Tips to Prepare Yourself for a Career Change
Whether pushed into it as a result of job loss or you’re simply ready to try something new, preparing for a career change is challenging and exciting. Let’s look at some tips to help make it a smooth transition.
Narrow Your Field of Focus
You might have a plan in mind and know exactly the types of jobs you want to pursue. Or, you might just know that you want something different from what you’re doing now. If that’s your situation, spend some time really thinking about what you’d like to do. What are the things about your most recent position you enjoy and what are things you’d rather not do anymore? Be honest with yourself about your strengths and skills. For example, if you hate math and need a calculator to figure out the tip on a dinner bill, you’re probably not cut out for jobs in accounting or finance.
Network Within the Industry
Once you decide the career field you’d like to enter, reach out to your network to find people who work in it. Set up informational interviews over video chat to find out what the career is really like — it may not be what you think it is just observing from the outside. After learning more about it, if it’s still a career change you want to pursue, start assessing your skills.
Evaluate Your Skills
There are certainly some fields, like medicine or law, that require years of extensive study and training. But many career fields are such that you can learn on the job, as long as you bring some basic skills to the table. Evaluate the skills and strengths you already have that can transfer to other careers, including strong written and verbal communication skills, leadership and management training, or research and analytical skills. When you interview, make it clear that what you may lack in practical experience, you make up for in willingness to learn, whether that’s on the job, through additional schooling, or a combination of both.
Trim Your Spending
Making a big financial transition like moving into a new career is always uncertain, and it’s even more so during these turbulent times. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot. You’ll just want to prepare yourself. Start by evaluating your current budget and eliminating any unnecessary spending. You may even want to consider cutting back to a bare bones budget until you find a new position and start getting paid. Research salary expectations for the careers you’re considering to be sure you can maintain or improve your current income level. If you have to take a pay cut to get started in a new career, look for ways to cut your budget further. Or, bring in extra money from other sources.
Set Goals & Celebrate Milestones
As with any big project, you’ll make more progress when you set manageable goals and celebrate achieving them. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). For example, “I will send out 10 resumes to hiring managers at my preferred companies by September 30th.” Set dates and hold yourself to them. Better yet, share your plan with a trusted friend or family member so they can help hold you accountable. Putting a plan and goals in place will help ensure your career change goes from wish to reality.