Changing careers can be daunting — venturing into a new field, being a “beginner” all over again, and the overwhelming question of, “Will this even work?” To set yourself up for success, follow the 7 steps below to guide you through the process of a career change.
Determine Your Why
Before making the plunge, take a moment to think. It may sound silly or useless, but processing where you are and where you’d like to be is crucial. It will give you a stronger idea of where you’re headed, which can help you figure out the steps you need to take in between to get there.
Use this time to determine:
- Why you’re making a career change
- What you hope to achieve by making the change
- Where you are now
- Any gaps between the present and your goal
Scroll Through Job Postings
Look closely at the requirements for roles you’re interested in to identify skills and competencies you’ll need to refine to be a competitive applicant. Make a list of the areas you want to improve — this will help you generate a concrete plan to improve them.
Note: If the job postings are boring you to death, this might be a sign that the field isn’t as exciting as you once thought. If that’s the case, but you’re still craving a career change, explore similar roles using O*NET Online. You’ll be able to explore a variety of careers within similar industries that may have more compelling tasks that excite you.
Conduct Informational Interviews With Employees in The Field
To better understand the reality of the field you hope to pursue, conduct an informational interview with an employee in the field. This could be someone you know, someone you contact through LinkedIn, or a friend of a friend.
The purpose of the interview is to gain a better understanding of what it’s truly like to work within the field. Ask the interviewee strong questions that can’t be answered through a simple Google search. For example:
- What did you do to make yourself a competitive applicant? Is there any particular experience you found useful to leverage in interviews?
- What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the industry?
- What is one skill you’d love to see a new hire have?
Avoid questions like:
- What is the average salary for someone in this role?
- What degree do you need to get a role in this industry?
- Where should I look for jobs?
Informational interviews can help you further identify gaps in your skillset, while also gaining a better understanding of the true requirements of the role.
Find a Mentor
For additional guidance in making the transition, find a mentor. Mentors can offer support, valuable insights, constructive feedback, and encouragement — all incredibly helpful while making a career change.
To find a mentor:
- Tap into your network. Is there anyone you already know that would be a good mentor?
- Look on LinkedIn. Build genuine relationships with people on LinkedIn, then ask to set up a few calls with them.
- Use mentoring platforms. Paid mentoring platforms like MentorCruise are a great way to find mentors in a pinch.
- Join Slack, Discord, or Facebook communities. Some industries have virtual professional groups where you may find valuable mentors.
Consider Educational Options
Once you’ve got a clear path of where you’d headed, consider the education you may need to get there. Does your dream career require a Bachelor’s degree, or are trade, tech, or online bootcamp programs a better option?
For example, careers like lawyers and doctors require advanced degrees, but fields like nursing and software development can be trained for in low-cost trade and tech programs or traditional colleges. Explore your options to find the education that makes the most sense for you.
Rework Your Resume
After gaining experience, rework your resume to suit your new career. Craft your experience around transferable skills required for your new desired role. Highlight new education, certifications, and courses obtained that are related to your new field.
Revise Your LinkedIn
Lastly, revise your LinkedIn profile to make it searchable for terms that are relevant to your new field. Think to yourself: If a hiring manager was looking for a candidate to fill a role, what would they search for on LinkedIn?
Add those terms into your headline on LinkedIn. This will make it easier for hiring managers and recruiters to find your profile, connect with you, and ultimately get you into roles you desire.