People make career changes for all kinds of different reasons. Whether it’s because of unhappiness, redundancy, or simply a passion for something new, people aren’t sticking to one job in their lifetime now.
If you’ve decided you need a whole new change of direction, working out what to do next can seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. Follow these steps to maximise the opportunities that are out there, and make sure your transition is as smooth as possible.
1. Do some self-assessment
Assess your skills
Career coach Jenny Blake suggests planning your next move around what’s working well in your current career. Take time to figure out what you’re good at – what skills have you learnt from your current job, previous roles or volunteering? What do you have experience in? Do you have any natural talents you can utilise?
On the other side of the coin, think about what you don’t enjoy about your current career. Consider your weaknesses. It’s equally important to understand where you don’t want to be. Knowing what you do and don’t want from your career will help you narrow down your options and find a path that’s a perfect match.
Take a career test
Career tests are a useful tool for learning what motivates you and how you operate, so in turn, you can find a career path that suits you individually. Unfortunately, they won’t tell you exactly what you should do with your life. They will, however, help you narrow down your options by helping you articulate what you’re looking for. There are dozens of free career tests online where you can learn insights into your personality and the types of occupations that will suit you best. Monster have a useful list of 10 to choose from, depending on the level of detail you’re looking for.
2. Research your opportunities
When you’ve done a little self-assessment and have a clearer idea of where you’d be happy, make a list of options and start narrowing it down. Research job descriptions, educational requirements, advancement opportunities, average salaries and any other information that will help you pare down your opportunities.
3. Use your network
Once you’ve settled on a career or field you’re interested in, it’s time to start thinking about your network and how your connections can help.
If you’ve been working for a while, you will have met many people with valuable insights, knowledge and connections. Or, if you’re just starting out in your career, find out what old school friends and colleagues are doing and consider getting in touch with them.
Networking is one of the most successful ways to find a new job, but if you’re inexperienced it can sound intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, people are usually honoured to be asked for assistance, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Even if it turns out they can’t help you right now, you might still get some invaluable career advice.
The Muse has a useful post outlining the different ways you can make use of your network depending on the situation you find yourself in, including if you’re unsure of your next move.
4. Invest in education, or find volunteer work
To stand out as an attractive candidate in your new career, you might have to learn new skills or invest in classes and certifications. That said, you don’t always need to spend a lot of money or return to full time education to expand your knowledge. Online content like eBooks and whitepapers are usually free and easily accessible, and there are hundreds of industry specific blogs out there that are filled with resources to learn from.
Alternatively, if the line of work you want to go into relies more on experience than education, why not volunteer in that field? Not only will this help you fill your CV with relevant experience, it’ll help you get a feel for the career and decide whether it’s right for you.
5. Market yourself
If you’re looking to start afresh in a totally new industry, you’ll need an overhaul of your CV and cover letter. This is another place the transferable skills you identified earlier will come in handy. If you’re short on experience, draw attention to the relevant skills you possess instead. The Balance has a great guide with tips on how to write a strong resume when you’re trying to break into a totally new field.
Don’t forget to revamp your social media profiles, too. 77% of recruiters use search engines to find information online to screen applicants. With that in mind, it’s never been more important to craft your online brand to help you make the best first impression. Update your profiles to reflect the type of work you want to go into, so your application and social profiles match up. Check out Zerin’s guide to using your online brand to progress your career.
Remember, a career change is a long process and it won’t happen overnight. The process of finding a new job and the inevitable rejection can be demoralising, so keep motivated by sticking to your plan and keeping in regular contact with your network for support.
Do you have any more advice on how to change careers? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter @Xpo_Online