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How To Change Career – 7 Steps

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!


Short Job Search Poem

One of my obsessive compulsive activities I do consciously and unconsciously is to rhyme or riddle.  It is something I have done for as long as I can remember.  This can be viewed as both a negative or a positive.  Maybe I should have been a rapper because I can insert most any word into what I am saying or find something that rhymes with it.  My kids think I am a bit strange but fun.

So here is a little diddle about job searching:

Every day is a struggle
Getting out of my bubble
I roll over once again
Ignoring the need-to-do.
I do like to do and do and do
I feel like I accomplished
Not a big thing today
But I did accomplish.
I look back on my week
And wonder where the time has gone
I should have done X
I REALLY wanted to do Y
Instead I accomplished
What I got done.
I will do better next week
When I am fresh again.
No one knows
Just me, myself and I.
Maybe others know
But do they care?
Do they care about what I hide
Or do they keep passing by
Without a nod or wink.
Why should they help me think?
Why should they volunteer?
I am hidden, in my own world
Far away because I like it that way.
Maybe I should not…or maybe I should just try and speak.

Let’s Get Started!


Expose Yourself

A job search is very competitive isn’t it?  You apply for a position you are clearly qualified for and they hire someone else who is probably more overqualified.  You send your resume to a posting and later hear they had over 250 resumes sent.  Now that is competition…1 out of 250.  That’s tough.

So how do you get noticed?  I think you should EXPOSE yourself.  Now I don’t mean buy a long trench coat, remove your skibbies (like the guy here) and go to a company you want to work for with a funny grin on your face.  What I mean by exposing yourself is to do something most job seekers won’t do.  If you can confront and overcome your anxiety to connecting with the right people at the right time, you will find what you are looking for.

Confronting and overcoming anxiety is the challenge.  If you can put yourself in situations where you have to ask for help or “sell yourself” this is what I mean by exposing yourself.  Exposing yourself to probable failure and embarrassment is what is at stake.  Failure and embarrassment are what keep most people in line.  It is what keeps them from doing and being great.  Our own insecurities keep us back from really reaching deep within ourselves to pull out what makes us tick.

One way to overcome this fear and anxiety of failure and embarrassment is to go out and do something that will embarrass yourself.  Do it intentionally and see what it feels like.  Maybe it won’t really feel as bad as you think it was going to.  Maybe you might even get a rush from it.  Doing the things that make us feel nervous, anxious or embarrassed might be the one way to get it out of our systems in a healthy way.

Go do something embarrassing today and then go find a new way to job search.  It will make all the difference in the world.

Let’s Get Started!


A Career Change – Is It Time?

Today I want to spend a few minutes with you on when to make the decision you need a carer change.  What does that really mean is probably where we should start.  A career change is not a simple decision because there are many factors to consider.  Blah…blah…blah… so what?  If you are ready for a career change then go make it happen today.  (I like to shock you every once in a while)

The reason people sit on their tails and NOT start making the change is because they are scared.  Scared of how they are going to pay their bills.  Scared about the routine they have with their current job.  They are also scared of the unknown.  Stop being scared of what you don’t know.  Go for it.  Go make a change.

If you are thinking about a career change then you should probably do it.  Now I am not saying quit your job today…well maybe I am.  What I am saying is when your current job is not taking you where you want to go then you should think about what is next for you.  There are literally thousands of jobs out there.  The best time to start looking is while you are employed.

Here are five things you might be telling yourself which should give you a clue you need to make a change:

1. I wish I was doing something else like ______________________ (fill in blank).

2. I don’t think there is anywhere for me to go in this company.

3. I always seem to get in this same situation.

4. I am better than this.

5. I wish I would have taken that job (back then).

Now a career change might mean within the same company or asking for more responsibility.  It doesn’t always have to be in a new place.  Change is part of everyday life.  When we try to hide or ignore the need to change, we can build up resentment towards ourselves and other people.

The best way to make a 180 degree career change is to start doing something on the side and see where it leads you.  Many times if you volunteer, do part-time work or start a small business, you will encounter people and situations where you might see yourself long-term.

Try something new today.  A career change will do you good.

Let’s Get Started!


Do You Need More Career Advice?

I don’t think you do.  You probably already know what to do with your job search.  You have heard all the news about it being tough out there, how you need to network, how your resume should say your accomplishments and how it might take a long time to find what you are looking for.  So what are you waiting for….more advice?

