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How to Make a Career Change
Over the course of life, many get the urge to take on another calling. In other words, they want to find a new job in an entirely different field from their current roles. While this can be an exciting realization, it can also induce anxiety, as not many are aware of how to approach a career change. This guide will provide you with tactics and tips to make the transition from one career to another.
Decide What You Don’t Want to Do
One advantage from your current position is that you have experience in the work environment. As such, you have the privilege of knowing what you dislike about your time in a career. For instance, you may not like having to be in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. You may not relish your tasks as they relate to the job, such as managing or attending meetings.
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Once you have a have a good understanding of your likes and dislikes, decide what you don’t want to do in your next role. While you may want to work 40 hours, you may not want them all to take place during the day or at the same time every day during the week. You may desire a flexible schedule with various shifts available. Understanding your current personal time obligations helps you decide the type of work schedule you do and do not want for your future career.
Do you currently work with the public or manage a team? Do you have to clean up after people or make several phone calls every day? Is your income based on sales performance? Think about the things you dislike about your current role and the responsibilities you absolutely cannot accept in your new job. This entails anything from sitting long hours to lifting heavy objects all day.
Reach Out to Your Network
One of your most valuable assets as someone seeking a new career is your network. Your network of professional connections and friends gives you information about their companies, job, and career fields to give you a sense of what working in a particular industry is like.
If you are curious about one of your professional contact’s job or field, invite him or her out to lunch and ask if it would be okay to ask questions about his or her job and company. Most professionals are happy to talk about what they do, and even offer tips for breaking in, but it is important you offer something in return so they do not feel as though they are being used.
Before you set out on your explorative lunch date, come up with a list of questions to ask when you get there. Research the company ahead of time, too. Do not ask questions that may be too personal in nature, such as how much money he or she earns.
Instead, ask questions about the challenges of the role, the competitiveness of the career pool and the potential for growth with the company or in the field. Ask how the employee got started on this career path, and what suggestions he or she has for anyone who would like to start in the field today. Ask what relevant classes or certifications you might need and some of the best resources to read up on.
After the meeting, send your lunch date a thank you card expressing your appreciation for his or her time and information.
Combine Skills & Interests You Already Have
You may know that you want to change careers, but you might not know exactly what you want to do yet. That is perfectly okay. To help yourself through this process, compose a couple of different lists.
First, write down a list of everything you are good at. Do not limit the list to things you are good at in the scope of work—write down everything. For example, if you are good at building things, place this skill on the list. If you are good at making people laugh, remembering obscure facts, teaching people how to do things or good at being a mom or a dad, write all of those talents down.
Once you have completed the first list, make a list of all of your interests. Again, do not discriminate. Write down all of your interests, from reading or writing, to fishing and golfing. Once you have both lists made up, cross examine them and combine them to produce possible new career choices. For example, if you are good at teaching people and are interested in baseball, you may find a job as a coach for a school or local organization.
Continue combining your skills and interests to produce new ideas for a possible new role. Write down all the possibilities and see where the exercise takes you. You just might come up with your dream job.
How to Leverage Your Existing Experience for a New Career
No matter what career field you are looking to break into, there are some job skills that are universal. When evaluating a new career path, consider both the soft and hard skills you already possess to see how you may already be prepared to take on a new role. Make a list of your current skills to build your self-confidence and help you evaluate your marketability as it relates to a new job.
Soft skills are personality traits you may possess that enhance your ability to endear yourself to employers. Examples of soft skills include critical thinking, leadership, listening, presenting, problem solving, selling, managing, cooperating and negotiation. What soft skills do you have? How have they improved over time and how do you use them in your current career? If you have honed your soft skills, they are easily transferrable and are welcome in virtually every work environment.
Where soft skills can come to a person naturally and require honing, hard skills are directly related to the tasks your job requires. Consider the hard skills you currently employ. Some of them, though specific, transfer nicely in a new role. Some examples of easily transferable hard skills include using certain software, such as a word processer or photo editing program, accounting, editing, project management or data analysis. Granted, your new field may not call for all of your hard skills, but you likely have a few you can use in your new job.
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