Changing your career is no easy feat especially if you have been doing the same thing for more than three or four years. Now there are varying degrees of “change” we can discuss. Which bucket do you fall into?
A. Want to change to a new company doing about the same thing.
B. Want to switch industries but still do the same type of job function.
C. Want to go in a different direction but you can use your current experience to bridge the new career goal.
D. Want to go in a completely new direction where virtually none of your experience will transfer to the new career.
Each of the above buckets present their individual challenges which increase in degree as you go down the list. A and B can be done more quickly than C and D and without much change in income or situation. When you can demonstrate what you can do for a new employer based on your past experience, then your transition is not as difficult.
For C and D the challenge is much more complicated. More complicated in the sense as it might require more time and effort. The time might be obtaining a new degree or perfecting your “art”. More effort means you might be only able to find more entry-level positions until you can prove yourself. I do think you should go after a career change no matter how difficult it might be.
Here are 7 Steps on How To Change Careers:
1. Determine which bucket you fall into from the above list. This will help you determine what is the best course of action to take first. If you are in the A group then looking for similar companies to what you are currently doing is most logical. If you are in the D group then you might start looking for a more entry-level position to test our your new direction.
2. You may want to start out slow and learn about the new career before making a full commitment to it. This is “moonlighting” in which you do your new career on a part-time basis to see if it is a good fit for you. In addition, this will allow you to start making new connections and network in this new industry. Networking can be very important to your longevity.
3. Sketch out a plan. You can be as detailed or as simple as you want. Some people need a very detailed plan and then will follow it very closely. Others only need a sketch of one that they can look at periodically to keep them on the right track. Everyone needs a plan so don’t skip this step. Post the plan in a new place every week so you can keep yourself on track.
4. Start asking others about what they would do if they were in your shoes. This is a great way to start opening up discussions with your friends, family, neighbors, etc on two areas: how they see you and if they might know someone you can talk to. Knowing someone who does what you are interested in can really open up your networking activities.
5. Schedule information interviews/coffee with people you don’t know. This is the essence of networking. I hate the word “interview” but it is the best way to describe the activity. You want to ask questions of someone doing what career you want to change to. You need their help and asking questions is the best way to uncover the who, what, when, where and hows to going about changing careers.
6. At the beginning of every week plan for the week ahead. Select three goals for the week and center your free time around those goals. If you plan ahead for the week, you will see progress. You will see results. You will figure out how to change your career much quicker than others. Keeping yourself focused on the goal you have might be your biggest challenge.
7. Don’t be scared of the change. Fear has a way of creeping into our heads anytime we are heading off to make a change. Change requires sacrifice and dedication. If you struggle with fear find help. A club, friends, family, counselor, etc are all good places to help you express your fears and get them out in the open so you can fight them head on. Keeping fear inside is how fear wins. Don’t let fear win in your life.
Go change your career today. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. Even if you don’t feel like it, who care. Act first and your feelings will come along for the ride later.
Let’s Get Started!