Switching Careers (Part 2)

Exploring the New Career

After deciding what career best suits you, and have listed all the needed skills and talents, and what skills that you already have and will transfer over into your new career, it’s time to get the needed experience that will help you to bridge the gap of experience of the new field.

  • Training

One of the biggest obstacles you face when switching careers is having the knowledge and skills to do the job. Check universities, colleges, schools or institutes that have relevant degree programs. This doesn’t necessarily mean an extra degree or even years of classroom time. It could be as simple as attending a one-day sales seminar, a 1-3 week vocational workshop, or an evening writing class. Night classes can be a worthy alternative if you are still at your current day job. Your instructor and/or class mates can be a good source of advice.

  • Informational Interviews

Search for opportunities to undergo informational interviews. They can provide you straight face-to-face talk with actual professionals about your considered career. You do not only gain their opinions, but also the opportunity to network with them, get well known, and get recommendations for future vacancies.

  • Family and Friends

Family and friends are always a good source of information. They all simply know you well. Discuss your plans with them and seek their opinion about your new career and whether you can fit in it or not. If not, what other possibilities, in their opinions, can suite you?

  • Networking

Network with people in your new career field, this could be achieved via attending formal events, joining professional associations, or simply catching up with friends in a party. A network can be family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, friends of friends, colleagues of colleagues. Exchange with them your contact information, be in contact with them on regular basis to greet them, congratulate them, not only when you need them, try to meet them in person, show respect and sincerity in their careers/businesses. Networking with new people will not only help you to learn more about your new career, it can also open the door to possible job opportunities.

  • Engaging with a Mentor

It is wise to find someone you can talk to sort out everything and put you on the right path. Lots of experts and researchers agree that having a mentor is huge when it comes to career success. A mentor can best be a senior professional in your desired field or a career counselor. Someone you’d love to talk to and exchange ideas with. The mentor can help you to explore the field in which you’re interested, meet people in that field, find a job/start the business and settle in it. You may find a mentor program in your company, why not use it?

  • Time Donation

Another way to seek relevant experience in your dream career is to volunteer your time in a related lower-level job, for free or less pay. Volunteer at an animal vet or a zoo if you want a career related to animals. If you think of opening a cafe, find a well-run cafe and ask if they have any part-time jobs. If you dream of working as an architectural engineer, you can start as a trainee at a real estate construction company participating in doing small real tasks. Want to scrutinize if working as a nurse is the right choice for you, volunteer at a hospital and check how you will perform and cope with the various parameters in such environment.

Doing real tasks, very close to co-workers in your new field can enrich your knowledge about the day-to-day duties and the needed relevant skills. This will also show if this new career is fitting into your life or not.

Prepare a new Resume and Cover Letter

Do not be terrified due to the lack of full job experience. Adjust your resume to reflect the new skills you have learned from trainings and volunteering. Focus on your talents and specific accomplishments rather than the previous job experience. List books read, conferences attended, research conducted, and formal education. Also list the transferrable skills attained from previous professional experiences that can be used in the new job.

To discuss more about the shift in career, talk about it in your cover letter. State what interested you in the new career and the steps you have taken to be prepared for the job. Show how you can add value in the job you are applying for.

Job Search

One good advice is to keep your current job while you are searching for the new one. Visit employment agencies, viewing job listings and classifieds to locate a new vacancy. Before looking outside, consider searching within your company, another department and or another location. Make sure that your resume and cover letter are ready in hand. Think of jobs that allow you to do what you really want to do, at least in some form, and apply your skills and talents every day. Be creative and open-minded. Focus on what your inner feelings guide you to do. Once you are at the door for an interview, focus on the talents you have and the future you want to live, keep it short, do not divert the interviewer by lengthy explanations.

Final Advice

Although lots of people dream of changing careers, but some don’t actually do it. Making a change, whether big or small, is going to stir up some apprehension, some people are terrified of change either because they are too old, cannot handle the financial risk accompanied by that change, or even they don’t know the right way to do it.

You have to accept the sacrifice. You should pay the right effort and time to reach your satisfactory career. You may have to start all over from the beginning, leaving all your previous years of experience and knowledge. You could possibly face a little rejection at the beginning due to your little experience.

