OK, so at some point in our careers, many of us come to the realisation that our current job or career simply doesn’t fill us with the same level of excitement as it used to. This is pretty normal and it generally leaves us asking ourselves two critical questions:
What could or should I do next?
How am I going to get there?
You see, gone are the days where you started in one job or career and remained there until the day you retired, suffering in quiet desperation and yearning to get out and try something new. It is almost expected now that we will change career multiple times during our working lives. In fact, I have heard that most people today will change careers at least 3 times during their working lives. Luckily this is not frowned upon anymore.
Over the last few years, I have been consulting with people who want to change careers, helping them develop strategies and action plans to make that transition. What I have learnt during that time is that we need to have a multi-pronged approach to effectively making the leap into a new industry or career.
Changing career is not something that happens overnight. It’s often a gradual move that takes place over a period of months or even longer.
So, assuming you know what career you want to progress into, here are 5 techniques to help speed up your switch:
Many people struggle to effectively make the leap from one career or industry to the next because they still label and pitch themselves (even unconsciously) as what they were or currently are and not what they want to be.
Just as a company re-brands themselves, so should you when changing career.
To enable a recruiter or hiring manager to see you as a great fit for a new career or industry, you need to sound like someone who is already in that role or industry.
One of the easiest ways to re-brand is to look at the language and terminology of someone who is in that career already and start implementing it into your own branding material such as your CV, LinkedIn profile as well as the way you talk about yourself in your elevator pitch.
Look at the skills and activities that someone already in that role would have and do and, using similar language, start aligning your skills to that. What you want to highlight here are your transferable skills. In fact, you may have a good number of the necessary skills for that new career or industry already.
In some cases, you may be able to describe what you were doing in a previous role using the language or terminology that is used in the career or industry you want to be in.
Recruiters and hiring managers are looking to tick boxes in their head when matching a person to a role. If the language you use to describe your skills and experience is the same or similar to the language used in the career or industry you want to move into, then recruiters will be able to easily see the alignment and relevance and how they are transferable.
HAVING A BIT ON THE SIDE
Leaving a career or industry one day and starting a completely new one the next can happen… but it’s very rare. Instead, as mentioned, the transition can be a more gradual process and this could be dependent on the type of career or job you are looking to get into next.
Many of my clients have changed career by doing something on the side in addition to their usual day job by freelancing in the evenings and weekends. Starting off small, they pick up more and more gigs while they develop new skills, building up a client base as well as their personal brand until they get the confidence to make the move into that career or industry full-time.
If you don’t have enough transferable skills to convince a potential employer that you have what it takes and can quickly come up to speed, then you may need to upskill yourself.
Take a course in that field, part-time or via correspondence so that you can demonstrate to a potential employer that at least have a theoretical understanding of the skills necessary for that role. There are so many short-term courses (3-6months) available out there so you may not have to enrol in a 3-year degree at university.
In fact, once you have upskilled, you may be able to move into that new career within your current company if such an opportunity exists. Try talking to your manager or HR person as they already know you. In fact, you may be doing your organisation a huge service by plugging an existing skills gap.
“It’s not what you know or who you know that matters as much anymore.
It’s who knows you!”
One of the best ways to transition into a new career is to start associating with people who are already in the role or industry you want to transition into. You want to be moving in those circles so you can get known.
The easiest way to do this is to jump on LinkedIn and start connecting with people who are in the role and industry where you want to be in and grow your network. Meet with these new connections face-to-face if you can.
If there are meetups in the industry then start attending those, which is another way to grow your network. In this way, you will start finding job opportunities that aren’t advertised.
FIND A MENTOR
A great way to move into a new career or industry is to try to emulate what others have done. These could be people who have also made the leap into the career you want to be in. Learn from others who have gone before you.
Using the connections in your LinkedIn network, have a look at the profiles and see where they have come from. Try to meet with them, take them out for a coffee and ask them the techniques they used to change career. In fact, they may even become a mentor to you.
Mentors can be powerful allies and can even open up doors for you using their own network if they know you are looking for new opportunities.
As previously mentioned, a career change can be gradual and so your first role in a new career or industry shouldn’t always be your dream role. You should be looking for a company that will take you on that will enable you to do some aspect of what someone in that career would generally do. My advice is to get a foot in the door and then use that first role as a stepping stone to launch the rest of your career. Let the career transition happen gradually and you will have greater success.