Let’s cut the garbage and get serious.  You are in charge of what is next not anyone else.  Maybe you are frustrated.  Maybe you are depressed.  Maybe you are confused.  I don’t know but what I do know is you won’t get any better by surfing websites all day and chasing rabbits down rabbit holes.  Chasing rabbits is what I term you reading stories, checking email, checking Facebook or spending more than an afternoon on redesigning your resume.  Get serious.  Get going.

My wife read me a Chinese proverb last night while we were driving back from getting some dinner at the local Whole Foods.  It said:  “Be not afraid of moving forward, but of standing still.”  Stop standing still and start moving forward.  Even if moving forward doesn’t work or is wrong that is ok.  You are smart and will figure it out along the way.

Chasing rabbits is standing still.  You don’t need more career advice, you need to start moving forward.  Here are 10 ideas to get you moving forward:

1. Volunteer your time to help someone out or a small business in need.

2. Call five people who you have been meaning to call and ask to meet them for lunch or coffee or invite them and their family over for dinner.

3. Call three of your old co-workers and see what they are doing.

4. Plan to leave the house every day and try to meet one new person.  Go where you are comfortable and talk about the weather.

5. Start a hobby you have been meaning to do for years.  Take a class, join a group, lead a program and go meet other people.

6. Make Christmas cookies for five of your neighbors and invite them over for an afternoon no matter how you feel about them.

7. Dress up in moderately nice clothing and go visit two companies you would be interested in working for.  Ask them for a brochure of their services and introduce yourself.

8. Take someone elses dog for a walk (if you don’t have one).  Take her to a dog park and introduce yourself to one new person.

9. Ask your five closest friends or family members or neighbors how they found their last job and listen to their answers.

10. Plan your next day the night before and STICK with it.  Planning and sticking with it is more important for your emotions (head and heart) than your job search.

Stop looking for more advice and start moving forward…right now.  Get out and get moving no matter where it takes you.

Let’s Get Started!


Career Planning 1, 2, 3

Career planning comes in many forms and fashions.  Let’s first discuss what makes a great career.  A great career provides you with the right mix of pieces that make your working life perfect for you.  Not perfect for your mother or your spouse or your situation, but perfect for Y-O-U.  You are what matters here pretty much not anyone else.  You are going to be spending over one-quarter to one-third of your life (120,000 hours) doing “it” (your job/career) so you better make sure “it” is centered on what you want out of your life and not someone else.

I have been hearing a great song lately that I think you should read one of the main lines.  It states:  “…don’t close your eyes.  This is your life.  Are you who you want to be?”  It is by a group named Switchfoot and it really hits home to remind you that yesterday is over and you are determining your own path.  You should not close your eyes and just let life happen to you.

I am not suggesting you should go ahead and quit a job or make a drastic change if you are not in the right situation now.  I am suggesting if you are not in the right situation for Y-O-U then you need to start planning your steps to change your career and start experiencing the life you dreamed of.  Here are three easy steps to help you get started with planning your career no matter where you are at with it:

Step 1:  Pick one career path you want to explore and go explore it.  You can only do one thing at a time anyways so just pick one path and start learning if it is right for you.  So maybe you have three or four or even ten areas you want to explore.  So what?  You better get started now otherwise you will never do it.  One at a time now…

Step 2:  Learn and experience everything you can about that new direction.  This is the easy part because you can find people who are doing what you want to do, visit them, ask good questions and learn from what they did right and what they did wrong.  Take classes, visit businesses or places where you can see this job being done.  This is where you research if this is the right choice for you.  Take as much time as you need.

Step 3:  Once you find a new career path, find a way to transfer your current skill set to this new path.  Most of the time there is a way to do it but you might have to take a pay cut or move down a rung or two on the ladder.  That is ok.  This is normal and most of the time a temporary situation.  Take on a second job or sell some stuff on Craigslist part-time.  Find a way to make it work.

These three easy steps will help you determine if a particular job path is right for you.  This is career planning 101 and should not require too much thought.  Your fears and current living situation might try to get in the way and create a roadblock to your success.  That is normal too.  Roll with each of the roadblocks that come up and smash through them.  In career planning, I think of roadblocks as things put in the way to determine if you are serious about your decisions.  Everything has a good and a bad component.  The roadblocks will help you decide if you are willing to handle the tough part of this new career.

Let’s Get Started!


What Career Should I Do?

