me up well to succeed as an engineer.

The success of an SEO program relies heavily on other teams. As an SEO, I worked directly with teams across the company to execute our strategy. I met with engineers to work through technical issues preventing search engines from finding pages on the website. I helped develop content strategies with editorial teams to get the most out of the content we were creating. I became familiar with our PR and social media calendars to make sure we weren’t missing out on opportunities to improve visibility in search engines through press coverage.

Because SEO requires regular communication with other teams, I learned how to explain complex SEO concepts in a simple and intuitive way. People aren’t likely to help if they don’t understand or don’t believe in what you’re doing. As an engineer, this skillset has been helpful in working with people outside of the engineering team. Explaining architecture decisions, or why a feature is taking longer than expected to build, or making a case for addressing tech debt come to mind.

Because SEO has a dependency on other teams, I learned how to set clear expectations and adapt to fluid timelines. So planning sprints, setting milestone dates, and managing dependent streams of work as an engineer felt familiar to me.

Because SEO creates work for other teams, I learned how to be mindful of peoples priorities and how to communicate why the work is worthwhile. This has helped me approach engineering problems with more empathy. Who am I creating more work for and why?

After 3 years, I’ve learned that being an effective engineer requires more than the technical skillset, it’s essential that you can bring clarity to a problem and work with others to solve it. If you’re considering a career switch and are worried about starting over, I encourage you to think about how the experience and skills you’ve gained so far will form the foundation for success in your new career.


Trung is a former SEO consultant of Bristol Associates. Original post can be found here.

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Hospital and Healthcare; Hotels and Resorts; Nonprofit; Restaurant; and Travel, Tourism, and Attractions industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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