Deciding to make a career change can be a frightening time. After all, it feels like you’re years behind everyone else who knew right from the start this was what they wanted to do (spoiler alert: every human feels this way regardless of how early they started anything).
It’s also scary to start from the very beginning again, not knowing how far you’re going to be able to go. Take a deep breath and listen to your gut. A career change that calls to you is probably the right thing for you. This doesn’t mean you need to quit your job today; what it means is that you need to start getting organized. The following will explore some of the things you need to be doing before and during a career shift.
Always Be Searching For Jobs
You might already know that landing the perfect position requires some luck in the form of good timing. You need to be reaching out to places that are currently looking to fill a role. To help reduce the risk of missing out on an excellent opportunity, you should be regularly searching for jobs, even while in school, even while working another job.
Knowing what’s out there and being aware when dream opportunities arise can help you get a resume in at the right time. To make this easier on yourself, try to be as clear as possible about the positions you’re looking for right from the start and keep your search narrow.
Look Into Further Education
Taking courses, certificate programs, or entire degrees can give you the boost you need when changing careers. If financial or location barriers are in place, Get Course points out that many courses and programs are available online for lower prices or with payment plans that make things a bit easier on students.
Learning about the work you’ll be doing will help you every step of the way, from the job interview to dealing with sudden shifts in the work due to technology or world events.
If you’re unsure what courses you should be taking for a specific job change, have a read of job posting boards and look at the educational and experience requirements commonly asked for by your dream profession. You’ll quickly begin to see a pattern and have lots of information to put to good use.
Brainstorm Transferrable Skills
You already have a lot of the skills you need for your career change; you just might not know it yet. As you read through job postings, take a look at the skills they’re truly asking for and spend some time brainstorming how your previous work, life, and school experience has prepared you for those exact things.
Maybe you don’t have experience leading a team doing the specific work mentioned, but maybe you have experience leading a team from your summer job way back when and you also have experience with the specific work mentioned at another job that came later on. Really pick apart skill-based qualifications and make mental connections between your previous experience and the new work you hope to have. There are far more points of overlap than you previously realized.
Get out there and meet people in the field you want to work in. You can do this at online meetups, conventions, clubs, boards, and industry-specific events. This will especially be important if you’ve decided to take the entrepreneurial route and start your own business; You can join a startup community platform to not only network but also gain access to the resources your new business will need to thrive and be successful.
Instead, you want to think about what you can do for them. How can you be of help? Of interest? Do you have anyone you can introduce them to? Listen to what people are saying, especially about struggles they might be having, and see what you can do to help. When you’ve made contact with someone, keep up with them. Read that book they recommended and send a message about it once you’re done. Check out the museum they said was amazing and email them later to thank them. It’s never too early or too late to begin networking.
Conduct Informational Interviews
Reach out to people who are doing what you hope to be doing one day. You can find them on LinkedIn, company websites under the “Meet The Team” or “Who We Are” heading, or via networking. Invite them out for coffee and a conversation or ask for a phone call. People are generally quite flattered when you say: “Hey, I’m super interested in the work you do and am considering pursuing it myself. Would you mind answering a few questions about it for me? To help me decide if it’s right for me?”
The above tips should help you begin the transition between your current work situation and one that is better suited to your interests and needs. Of course, this process might not be short; often, switching careers isn’t an overnight event. Let the process take as much time as it needs to take.