Whether you’re driven by practicality or passion, the reality is that for many of us, career change is “the new normal.” This trend is largely due to a potent combination of a volatile employment landscape, and an increasing number of innovative ways that we can strike a new balance between work and life. All of this combined means that more of us than ever will switch careers during our working lifetimes.
As a coach, I have worked with dozens of clients who are seeking positive change in their careers. But the fact that career change is becoming more common on a global scale doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any easier for individuals going through this transition. Moving from a tired day job — even to something that fits our passion more closely — is an exciting, but daunting, challenge.
If you’re thinking of shifting to a brand new career, here are some pointers to help you on your way.
Know Your ‘Why’
There are as many reasons for wanting to shift careers, as there are people making that transition. It’s a unique journey for each of us, and the driving force will be personal to you.
Changing careers can be challenging, and most often it’s a marathon rather than a sprint. There will be times when you doubt your decision or your ability to follow through. This is where knowing your ‘why’ comes into play.
Before you really start to make the transition to a new career, invest time in figuring out what motivates you. This should revolve around the reasons you are moving towards your new career, rather than the factors making you want to shift away from your previous field.
What is it about the new work that makes you excited? Why are you passionate about the change? How does it fit with your vision of yourself in five (or even ten) years’ time? What will your life look like once you achieve the transition?
Be Prepared With a Flexible Career Plan
Find a meaningful way to answer these questions. This could mean writing your thoughts in a journal or creating a visual image (such as a moodboard of pictures) to help you remember your ‘why.’ It will also serve to drive you on when your motivation starts to slow.
Take Time to Plan
It’s unlikely that your career change will happen overnight. Think realistically about the steps you will need to take and how you can mitigate risks along the way.
Learn More: Are You In a Dead-End Job?
For many people, this will involve stashing away extra savings to rely on during the switch. It could mean taking extra training opportunities and researching the types of roles you might qualify for. Brainstorm the areas you need to research and the questions you will need to answer before you can truly move forward with your plans. Then, break down the actions into manageable steps, creating a timeline you can live with.
Don’t try to do this alone — it’s a perfect time to expand your network into your new field. Find some people who have already achieved the type of change you’re aiming for, and ask their advice. The internet is the perfect place to research and hook up with the right people if you don’t have them in your direct circle already. Try career change blogs, for example, like the helpful advice on hand from the Career Shifters team.
Alternatively, you could consider getting a coach to help you with your planning or joining a career change support group which you might find locally or through meetup.com.
Rewrite Your Career Story
If you’re looking for a new job in a different sphere, chances are your resume will need a radical overhaul. Don’t be tempted to just tweak your existing documents. If you want to be taken seriously in a new industry, you need to make sure your resume turns heads for the right reason.
Research It: How to Build Your First (or Just Your Best) Resume
Research is your friend here, with many job hunters sharing their resumes online. By reviewing the type of resume posted by others looking for a similar role, you can select the style and content highlights you need to use. This will probably mean you need to cut out some of the detail of your previous roles. Then, you can frame what you achieved in a way that entices your new audience.
Try to read your resume through the eyes of a recruiter from your new industry. How can you show your transferable skills in their best light?
Don’t forget: rewriting your career story is as much about what you believe of yourself as it is about the words on your resume. You need to make a mental switch to view yourself differently — to “promote” yourself into your new role.
If you aspire to be a personal trainer or an artist, then consider yourself as such. It’s much more powerful than telling yourself you’re an accountant who dreams of being a designer, or a teacher who does some coaching “on the side,” for example. Visualization and positive affirmations can be very powerful and will come out in your job search and interview process.
A Personal Account: How I Cut My Spending In Half to Take a Job I Loved
The journey to a new career takes courage and imagination. It draws on your practical planning skills, as well as your personal drive and passion. There’s no single right way to go about the transition, but there’s plenty of help out there for those looking to make a change.
If you’re struggling to see where your current career path will lead you, then maybe it is time to consider a new route. Use the building blocks above, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. You can begin to tailor-make your new career as soon as today.
If you’ve considered shifting careers but held back, why? What is your biggest concern?