10 Tips for a successful Career Changeover
Providing certification training brings us in contact with a variety of professionals: those who are just starting their careers, those who are beefing-up their skill-set to advance in their position, and those who are considering a career change. Individuals who are seeking more fulfilling careers in completely different sectors, are often unsure how to move forward. However, it is easier to move through this tumultuous time with some planning and focus.
We’ve suggested ten steps for professionals considering a change of career, and classified it into the three broad stages that precede the action: self-assessment, exploration, and preparation.
1. Identify what you do and do not like about your current job
It is an exciting yet unnerving moment when you recognize that your career is no longer as stimulating as it once was. As you come to terms with the need to seek a new career path, it is prudent to consider what parts of this career had become stale, while others remained fresh.
This encourages you to think deeply about your current career and consider whether a lateral change within the company may suit you better than a full career change. If it is time to move on, this self-reflection will allow you the opportunity to custom-build a position that will meet your career needs better in the future.
2. Assess your interests, and personal values
As you find what you’ve enjoyed about your current career, particular career niches will come to mind that might suit these interests. While some are a spur of the moment consideration, others will be solid leads for your future careers.
This is also the perfect time to consider your personal values and what you are willing to sacrifice to reach your new goals. Making a list of possible vocations to research later will help you to stay organized and focused on your objectives.
3. Transferrable skills
When people change professions there are concerns about their ability to learn the ropes for a completely different sector. Many skills are transferrable to other careers, when you look at them more broadly instead of within a specific skill set.
For instance, someone who has spent years working as a Human Resources Manager has a host of transferrable skills for government consultation work: facilitation skills, conflict resolution skills, hiring policies experience, etc. It is easy to pigeonhole the work you have done but now is the time to consider the ways your specialties make you valuable wherever you go.
4. Research new options
Now that you have a list of options for your career-change, it is time to research each of these careers to get an idea of what will work best for you. You should pay attention to the pros and cons of the careers - salary, locations, necessary education or training, and advancement opportunities.
This part is exhausting, especially as it’s not the first time that you have worked through this process, however; this should give you a whittled down list as you find the best options for your transformation. We suggest that you cut your list down to no more than two or three options so you can focus on those without being bogged down with too many options.
Now that you have your top two or three options, it is time to shadow people who work in the careers that interest you. Not only will these excursions offer you direct exposure to the field, it will give you a valuable networking opportunity in the future.
Pay attention the same areas of interest that you already researched to make sure what you investigated was true, and ask enough questions so you are truly informed about the careers. It is wise to shadow with two different people from two different agencies to make sure you get a larger spectrum of experience instead of a narrow view. At the end of the process (which can take months) you will be prepared to choose your new field.
6. Creating a S.M.A.R.T. action plan
Creating an action plan helps to organize your thoughts and provides a checklist, while you move forward.
While you are designing your plans you should hold to the S.M.A.R.T. method by asking yourself this of every goal - Is it:
Utilizing these criteria will help you to assign yourself with specific tasks that you will be able to maintain. Forward momentum is the key at this point in your journey. So setting timelines for each of your goals and abiding by them is crucial. This is the time to reflect on and choose the exit date from your current career regardless of how far away it is.
If you have an extensive network you will have probably already tapped into them for advice and support, however; if you haven’t, now is the time to do so. Your network will provide you with information and opportunities that you will not be able to find yourself and ease the transition greatly for you.
8. Training and education
During your research you should have found education and training requirements for your new career, and now is the time to navigate through them. If your current career is able to offer any of the needed preparation you should take advantage of it.
Not only will it aid you in your new career, but it will enhance the work that you are already doing. If that is not an option, then you will need to spread out and seek those services elsewhere. Do not overburden yourself during this process. Remember that becoming a specialist in your field took time and be ready to put the same amount of effort into this phase while maintaining your current job.
9. Job search
You should begin to search for jobs and attend interviews when you are three to six months away from completing the needed training or education, for your new career. There are multiple reasons for this:
- Job searching takes time. So the sooner you start, the sooner you will find what you are seeking.
- Interviewing in a new career niche will take practice as you will not be a comfortable with the questions.
- Practice is important. This will help you identify any holes in your experience or understanding, and in turn help you become more knowledgeable in the new area.
- This will expand your network of professional support in your new field.
Depending on your current position, this is a good time to tell them that you are considering a career change so they can begin to make the necessary arrangements, to fill your position. You want to ensure you stay on good terms with your previous employer.
10. Gaining experience
While you are job-searching, you may come across opportunities to volunteer or work part-time. Do your best to make the time to commit to at least one new opening in your field, regardless of pay, because the experience and networking is priceless.
A combination of a professional background, training, education, and transferrable skills will take you far during your quest for a new career, however; actual job experience is always your most valuable asset as you step into a new position, so getting some under your belt will serve you well, as you interview. These positions can also turn into a full-time paid position for you.
As you transition to your new career and wrap up your old one, these steps should help you to have the easiest shift possible. Preparing yourself for the change is the biggest hurdle, so make sure that you plan well and stick close to your goals to ensure your success.
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