New career paths offer fresh starts, opportunities to make an impact in the world, better work-life balance, and more.
Whether you’re returning to work or looking for a way to build resiliency in challenging times, a successful strategy is key to get ahead in your new career path. Here are five proven tips that have helped career changers.
1. Start with a diligent situational analysis
Your gut is telling you “career change” but you need an organized approach. Analyzing the pros and cons of your situation can alleviate much of the uncertainty that harbors anxiety in prospective career changes. You know your current situation isn’t ideal, but why exactly isn’t it working?
In his Career Relaunch Podcast, career consultant Joseph Liu explains that “Clarifying exactly what dissatisfies you about your current situation helps you understand what sort of change to make. Sometimes, making a small tweak to your function, role, industry, or location can be enough to drive up satisfaction.”
If there are multiple aspects of your profession that are contributing to your dissatisfaction, then you may need a more involved solution than a tweak - e.g. a new career path. Before diving headfirst and building your wings on the way down, however, try conducting a thought experiment like “fear setting” in order to handle your life’s difficult choices and determine whether or not to take action. Fear setting, a technique founded on stoicism and famously applied by serial entrepreneur Tim Ferris, can be an important tool for overcoming the fear of making difficult choices.
Through whatever method works for you, it is helpful to have your eyes open about the pros and cons of the next chapter of your career.
2. Research and experiment
Reach out to people and conduct informal interviews or coffee chats. You can even go as far as shadowing someone to gain insights into the profession’s regular daily nuances. Having a much better idea of whether or not the profession is, in fact, a strong fit for your lifestyle and career goals will alleviate the daunting uncertainty of switching to it.
Aurora Meneghello, the founder of Repurpose Your Purpose, a program for knowledge transfer, coaching, and training on career transitions, recommends speaking with at least ten people who are in the prospective career you are considering pursuing. “If you do your research and talk to people, you will make an informed decision, greatly minimizing the risk of choosing something that won’t work for you.”
Does the position pay less but afford more time with family for improved work-life balance?
3. Analyze your finances
Financial uncertainty is at the top of the list of reasons why changing careers can be stressful. It is probable that your new career path could involve beginning at an entry-level salary and working your way up. As you make a career switch, you should consider creating a new budget and projecting what your life would look like if you need to invest time in additional education or skills training in order to achieve your new career goals.
At the same time, understand financial tradeoffs. Does the position pay less but afford more time with family for improved work-life balance? Practically speaking, building a financial safety buffer is recommended, as it provides leeway and flexibility while you find your footing in your new career. Thinking hard about finances will provide a strong base from which to begin your transition.
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4. Leverage your experiences and skills properly
Plenty of your past experiences and skills are directly transferable and valuable to prospective employers. The key is knowing how to properly reframe them so you can articulate how your experiences are applicable. The demand for transferable skills like communication, leadership, decision-making, and innovation will never go away. Even so, while you may clearly see how your experiences relate to your new career, potential employers often require more detail.
Pay specific attention to the type of language used in job descriptions in your prospective career. By tailoring your narratives and relating them similarly to the types of work required of your new job, employers will more easily draw the connections to your skillset and how it can be applied.
5. Build your network
The adage remains true, who you know is more important than what you know. Re-kindling old connections and cultivating new ones is a great way to generate the “serendipity” that so often leads to new promising opportunities. Specifically, try to get to know relevant contacts in your prospective industry - LinkedIn, conferences, and free training courses or meetup groups are all solid channels to start building your network.
Being aware of people’s schedules and bandwidth, as well as approaching conversations with a learner’s attitude, will help you overcome barriers. The more people that know you’re looking for a new career path, the better.
Key takeaways for building your new career path
Approaching a career change doesn’t have to be daunting. The five strategies outlined here can help you get started down the path of a new career today. If you are looking for more advice on how to get started with a career change, Momentum can help. We are passionate about helping people learn new skills and expand their horizons through transitioning to a new career. For more tips and information, schedule a conversation with our Admissions team today.
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