When you are looking for a career change, it is sometimes hard to know where to start. The fact is, the average person will change careers between 5-7 times. We will start in one career when we’re young and move through different ones as we grow older and our values change. Most of us have changed careers, whether we know it or not.
Moving from being a retail clerk to a college student is a career change, or a college student to a professional. You probably have done this before, without even thinking about it as a career change!
This time, you are thinking about it. You are making this big, life changing decision and want to do it right.
If you follow these steps, I think that you will be happy with the choice that you make and you will be on your way to succeeding in your new career.
Identify Your Values
It is important that you know some of the core values and ideas that you have. Getting clear on what you are trying to pursue simplifies things. We sometimes fall into the habit of moving towards the comfortable and familiar rather than the challenging and fulfilling. If we are willing to challenge ourselves, we can get a lot more out of our work.
How essential is freedom in your new career? How much do you want to help those less fortunate? Do you like spending time in close connection with others, or diving into problems on your own?
The Myers Briggs Type Indicator is often used to help people who aren’t clear on what it is that they value.
Write down the top three things that you want in your career.
Identify Your Strengths
We all have things that we’re good at. We have a skill or character trait that makes us better at certain things than the Average Joe.
If you want to become a real estate mogul but have no prior experience in the field, that doesn’t mean you lack strength in this area. You may be a bold person. An ability to take on risk and be aggressive is essential to investing.
Consider taking the VIA character strengths quiz to see what your strengths are.
Who do you know that can help you gain clarity on your values and skills? We sometimes struggle to evaluate ourselves objectively and honestly. Enlist the help of your closest friends and family.
Talk to people who currently have the job that you’d like. What was good? What was bad? What was it like day-to-day? Reach out to people in the community and ask them these questions that you have. Most people are happy to talk about themselves and their experiences.
Consider a career coach. Sometimes we know what we want, but we just need someone to tell us that we can do what we know we can. Investing money into a coach can give you the push you need.
After you have identified your values and strengths, it is time to take action. Many people get stuck on thinking about the best way to start.
The walk of one thousand miles starts with one step.
You can create a functional resume that emphasizes skills that you have if you’re moving into an unrelated field. Connect with people on LinkedIn who are part of the industry that you’re interested in, or look at a catalog of classes at your local community college.
Do something that moves you closer to your dream job, however small that step is. What makes you feel accomplished?
Should you re-write the resume, or begin to send it out immediately? This is a personal question. Be honest with yourself about what makes you feel like you’ve jumped in.
Once you know your goal, it becomes time to connect. It isn’t what you know, but who you know. First, look through your contacts to see if you know anyone in the area you’re hoping to go into. If you don’t, find local networking meet-ups so you can introduce yourself to other professionals. See if there are any conventions in the area that target the area of interest.
There are lots of ways to find out if a job is the right one for you.
Consider taking a class. This isn’t always necessary, but it might help you feel more comfortable, knowledgeable, and confident.
See if there are any volunteering or interning opportunities in your area. If there are not, see if there is someone you can shadow for a few days. Then, you can get a feel for the job – what it is, what it actually requires, whether or not you like it.
We often have a dream in our head about what something is or ought to be and it doesn’t match up with reality. Working for “free” in these situations will not only give you something to put on your resume, but will also give you a chance to see what it is that you’re aiming for.
Moving into a new career isn’t easy, but if we make sure that we know what we want, and we get the help that we need, it is possible to thrive. I strongly urge you to consider a career coach to help you through the process.
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