Planning and Navigating a Career Change
You might be at a point in your career where you’re asking yourself if you like what you’re doing or if you want to do something else. You may have also lost your job, and now you need to find a new one.
Maybe your current job isn’t fulfilling, or perhaps, there is something else you’ve always wanted to try, but you’ve never given yourself a chance.
The idea of changing careers is exciting, but at the same time, it could be daunting and even scary to think about.
Whether you lost your job or want a new one–changing careers is an investment of time and effort. There is the possibility that you’ll switch to work that is more fulfilling and that makes you a happier person. Some factors make change a challenge.
You might be at a job that you’ve been doing for most of your professional life. In those cases, it’s terrifying to consider doing something else. Your network, your skillset, and your comfort zone surround the work that you are doing.
You might wonder where you would even begin. How can you start the process of a career change?
Navigating Career Change
You have to understand, though, that no one will make this change for you. Don’t wait—start now.
It’s up to you to make the journey for yourself. You must go through the process required for a career change, which might take longer than you think. You must understand that change takes time and effort, but in the end, it could lead you to a much better version of yourself.
Clarify Your Values and Strengths
Take time to think about what you feel is important to you and what your strengths are. Identify those values and strengths, and write them down. Put them into words you can communicate with other people.
What was important to you when you were 25 and single may not be necessary to you now that you’re 45 and with a family.
Down the road, understanding what your values are can help you pick what company you want to work for because you’ll know if your values and a company’s values align.
Finally, this first step will also tell you about possibilities for your career change. You might now know exactly what it is you want to do, so this step can help you narrow down some options about the kind of work you’re interested in.
Many people get stuck in a career change process because they’re worried about if their new career is the right one for them.
Don’t focus on getting the answer right for a career change. Instead, consider possibilities.
Ask yourself about what your interests and hobbies are right now. Think about projects or aspirations you’ve always had or had a child. Consider work you admire that you think is fulfilling. Your answers will show you some potential ideas for where you want to go. These possibilities lead you to where you can start to experiment and gather information for what new career is best for you.
After you identify some possibilities about your new career, you can begin reaching out to anyone involved in your potential field. Have conversations about what work is like for them. These could be friends, family, co-workers—anyone you know right now who has a better idea about this new job than you do.
The information you get from these conversations helps you paint the picture of what the job is like. With that picture in mind, you can better decide if the work sounds interesting or not.
You can also look for the opportunity to try your new line of work in your current company. Perhaps another part of the company you work for has a project or other career that is related to what you want. Perhaps there is a new project that requires one of your strengths that you want to try.
Look for opportunities that give you the experience you need for the new job you’re going for. Seek or create these opportunities that you can put on your resume or that you can use to see if your new line of work is something that you want to pursue.
When you’re ready, you can start to apply for the new position. Many people fill out dozens of applications online and just hope for the best.
Filling out an online application for a job is usually not enough. The problem with just trying for the job is that everyone online can do the same thing. You have to find a way to make yourself stand out, to offer value upfront, and show what you can do.
Use the information you’ve gathered to show the company you want to work for that you care and that you’re a strong and safe candidate for them. Demonstrate to the company that you’re willing to work and contribute ideas about how the company can do better.
Our society has shifted from looking for the highest paying job to finding the most fulfilling career. We’re looking for work that inspires and speaks to us on a fundamental level. Keep in mind your values and all that you believe is important. These will help you find meaningful work that helps to shape you into your best self.
Changing careers takes time. It will also take a lot of rejection, failure, and setbacks. This is the reality for anyone who wants to or is forced to take on a new job.
Remain resilient and keep believing the opportunity is out there. Be willing to roll with the punches that come along the way. Use those failures and experiences to your advantage by learning from them. The rejection along the way is a natural part of the process.
Keep in mind that out of all the ‘no’ you might find along the way, all it takes is one ‘yes’ to get to a better and more meaningful career.