This is a great question for both young and old.  My guess is if this is a question that is swirling around in your head, you are probably early on in your job search.  You are contemplating where you should go with your working life.  It can be both exciting and a not-so-exciting time depending on how you look at it.

So if you are in the beginning of your career and trying to figure out what direction to go in, my first words of advice are:  “DON’T GO INTO DEBT”.  This is not a financial blog…I know.  It is a blog for job search and how to build a career that you can enjoy and pay you dividends throughout your life.  The reason I start with the debt-free-phrase is because if you get too far in the hole (too much debt) your career decisions will be pushed aside so you can make enough money to “live on” or to “make ends meet”.

Debt can really alter how you answer the question:  “What Career Should I Do?” because it reduces your choices down to instead:  “I have to make X amount of money to pay for my __________________ (fill in the blank with car, school, house, rent, lifestyle, etc.).  Se how it works?  Your debt will start making decisions for you instead of you making them yourself.  It is like the guy (or gal) at the bank (where you loaned your money) is telling you what career you should do.  Yikes…don’t let them do that to you, ever!

So instead when you are starting out your working life Or if you have gotten yourself into a pickle as you have gotten older), spend a few years at home or sharing an apartment with others or whatever you can do to pay off all your debts first.  Once you do then the noose around your neck that tells you what direction to go in will be gone.  You will be free to roam out there in the world and explore career options to your heart’s content.

It is really a great feeling and truly one of the most important things you can do to help you decide what career should to do.  Once you are free from any financial pressure, you can start to explore your options by starting low in a company to see if it is right for you.  Try to start a small business and make a difference in people’s lives.  You can travel the globe and explore what is beyond.  You can stop and smell the roses a lot more than the average worker.  You decide and not anyone else.

If you don’t know what career you should do, then unpack why you are unsure.  If it is because of the pressure you have created, then get rid of it.  Finding the best career for you to do is a life long exploration.  Explore without anything tying you down.

Let’s Get Started!


Job Hunting – Staying Motivated

Now this is a tough one…staying motivated when things are NOT going your way.  I know.  I get it.  But that doesn’t matter.  You just want to find that f-r-e-a-k-i-n job and everything and everybody is standing in your way, right?

Let’s think a little about motivation.  What is motivation?  A skill.  A mindset?  An attribute?  Well, not really.  Motivation is both an emotion AND more importantly a choice.  Let’s unpack the choice part first and you will see how easily the emotional part fits right in.

Motivation is first a choice because of the negative side of motivation which is being unmotivated…frustrated…tired…etc.  The negative side of being motivated happens when we expect a different action to an activity you put yourself into.  Did you get that?  Lack of motivation happens when we expected something different to happen than what we originally thought would.  We put energy into the expectation at the beginning now we are feeling the pain after it didn’t work out for us.

WOW.  Does that hit you like a ton of bricks?  It does me.  It does because so many times I watch job seekers ignore the most important tasks to finding a job (connecting with others, making calls, meeting people, putting yourself out there, etc.) and instead they go online for a few hours a day sending resumes to job postings on the job boards.  If you are doing the latter (sending resumes to job postings) then you fall into the “ignoring” category of what works with job search and are setting yourself up for being unmotivated and frustrated from day one.

So here is how you stay unmotivated:

1. Manage your expectations from the beginning.  If you are nervous or scared to do certain activities then realize that and work with that emotion (the nervous and scared one).  Stop ignoring the good advice so you can run from your fears.  Embrace your fears and take baby steps to overcome them.

2. If you need a crutch, go find one.  I am not talking about alcohol or drugs.  Find someone or a group of someones who can walk with you through a job search.  Not like you are going to need constant help getting up, but the type of help that will keep you accountable for what you are doing and not be a negative influence on you.  Even if you have to pay someone…it is good.

3. You can tweak your emotions on this one by reminding yourself every day what your goal is.  You might need to put it up on your mirror or a white board or on your computer or even in your underwear drawer.  Maybe do all those things but constantly remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing.  It will help you keep your emotions in check.

Emotions are feelings that can well-up inside us because of an outside influence.  A negative emotion is typically (not always) a reaction to a misguided expectation.  If you manage your expectations first, you can minimize the negative emotions that will pop up later.  You won’t get rid of them all as they are the “juice of life” which is a topic for another post.  But you will stay motivated longer.

Stay motivated by managing your head ahead of time.  It will make all the difference in the world.

Let’s Get Started!