Changing careers takes guts! You’re overturning everything you’ve worked for in the past, for a new job that may or may not work out. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Realistically, it has to be stronger than curiosity, a case of the “what ifs?” or not liking your current job. But if you succeed, it could be an opportunity to live out a passion or find a more fulfilling path. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward, right?
Once you’ve decided to make that leap, it won’t happen overnight. Having a plan in place, doing the research, and using the tools available to you can make the transition much easier. Our favorite tips from people who have made the bold career move and industry experts are below!
Considering Your Options
We’ve all seen the dramatic “I quit!” moments in film or tv. Well, we’re here to tell you it’s not always so glamorous. Andrew Roderick, CEO of CreditRepairCompanies.com, commiserates, “The bold career move is often minimalized in movies as a quick decision, just throwing caution to the wind. When in fact, it’s very important you spend some time to consider your options.”
Roderick explains, “Before moving onto a new trajectory, ask yourself why? Is it because you don’t like your current job or have you genuinely fallen out of love with the work you do? Going through this thought process is important when deciding your next big career move, and it might be that what you actually want to do, wasn’t at all what you initially thought.” This is a tale of caution. Confirm it’s what you want to do, then buckle up and give it 100%!
Focusing on Transferable Skills
Just because you may be changing careers, doesn’t mean you can’t use the experiences and professional skills you’ve learned in the past. Focus on these qualities when you’re reworking your resume, website, or networking. Some examples include time management, leadership, writing, and critical thinking. You may be “green” in the industry, but spin your words and have a positive pitch, so that it’s never a case of being inexperienced.
Networking in the Industry
Olivia Sod, a career expert and founder of the website Stomp the Pavement, says “Whether you’re still deciding what exactly your bold career move will be or are looking to get your foot in the door, developing a consistent networking strategy is the best way to make it happen.”
Fortunately, there are tools that make networking easier than ever. LinkedIn and college alumni career platforms are two fantastic resources when making a bold career move. All it takes is an introductory message, which can then lead to a relevant discussion or even an informational interview. Sod continues, “If you know the field you want to jump into, tailor your research and questions to the exact field you’re looking in. Ask industry professionals questions about how to break into their field as an outsider, their tips for a beginner, and what they would do differently if they were just getting started.”
Willing to Learn
The shift in career may also require a new degree. Make sure that you’re prepared to be a student again! If you are easing your way into a new field, online classes and evening seminars are widely available. But even if it’s not a requirement, taking classes, watching videos and tutorials, and learning the industry from an expert can provide value and a boost of confidence. As an alternative, volunteering or shadowing can also be a great “hands-on” approach to gaining experience and making relevant connections.
Having a Financial Cushion
Switching careers could mean a period of unemployment or some major startup costs. Taking a pay cut or living without benefits or healthcare is something to consider as well. Emily Deaton is a Financial Journalist and was quick to explain, “It helps to make sure you have a financial cushion for yourself, especially if you don’t have a job lined up yet or if you plan on starting your own business that isn’t yet providing you with a full-time income. Ask yourself how much risk can you afford to take financially?” It may be worth staying in your current position until you have a solid footing and a little extra cash tucked away.
Creating Personal Branding
Don’t underestimate the power of personal branding! Having a consistent message across your social channels, website or portfolio can offer clarity and credibility, even if you don’t necessarily have the experience. Focus on your transferable skills and passion for the new industry. Future employers or clients will appreciate your fervor and personal interest in the field.
Setting the Right Mindset
Peter Alessandria, a former attorney who decided to pursue art and photography in New York City, can vouch for this one. He explained, “For almost three years I was completely stuck. I thought it was the economy, the lack of formal education in art and photography, or because I didn’t have the latest and greatest camera equipment. But it turns out none of that was the problem.”
Alessandria admits, “What was holding me back was my own limiting thoughts and beliefs about myself. So I spent the next few years trying to undo my negative self-image. I did my best to overcome my fear of rejection and criticism, and to begin to believe in myself as a creative person. The result is I’ve won more than 70 awards for my photography.” If you know what you want to pursue, be confident in your abilities, and willing to step outside of your comfort zone! Your self-perception shouldn’t stop you from moving forward.
Building a Support Group
Last but not least, it’s important to have a support group. It’s not always going to be smooth sailing, so once you commit you will want an encouraging crew in your corner. Sometimes it’s helpful to have friends in the same industry who you can brainstorm with or family members who you can vent to. They will help you stay the course with your specific goal in mind. These will likely be the people you can celebrate with when things fall into place! A career coach or counselor can also provide professional advice and recommendations.
More Than a Leap of Faith
Let’s face it, making a career change can’t just be a leap of faith! You’ve got to do your due diligence, network, and use the tools available to you. With these resources, a support group, and a strong dose of determination, anything is possible. The experience and journey in itself is an adventure and may just make your new career all the more rewarding.