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Training Your Brain to be your Ally in the Job Search

Updated: May 2, 2022

It's been a while since I've written a book review. I've set a goal to read a professional book each month this year, so we'll see how well I do! This month, I read Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success by Dawn Graham. It is a great "how to make a career transition" book. It is loaded with career advice.

But what really sets Graham apart from other career consultants is her deep dive into the brain and the role it plays in career success. Graham explains how our brain can often be our biggest obstacle. She discusses cognitive distortions, biases, resistance to change, loss aversion, loss of identity and other ways the brain can lead to self-doubt, inertia, rationalizations and lack of motivation.

"Our brain is preprogrammed to continue doing what it's used to doing. So when we're making a career change, we need to fight against our biological instinct to stay in our groove." p. 25

Some of the best advice Graham gives is to develop a growth mindset. She provides reframing and confidence-building exercises, and ideas on how job seekers can take control of their situation by putting rejections in perspective, and using the term "choose to" to avoid falling into cognitive distortions.

Awareness is key to overcoming obstacles. Being aware of the role our thoughts play in making career decisions is a valuable tool in the job search.

Easy Exercises

Brain psychology aside, Switchers is, of course, a book on how to make a successful career transition. I love the exercises found throughout the book to help people focus on their goal. I think I'm going to incorporate some of these in my own work with clients! Graham helps job seekers craft a clear and concise message of who they are, what value they bring to the organization and how they can stay motivated in what is often a lengthy process.

Exercises in the book:

  • The Career Switch Tolerance Questionnaire pp. 10-11

  • Bull's-Eye Brainstorming Worksheet pp. 68-69

  • Who Am I map pp.96-97

  • The Cover Letter Made Easy pp. 134-137

  • Get Your Life Back in 15 Minutes p. 148

  • Creating a GLIDE question p. 173

  • One Thing to Start, One Thing to Stop p. 242

The book includes other mini-exercises on researching your brand, finding commonalities in your current/future role, defining your value, understanding the market for your skills, and techniques for answering interview questions.


Switchers is full of practical applications not just for career switchers, which Graham defines as people making industry and/or functional changes, but for everyone who is considering a job change. Graham hits on all of the important parts of the job search: branding, networking, interviewing, resume and cover letter writing, and negotiations. Her career advice provides the reader with valuable tools that will give any candidate a leg up in the process of changing careers.

This book gets five stars from me!

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