Career Coach Shares Lessons From Dramatic Career Changes

Tim Toterhi knows what it's like to make a leap to a new career again and again. Here's what he's learned.

portrait of Evan Thompson
by Evan Thompson

Published March 23, 2022

Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
Share this Article
Career Coach Shares Lessons From Dramatic Career Changes


At this point, changing careers is part of Tim Toterhi's DNA.

Over the years, Toterhi has been a fuel broker, talent manager, and leadership developer. He even used to run a karate school.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

"I’ve experienced dramatic career change first hand and have guided many professionals through the process as a certified coach," Toterhi said.

Today, he's a chief human resources officer, career coach, and author. As the founder of Plotline Leadership, he helps guide professionals through career transitions.

We asked Toterhi about what it's like to change careers, tricks and tips that make it work, and how to look for signs that you're ready for a shift in your career.

Were you ever worried about making a career change?

Toterhi: "It's always a little bit challenging when you're going into something new. But, if you leverage your skills from before, that ultimately becomes your X-factor. You're coming into a profession where everybody else looks the same. You are bringing something different, and that's exciting."


Was making a career change difficult?

Toterhi: "When you're in the midst of a career change, it can get frustrating at times. There's this temptation to pull the ripcord and try to get out of things and look for something easier. That's a mistake because you can unknowingly find yourself in a worse situation than you were trying to escape from."


How did you make it work?

Toterhi: "The trick of the whole thing is to be purposeful and be aware of where you are and where you want to get to and then just methodically chase that. That's probably the biggest and most important thing: moving towards something."


When did you know it was time to change careers?

Toterhi: "I've been pretty lucky; I've never had a situation where the world was on fire. But we've all had bad jobs, taken career missteps. I've worked for toxic managers, troubled companies. Over time, you learn to scan the environment and see those lightning storms. Then you can turn around them. You keep your eyes on the horizon and see well where you can move, and just before you're ready, that's usually the time to jump."


How do you know if you need a new job or need a new career?

Toterhi: "Typically, people should pursue a job change when they love 'what' they do but are frustrated with the how, why, when, or where. When the actual activity loses its luster, it might be time to change careers."


What are some signs that you're ready for something different?

Toterhi: "I find that the best teachers in any profession are students at heart. If you've reached that point where you're not learning anything new, there's a danger of becoming that jerky know-it-all. If you're not learning, it's time to move on and do something different.

"The other thing is pretty practical. If you're not earning what you feel comfortable with, you need to move on. You may get bonuses, you may get other things, but if you're frustrated, you can complain about it, or you could say, 'Well, let's do something different.'"


What should someone consider before changing careers?

Toterhi: "You have to have a reason for doing it. It can't just be a quick thing or a snap decision. It has to be purposeful, and it has to fulfill your purpose. Because it does take a lot of work."


Any other last pieces of advice?

Toterhi: "When you step into something new, you're going to see things differently from everybody else, which is incredibly important and valuable to the new organization. That's going to be the X-factor that sets you apart. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable when you're stepping into something new."


Feature Image: Westend61 / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.