7 Essential Steps to Make a Successful Career Change
During times of uncertainty, everyone has faced the thought of making a career change. Whether it be due to a recent layoff, company direction, or simply a loss of passion, the idea of finding something new becomes inevitable.
My time of uncertainty happened some years back when I worked as a Designer. I had 8+ years of experience, just got a promotion, and was managing a team for the first time. I thought that I was living the dream. Six months into the position, I started feeling burnt out, uninspired, and under-valued. That was when I knew I had to make a change.
In a search for my purpose, I decided to leave my then full-time job and take on freelance opportunities to help make ends meet. This gave me some much-needed time to reflect and re-envision the career I wanted. At the time, I knew that I wanted to stay connected to fashion, but I had no idea where I wanted to go. I started endlessly reaching different fields where I could utilize my skills.
Once I put a plan in order and gained the confidence to pursue my next steps, I managed to successfully transition into Higher-Ed, Human Resources, and now Creative Career Coaching with little to no experience!
With these 7 essential steps, this is how to successfully make a career transition.
1. Visualize what you want out of your next career
Whenever making any big life decision, it is important to take some time to think about your current work life. Evaluate, where you are physically and mentally, the type of work you have you done, and where you would like to go next. Questions to consider, Am I happy where I am? Is the company and/or position providing me with my basic needs to be creative and/or successful? Am I growing? Are my ideas being supported by management and/or leadership? If I could do anything else, what would it be? Use this time to dream again!
2. Research your industry/industries of interest
The next step would be to narrow down your industries of choice to 3, then do a deeper dive into the type of roles and companies you would like to explore. If you have no idea, I would suggest doing an occupational job search to consider some options. Two great resources I recommend are onetonline.org and careeronestop.org. While compiling information, start reviewing your current skills and core competencies to identify your transferable skills for each occupation. Questions to consider: Is this industry and/or role related to what I’m doing now? If so, how? Does this industry and/or role require a degree, certification, or training? If so, how necessary is it? How much does this role pay? Would I have to take a title and/or pay cut? Is this the right time for me to make a career transition? How would this move affect my work-life balance? Think about all of the pros and cons when weighing your options.
3. Connect with professionals working in your industry or industries of choice
This is your time to network! Start reaching out to individuals working in the industry and/or roles you would like to be in. Set up info sessions by inviting them to do a quick 30-minute virtual call. The goal is to use this opportunity to get as much intel as you can about their role, how they got into the field, and what it takes to be successful. Remember, these chats are not intended to be interviews, they create a way for you to gain more information about the industry. Things to think about as you meet with each person: Do they seem happy with what they are doing? Is their feedback about the job aligning with what you’ve researched and want to do?
4. Create a transitional resume and portfolio (as needed)
Once ready, start re-branding your professional package! Take some time to review your resume and make the necessary changes that speak to your transferable skills, experience, and training (if required). If the industry/role requires a portfolio, be sure to edit and add new projects targeted to the market you want to appeal to. Something to keep in mind: What would I want the hiring manager to know about my unique skillsets that would make me a viable candidate?
5. Explore volunteer or project opportunities for exposure
After reworking your resume and portfolio, evaluate if you have enough professional experience required for the industry and/or role. If not, you may consider volunteering or doing a free project to expand on your experience and skills. Remain open to possibilities, even if you don’t get paid right away. You never know when you’ll land your next opportunity!
6. Maintain self-discipline and a productive mindset
During the transition, it’s easy to get distracted. Try your best to remain focused on your goal by organizing your time and doing a little each day. This will keep you productive and on a path to a new start. Something to keep in mind as you work: Schedule blocks in your day that are only dedicated to working on your plans.
7. Keep going, your opportunity of a life-time will come
Remember, nothing happens overnight, you must remain patient, persistent, and flexible with the process!
Lastly, changing careers is not always easy, but is attainable. Throughout my experience working with career changers, I’ve learned everyone is on an individual journey, and not one prescribed way will guarantee the same results. The steps provided were designed to put you on the path to a career change while keeping you motivated in the process. Once you nail down what you want to do, you will find a unique way to market yourself that will put you in a position to land new opportunities. Knowing when to take action and how to pull off your approach, will control your outcome.
If you are looking for more career-changing advice, check out the recent panel I was on here.