When you’re considering a new career path, it can feel exciting to make a change and explore new possibilities, but changing careers can also come with new obstacles and requires a new mindset. If you’re considering a new career path, there are 5 important things to do along the way.
1. Do Your Research
The importance of doing your research in a career switch can’t be emphasized enough. If you were traveling to a foreign country, you’d want to do some research beforehand about the language, culture, and types of food. A new career path is no different, and you need to research your new industry extensively. Here is some information to know:
- Industry trends: is the industry growing or shrinking? What are new opportunities and challenges?
- Language: What is the language or the terms used commonly in this industry?
- People: Who are the thought leaders in this industry? What are the main associations, conferences, or groups?
2. Reverse Engineer
As you plan for your next career move, it’s easy to make assumptions about what we need to be qualified for these positions. However, the surest way to ensure that you’re preparing yourself with the right skills, education or experience is by reverse engineering job descriptions. Here’s how it works: if you know that you’re currently a teacher and want to become a human resources generalist, read as many real job descriptions as you can and look at the common themes of what they’re looking for. You may be surprised by what you find! Look for gaps in your own experience or skillset and figure out creative ways to address them.
3. Tailor Every Application
While it may make sense to you why you’re switching careers (more opportunities, better pay, etc.) it may not always make sense to hiring managers in your target industry. To them, choosing to interview you might be a risky move, especially if they have other candidates that already have experience related to the role. It can be tempting to use your old resume and hope that they can see your relevant skills. However, to maximize your chances of an interview, you must tailor every job application using keywords from the job description and your career narrative should be presented in a way that makes sense to someone who has never met you before. Quality over quantity!
4. Make Professional Friends (aka Networking)
When we’re considering a new career path, we are often intrigued by another job because of what we think that job would be like. For example, you may want to switch into a job related to forensics because you love watching crime shows. However, your idea of a job or new career may be very different from reality. The only way to get an accurate picture of what a job looks like from the inside is from someone who has been in that specific role. The way to do this is through an informational interview, which is an intentional and professional conversation with someone to learn more about a job, career, or industry.
5. Be Patient
It often takes time to switch careers, so it’s important to be realistic and patient with yourself in the transition. You may need to take a “stepping-stone” job to help build your experience or take time to save up money to take the leap of starting your own business. But no matter how long it takes, you can do it!