At any given time, you can search the web for career advice, and find countless articles and blogs with the intent of helping you identify signs that it may be time to alter your direction in life and finally change careers. This information is invaluable to individuals who are unhappy in their current jobs, but have not considered the notion that a career change is even a possibility; or maybe they are caught in a professional downward spiral, but have been indefinitely ignoring or denying the signs. It’s possible to have reached a crossroads in your professional life and not even realize you have arrived there, and that is where this information comes into play.
However, in this case, we are speaking to the employee who has already come to the realization that change is imminent; the employee who has recognized the proverbial crossroads, made the decision to change direction, and knows what direction they want to take. This is also the employee who realizes that deciding to change careers is only half the challenge. Here, we will discuss the initial steps to take after you have decided to shift your professional path, and it invariably involves more than simply applying for a new job in a new field.
Assess the differences.
How vastly different is your new plan of endeavor from your current job? For example, making a switch from human resources to business operations, while a worthy modification, is not nearly as profound a change as an accountant who wants to break into journalism. The key here is to be truly informed on the field want you to enter; and remember that the larger the change, the more effort necessary in making that change. Research realistically; read all the pertinent literature you can, talk to people in the field, and ask questions. What is required of you to enter the field you have chosen? Your own pro-activity is what will prove most beneficial when making that career change, whether large or small.
Accept the change.
This may sound like a redundancy since you have already made the decision to change your career path, however, there are many levels of change, and this particular one begins with your own knowledge, education, and level of expertise within your coveted field. While you may have completed enough internet research on the subject of your new career path to render you a virtual authority on the topic, remember that any employer, agent, or service facilitator in your new field is going to expect some type of credentials, experience or indicator of competency, if you want to get your foot in the door. If the career you are seeking requires reeducation, do not despair if going back to college as a full-time or even part-time student is not an option for you. With the popular emergence of online schools, it is possible to take necessary courses at your own pace conveniently at home, and depending on the program or degree you are seeking, possibly at a lower cost than a brick-and-mortar school. Remember that some career changes may warrant only a few classes or a couple of certifications at the most, while others may require you to start entirely from scratch, and earn a whole new degree. If this is the case, and you happen to already have some college behind you, look into finding out if any of your credits are transferrable.
In addition, do not hesitate to reach out to employment agencies which deal in the field you are looking to break into. Many offer basic job training as well, and can provide you with a great deal of information and support. In some cases, your new career of choice may not necessarily require any education, but maybe you need to build and present a portfolio or tangible example of your capabilities. In any case, you are going to have to make some notable changes, before you make the ultimate switch to a brand new career.
Accept the challenge.
Further on the subject of acceptance, is the realizing the notion that you may have to start at the bottom again. However, if you have made the decision to change your career path from where you currently are, starting from the bottom at something you enjoy and feel a connection to, is going to prove substantially more fulfilling than sitting at the top of your field at a job you dread going to every day. In some cases, this may possibly involve a decrease in salary, even if only temporarily. Just as years ago, you had to “prove yourself” as a competent representative of your field, the same applies now. Yet, with age comes wisdom, so it’s quite possible this will not be as arduous as it seems. We all have to earn our worth within the domain we seek to enter, so accept the challenge and work courageously toward your goal.
Let’s assume you have done all of your homework, so to speak, and you are ready to begin your job search in the entirely new field of your choice. This is the time to update your resume or portfolio, remembering to aptly highlight any pertinent certifications, classes, accomplishments, internships, etc. If necessary, seek assistance from a professional resume-writer; after all this is the first impression you are making as a prospective member of your new field. Also in accordance, is updating and cleaning up your social media profile(s). In essence, you are rebuilding your identity to match the hard work you have done to get to this point. This is also the time when the research you completed in the very beginning, when you were assessing the differences between your current and desired career paths, will prove very useful. The contacts you made and the information you gleaned from experts in the field you are entering will help you understand where to begin with your new job search, whether that consists of applying for jobs through online employment sites, registering with an agency, requesting consultations, or sending out a long-anticipated manuscript.
While the advice and assistance we seek from others through our journey toward a new career path is crucial for a successful outcome, we must keep in mind that networking is only a portion of the journey. We must also trust our own instincts in knowing what our next move should be. After all, it is our own knowledge and judgment which led us to seek this path to fulfillment, when we initially realized our true calling, and decided we were indeed ready for a career change. So, remember to stay organized and embrace the changes, the challenges, and the successes yet to come.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200