Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Freelance Writer
The beginning of a new year is often a time for reflection and introspection. Millions of people use this time to come up with new resolutions to help them live happier and healthier lives. Pursuing our career ambitions is among the top five, right up there with exercising more and eating better.
This goes to show that our work is an important and inextricable part of living a happy and balanced life. While millions of people have resigned this year in hope of a better job, many have struggled with making the switch to a new career. The reasons range from being unsure where to start to a lack of confidence, skills or the right connections.
Still, switching careers shouldn’t be as difficult as it seems. With the right mindset and tools at your disposal, you can make sure those professional resolutions of yours come to fruition. Here we look at how to make a career change with some practical tips and advice you can start implementing today.
5 Tips to Make a Successful Career Change
Choose a New Career
Saying “I want a career change” isn’t enough to will your new career into existence. Last year, 52% of the U.S. workforce said they want to change jobs in 2021. However, only 44% of those people had actual plans in place to implement this change.
Although getting a new job isn’t the same as starting a new career, it still represents the same principle. If you want to go somewhere, you should plan for it. Now if you’re unsure what your next career should be, then you will probably have a hard time creating a plan. So, consider the following:
What to Consider when Making a Career Change
- What are the types of things you enjoy doing, which are also in high demand on the market? Look at the activities where you lose track of time and are totally immersed in the task at hand. Perhaps you love to cook, but you never considered it as a potential career path? Or, you like to tinker with code, but you lack a professional qualification? Make a list of all these possible careers and move on to the next step.
- Think about how you’d like your day to look. Do you crave social interactions or are you better off being left to your own devices? Do you like to travel for work or would you rather stay put? All of these things will dictate the type of career that would suit your personality the best.
- Be honest about what drives you at work. Is it money, status, meaning or the pure enjoyment of doing it? Different things will take priority at different times in our lives. So, think about what drives your career change right now. Do you value status over financial reward or are you perhaps more driven by meaning and personal fulfillment?
Once you’ve done this, you should have a list of four or five possible careers. Contrast each one of them with your current career and see what are the skills gaps you’d need to address. Then make your choice.
Update Your Online Persona
Once you’ve decided on your new career, you need to make sure your online presence reflects your career change. You might think it’s premature to do this when you still don’t have the necessary experience. Even so, this is a crucial step in making sure people start associating you with your new career. Here are a few things you can do using your current experience and skill set:
How to Update Your Online Persona
- Update Your LinkedIn Title – LinkedIn automatically adds your current job position under your name. However, you can use this space to showcase who you are as a professional. Instead of leaving your title as “Account Executive at company XYZ”, change this to your desired career. The job title appears when recruiters search for specific terms, so it’s important that your desired career is reflected here.
- Update Your LinkedIn “About Me” Section: this section needs to reflect who you are as a professional and how your new job title links to your past experience. This is especially important if your past work experience doesn’t have anything to do with your new career and you need to make the link yourself. LinkedIn also scans the “about me” section for keywords when people search for specific roles, so it’s important that you use keywords from your new industry here.
- Update Any Other Online Presence: google your name and see what results you get. Do you have any other profiles or online presence which you can update with your new career? Perhaps you have your own website which needs updating? Or a Twitter account that still reflects your old career? Make changes here as well so that your online image is consistent across the board.
Update Your Resume
In the new world of work, resumes can often seem like an outdated model for getting a job. In fact, about 80% of jobs are obtained through networking and interacting with people in your industry. Nonetheless, whatever the way you discover a new job opportunity, it’s very likely you’d be asked to send in your resume for consideration.
At this point, you need to have a ready resume which showcases your new career and how your prior experience links to it. There are several things you can do here to make sure your resume works in your favor:
- At the top of the resume (right underneath your name) write down your desired job, not your current or last job. If you’re applying to a specific job, use the exact wording of the job ad. This will help you pass through their application tracking system if they use one.
- Add 2-3 sentences which explain how your past experience has prepared you for the new role. If we use the example of the sales executive who wants to be a software developer, they might say something like “Software developer with over five years of commercial experience in SaaS and a keen eye for detail. Experienced in using Python and HTML databases to streamline processes and improve product performance.”
- When listing your prior jobs, make sure you first add the experiences that are closest to your desired career. For instance, if your role as a sales executive required you to work with engineering on product development, make sure you list that first instead of your sales targets. Make these statements as specific and quantifiable as possible.
Find Your Mentors
This is when things get real. Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to reach out to people so that you find your next opportunity. This might sound intimidating, but it’s a crucial step in finding career success.
You might wonder where to begin. Usually the best place to find a mentor is right in your very own circle – friends, family, colleagues, etc. If there are no potential mentors there, then it may be time to move to social media and networking groups. Here are some practical steps you can take to find people who might be most willing and suitable to help:
- Use a sales intelligence platform such as Owler of LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find companies that are similar to your current employer;
- Search LinkedIn for your target job title and click on “People”;
- Using the “Companies” filter, search for your target companies;
- Go to “All filters” -> “Past Companies” and add in your current employer and all the companies you’d identified in the first step;
This will give you a curated list of individuals who’d successfully made the transition from your current industry to your desired career. Finding people who’ve been through what you’re going through only increases your chances of getting more help and guidance. Once you’ve found these people, reach out to see if they’d be willing to have a quick chat and offer you some advice or guidance on how to land your next opportunity.
Go for It!
Once you’ve done your research, analysis and outreach you’re ready to make the switch. A word of caution: don’t miss out on perfectly good opportunities because you feel like you lack skills or experience. While you’ll definitely need to work on your professional development, don’t overthink your career change.
If you want to be a software developer, start with a beginners’ course in Python and build from there. Once you send in an application make sure you also follow up with your future manager. A simple “I just applied for the XYZ role in your team and I thought I’d reach out to introduce myself. I hope we’ll get a chance to chat sometime soon” will suffice. This can help you stand out from other applicants and show that you can take initiative.
Career change has never been as hot a topic as it is today. While any change can be intimidating, changing your career can also be an exciting process if you’re prepared to work for it. Provided you do your research, update your credentials and are willing to reach out to people, you’re bound to land the job you’ve always dreamt of. Now, get going!
Top 8 Careers For a Career Change
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