We all probably know at least one person — a parent, grandparent, or a family friend — who has worked for the same company until retirement. In the past, the idea of changing one’s employer or even a career was uncommon.
According to a CNN report, the idea of changing jobs has become the new normal. And it’s not just the Millennials who are jumping from one job to another or shifting to another career. The report also says that members of Generation X have averaged at least two job changes within 10 years after earning their diplomas.
The economic downturn of the not-so-distant past played a crucial role in this new norm, challenging the beliefs people held about their jobs. In the face of unemployment, many professionals were forced to evaluate their career paths.
But apart from the economic recession, there are plenty of reasons why people choose to shift jobs or even careers. Some decide to change careers after discovering that they were in the wrong field. Others undergo a change in their interests and passions while others are simply burnt out. Other common reasons include changes in personal circumstances and advancements in technology.
If you are planning on switching careers, here are some helpful tips for making a seamless transition.
A little introspection can go a long way
Before diving headlong into a career switch, you have to fully understand why you are planning on making that decision. Whatever may be the reason you are interested in switching careers, you have to have a clear picture of your “why.”
And although things can remain fluid and circumstances can change, knowing your “why” will help you end up in a positive place.
Consider consulting your trusted friends and peers or even a development coach who can provide impartial and objective perspectives on things that you may have overlooked.
Make an inventory of your skills and knowledge
Switching careers is not just a matter of passion. Passion can only get you so far.
At the end of the day, you have to look at the assets that you can carry over, including your current skillset, knowledge, and even your network. If you are able to leverage these assets, you are more likely to achieve long-term success in your new field.
It is also crucial to know which skills you will need to make a successful jump into the new field you are planning to make a foray into. Once you have a clear idea of the skills that you will need, determine how you can acquire those that you do not currently possess. Perhaps you might want to consider taking formal classes or maybe you can simply allocate a chunk of your day toward self-study.
Ease into it slowly
Much as you would like to jump into a new career ASAP, the better option would be to take things slowly.
First, you need to break down the tasks that you need to accomplish, finish mapping and planning goals, then create a reasonable timeline. That may mean listing all the skills that you need to acquire, determining who you need to add to your network, and even attending to matters at your current job.
Make it a point to accomplish something on a daily or weekly basis. Soon, you will see that your plan to switch careers is finally gaining steady momentum. Tracking your effort will help you make efficient use of your resources and motivate you further.
One of the toughest challenges in making a shift to another career is to make yourself appealing to potential employers. Remember, you are going to compete with other professionals who have been working in that industry longer than you.
Your main goal here is to make it easier for potential employers to see why you are a good hire even if you are coming from a different field.
Start by tweaking the assets you use in applying for a job, including your resume, cover letter, and even your LinkedIn profile.
Reach out to industry professionals
It may seem awkward to reach out to professionals in the field that you are trying to get into. But you will be surprised that there are plenty of people who are willing to help you if you show genuine passion.
But do avoid ambushing people out of the blue. Instead, reach out to these people by building rapport first. The easiest way to do that is to compliment people. From there, you can politely ask for advice and assistance.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.