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Breaking into a new field of work is not always easy. People decide to transition for many different reasons. Whether you are fatigued with your current work, need a new challenge, or desire a more lucrative field, there are many ways you can mitigate the challenges faced when planning a career change. Here are some essential tips for anyone deciding to change careers:
How to create a new career path
1. Recognize Your transferrable skills!
First realize that you have valuable abilities for the new field of work that come from your previous roles. No matter what field you are transitioning to, you have developed valuable skills that translate to the new ‘gig’. Listing your transferable skills for the new field will increase your confidence and allow hiring managers to see your true value.
Example: Cindy works at a daycare center but she dreams of moving onto a professional corporate marketing position. To most these seem like two totally unrelated fields. While the clients and the day to day responsibilities look very different, there are some amazing skills that Cindy can bring with her. The key is to find the right way to define and explain how these are transferable. First, she was continually having to coordinate several (little) individuals and keep a tight schedule. Day care facilities work to maintain rigid schedules for children and for the parents. This is a fantastic transferable skill! It proves that Cindy has excellent time management skills. Secondly, she was constantly having to placate the children, break up fights, and even calm down parents. This is another valuable ability in the form of conflict resolution! What a valuable skill when facing an upset marketing client or an aggressive coworker. These are already 2 very valuable skills that directly transfer to a position in marketing and Cindy hasn’t even brought up the creativity that is essential for maintaining children’s engagement.
From this example it should be clear that any position that someone holds has valuable skills that will be useful in other roles. The key is to identify commonalities between fields of work and then highlight the similarities. Make sure you identify and document your usable skills so they can be referenced in your resume and during interviews with prospective employers.
2. Make it a Career Pivot!
When transitioning, think of it as a ‘career pivot’ not a career change. This will increase your credibility in the eyes of your interviewers and potential employers. The large key here is to be positive about the change. Chances are you found something that better fits your natural abilities or your future plans. This shows that you are planning ahead and that you have a vision for where you want to be. When you view it as a career pivot it becomes the next step forward in your efforts. It means you are using your previous positions as stepping stone towards your goals.
Every position you have is an opportunity to learn and grow. As we work and develop, our scope of what we truly enjoy doing will become more clear. Through this we should begin narrowing down the pieces of each job that we find most fulfilling. Positively labeling this transition will lead to increased fruitfulness from your efforts.
A ‘career change’ carries a negative connotation with it. It conjures up someone who is hopping from job to job without direction. On the other hand, when you pivot, it shows a forward thinking mentality where you make conscious decisions about your future. Pivoting implies that you are constantly improving and narrowing in on your ideal field of work.
If you are transitioning into a new area you must do some research! Studying the new field you are going into will give you an edge in the interviewing process. This goes beyond internet research and looking at a company’s website.
Read books, trade journals, company reports, and anything else that might give you a leg up toward understanding your new chosen field. Take some time to look into industry trends, do analysis on what has recently transpired, and become familiar with the key players in this field!
Your goal needs to be an intimate understanding of the field you are going into. When you know the vernacular of the field of work you are pursuing, it will shorten the learning curve and make it easier to find a position.
Example: Bill recently decided to become a realtor after a long career as a geologist. While he did own a home, Bill had no formal training with regards to real estate or mortgages. He began studying intensely. He read articles, interviewed realtors, researched the housing market he wanted to focus on, and even read reviews on all the real estate companies in his area. After 2 weeks, Bill had figured out the exact company he wanted to work for. He knew who their top sales people were, knew their management, and their competition. When he reached out to the Vice President of the realty agency, he was confident and prepared. They were so impressed with his knowledge that they could barely believe he wasn’t already a licensed realtor. Because of his diligence in research, this company not only hired him, they paid for him to get his realtor license! Bill was able to find the exact company and position he wanted. Then he crafted his own path all by engaging in some diligent research!
Take time to research the field you want to pursue. When you gather this sort of knowledge it will put you in the top 10% of any industry and make you invaluable to any potential employer.
4. Network, Network, Network!
If you are going into a new field of work, networking is going to be an essential activity. If this field is unfamiliar you need to be reaching out to friends, former colleagues, and anyone else you know that could help you gain your barrings.
Take time to know the associations, organizations, and key players in the industry you are approaching. Reaching out to people within your existing network can be one of the best ways to discover new opportunities before they hit the mainstream job boards.
The vast majority of jobs that are filled will never be advertised. Many positions are filled by informal processes. If you are trying to break into a new field by looking at job postings, chances are you’re too late. This is why building a strong network is so valuable. Find out where people in your desired industry gather and seek them out! Taking a proactive approach to meeting the right people will ensure that you will have more opportunities available.
Stay Focused on Your Goals!
Focus is a crucial component when changing fields of work. Set your goals for that field and pursue it unapologetically. Look at what skills you have that would be valuable to potential employers and make sure they can be expressed clearly. While pursuing your new field of work, look at is from a positive perspective. You are not making a huge change, you are transitioning or pivoting the trajectory of your career. Also, be prepared with knowledge of your new industry as well as information about potential companies and the key players in that arena. Finally, meet as many people as you can and strive for authentic connections.
Your new career path is waiting for you to blaze the trail!