Set clear plan of changing career to-do tasks; commit to at least one daily task. A task could be a half-hour to send e-mails, or doing networking phones during your work break. Be mindful that there will be hecklers and/or inner negative thoughts all along the way. “You spent all that money on your degree and now you aren’t even going to USE it.” “You can’t have your own business, you just don’t have the business mindset.” “You won’t be able to afford the change, what about your current financial commitments?” Balance those skeptics by having a support network.

Learn how to just ignore them. Don’t allow skeptics and pessimists to draw your attention away from your goal. There is no shame to rethink and switch things up. It could be a real intimidating decision. But it is never too late to start. If you have confidence in your abilities, the skills and experience to back it up, you will be well on your way to successfully entering an exciting new career in the field you absolutely love.

My Story

For me, I took the decision of changing careers 6 years ago, when I decided to move to the human resources field after spending 7 years in the computer engineering and programming field. I had the idea in my head for like few years, but things started to get more serious when I came to read the book Never Say Never by Phyllis George. It is really inspiring and enlightening, including real live cases concerning being flexible in career life.


Switching Careers (Part 1)

Deciding to change careers is not an uncommon choice.  Many career experts say that a typical person will change jobs at least 13 times during his working life. People usually think of changing their careers due to chasing their life dream, emerging interest in a new evolving field, seeing a successful example (a relative, a neighbor, a friend, a celebrity… etc.), or mismatched expectations of the current job (outcome from the job, declining industry, increased level of stress, looking for more challenge… etc.).

Making the Decision

First you need to distinguish between a job and a career. Some people hate their jobs (occupations, employment) but love their career. This article is targeting people who think that it is not the problem of the current job, but rather a whole career/function.

Second, you have to understand what turns you off currently. Imagine if you have all the money, what would you be doing? Ask yourself, are you happy to be supervised by a manager? Or do you enjoy working on your own?  Do you have the talent of leading other people? What hours are you willing to work? How do you cope with stress? Are you creative? Are you organized? Does helping others make you happy? Do you like techy stuff? Handcrafts? Is just moving to another job, not changing the whole careers, a solution? Open your mind to various possibilities, but be realistic.

Third, having all on paper can help to visualize matters. Make a list of all the things you would strive to achieve with a new career. Write down all of your interests and hobbies, remember, you should have a career that is both interesting to you and makes you excited about going to work each day. The new career should naturally match your personality, lifestyle, interests, talents, beliefs and values.

Review Your Current Financial Situation

Since starting a new career may encounter having you unemployed for some time, especially when you are starting a new business, it is crucial to be financially secure. How much does it cost, on a monthly and annual basis, to support your current standard of living? Are you willing to lower your standard so that you can take a job that pays less? It takes a great deal of courage to do something your heart desires at the cost of some financial loss. Distinguish between your wants and your needs. Go for it if this will make you happy. If you are not financially secure enough, you need to save/budget for however long you think it’ll take to find a job in your new career, then start the switching. To make due in the meantime, you’ll have to either remain at your current job or find a short-term job that will help support you while you find a job in your career field.

Career/Talent Assessment

When you want to change career ask yourself one question do I know what I want to be? If the answer is NO, then you need to start with a career/talent assessment. If the answer is YES, you still may be surprised to know that you are not suited for your dream career at all. Rather than finding this out the hard way and being forced to make another career switch, you can undergo a career and talent assessments.

We are all born with lots of natural talents. As we grow up, progress with studying, change jobs, our interests and talents keep changing. Career/talent assessments will help you to discover what your hidden natural and developed talents are, and what type of jobs that can fit them. Look for a professional career consultant or a specialized institution. Online assessment surveys such as The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS), Strong Interest Inventory (SII) and Holland Self-Directed Search, can be of good benefit too.

You should be aware of the skills that can be transferred from one job to another, transferrable skills, that can help you market yourself. For example, the ability to learn, ability to meet deadlines, being a team player, communicating and dealing with the public, researching skills, negotiating skills, computer experience and adaptability to change.